Written evidence submitted by the Broadcast 2040+ campaign
Call for evidence: Pre-legislative scrutiny of the Draft Media Bill
Response on behalf of the Broadcast 2040+ campaign
We welcome the opportunity to respond to the Committee’s Pre-legislative scrutiny of the Draft Media Bill call for evidence on behalf of the Broadcast 2040+ campaign.
As a broad coalition of voices, we support the goals of the draft Media Bill – to modernise broadcasting legislation and support the ongoing development of Public Service Broadcasters (PSBs) and Public Service Channels (PSCs) in a market where consumers have wide-ranging choice in how they watch or listen to them.
Broadcast services deliver valuable content, including trusted news, entertainment, live sport, programmes that educate and bring communities together. Currently, this content is universally available through the Freeview service, delivered using the digital terrestrial television (DTT) network, and via broadcast radio services received through an aerial in homes, businesses, and vehicles across the UK.
Millions of people access public service broadcasts and wider public service content through broadcast services. For example, 88% of the time audiences spend engaging with the BBC is through its broadcast services. Millions of people rely heavily, or exclusively, on broadcast platforms to access these public services, including older people, lower income households, and people without access to high quality broadband either because it is unavailable, or they are unable to pay for it.
Whilst many viewers and listeners are now also able to access PSB and PSC content via online platforms, broadcast services will continue to play a vital role in delivering this content over the long-term. A forecast by Enders analysis has indicated that on current trends, by 2034 there will still be nearly 20 billion hours of TV watched through DTT, 80% of today’s levels.
Broadcast services play a vital role in ensuring the universal reach of PSB and other highly valued content. Broadcast services ensure that nearly everyone, 98.5% of the population, can consume content for no extra charge, no matter where they live, their age, or their income levels. This means that people across the whole of the UK including those in rural areas, those in more disadvantaged communities, and those who either cannot receive or cannot afford to pay for a high-speed fixed broadband services still have access to a rich variety of content.
We urge the Committee to consider what safeguards should be implemented to provide sufficient assurances that public service content will continue to be available to everyone, including to those audiences reliant on free-to-air broadcast services.
The Draft Bill’s proposals, designed to provide PSBs with flexibility to meet their service remit through online programming and for online PSB programmes to qualify under the listed events regime, have the potential to create a situation where audiences who continue to rely on broadcast services are either deprived of access or face an inferior experience of public service broadcasting.
Without additional safeguards, the Draft Bill, as worded, could be damaging and undermine the importance of universality, which ensures that everyone across the nations of the UK can access free public service content.
It is not clear from its text that there will be sufficient future requirements for the PSBs to continue to provide services via broadcast platforms. Similarly, PSBs could be incentivised to prioritise online audiences instead of broadcast as the key mechanism to deliver public service content to all audiences. This would be disadvantageous to audiences that will continue to rely on broadcast services – particularly the most vulnerable in our communities – those that are older, unable to afford high-quality broadband, or live in remote areas. Being able to access or afford high-quality broadband or being able or willing to sign-up to and use online platforms should not become a barrier to accessing public service content.
The Broadcast2040+ coalition is calling for the UK Government to ensure that broadcast services will continue to be available to everyone across the UK up to and beyond 2040. The Media Bill should ensure this and champion the vital role that broadcasting plays in providing universally available public service content. If these broadcast platforms which deliver universality are not protected, and if the vital public services content which is delivered via broadcast platforms is not secure, then it risks undermining the valuable services which millions of people rely on.
We ask that the Committee considers what safeguards can be included in the Media Bill to ensure that those reliant on broadcast platforms will continue to be able to access and enjoy a full range of public service content, and not be disadvantaged relative to those who access online services. Furthermore, the Media Bill should build in protections to ensure broadcast platforms remain available for the long-term, beyond 2040.
About the Broadcast 2040+ campaign and its partners
The Broadcast 2040+ campaign was launched in 2022 by organisations with a shared concern – that there was no Government commitment guaranteeing that broadcast TV and radio would continue to be available beyond the early 2030s.
The campaign was formed to deliver two key messages to Government:
- Broadcast services are relied on by millions of people and must be protected
- The Government must act now to safeguard these vital national assets for the long term – until the 2040s and beyond
The aim of the Broadcast 2040+ campaign is to seek a Government commitment to safeguard broadcast TV and radio, and the vital services carried over broadcast platforms, to 2040 and beyond. Since launching, the campaign has released research that highlights the importance of broadcast TV and radio services in the UK, and the strong public support for these services to continue to be available into the future.
- Research from Ipsos, which has found that 90% of adults in Great Britain believe these services should continue to be supported (read more)
- Polling from Strand Partners, which found that 8 in 10 people value broadcast TV and radio as affordable entertainment options for their families, with 72% saying the loss of digital terrestrial television would have a significant negative impact on the UK (read more)
The Broadcast 2040+ campaign has also gained the attention of MPs, who have raised questions in Parliament about the steps being taken to ensure broadcast TV and radio will continue to be available for the long-term.
The Broadcast 2040+ campaign has grown to include 30 organisations that recognise the important role played by broadcast services every day in the UK. We believe that a long-term commitment to these services is necessary to provide certainty that broadcast TV and radio will continue to be available to meet the needs of audiences in the future.
The full list of partners includes: Digital Poverty Alliance, The Campaign to End Loneliness, Age UK, Children’s Media Foundation, Rural Services Network, Arqiva, Silver Voices, British Broadcast Challenge, Local Television Network (LTVN), The Voice of the Listener and Viewer, PBS America, Talking Pictures TV, Together TV, Communicorp UK, Boom Radio, Frontier Smart Technologies, The National Federation of the Blind UK, The British Entertainment Industry Radio Group (BEIRG) Citizens Advice Cornwall, Sunrise Radio, Churches 4 Positive Change, County Durham Community Foundation, Age UK: North Tyneside, Cumbria Community Foundation, Focus4Hope Brighouse, World DAB, Fix Radio, United Christian Broadcasters, Age of Concern North Norfolk and Age UK North Yorkshire and Darlington.
Full details on the partners is as follows:
- Silver Voices: Silver Voices is the UK-wide campaign organisation for the over 60s. With over 5000 paid-up members, and thousands of others supporting their social media channels, they campaign on all issues which have a major impact on the older generations, including pensions, health and social care and retirement housing. They led the successful campaign in 2022 to restore the Triple Lock on state pensions and continue to call for free TV licences to be restored to the over 75s. Members of Silver Voices determine their policies through regular surveys, and they are the only representative organisation wholly run by older people, for older people.
- Age UK: Age UK’s vision is a world where everyone can love later life. They know it won’t be easy getting there, but they believe it’s how things should be. With your help, they work every day to make it happen.
- Childrens Media Foundation: The Children's Media Foundation is dedicated to ensuring UK children have access to the best possible media, on all platforms, at all ages. The CMF is governed by a Board of concerned individuals. Its activities in various fields are undertaken by the CMF Executive who are all volunteers. The CMF is a not-for-profit organisation funded by donations from individuals and organisations. CMF recognises media is a powerful force that shapes children's lives. It can be detrimental, but also extremely valuable.
- Rural Services Network: RSN is the national champion for rural services, ensuring that people in rural areas have a strong voice. They are fighting for a fair deal for rural communities to maintain their social and economic viability for the benefit of the nation as a whole.
- Arqiva: In today’s switched-on world, companies – entire industries – are grappling with how to share data and content across a myriad of connected devices. That’s where Arqiva comes in. Fundamentally, they’re enablers. Behind the scenes, they apply their knowledge and expertise to stitch together technologies that connect broadcasters and utilities to their customers, and the content, data, information, and entertainment they want.
- British Broadcast Challenge: The Children's Media Foundation is dedicated to ensuring UK children have access to the best possible media, on all platforms, at all ages. The CMF is governed by a Board of concerned individuals. Its activities in various fields are undertaken by the CMF Executive who are all volunteers. The CMF is a not-for-profit organisation funded by donations from individuals and organisations. CMF recognises media is a powerful force that shapes children's lives. It can be detrimental, but also extremely valuable.
- VLV: The Voice of the Listener & Viewer (VLV) is an independent, non-profit making membership-based charity, free from political and sectarian affiliations. VLV works to promote high quality broadcasting which maintains the democratic and cultural traditions of the UK. They support the independence, integrity and secure funding of the BBC and the work of broadcasters and programme makers who demonstrate commitment to the principles of public service broadcasting (PSB). Their UK TV/radio services are admired across the world, but UK PSB broadcasting is under threat. Funding has declined and they face losing something precious unless we fight to keep it.
- Digital Poverty Alliance: Their vision. To live in a world which enables everyone to access the life changing benefits that digital brings. Their mission. To end digital poverty once and for all by 2030 What they do… They convene, compel, and inspire collaboration for the UK & global community to lead sustainable action against digital poverty
- The Campaign to End Loneliness: The Campaign to End Loneliness believe that people of all ages need connections that matter. They have been experts in the field of loneliness and connection since 2011. Their vision is that everyone can live a life free from chronic loneliness.
- Citizens Advice Cornwall: Citizens Advice Cornwall is an independent charity and member of the national Citizens Advice Service. The organisation exists to offer free, independent, and confidential advice to everyone to help solve their problems and improve their lives – from consumer issues to problems at work and from benefit applications to debt relief and homelessness – they’re here to help everyone regardless of race, class, religion, politics or sexual identity.
- Churches 4 Positive Change: Churches 4 Positive Change are made up of Pastors from various church denominations and community leaders in Wolverhampton. They formed as a result of the work that ‘Men 4 Positive Change’ delivered in the city over the past five years. They formed to respond to the rise in gang and serious youth violence in the city and aim to empower people to facilitate change.
- County Durham Community Foundation: County Durham Community Foundation is a charity and company limited by guarantee. It is governed by a Board of Trustees made up of a wide range of professionals who either live, work, or have an interest in County Durham. The work of County Durham Community Foundation is also supported by their President, patrons, and ambassadors.
- Age UK: North Tyneside: The Age UK North Tyneside Group was established in 1972 and has grown to become the largest local voluntary organisation in the borough. They have over 250 staff and over 135 volunteers providing a wide range of services for older adults in North Tyneside.
- Cumbria Community Foundation: The Cumbria Community Foundation are an independent local charity run by a board of trustees who are elected annually by their members. With the support of their founders they have made grants totalling more than £50m since inception in 1999. They provide a means by which people and organisations can make a difference to the most disadvantaged people in their community. Cumbria Community Foundation is part of a national and international network of community foundations. Together they seek to support people and organisations wishing to invest in the local community.
- Focus4Hope Brighouse: Focus4Hope is a registered charity, based in Brighouse that seeks to provide support for the homeless, elderly, isolated, and vulnerable in West Yorkshire. They were founded in 2016 as a community-based group of friends, who wanted to develop ways of collectively making a difference in the region. From these humble beginnings, the organisation has gone on to become a pillar in the local charitable community. They have had the great pleasure of helping thousands of vulnerable people in our area, as well as refugees in France. In their local region, they predominantly work with the elderly, the homeless, those who are fleeing domestic violence, and isolated/lonely individuals in need of support. They also operate a food bank in Brighouse, which delivers dozens of food parcels to people in our community each week.
- World DAB: The global industry forum for DAB digital radio. WorldDAB delivers tailored solutions and advice on all aspects of the switch from analogue to digital radio including regulation, licensing, technical trials, network build out, marketing and production of new digital radio content.
- Frontier Smart Technologies: Frontier is a pioneer in technologies for connected audio and the market leader in DAB/DAB+ radios and SmartRadio solutions. Powering over 50 million devices worldwide. Frontier provides a range of chips and modules, from turnkey entry-level solutions to sophisticated, highly configurable options, to leading consumer electronics brands. With its R&D centre in Cambridge (UK) and manufacturing and sales offices in Shenzhen (China) and Hong Kong, Frontier supports clients and consumers across Europe and Asia. Frontier is a Science Group (AIM:SAG) company.
- Fix Radio: Fix Radio - The Builders Station, is the UK's national DAB station made especially for tradespeople. Featuring trade influencers and presenters like The Bald Builders Breakfast with Brad and Sam (Britain's most followed builders on social media), and dedicated programming for individual trades such as carpentry, heating and plumbing and plastering, the station covers all aspects of life on site.
- Communicorp UK: At CCUK they pride themselves on creating high-quality, bespoke, campaigns across the marketing mix. From radio advertising on some of the UK’s most exciting brands to creative print and copywriting
- Boom Radio: Boom Radio is a digital radio start-up, using DAB and online technology to broadcast to the UKs 14m baby boomers.
- LTVN: The Local TV Network represents the interests of the 34 Ofcom-licensed local television services in the UK. Launched in 2013, Local TV covers localities from Belfast to Medway, Aberdeen to Bristol, delivering locally focused news bulletins on Freeview. They engage with local government, public bodies and media on numerous issues related to policies, relevant access and commercial agreements, on behalf of their services.
- PBS America: PBS America is the UK home of television America’s Public Broadcasting Service, available 24 hours a day on Freeview 84, Freesat 155, Virgin 273 and Sky 174.
- Talking Pictures TV: Talking Pictures TV (TPTV) is the UK’s largest independent television channel and is unique in targeting lovers of classic film and television.
- Together TV: Together TV is the social change broadcaster brought to you by the experience of Community Channel, the supporter-owned TV channel established in 2000. Together TV inspires and connects people, breathing new life into what a TV channel can be.
- United Christian Broadcasters: United Christian Broadcasters is all about making sure that every person, in every place, every moment of the day has the opportunity to hear, watch, or read the Word of God in a relevant and engaging way. We do this through 2 national DAB Christian radio stations (UCB 1 and UCB 2), a Bible devotional sent to your home each quarter (the UCB Word For Today), and a Prayerline team who are available to pray with you and for you (whatever your situation).
- Age of Concern North Norfolk: The registered charity’s aim is to maintain its clients' independence and help them to continue to live at home and participate in community life for as long as possible. Through attending the day service hub, clients can have regular social contact, reducing social isolation and helping maintain mental abilities.
- Age UK North Yorkshire and Darlington: In operation since 1989, Age UK North Yorkshire & Darlington has been offering a wide range of services, all tailored for the over 50's.The organisation’s mission is – “to enhance the health and well-being of older people by promoting quality-assured activity, information and care; ensuring that older people have opportunity for choice and continued independence".
- National Federation of the Blind UK: National Federation of the Blind of the UK is a registered charity founded by blind and partially sighted people in 1947 and is an independent, non political, self help campaigning group, which is still run by blind and partially sighted people. With representatives in numerous organisations and committees, working with Local Authority and Government departments, it strives to improve the overall welfare and quality of daily life for all blind, partially sighted, deaf-blind people and those whose sight impairment is part of multi disability.
- The British Entertainment Industry Radio Group (BEIRG): The British Entertainment Industry Radio Group (BEIRG) is an independent, not-for-profit organisation that works for the benefit of all those who produce, distribute and ultimately consume content made using radio spectrum in the UK. Venues and productions that depend on radio spectrum include TV, film, sport, theatre, churches, schools, live music, newsgathering, political and corporate events, and many others.
- Sunrise Radio: Sunrise Radio in its 34th year of broadcasting, was the UK’s 1st 24-hour Asian radio station and has remained the number 1 commercial Asian radio station during this time. It’s the UK’s only national commercial Asian radio service and is synonymous with British Asians, setting Asian culture in a Western context. Its importance to British Asians is unprecedented, it also provides British-born Asians with a link to their heritage through its content. It gives the wider community an opportunity to connect with this fast-growing, affluent population, at a time when diversity and inclusion are at the top of many agendas.