Technology : Gadget will put Channel 5 viewers in the picture

2019-02-27 03:02:08

By Barry Fox A GISMO developed by British electronics company Pace provides an elegant solution to the problem of interference from the Channel 5 TV station, which begins broadcasting next January (This Week, 18 May, p 5). The new gadget will hijack the Channel 5 signal as it enters the viewer’s home and convert it to a frequency which causes no interference. Channel 5 will broadcast on UHF channel 37 in nine regions of the country. That frequency is not being used for broadcasting in those areas, but is close enough to the frequencies that are used by the existing four channels to be picked up by the same roof aerials. But video recorders, satellite receivers, video games and cable TV controllers in around 10 million homes already use channel 37 for their connections, so they will experience interference. Channel 37 was chosen for Channel 5 because, although other frequency channels would often be completely free, viewers would have to erect a second aerial to pick them up. Retuning equipment such as video recorders was believed to be the easier option. Channel 5 Broadcasting is obliged to retune any equipment that suffers interference, but in homes with several pieces of equipment this will be difficult. As a last resort the company’s engineers must block the Channel 5 signal with filters, curing the interference but stopping the viewer receiving the new programme. Pace’s gismo will plug in between the viewer’s aerial and video equipment, completely blocking channel 37 but converting it to a spare frequency in the channel range 62 to 69. All the viewer needs to do to receive the new broadcasts without interference is tune button 5 on the TV to the new frequency. Pace estimates that the gismos can be mass-produced for under £15 each. The company believes it will be cheaper for Channel 5 Broadcasting to mail gismos to viewers than pay an engineer to retune appliances, where that is possible,