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The Advanced Television Services Regulations 1996

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Explanatory Note

(This note is not part of the Regulations)

These Regulations implement the provisions of Directive 95/47/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the use of standards for the transmission of television signals (O.J. No. L281, 23.11.95, p. 51; “the Directive”), with the exception of Article 1, and Article 2 to the extent that it affects broadcasters other than the British Broadcasting Corporation (“the BBC”). The very general obligations under Article 1 are implemented by, and in the exercise of the powers conferred by, the Broadcasting Act 1996 (c. 55), and the requirements of Article 2 in relation to those other broadcasters are implemented by section 142 of that Act.

The Secretary of State for Trade and Industry is to grant a Class Licence under section 7 of the Telecommunications Act 1984 (c. 12) which is to come into force on the same date as these Regulations. This Licence will authorise the running of certain conditional access systems which are, or which are deemed (by paragraph 1 of Schedule 1 to these Regulations) to be, telecommunication systems within the meaning of section 4 of that Act. The conditional access systems which are covered by this Licence are those which are used to provide Technical Services as defined in the Licence to persons other than the Licensee. This Licence imposes certain other requirements in relation to the running of such systems, in support of those contained in these Regulations. A copy of this Class Licence is available from the Office of Telecommunications (OFTEL), 50 Ludgate Hill, London EC4M 7JJ.

Part 1 of the Regulations comprises introductory provisions. Part II implements the provisions of the Directive other than those concerning conditional access. These provisions are largely concerned with standards for television transmission systems, networks and television sets in relation to advanced television services, and are as follows–

(a)regulation 4 implements the final paragraph of Article 2, and requires that fully digital transmission networks open to the public be capable of transmitting wide-format services;

(b)regulation 5 implements the remainder of Article 2, concerning standards for transmission systems, in relation to the BBC;

(c)regulation 6 implements Article 3, which requires certain television sets to have an open interface socket permitting connection of peripherals; such socket must comply with the relevant European standard; and

(d)regulation 7 implements Article 5, which requires that wide-screen 16:9 television services redistributed on cable systems shall be redistributed in at least the 16:9 format.

Part III of the Regulations implements Article 4 of the Directive, which concerns conditional access. Regulation 8 is introductory. The substantive implementing provisions are as follows–

(a)regulation 9 implements Article 4(a); it requires that descramblers are capable of descrambling in accordance with the common European scrambling algorithm and of displaying signals transmitted in clear;

(b)regulation 10 implements Article 4(b); it requires that conditional access system operators ensure that the system allows for cost effective transcontrol; regulation 10 also provides for a duty for the conditional access service provider to co-operate with cable operators to ensure that the first mentioned duty is performed effectively;

(c)regulation 11 implements Article 4(c) concerning the requirement on a conditional access service provider who produces and markets technical services to other broadcasters to offer these services to all broadcasters on a fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory basis; the service provider is also subject to the duty to co-operate with the relevant broadcasters to ensure that the first mentioned duty is performed effectively;

(d)regulation 12 implements the final paragraph of Article 4(c) which requires broadcasters to publish tariffs;

(e)regulation 13 re-implements Article 4(d) concerning licences to manufacturers of consumer equipment; this regulation replaces the Advanced Television Services (Industrial Property Rights) Regulations 1996 (S.I. No. 2185), which are revoked by regulation 2 of these Regulations;

(f)regulation 14 implements the final paragraph of Article 4(d) requiring that television sets containing an integrated decoder allow for the option of fitting at least one standardised socket permitting connection of conditional access and other elements of a digital television system to the digital decoder; such socket must comply with the relevant European standard if such a standard has been adopted, but at the date of making these Regulations, no standard has been adopted; and

(g)regulation 15 provides for a conciliation procedure in relation to the duties under regulations 9 to 13, in implementation of Article 4(e).

Part IV concerns enforcement. Regulation 16 introduces Schedule 2, which provides for enforcement powers in relation to regulations 6, 9 and 14 on television set sockets, descramblers and integrated decoders respectively. Regulation 17 permits certain other requirements to be enforced by the Director General of Telecommunications.

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