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Ofcom: punitive PMSE price hike

18 January 2007

Communications regulator Ofcom has announced increased charges for UK business radio spectrum following its public consultation last year. As many had feared, the PMSE (Programme Making and Special Event) sector has been especially hard hit compared to the 6 or 7% levied on some radio mic links for theatres, music venues and conferences, writes Richard Dean.

Although Ofcom claims the PMSE increases average 20% overall, the impact could be higher across a real-world mix of services. For example, the charges for a 48-hour wireless camera or video link in the 5 and 7 GHz bands go up 21% to _34 for a typical 10MHz digital channel or _68 for a 20MHz analogue channel, while similar links in the 2, 2.5 and 3.5 GHz bands will cost _56 and _112 respectively, a jump of 22%. Prepaid tokens (‘carnets’) are available in each case.

Meanwhile the annual fees for satellite and ENG news talkback and communications links – typically a 12.5kHz duplex pair in the 440-470 MHz UHF band – increase by some 100% to _4,500 for all of the UK or _900 in London only (or any area with a population of up to 12 million).

A new category is proposed for digital wireless camera spectrum booked online, priced at _12 per 12-hour period. However the minimum fee per frequency schedule of _24 remains, as does the _55 premium charge for licensing outside of office hours – the time when most music concerts and now many Premiership football matches take place.

Despite objections, Ofcom is adamant that PMSE fees had to rise to more closely reflect the administrative costs incurred by its frequency management contractor, the Joint Frequency Management Group (JFMG).

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