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InfoComm course comes to the UK

The Save Our Sound UK (SOS UK) campaign _ which numbers PLASA, the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Professional Footballers Association among its members _ says that the programme-making and special events (PMSE) sector _ which encompasses live music, newsgathering, musical theatre, film making, television production, sports events, concerts, conferences as well as church, school and community events _ is under serious threat.

_This is because Ofcom, supported by Government, has decided to clear out and sell the radio frequencies that the industry relies on, and move those evicted elsewhere. The precise location of this new much smaller _home_ remains for the most part undetermined,_ said SOS UK in a statement.

Harvey Goldsmith, music promoter and Live Aid organiser, said that the campaign had written to Business Secretary Lord Mandelson to urge the Government to intervene. _The valuable real estate we are talking about will be sold off very soon, and there will be no second chance to secure the future of those affected. The time to act is now,_ he said.

At the crux of the campaign is the cost of replacing the large numbers of wireless microphones that will be rendered unusable by the enforced frequency migration _ estimated by SOS UK at tens of millions of pounds. _The funding scheme that Ofcom has put forward is totally inadequate. It is analogous to a compulsory purchase order with little or no compensation,_ said SOS UK. _This might be because the regulator is constrained by legislation. Under their proposed terms (1) only equipment that tunes to 8MHz out of the total 120MHz due to be sold would be eligible and (2) amounts provided would be based on an estimate of _residual value_ of equipment rather than what it will cost to replace. If Ofcom_s proposals are implemented, many will only receive a fraction of what it will cost to replace their equipment, and the rest will receive nothing at all._

The statement continued: _If the Government does not provide adequate funding to cover the costs, then live music, newsgathering, musical theatre and other events including those listed above are likely to become impossible to stage. There is little doubt that companies will go bust, individuals will go bankrupt, employees will be made redundant, and charitable and community organisations will have to divert funds from core services._

The campaign is calling for the Government to funding the replacement of all affected equipment, and to cover the full cost of replacement with like-for-like alternatives.

Louise de Winter, director of the National Campaign for the Arts, said: _We see this as a matter of moral obligation as well as public policy. It would not be right for those affected, which includes charitable organisations, to effectively pay for their own eviction. As this process will generate very significant sums for the Government in auction revenues, it must put aside a fraction of those proceeds to fully compensate those forced to move._