UK: The campaign to win compensation for wireless systems rendered obsolete by the forthcoming spectrum changes has a new ally, writes David Davies. The Church of England (C of E) faces an estimated bill of _1m to replace or retune sound equipment on the basis that one in eight parish churches would need to spend approximately _500 to accomplish the migration.
With many churches using frequencies currently reserved for PMSE applications but due to be reallocated by 2012, the C of E confronts a huge potential outlay to replace or retune existing wireless systems.
Accordingly, the C of E has joined the Save Our Sound UK campaign, which is seeking an appropriate funding package to cover the costs associated with spectrum migration. On a local level, churches are being encouraged to lobby their local MPs to support an Early Day Motion tabled by Peter Luff MP (read PSN-e's coverage here), or raise the issue in Parliament in other ways.
The Rt Revd Michael Langrish (pictured), Bishop of Exeter and chair of the Churches Legal Advisory Service, said that the inevitable government windfall resulting from the spectrum auction made the disruption "even more difficult to stomach", adding that full compensation for all organisations - commercial or charitable - was "the least that can be done".
"Churches need to be aware that these changes are happening and that, if they currently use licensed channels for their wireless equipment, they will need to get in touch with their installation company to discuss what practical steps will be needed to ensure their services don't fall silent in 2012," said Langrish.
Putting the issue in a wider economic context, a C of E spokesperson tells PSN-e: "At a time of economic pressures for all organisations, especially those that rely largely on public donations, this extra potential cost is particularly unwelcome. Any gap between the compensation package offered by government and the actual costs of retuning or replacing will have to be met by local congregations, who were most likely the people who donated money towards the purchase of the audio equipment in the first place. The spectrum changes have been likened to a forced eviction, and it's one made even worse coming as it does during a recession."