Written evidence submitted by DTG
The DTG welcomes the opportunity to provide a contribution to the UK Parliament call for evidence on the Draft Media Bill in order to help inform the Committee on future developments in viewing habits.
DTG supports this work in its role as the industry association for digital television in the UK, and as the publisher of the Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) Requirements for Interoperability in the UK (DTG D-Book).
This response is to the question in the general issues section on:
The industry is going through a period of rapid innovation with the proliferation of streaming services, and so it is key that future iterations of the Communications Act can be flexible enough to incorporate new technologies and services while providing a proportionate regulatory framework for the emerging technologies and both new and long-standing stakeholders. In particular, an emerging model for content distribution is via Free Ad Supported TV (FAST) which is a key concept for providing consumers with free at the point of access content over the internet– a parallel means of accessing content for consumers to digital terrestrial television (DTT, branded Freeview) and digital satellite television (DSAT, branded Freesat). FAST is not mentioned in the Draft Media Bill yet although it is an important part of TV delivery which is set to grow rapidly over the next 5 years.
FAST is a new concept in the media and entertainment industry and so can mean different things depending on the perspective of the stakeholder e.g. the content owners, broadcasters, hardware manufacturers. However, as an example, FAST has been deployed as a content distribution model which is completely online and accessed via either a logical channel number (LCN) or an Application (App), providing a curated TV experience for the consumers’ choice – although, It is important to note that this is not the only FAST deployment strategy being considered by the industry. In all cases though the content is ad-funded viewers can access it free of charge while content providers can take advantage of new opportunities to access new markets, and monetise both new and existing content. This can be seen as a converging of the broadcast and broadband worlds bringing together the lean-back approach of linear broadcast TV with the wide access of the streaming world while offering an alternative to the subscription video on demand options currently delivered via the internet.
FAST represents an important opportunity for the TV industry to move beyond traditional broadcast both in terms of revenue and in engaging with viewers and the UK economy may benefit from this growth. At the recent DTG Summit (4th May 2023), FAST was a central topic of discussion in a session around rethinking media which included Ofcom. Market analysis shows that online video advertising is the fastest-growing media and entertainment segment, with a 17.2% 10 Year CAGR expected between 2018 and 2028, compared to -2.4% CAGR for traditional TV advertising on a global basis*. Additionally, global FAST channel revenues are predicted to more than double from $6bn in 2023 to almost $13bn by 2028**. However, as this is a nascent market in the UK for TV delivery and is still under development, any legislative approach needs to be flexible to avoid restricting innovation in this area.
DTG are working with industry to ensure there is a common understanding of FAST and to highlight where there are areas that could benefit from standardisation. To support this the DTG has set up the FAST Forum to bring together stakeholders from all areas of the FAST delivery chain from production to viewing. The group meets monthly and is publishing a paper providing an educational guide to FAST which will ultimately ensure viewers are delivered the best possible experience.
We would welcome the opportunity to present the findings to DCMS at a FAST Forum meeting to support the important work of the Media Bill and also request that DCMS clarify how they intend to incorporate FAST into the Bill.
*Omdia Advertising Intelligence Service
**Omdia Advertising Intelligence Service