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The Transition to Digital Television

Jérôme Adda, Marco Ottaviani, Gabrielle Demange and Emmanuella Auriol
Economic Policy
Vol. 20, No. 41 (Jan., 2005), pp. 159+161-209
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3601066
Page Count: 50
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The Transition to Digital Television
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Abstract

This paper studies the role of economic policy for the transition from analogue to digital television, with particular attention to the switch off of the analogue terrestrial signal. The analogue signal cannot be credibly switched off until almost all viewers have migrated to digital, due to the policy objective of universal access to television. But before switch off, only part of the population can be reached with the digital signal. In addition, those who are reached need to spend more to upgrade their reception equipment than after switch off, because the capacity to increase the power of the digital signal will be made available only then. After reviewing the competitive structure and the role of government intervention in television markets, we present the early experience of a number of industrialized countries in the transition to digital television. We then formulate a microeconometric model of digital television adoption by individual viewers. The model is calibrated to UK data and simulated to predict the impact of government policies on the take-up of digital television. Policy makers can affect the speed of take up of digital television by: (1) controlling the quality of the signals and the content of public service broadcasters; (2) intervening in the market for digital equipment with subsidies; and (3) publicizing the conditions and date of switch off of the analogue signal. We find that if the analogue terrestrial signal is switched off only when certain aggregate adoption targets are reached, strategic delays may arise and expectations may affect the success of the switch off policy.

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