Rising energy bills are forcing businesses as well as consumers to think about their electricity use.
There are no legal caps on the potential increases facing businesses – consumers do at least have some protection from Ofgem caps although this will offer little comfort to those on a tight income. So might broadcasters be affected?
The BBC cash crisis of 1975 led to many cuts. The least painful cut was directly linked to rising electricity prices and the need to save energy.
BBC Two trade test transmissions were severely curtailed and the transmitters were left off for much of the daytime. It was annoying to the trade as it made it harder to install TVs and aerials but amongst the wider public only hardcore fans of the test card would have been disappointed.
The move was only formally reversed in 1983 at the same time as schools programmes moved to BBC Two.
So would transmitter shutdowns now be an option? I would suggest this is highly unlikely.
Obviously daytime shutdowns are now out of the question. Because several channels are broadcast on the same multiplex, it makes no difference when an individual channel like BBC Three or Four is off air.
If there were to be any benefit in switching off transmitters in the middle of the night, all the services on a particular multiplex would need to shut down.
Could anyone really envisage all BBC services being off air, say, from 1am to 6am?
The BBC would not want to provide different levels of service on different platforms – satellite, cable and online streaming would have to stop too.
Because the BBC no longer owns or operates the transmitter network, it is no longer directly responsible for the electricity costs either.
So while dramatic action can be ruled out, is it worth an audit to see if the current transmitter network is fully necessary?
Some small relay transmitters were built to deal with localised analogue reception problems – bad ghosting from tall buildings or dips in the signal quality.
It may be possible that Freeview reception from the main transmitter in these areas is perfectly adequate even if analogue reception was compromised.
The exact numbers who actuality rely on relay transmitters now – as opposed to the number of homes they cover – is not clear.
So even if those who predict the end of terrestrial television are letting their imaginations run riot, maybe it is time to audit the relays.
Still, if any were to prove unnecessary there would need to be proper notice given to viewers. Help with alternative means of reception would need to be offered.
It might be the right thing to do to ensure the transmitter network is as efficient as possible. But it would not help with the immediate problem of dramatic energy price rises.
PICTURED: BBC Transmitter Information slide. COPYRIGHT: BBC.
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