Ed Richards, Ofcom’s Chief Executive, has suggested the government’s review of communications policy should include an assessment of the prominence the UK’s Public Service Broadcasters are afforded on Electronic Programme Guides in the converged age.
Delivering an address at the Westminster eForum Keynote Seminar: Assessing the Government’s communications strategy: ‘Connectivity, Content and Consumers: Britain’s digital platform for growth’, Richards suggested that the UK’s network infrastructure was “in pretty good shape”, but that with content a crucial part of the digital economy, it was necessary to make sure the right policy and regulatory framework was adopted.
“The first area we would like to see some reform and revision is EPG prominence,” he told delegates. “The government has clearly committed to support the ‘five PSB’ model,” he noted, suggesting that they constitute around half the UK investment in UK-originated programming, and welcoming the fact that “many other companies” were coming to that party as well.
“That PSB nexus is extremely important. If we have a view about Public Service Broadcasting and that that view is related to things like EPG prominence, then it is important that we are clear about what that means, not just today, but into the future,” he stated.
“We are entering a much more complex world and it’s not exactly clear what precisely the EPG will be, what role it will play in consumers’ and viewers’ behaviour in the future and how we should adapt our thinking in that context. We do need to think very hard about this. The government has said they want to consult with a view to legislate. Our sense is that is absolutely the right position. We can’t stay precisely where we are. It isn’t absolutely clear what the position is today, let alone how that position should evolve in the future so we do need to do some thinking collectively as an industry with other interested parties and the government to work out what it is we mean by EPG prominence in a digitally converged world,” he said.
“I’m not suggesting for a second that there are easy answers to that; I’m not suggesting for a second that it won’t be without complexity and challenge. If we hold to the view that Public Service Broadcasters should be given prominence of some appropriate form in the broadcasting and audiovisual world, then it is incumbent on us to work out precisely what that means and what manifestation that should have in the future world,” he concluded.