UK set for £55m switchover surplus windfall

The UK is expected to see a surplus of £55m (€66m) from the money that was set aside to fund digital switchover.

Digital UK, the organisation set up to help promote the switchover process to the UK public, said it would likely hand back £55m to the government in 2012. That amount will be left over from the £201m Digital UK was allocated in 2005 from the BBC licence fee to fund communication campaigns to inform people when switchover would take place in their region and how to deal with it. However, the switchover process has gone more smoothly than expected. Digital UK found that short campaigns and close work with local charities to help the most vulnerable people in society was more effective than longer, more expensive, ad campaigns.

There has been no word from the government as to how this money will be spent. Last week, culture secretary Jeremy Hunt confirmed that the £250m that is expected to be left over from the digital help scheme designed to pay for vulnerable people to receive digital TV, would be used to fund the rollout of broadband to rural areas. A Department for Culture, Media & Sport spokeswoman told the Guardian newspaper that the priority for digital switchover surplus funds was to support broadband in the UK, but added that specific details were still being finalised. Commercial broadcaster ITV is likely be interested in using the money to help fund regional news services.

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