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Safeguarding broadcast TV and radio to 2040 and beyond

Millions of people in homes and businesses across the UK enjoy and rely on broadcast services, but their future is uncertain.

Broadcast TV and radio play an important role in our lives – providing everyone with access to national events like the Coronation, live news, sport, and entertainment. They keep us informed and bind us together as a nation.

 

But despite the importance of these services, their future is not guaranteed.

Current Government policy means that broadcast TV and radio - traditional services delivered through an aerial - are only guaranteed until the early 2030s. It is critical that the Government safeguards the long-term future of these services to ensure that free-to-air broadcast TV and radio continues to be available across the UK.

That is why the Broadcast 2040+ coalition has been set up. The Broadcast 2040+ campaign brings together a range of voices with a shared goal – to secure the future of broadcast TV and radio to 2040 and beyond. We want the Government to guarantee that these important services will continue to be available to the millions of viewers and listeners that rely on them.

 

This is an issue of fundamental national importance. Broadcast services are important to millions of viewers and listeners across the UK, but some groups depend on them more than others. The people who value broadcast the most are often those who have the least. This includes the most vulnerable members of our society, such as older people, people who are digitally excluded and people on lower incomes. People in rural areas, with less access to high-quality broadband, are also more reliant on broadcast services. Broadcast TV and radio does not require a superfast broadband connection or expensive monthly subscriptions – ensuring that everyone can receive great quality content.

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90% of adults across Great Britain believe that broadcast TV and radio services should be supported for the long-term

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8 in 10 see Freeview via an aerial as important if not essential to their daily lives

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Four in Five (82%) of adults say they’ve listened to broadcast radio over the past year

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85% of adults believe Government or local MPs should actively support the continued provision of broadcast TV and radio services into the future

Source: Ipsos Report, 2022, Importance of Digital Terrestrial Television and Broadcast Radio

Latest News

Broadcast 2040+ call on Party Leaders to protect Traditional TV ahead of the General Election

Amidst the upcoming General Election, the Broadcast 2040+ campaign sent an open letter to the Party leaders of the seven largest parties, urging them to recognise the importance of, and ensure the guaranteed future of terrestrial TV, in a bid to support and back the most vulnerable in our society.

 

Letters were sent to the leaders of Labour, Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, Green Party, Reform UK, Plaid Cymru and SNP, highlighting our cause for concern and calling on the Party which forms the next government to take action.

 

For too long, ministers have kicked the can down the road, and a Tory government has caused an unnecessary delay in decision making. In response, we’ve sent out a clear message: Terrestrial TV and radio is relied on by millions on a daily basis and must be protected in the long term.

 

Media coverage featured the campaigns response to the Labour manifesto, which outlined the need to protect terrestrial TV and radio services and the most vulnerable people in society who rely on them daily is front of mind for politicians during the campaign.

 

We remain committed to a hybrid future which allows for terrestrial TV to continue paying a crucial role, alongside streaming, for the years to come.

As we push on with the campaign,  we’ve encouraged our coalition partners to also call on government to make a decision and guarantee that terrestrial TV and radio will not be switched off in the future to come. Following election results, we will ensure the Broadcast 2040+ campaign remains relevant within the new parliament, highlighting that terrestrial TV is a crucial service which needs to be protected.

If you'd like to read our letter to Sir Keir Starmer, click here.

Partner spotlight: Silver Voices’ ‘Silver Manifesto’ sets out key asks ahead of the General Election

Earlier this year, one of our Broadcast 2040+ coalition partners, over 60s campaign group Silver Voices, released their ‘Silver Manifesto’.

 

To encourage politicians to commit to protecting older people's needs, the document outlines a series of asks. We are delighted that it calls on the parties to 'ensure the future of Freeview TV and aerial radio at least until the 2040s and prevent terrestrial broadcasting from being squeezed by Internet Giants.' This is the key policy ask of the Broadcast 2040+ coalition.

 

We are proud to support Silver Voices’ work and it is great to see one of our partners make the case to protect the future of terrestrial TV and radio for the long term. Efforts like these will go a long way in helping to secure the hybrid future that the UK deserves with terrestrial TV continuing to play a key role alongside streaming, so that millions of older people have access to vital broadcast and radio services.

 

We’d like to thank Silver Voices for their ongoing efforts to support the campaign’s cause, as we push on and advocate for the long-term protection of terrestrial TV and radio services.

 

You can read more about the Silver Voices proposals here.

The Digital Poverty Alliance launches 2nd National Delivery Plan and Digital Inclusion Charter
 

Our coalition partner, the Digital Poverty Alliance,  has launched its 2nd Annual Delivery Plan and Charter for Digital Inclusion, which commits to  collaborating with stakeholders to ensure universally accessible services for all.

We know that terrestrial TV is relied upon by millions – including the most vulnerable in society – daily, which is why the campaign is backing a hybrid TV future, supporting terrestrial TV to 2040 and beyond, alongside online streaming.

Besides calling for the protection of these services, we also recognise the importance of supporting those who are either digitally excluded or at greater risk of being so and are proud to champion the work of one of our coalition partners, the Digital Poverty Alliance’s whose mission is to do just that.

Their work extends across the country and today we celebrate the launch of their updated National Delivery Plan and Charter for Digital Inclusion – two important steps forward in helping to tackle digital poverty and putting the onus on government to support third party organisations in doing so.

Most importantly for our coalition, the updated National Delivery Plan includes an important clause. Clause 2.4 advocates for a delay in internet-only infrastructure, including television and telephony, until there is universal access to internet across the nation, amplifying the campaigns call to action and the importance of a hybrid service, putting greater pressure on policymakers to act accordingly.

It’s also great to see the launch of the Charter for Digital Inclusion! The Digital Poverty Alliance has done a wonderful job in already garnering support from various sectors and calling on the commitment of actionable goals and promotion of digital inclusion from these organisations. But we must go further and urge all organisations to sign up to its pledge to make digital services more accessible for everyone in society.

Combined, these two launches are great examples of one of our partners supporting the Broadcast 2040+ campaign, amplifying its commitment to our shared cause and backing the vulnerable people that we are trying to protect.

Get in touch if you’d like to know more about the Digital Poverty Alliance’s National Delivery Plan and Charter for Digital Inclusion. We’ve included some relevant links below for further reading.

Government urged to protect Traditional TV as report warns 5.5 million premises will lack high-speed broadband by 2040

A new report by EY consultancy group found that over 5.5 million UK premises (18% of the total) are predicted to be without a high-speed broadband subscription in 2040. This comes despite the government’s 99% broadband coverage goal for 2030 - but the report shows that uptake is another matter entirely. 

 

The report demonstrates that unless action is taken to protect traditional free-to-air broadcast services there is a potential to exclude those who are least likely to take up a high speed broadband subscription from TV programming including live sports, news, and entertainment. This includes vulnerable groups such as the elderly, disabled individuals, low-income households, and rural communities. 

 

The report’s statistical analysis identified the key barriers to broadband take-up and how this will impact access to universal TV services in 2040. Notably: 

  •  Over 5.5m UK premises (18%) are predicted to be without a high-speed broadband subscription by 2040, despite the government’s commitment to 99% broadband coverage by 2030. 

  • The regions with the highest proportion of premises without high-speed broadband in 2040 are predicted to be Northern Ireland (24%), North East England (21%), Yorkshire & the Humber (20%), North West England (19%), Scotland (19%) and Wales (19%).

  • The uptake of high-speed broadband is only set to increase by 10% between 2022 and 2040, with more than just connectivity being a barrier to individuals adopting high-speed broadband. 

  • Those forecast to be without high-speed broadband will disproportionately be vulnerable groups in society, such as the elderly, disabled and low-income households. 

  • Ofcom, cited in the House of Lords Report on Digital Exclusion (2023), says 31% of people aged 65+ do not currently use the internet at home.

  •  Ofcom reported that around one-in-ten households (2.4 million UK households) find it difficult to afford their broadband service (Ofcom Communications Affordability Tracker, October 2023).

 

The report received key coverage from the Express, GB News and the Telegraph.

 

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The campaign's mission features in the Media Bill Debate

This week the Media Bill had its Report Stage in the House of Commons, with MPs discussing the Bill and debating potential amendments. Media Bills don’t come around very often so this is a once in a generation chance to contribute to a major change in the UK’s media law. The Broadcast 2040+ campaign has been working hard to ensure that the future of broadcast TV and radio services are firmly on the agenda as MPs debate the Bill.

We were delighted that our campaigning efforts paid off, with several positive mentions of Broadcast 2040+ across the house. In particular, Douglas Ross MP tabled an amendment to the Bill which would guarantee certainty and secure the future of broadcast TV and radio services. His speech highlighted the importance of the Broadcast 2040+ campaign and citied a lot of our work.  

Key highlights from Douglas Ross MP's speech proposing the amendment…

Mr Ross emphasised the significance of the Broadcast 2040+ campaign, referring to quotes from some of the campaign’s partners, including the Rural Services Network and Digital Poverty Alliance. The Ipsos 2022 data and the new EY Report data on broadband coverage – set to be published imminently -  were also featured prominently.

He specifically references Arqiva’s submission to the Scottish Affairs Select Committee Report, which said that  "Scotland’s greater rurality than the UK average, its island communities, and comparatively older population make terrestrial television services especially important in Scotland".  This underscores the pivotal role Arqiva and the campaign has played in advocating for a number of diverse groups that rely on terrestrial television services from older people, to low-income households, to those in more isolated regions like Scotland.

Additional support for the amendment…

Other MPs also expressed support for our amendment. Kirsty Blackman MP, Spokesperson for the SNP,  emphasised the importance of protecting Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) for children in low-income households, who may not have smartphones and rely on DTT to access children’s entertainment. 

Thangam Debbonaire MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media, and Sport, highlighted the continued relevance of DTT for millions of people, especially older individuals and those affected by the cost of living crisis. Jamie Stone MP (Lib Dem) and David Duguid MP (Conservative) also echoed Mr Ross’s comments, reinforcing the call for the government to support the protection of broadcast services.  

The government's response…

In the government's closing statement, Julia Lopez MP, Minister of State for Culture, Media and Sport, responded to the proposed amendment, stating that 2034 is not a "cliff-edge" moment for DTT and emphasised the government's commitment to DTT and the communities who rely on it.  Ms Lopez clarified that even after this period, Ofcom would retain the ability to readvertise the multiplex license and for public service broadcasters (PSBs) to continue distributing their linear channels over DTT. This is a clear sign that the government is heeding our call and making increasingly supportive statements about the future of broadcast services beyond the 2030s. 

Next steps…

Even though the amendment was not voted on, there is still an opportunity to push the government to enact legislation that safeguards these services. The Media Bill will now progress to the House of Lords, where it will receive further scrutiny before becoming law.  We will be working closely with the Broadcast 2040+ campaign to advocate for protections to be added to the Bill, to secure the longevity of broadcast services beyond 2040.  

We’ll continue to update you on the progress of the Media Bill and our contributions to the debate surrounding the future of broadcast services.
 

Broadcast 2040+ Campaign’s 1st Parliamentary Event

Early December marked a significant milestone for the Broadcast 2040+ Campaign as we gathered at the House of Commons to celebrate and champion the pivotal role that broadcast TV and radio services play in the lives of millions. This event was not just a chance to reflect on the campaign’s progress to date, but also the enduring importance of safeguarding these services for the future, impacting millions of lives across the nation.

 

The event featured remarks from senior Parliamentarians and representatives from our coalition partners, including Stephanie Peacock MP, Shadow Minister for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport, Peter Gibson, MP for Darlington and representatives from our partners, including Shuja Khan, CEO of Arqiva, Dennis Reed, Director at Silver Voices, and Louise Reed, Founder of Focus 4 Hope. Each speaker shed light on the significance of safeguarding broadcast services, especially for individuals who depend on them daily, such as older people, those in rural areas, and those facing financial challenges.

 

This gathering wasn't just about speeches; it was a collaborative effort to strengthen our commitment to a future where broadcast services are inclusive and accessible to everyone. Attendees included MPs, Lords, industry leaders, and our valued partners. It was heartening to witness the shared dedication to creating a media landscape that serves us all.

 

Together, we are safeguarding the future of broadcast services and we extend our thanks to everyone who attended, supported, and contributed to this event. Your presence and involvement are crucial as we work towards shaping a media landscape that serves us all. 

 

Let's continue to build on this momentum and make a difference. We are paving the way for a future where broadcast services are not only celebrated but also safeguarded for generations to come. Keep tuned for more exciting developments in 2024!

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Peter Gibson MP, MP for Darlington 

Stephanie Peacock MP, Shadow Minister for DCMS 

Our event in Parliament

Neil Bradbury, Chief Executive Officer at AGE UK North Yorkshire Coast and Moors

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On Tuesday 21st November 2023, the Media Bill had its 2nd Reading in the House of Commons. The event saw MPs discuss the premise of the Bill and raise their concerns about issues that that may not be covered within the Bill. 

It was great to see Douglas Ross MP’s comments in the debate noting the need for the Bill to protect Freeview TV beyond 2034 – and to have the Culture Secretary, Rt Hon Lucy Frazer MP respond on the floor of the House. Frazer said she appreciates the discussion on universal television access, highlighting the Bill's focus on modernising the listed events regime and supporting TV and radio in the evolving technological landscape.

Shadow Minister for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Stephanie Peacock's MP closing remarks referred to the Broadcast 2040+ campaign. She outlined that traditional TV must be protected to support vulnerable groups. Closing the debate, Sir John Whittingdale MP, Minister for Department for Culture, Media and Sport said, ‘The government will not consider switching off digital terrestrial TV unless we had reached the point where the overwhelming majority were no longer using it to access TV’.

The term ‘overwhelming majority’ went much further than we’ve heard from the government before and is in direct response to the campaign’s pressure and efforts. The campaign is continuing to engage with government, opposition and a breadth of MPs to ensure the Bill protects broadcast TV and radio services beyond 2040. 

Stephanie Peacock MP (Shadow Minister for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport): “In the light of changing viewing patterns, it is sensible to provide PSBs with some flexibility to meet their remit through on demand programming, but the Broadcast 2040+ campaign and others have been clear that public service content on linear television must still be protected and maintained." 

Douglas Ross MP: “She will know that, in our report on public broadcasting, we recommended that the Government provide urgent assurances on maintaining Freeview beyond 2034. That chimes very much with her speech to the Royal Television Society, in which she said: “We want terrestrial television to remain accessible for the foreseeable future.” Does she anticipate an opportunity in this Bill to ensure we have that guarantee beyond 2034?”

Sir John Whittingdale MP (Minister for Data and Digital Infrastructure): “Several Members asked whether the Government can make a commitment to the continuation of Freeview beyond 2034. The Government would not consider switching off digital terrestrial television unless we had reached the point where the overwhelming majority were no longer using it to access TV. We are very conscious of that group in the population who still rely on traditional Freeview, and that will be in our thoughts.

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"Safeguarding Universality: The Future of broadcast TV and radio service"

Silver Voices, an over 60s campaign group and founding member of the Broadcast 2040+ campaign, has published its landmark report. The report examines in detail how the UK public feel about broadcast TV and radio services. The research found that over 80% of respondents believe broadcast TV and radio should be protected well beyond 2040, with respondents’ answers ranging between 2051 and 2079. This is far in advance of the UK Government’s current commitment of 2034.

You can read the full report here.

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Our Partners

The Broadcast 2040+ campaign is supported by a growing number of partners. It is currently made up of 32 organisations including advocacy groups, charities, membership organisations, and broadcasters, who each believe that broadcast services are important and want to see them protected.

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For more information about our campaign or any questions, please email contact@broadcast2040plus.org

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