• Leading UK organisations have joined the Broadcast 2040+ campaign to protect traditional TV and radio, following record breaking Eurovision and coronation viewing figures.
  • Under the Government’s current policy, broadcast services are only guaranteed until the early 2030s.
  • The Broadcast 2040+ campaign brings together a coalition of voices, including Age UK, the Digital Poverty Alliance, The Campaign to End Loneliness, and the Local TV Network (LTVN)

Pressure is mounting on the Government to safeguard digital terrestrial TV (more commonly known as Freeview) and aerial radio services until at least 2040, following record breaking viewing figures during Eurovision and the Coronation.

A coalition of groups calling for these vital services to be protected has expanded significantly in recent weeks, with a number of UK organisations representing a variety of different groups joining the crusade.

The Broadcast 2040+ campaign, which urges the Government to guarantee access to Freeview and radio services beyond 2040, now has 30 members.
New coalition partners include the Digital Poverty Alliance, an organisation committed to supporting those who live without, or with very minimal, access to the internet and the Campaign to End Loneliness, a network of organisations working to support lonely people reconnect with their community and the National Federation of the Blind of the UK. Organisations from across the broadcast sector have signed up, including the Local TV Network (LTVN) which represents 34 local TV services, World DAB, the global industry forum for digital radio, and Together TV – the community-focused free-to-air channel.

Bringing together a broad coalition of voices, the Broadcast 2040+ campaign has one key ask: that the UK Government provides a public commitment to safeguarding broadcast TV and radio until at least the 2040s. Under the Government’s current policy, these services, and the important public service broadcasting and other content they carry, are only guaranteed until the early 2030s.

The campaign believes that a lack of certainty about the long-term future of broadcast services is likely to have a detrimental impact on the millions of people who rely heavily on them.

Freeview TV and broadcast radio are universally available and do not require a highspeed broadband connection or a monthly subscription cost, making these services well-suited to the needs of low-income households, senior citizens or those who live in the countryside.

The groups who rely on digital terrestrial TV and radio are among the most vulnerable in society including older people who may not have the digital skills to use streaming apps, those in rural areas who are less likely to have a superfast broadband connection, and those facing cost of living pressures who may struggle to afford monthly broadband or subscription costs. Research from Ipsos shows the significant negative impact of the potential loss of broadcast TV and radio, particularly for those who are vulnerable when disconnected from public information, news and entertainment.

The expansion of the Broadcast 2040+ coalition follows significant TV viewing figures over recent weeks, which saw the nation come together to celebrate Eurovision and King Charles III’s Coronation.

Over 9.9 million watched the Eurovision Song Contest, which the UK hosted on behalf of Ukraine, setting a new record as the most watched grand final in history. Likewise, an impressive peak of 20 million Britons tuned in to celebrate the coronation of King Charles and Queen Camilla in Westminster Abbey on 6 May, in the most watched broadcast of the year.

The huge numbers who watched these national moments on their terrestrial TV sets or listened on their broadcast radios demonstrates the vital importance of broadcast services to people up and down the country. The Broadcast 2040+ campaign believes these figures demonstrate clearly the continued role terrestrial TV and radio play in uniting the nation through shared live viewing and listening – which is something that must be safeguarded.

2023 is a crucial year for the broadcast industry. Representatives from countries around the world are set to gather in Dubai in November for the World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC23). The UK will be represented by Ofcom, and Broadcast 2040+ is urging the regulator to send a clear signal that the long-term future of British broadcast services must be protected. That means ensuring no change to digital terrestrial television’s spectrum allocation, and no agreement to future change.

Kerry Booth, Chief Executive of The Rural Services Network said:
“The Government should be committed to protecting every community across the UK. By failing to safeguard these vital services, it currently risks detrimentally harming those who live in rural areas who need the ongoing certainty that they will be able to access free TV and radio services as they may never be able to ensure availability of, or afford, expensive broadband connections in order to access alternatives. That is why we are delighted that more voices and organisations have joined the Broadcast 2040+ coalition as we continue to champion our ask and make sure DTT and aerial radio services are available for years to come.”

David Powell, Chair of the Local Television Network said:
“The Local TV Network is delighted to be a member of the Broadcast 2040+ campaign. We welcome the opportunity to stand with likeminded partner organisations and demonstrate to government that broadcast services are an essential part of the UK’s media ecosystem, and something we should all be looking to preserve for years to come. The Local TV Network is proud to ensure that the communities which value our terrestrial local television services can feel connected to the world around them, especially as more and more of the UK struggles to afford streaming services. To neglect broadcast, when it is arguably needed now more than ever, would be a missed opportunity.”

Patrick Younge, Chair of British Broadcasting Challenge said:
“As the public discourse around broadcast services centres in on the Government’s plans for its future, including the upcoming Media Bill and Ofcom’s market review, it is crucial that we continue to emphasise the benefits they provide to communities across the UK. Together with our coalition partners, we will continue to call on the Government and other political parties to carefully consider the broadcast sector’s value and protect it accordingly.”

Andrew Hodgson, president of The National Federation of the Blind of the UK (NFBUK), said:
“We are extremely worried about changes to broadcast services. Losing direct to aerial TV and radio will close a window in the world that is vital to many blind and visually im-paired people; moving services to online will only deepen the digital divide in the UK ex-cluding many people who do not have access to the internet due to many reasons. Mak-ing the world less accessible to many and who are already marginalised from society. That is why we are backing Broadcast 2040+.
Radio – and local radio in particular – plays a huge part in the lives of many of the peo-ple we represent. They rely on radio as their source of news, entertainment and information throughout the day and at the weekends. We cannot let the universal access to broadcast media slip away. Once lost, it won’t be coming back.”

Helen Hunter, chief executive of AGE UK North Yorkshire and Darlington, said:
“For many older people, TV and radio is their window into the outside world. It keeps them informed, entertained and engaged with the outside world when perhaps they have few other touch points with the rest of society. It is their company when no one else can be there for them. “I’m delighted to support the Broadcast 2040+ campaign because it protects TV for older people. Many older people live on low fixed-incomes and don’t have the financial or technological ability to use the multitude of streaming services. That’s why it’s really important for the government to protect digital terrestrial television.”

Michelle Cooper, CEO of County Durham Community Foundation, said:
“There are a huge number of older and isolated people in our communities living off next to nothing, for whom Freeview TV and radio services bring a lot of company and entertainment without further straining the budget. “It’s the way of the world to monetise almost everything these days, but I strongly support the protection of services that are free at the point of use. I know from my role at the Foundation that people living in merciless hardship year after year will be the ones to miss these services.”

Sarah Cronin-Stanley, Co-Founder of Talking Pictures TV said:
“Talking Pictures TV provides nostalgia, comfort and enjoyment for our core audience of over-55s. We are a proud partner of the Broadcast 2040+ campaign because it is our audience who will suffer most should the UK lose broadcast television. Social isolation will increase for this age group, as many do not have high speed broadband, either because it is unaffordable, or they find it hard to use it. For the well-being of our ageing population, it is essential that we preserve broadcast television.”

Colin Everitt, Chief Operating Officer, Communicorp UK said:
“We welcome and support the Broadcast 2040+ initiative in maintaining and recognising the role that FM broadcasting will continue to play in the lives of our radio audiences beyond the early 2030’s”.

Source: Broadcast 2040+

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By Expat