§ Mr. Gordon Prentice
To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport when he expects digital television and digital radio to be available in North-East Lancashire. 
§ Mr. Fisher
The BBC and the Independent Television Commission (ITC) are responsible for planning the transmission of digital terrestrial television services. At present, plans are being formulated for the launch phase of digital television services from 81 transmission sites. I understand that the Winter Hill and Pendle Forest transmitters, which are both included in the 81 site plan, will provide digital terrestrial television services to North-East Lancashire. However, the precise coverage will not be known before transmission actually begins. Winter Hill should broadcast from the launch of digital terrestrial transmissions scheduled for later this year and Pendle Forest within 16 months of the launch.
The BBC has already commenced the transmission of digital radio services, and estimates that its national radio services will reach 60 per cent. of the UK population from twenty seven transmitter sites. I understand these BBC services are already available to significant parts of Lancashire. Increasing coverage, including the provision of services from the Pendle Forest relay, will be considered by the BBC as part of subsequent phases of development. The Radio Authority plans to advertise the national commercial digital radio multiplex in March and the projected speed of roll-out of the services it is to carry is one of the factors to be assessed in determining which applicant receives the licence. A local multiplex licence for Central Lancashire is scheduled to be advertised by the Radio Authority in January 2000.