Freeview’s research into consumer views and attitudes about television reveals that viewers believe in subscription free television.
The research finds that 90 per cent of Brits say the main Freeview channels should be free for everyone to access – a percentage that is similar among those who currently subscribe to pay TV like Sky (90 per cent) or Virgin (91 per cent) on their main set.
The research also shows that among the British public, access to Freeview ranks almost as highly as free radio (92 per cent) when consumers were asked whether everyone should be entitled to access this free at the point of use.
Yet there are significant decisions on the horizon about how the airwaves are allocated in the future which could adversely affect the type, quality and breadth of free TV available to UK viewers.
Ilse Howling, Managing Director of Freeview, said: “Our online research shows clearly that free TV is valued by the British public as something of a national treasure. In times of austerity, people are making frugal decisions about their spending, but even those who choose to pay for TV strongly believe it’s a citizen’s right to have universal access to free television.
“More than being a valued British asset however, we believe universal access to good quality free TV is a basic right in a functioning democracy. Even since the rise of the internet, TV is one of the main ways in which people gain information – in fact around half of those surveyed online say that TV helps them learn things (49 per cent), or stay connected with the world (46 per cent). Many people are still not online – particularly older people and those in rural communities – and web news outlets are increasingly being put behind paywalls; TV is a key source of news and information and should therefore not be underestimated.
“This is why, as the debate over the future use of spectrum gets underway, it is vital that a comprehensive free TV offering is maintained and that citizens have the choice to access it; without this, the very notion of our democracy is at risk of being compromised.”