Colin Browne, Chairman of Voice of the Listener and Viewer, a British consumer group which champions public service broadcasting, has warned that the forthcoming World Radiocommunication Conference poses a threat to the future of public service broadcasters should spectrum currently used for terrestrial broadcasting be allocated to services such as mobile, calling on government and the regulator to defend broadcasters’ spectrum needs.
Speaking at a Westminster Media Forum Keynote Seminar in London on the future for free-to-air in the UK, Browne echoed comments made by Andy Quested, Lead, BBC Production Standards, earlier in the week. Addressing the topic of universality of access in the UK, Browne suggested that the only genuine universal style of broadcasting in the UK at the moment was Freeview and possibly Freesat. “We don’t think that IPTV actually could qualify as a free-to-air service; people have to pay for broadband and in terms of being universal in terms of quality of broadcasting, it is absolutely clear that we don’t have universal broadband in the UK and we certainly don’t have universal fibre to the home and I don’t think any body knows when that is going to happen,” he admitted.
“So we do believe in the importance of Freeview and the importance of DTT is vital for the UK consumer,” he stated, adding that he was going to mention a word that causes real boredom among content people and that was ‘spectrum’. “We do actually need the spectrum so we can provide the Freeview services. Coming up shortly is the next World Radio Congress (sic) to determine the spectrum policy going forward. We know that the mobile telephone operators and the broadband providers are greedy for more spectrum. They consistently take spectrum away from the broadcasters as we have seen,” he noted.
“It’s really important that the DCMS and Ofcom defend the position of broadcasters, defend spectrum for the broadcasters at the upcoming WRC and other fora,” he declared.