Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Fourth Report


Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) is a technology that allows the use of a copper line to send a large quantity of data (eg a television picture) in one direction and a small quantity (eg a control channel) in the other. Unlike regular dialup phone service, ADSL provides continuously available, 'always on' connection. ADSL is asymmetric in that it uses most of the channel to transmit downstream to the user and only a small part to receive information from the user. The same line can be used for both voice and ADSL connections simultaneously. It is one of a family of DSL technologies.

BBC Board of Governors are the trustees of the public interest in the BBC ­ ensuring that the organisation is properly accountable while maintaining its independence. It is the Governors' responsibility to ensure that the BBC is properly regulated, is on the right strategic course and is effectively managed.

Bandwidth indicates the capacity available to transfer information. In analogue systems, it is measured in Hertz and in digital systems in binary digits (bits) per second. The greater the bandwidth is, the faster the end user will receive the information they require or obtain access to the service that they are trying to connect to.

BSkyB refers to British Sky Broadcasting plc.

BT refers to British Telecommunications plc.

Broadband is generally defined as a bandwidth of greater than 2 Mbits/s. Broadband communications networks can carry large amounts of information eg voice, video information and data channels simultaneously.

Broadcasting Standards Commission (BSC) is the statutory body for both standards and fairness in broadcasting. It is the only organisation within the regulatory framework of UK broadcasting to cover all television and radio, both terrestrial and satellite. This includes text, cable and digital services. It has three main tasks, as established by the Broadcasting Act 1996. These are to produce codes of conduct relating to standards and fairness, to consider and adjudicate on complaints and to monitor, research and report on standards and fairness in broadcasting.

Conditional Access System is a system to restrict access to a service to those who meet the conditions, e.g. consumers who have paid to receive a service, or who live in a given geographical area.

Convergence is a term used to describe the combining of personal computers, telecommunications and television. It means that providers of communication systems can deliver products and services that compete with products and services now delivered by other networks. Convergence is not just a technology issue, but also an issue of culture and life style. For the end user, this can mean increasing choice in the equipment that can be used to carry out a particular task. For instance, an Internet TV can combine some of the functions of a radio, TV, PC and phone.

Co­regulation refers to the situation where the regulator and industry stakeholders work together with, typically, the regulator setting the framework to work within. It may be left to the industry stakeholders to draft detailed rules within this framework and to take responsibility for implementation and enforcement. Incentives for co­operation are often in the form of strong fallback powers for the regulator.

Digital divide is the potential for division in society into people who do and people who don't have access to ­ and the capability to use ­ modern information technology, such as the telephone, e­mail, television, or the Internet.

Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) technology refers to a family of technologies generically referred to as DSL, or xDSL, capable of transforming ordinary phone lines into high­speed digital lines, capable of supporting advanced services such as fast Internet access and video­on­demand. ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line), HDSL (High data rate Digital Subscriber Line) and VDSL (Very high data rate Digital Subscriber Line) are all variants of xDSL.

Digital switchover is the switchover from analogue to digital television broadcasting, involving the cessation of analogue transmission. It is mainly used in the context of terrestrial broadcasting.

Digital television (DTV) is the transmission of television signals as digital rather than conventional analogue signals. Advantages of DTV over analogue TV include superior image resolution (detail) and audio quality for an equivalent bandwidth, and consistent reception quality.

Fixed wireless access is a way of providing a fixed telephone service without a fully wired connection. Instead the telephone signals are sent over air between small transmitters and receivers. Since no holes in the ground have to be dug, it is generally cheaper to roll out than a wired system.

Free­to­air television service is a service that can be received without charge to the viewer. Normally, such services are broadcast in the clear (i.e.unscrambled). However, some services are broadcast in scrambled or encrypted form in order to limit access to viewers in a specific geographic area. Such services, which have no charge for the conditional access service, are also regarded as free­to­air.

Incumbent Operator usually refers to the former monopoly public telephone operator that was often owned by the government of the country in question. In the UK, it was BT.

ITC refers to the Independent Television Commission.

Internet is a worldwide system of linked computer networks enabling users of any of the host computers to get information from any other host computer (and sometimes communicate directly with other users). The links between computers may be local, or long­distance links over telecommunication networks. Technically, what distinguishes the Internet is its use of a communication protocol called IP.

Local loop unbundling (LLU) is a term used to describe the process by which local exchange carriers are legally obliged to sell or lease portions of their local loop network to other service providers. The effect of this for the end user in the UK will be that they will be able to receive a whole range of services directly to their home from a variety of suppliers other than BT.

LRSL is a long­term restricted service licence that is issued for the broadcasting of radio services by the Radio Authority, predominantly for hospital and student radio stations (see also RSL).

Mobile telephony provides over­air interconnection with and between users on the move.

OFT means the Office of Fair Trading.
Oftel means the Office of Telecommunications.

PC means personal computer.

Public service broadcasting has been at the heart of UK broadcasting throughout most of the last century. Its goals are education, information and entertainment for all and this has informed the whole structure of broadcasting regulation. It still has a major role as the benchmark of quality in broadcasting, as a source of creative energy, driven by more than commercial considerations, and as a place to nurture talent and skills.

Radio Authority is the Authority which regulates and licenses independent radio broadcasting in the UK, that is to say all non­BBC radio services.

RA is the Radiocommunications Agency that is an Executive Agency of the DTI. It is responsible for the allocation, maintenance and supervision of the UK radio spectrum.

Rate card means a published price list. In this White Paper it refers specifically to a document that BSkyB is legally obliged to publish from time to time. It essentially shows the fee payable by the cable operators in respect of residential subscribers for cable carriage of each Ratecard Channel, and details of any discount.

RSL is a restricted service licence that is issued by the ITC for the broadcasting of television programmes, or by the Radio Authority for the broadcasting of radio programmes, for a particular establishment or location or for a particular event, subject to the availability of analogue frequencies.

S4C is Sianel Pedwar Cymru. The S4C Authority is responsible for ensuring that the performance of S4C as a broadcaster, whose core mission is to provide Welsh language programmes, meets the statutory requirements. The S4C Authority establishes S4C's strategic aims, objectives and broad priorities, monitors performance and regulates the discharge of these objectives by S4C as a broadcaster.

Satellite broadcasting/communications rely on a communications relay device orbiting in space to permit communications between terminals on earth e.g. TV receivers or satellite mobile phones. Satellites have the advantage of beaming signals to a very wide area without the need for hundreds of ground­based transmitters.

Sectoral/sector­specific regulation refers to regulation that is specific to a particular industry or sector (e.g. telecommunications sector; broadcasting sector) in contrast to regulation which applies to all sectors of the economy (e.g. Competition Act 1998).

Self­regulation refers to processes whereby stakeholders (predominantly the industry) take the initiative to set standards for the benefit of consumers. The Government (or regulator) need not have any formal involvement.

Set­top box is a device that enables a television set to receive and decode signals transmitted in a form which the set was not originally designed to receive. In general, conventional analogue televisions require a set­top box for cable and satellite TV and all digital transmissions, whether cable, satellite or terrestrial. Set­top boxes are also available which, when connected to the telephone line or cable, can enable a television set to become an Internet terminal.

Spectrum is a continuous range of frequencies of electromagnetic radiation (for example radio waves).

Telecommunications Act means the Telecommunications Act 1984, as amended, which governs the licensing, operation and regulation of telecommunications in the UK.

Third generation (3G) mobile telephony refers to the new Universal Mobile Telecommunications System. This will provide an enhanced range of multimedia services to mobile phones such as high speed Internet access and video.

UK independent productions quota refers to the requirement under the Broadcasting Act 1990 that the BBC, ITV companies, Channel 4 and Channel 5 devote at least 25% of the time allocated to qualifying programmes (broadly excluding news, acquired programmes and repeats) to the broadcasting of a range and diversity of independent productions.

Vertical integration refers to a situation where a single company is active in more than one stage in the production and supply of a good or service. For example, a network operator might also provide enhanced services that are carried over the network or supply the consumer equipment needed to gain access to services it provides.

Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) is a standard way for wireless devices, such as cellular telephones and radio receivers, to gain access to the Internet. It can support e­mail, the World Wide Web, news groups, and Internet Relay Chat.

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