Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Alternative uses for those channels

We here in the orders were amongst the first to have our TV switched to digital. It deserves to be hassle free as the powers that be have devoted a lot of effort to explain, educate and assist. We had a big road show in the square, individually addressed letters, news items in the local papers and a Sky sales van here all this week. I've not heard of any drama.

What I have not discovered is what will happen - if anything - to the now redundant analogue channels? Surely they will not be just left unused? I suppose some will be gathered up by commercial organisations wanting to put out a TV service as a alternative to a web site. Others for new technology - WiFi sort of thing.

Anything that increases the spread of information into local communities would be good. Here in Berwickshire we are well served with a choice of local newspapers. The Borders television channel tends to concentrate on the SW Borders and central with not a lot about us peasants in the SE. Until very recently, we had a small shop unit here in the village served by the local newspaper. This was a good focus for local news; the reporter was well known and I'm sure he got many leads through the shop.

The stratification of coverage does have some drawbacks. As an example, someone started the case for reinstatement of a long-closed railway service. It took off. Routes surveyed, costings obtained, funding investigated, time scales. All the steps needed. Only one thing overlooked. It would do absolutely nothing for anyone in the Eastern side of the Borders area. There is even doubt as to how potential users in the West would get from where they lived to where the train stopped. Housing prices and availability here meant that most of the likely travellers had purchased homes that suited their commute. Now, there has been a serious escalation of foreseen costs and the drive is on to find additional and increased sources of finance. Still no one has gone back to the basics and queried the business case for the railway. I am sure that had the proposal been wider covered throughout the region, it would have died in childbirth.

I can understand the problem with finding a Scottish Murdoch to set up a wide network of inter-linking local papers. I used to work for a Saudi publishing company - only in an admin role but saw what sort of investment a new paper requires. However, if that same mega-mogul were to buy up one of the analogue TV channels it would be a simple matter to get the news out by that medium. Lend me a few million and I'd do it!

UPDATE RE THE TV - I am not such an original thinker as I wish.

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