Advanced Television

Culture Secretary: ‘We’ll protect terrestrial TV’

September 20, 2023

By Colin Mann

Viewers of free-to-air terrestrial TV should not be “left behind” amid shifting viewing habits towards streaming services, the UK Culture Secretary will say in a major speech on the future of TV.

Lucy Frazer will deliver a keynote speech at the Royal Television Society Cambridge Conference where she will outline her plan to maximise the potential of the TV industry to capitalise on the endless choice new technology now offers to audiences.

Addressing this year’s conference theme of ‘Too Much To Watch’, the minister is expected to say that the huge variety of online platforms have supercharged creativity across the UK and global TV industry, but leaps forward in technology should not negatively impact on people who rely on traditional ways of watching TV.

In her speech, Frazer will say: “As we focus on the future, our attention must also be on making sure people are not left behind. Because new ways of consuming TV should not come at the expense of those who still enjoy terrestrial television.

“This government wants to encourage the sector to keep embracing innovation and technological development. But we’re not going to pull the rug from under the devoted audiences of Freeview channels. We want terrestrial television to remain accessible for the foreseeable future.”

To support this commitment, Frazer will announce a new research and engagement programme looking at the future of TV in the UK. The work will help inform long-term policy decisions on whether to extend the current commitment to keep Freeview on air until at least 2034.

The project will help ensure audiences of the future continue to have access to world-class TV – regardless of how technology changes in the decades to come – and support the industry to navigate and seize the opportunities ahead.

Further announcements related to the future of TV are also expected in the speech, which will take place at King’s College Cambridge in front of an audience of media industry leaders.

Channel 4’s Alex Mahon will chair the event, as well as leading a Q&A session with the minister following her speech.

The plans build on the Culture Secretary’s ambitions to grow the creative industries by £50 billion (€58bn) and create one million additional jobs in the sector by 2030 – a key plank of the government’s priority to grow the economy, backed up by the Creative Industries Sector Vision. The wider film and TV sector contributed £18.2 billion GVA in 2020 and is responsible for 280,000 jobs across the UK.

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