The Save Our Sound UK campaign launched yesterday to raise awareness that Ofcom will shortly sell-off the radio frequencies that this industry and charitable sectors rely on, with auction proceeds going to the Government. As a consequence of this ‘migration’, the vast majority of the UK’s stocks of wireless microphones, which are essential tools for content production in the creative industries and beyond, will soon be rendered unusable.
I have written briefly about this before and the situation is now getting out-of hand. As well as the unnecessary confusion and administrative costs caused by this sell-off, there must be an environmental concern. There are no figures as yet but it is not hard to imagine the amount of RF kit will have to be junked as it cannot be re-tuned.
I urge anyone involved in the live music business here in the UK to write to your MP, urging them to become involved in order to raise the issue of inadequate redress. Information about the issues and the campaign to seek adequate redress can be found at www.saveoursounduk.com
A website, www.writetothem.com, will help you identify your MP and send an email letter to them. THE SITE WILL BLOCK CUT AND PASTED AND ‘IDENTIKIT’ LETTERS. You must try to send your letter using your own words.
In your letter you might want to raise the subject of the government’s involvement in the proposed National Skills Academy for Creative & Cultural Skills centre in Thurrock. This centre is supposed to be a state-of-the-art training venue and administrative hub for technical theatre, live music and events.
I am involved in education for audio & music production and therefore am behind any initiative that helps to dispel the ‘you can’t teach it’ attitude that pervades the live music business. However I have been against the proposed national centre from the start. (You can read why here – my views are at the end of the article). Now, with the continuing insistence for changing the RF spectrum available to this and other industries, the government strategy for supporting the cultural industries appears to be broken.
Let me explain. The NSA is administered by the Learning & Skills Council, who recently awarded £5 million in funding for the new centre. National strategy for the LSC is decided by The National Council, which is responsible to Parliament and the Secretary of State. Ofcom, although independent, is a statutory corporation. It is required to report annually to Parliament.
So we have the situation where one body reporting to Parliament, The Learning & Skills Council totally supporting the funding of training to help secure jobs and promote skills in the live music and events industry and another body reporting to parliament, Ofcom, recommending the dismantling of a perfectly adequate system for RF transmission which is at the backbone of everything we do in theatre and live events. If predictions from the Save Our Sound campaign are correct then the live events industry is going to go down the pan, causing job losses and bankruptcies.
The NSA is supposed to address a perceived ‘skills gap’ of 30,000 technicians needed in this country for the Olympics and beyond. Yes there will be a skills gap – If there is no RF then we are going to need 30,000 cable pagers for sure!