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BBC hires more staff for Dorset! Notes on last DorBAG meeting with BBC & Digital UK.
Fri 05 Mar 2010

At the DorBAG meeting on 26th February, 2010, Oliver Letwin MP chaired the meeting with guests Jane McCloskey - Head of BBC South West, Simon Clemison - BBC and Bill Taylor - SW manager Digital UK.

BBC:   Simon Clemison was introduced as the new Dorset Senior Broadcast Journalist based in Dorchester.   He will replace Emma Ruminsky who has moved to Plymouth, but will still be there to assist with the handover.    Simon has extensive experience in the BBC and ITV where he was political correspondent and occasional main presenter for both Meridian and ITV West. He made a plea for everyone to give him news items & encourage others to do the same - let's get Dorset on the map!

Jane McCloskey reported that they have now also appointed a bespoke cameraman in Exeter (Adie Francis) who would work into Dorset to support Simon, and BBC South has appointed a local Political reporter who will be split between Southampton & Dorchester, working mainly to BBC Radio Solent.

Complaints about the BBC Dorset web site weather pages are being looked into.   Apart from the small number of Dorset towns listed for local weather forecasts, it was pointed out that the only video link for weather goes to Solent!   Jane McCloskey agreed to investigate adding at least Spotlight’s video.

DorBAG welcomed these positive moves from the BBC, but continues to press for local radio and TV broadcast services for Dorset.

Digital UK:

 Bill Taylor advised that the switchover for the West is only weeks away in two stages on 24th March and 7th April.   This will affect parts in the North of the county.   He believes that 97% of the population now have digital already, although he acknowledged that the figure is lower in rural areas.
 
 Bill said that most people involved in the South West switchover were now sorted.  Some TV sets were confused by more than one TV Transmitter covering the same area, and he knows that there are still some problems resulting from the re-tune last September.    Most problems seem to be down to the re-tune and the loss of ITV3 and ITV4 on relay transmitters.   It is considered likely that many remaining problems are down to the home equipment or the setting up of same.

DorBAG has set up an online/offline TV Reception Problem  Report ( http://www.dorbag.org.uk/main/questionnaire.htm) which is already receiving a number of complaints.   However, Bill Taylor said that Digital UK did not have the resources to handle further complaints as they were now focusing on the next switchover.

Oliver Letwin felt that DorBAG will need to talk to top management at Digital UK and Ofcom to try and get some resources allocated, as people with problems need someone to talk them through to a solution in each case.  (This despite the fact that a committee member who approached the Office of Culture, Media and Sport was told to go to Digital UK!)

The Report Form can be completed online, and there is also a downloadable/printable A4 copy for those without computers with a link at the top of the online form.   For those without a PC who want a copy, they can ask a friend or neighbour for a copy, or they should be able to get a copy from their library (including mobile libraries), or town and possibly parish councils. The local press offices also seem very supportive & may be able to help.

It was pointed out that High Definition TV on Freeview is about to be launched starting with the West’s switchover.   However, there are presently no Freeview HD set top boxes, or integrated TVs on the market!

Broadband/mobile coverage: 
  
There are two high speed fibre optic trunk lines installed between Dorchester and Weymouth for the Olympics.

There is considerable interest in Hi-speed Broadband as illustrated by a high turnout at an Open Meeting in Ferndown recently.    Many firms have indicated that they may have to move location to an area with hi-speed BB, if Dorset makes no progress. 

  • CLA & the Dorset Chamber of Commerce are also involved in this issue.
  • Ofcom appears to be looking at these issues nationally, but not locally.
  • There is an urgent need to equip all towns, and the question of rural coverage also needs to be addressed – High speed Broadband should be treated as an essential utility along with gas, electricity and water.

 It was pointed out that today’s youngsters are already using (where they can get coverage) mobiles for video etc., and so mobile coverage is also an issue.  

 Oliver Letwin said he would arrange a separate meeting on these issues in late spring.


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