The head of the Broadcasting Entertainment Cinematograph and Theatre Union (BECTU) has lambasted Ofcom’s proposals for the sale of spectrum freed up by the digital switchover.

In an address to a London eForum on the issue of the switchover Tony Lennon, the BECTU president, told his audience that the sale should focus primarily on giving the best possible value to the nation as a whole, rather than just the chancellor.

"I am stunned that public property is being packaged up and sold off in this way. If Ofcom gets it wrong it will be a massive act of treachery," he said.

"Effectively what Ofcom is doing is selling it off to the highest bidder. Allowing the people with the biggest cheque-books to decide is not the best way."

"We are not here to raise money for the exchequer but for the greatest benefit of society and citizens," he added.

Calls for public value test

Representing 27,000 workers across the broadcasting, entertainment, film and associated industries BECTA has called for a public value test to be employed to all bidders in the auction to ensure that the public gets the services it needs.

Mr Lennon was also critical of Ofcom’s plans to restrict HDTV to one multiplex and employ new technology that would require end users to buy additional set-top boxes.

"The future of the Freeview platform depends on being able to develop high definition. If it doesn't have the necessary capacity it will waste on the vine, forcing people to pay subscriptions in order to watch the BBC," said Mr Lennon.