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HD-ready is ‘conning consumers’

5 July 2007

Dixons Store Group’s Director of Technical Development Danny Churchill lambasted the government and consumer electronics manufacturers for conning consumers over the prospects for high definition at the recent HD Masters conference in London, writes Richard Dean.

“It took the government five years to procrastinate over ASO (Analogue Switch Off), with the result that most equipment in the shops was analogue when the announcement finally came,” he said. “Consequently many customers will soon need to buy an additional set-top box just to keep their new purchases functional. More decisive action would have allowed a smoother transition to digital technology.”

Churchill also dismissed Ofcom’s claims that it is concerned over the business case for HD on Freeview. “Freeview is the natural progression from analogue terrestrial – how can it not be HD?” he asked.

Warren Newman, board member of the Voice of the Listener and Viewer, also suggested that the ‘HD-ready’ equipment-labelling scheme is misleading. “Some viewers realise that migration to full HD will require spectrum allocation, HD content, an HD set-top box or HDMI interfaces, but surveys reveal none understand that you need all of these things,” he said.

According to Newman, a senior Ofcom official chairing a consultation conference he attended thought she was already watching HD on her new ‘HD-ready’ set. “If even people at that level are confused, what chance does the ordinary viewer have? Many may believe that they either have HD already or will get it soon, when in reality this is far from certain.

“All the HD bandwidth in the world will be useless unless viewers have the right equipment to receive signals,” Newman added. ” So we want to see the widescale introduction of MPEG-4 capable set-top boxes as soon as possible, preferably next year.”

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