Advanced Television

Call for long-term broadcast TV, radio protection

October 25, 2023

By Colin Mann

A report published by over-60s advocacy group Silver Voices has revealed the extent of the British public’s support for the protection of broadcast TV and radio for the long-term.

According to the Safeguarding Universality: The Future of Broadcast TV and Radio report’s findings, over 80 per cent of respondents believe broadcast TV and radio should be protected well beyond 2040 – to at least 2051, with some going further and calling for them to be protected until 2079. This is far in advance of the UK Government’s current commitment to protect these services until 2034.

Almost three-quarters (74 per cent) of respondents believe that the partial or total removal of broadcast services in the future risks leaving behind significant portions of the population, with almost half (46 per cent) concerned about the potential impact of digital-only services on their broadband bills.

The report also analysed the views of those over the age of 60, who were most concerned about the exclusionary impacts of a potential reduction of broadcast services. This includes being left behind due to a lack of access to broadband services (84 per cent) and being less technically able than the rest of the population (70 per cent). Over 90 per cent of respondents over 60 consequentially believe that any future legislation put forward should include a commitment to protect TV and radio broadcast services

The report includes five recommendations to secure these services for generations to come:

  1. That the government provides a clear commitment to the long-term protection of broadcast services including a date well beyond current commitments.
  2. That the government ensures that TV and radio broadcasting, and the broad range of services delivered through it, are protected for the long-term within any ongoing and future legislation.
  3. That the spectrum used by broadcast TV is protected at the World Radiocommunication Conference 2023 (WRC23) and at future international spectrum conferences.
  4. That there are ongoing requirements for Public Service Broadcasters (PSBs) to continue to support universal broadcast services and the rich public service content delivered through them, including through a commitment within the next BBC Charter period.
  5. That the voices of the listeners and viewers, and in particular those groups most heavily reliant on broadcast services, are put at the centre of the debate and any decision-making by government or Ofcom, the sector regulator.

“The report Silver Voices has published today highlights an incredibly important issue that many of our members are worried about – the potential switch-off of broadcast TV and radio,” states Dennis Reed, Director, Silver Voices. The removal of broadcast services risks isolating our members further and no one should be left behind, ignored, or neglected.”

“The government must step up and take action – including by implementing the recommendations we have set out today – to protect the future of these vital services that are not only an essential national asset but something millions of older and vulnerable people across the country rely on day in, day out.”

“We are a proud member of the Broadcast 2040+ campaign which aims to protect the future of broadcast TV and radio services. Over the past year, the campaign has gained significant traction, especially with the Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer vowing to protect these services in a speech at the Royal Television Society. The widely anticipated introduction of a Media Bill in November’s King’s Speech will provide further opportunities to protect the future of these vital services.”

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