How will the growth of internet TV affect traditional TV platforms like Freeview? Ofcom has been tasked to find out.
- Universal free-to-air TV is still used by millions of households, particularly during major news and sports events.
- Ofcom wants to understand how internet networks are evolving to be resilient to the growing demand from users.
Ofcom has launched a ‘call for evidence’ as it launches a review of the way the UK will access TV services in the future.
The regulator notes that television has been a fixture in households for almost a century, and it is an important part of our daily lives. But audiences are becoming more fragmented with more and more video content being watched online.
It wants to consider what internet distribution will mean over the long term for the dedicated TV platforms and services which people rely on today, and how broadband networks are evolving to meet and be resilient to this new demand.
Its ‘call for evidence’ gives an overview of the factors that might affect the landscape for TV distribution over the next decade and beyond. Ofcom is seeking evidence from both stakeholders and consumers on how they anticipate the market developing and any key questions that arise for regulators and the Government.
The Government wants Ofcom to report back on how market changes will affect Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT/Freeview).
Future of terrestrial TV uncertain
Next month, delegates from around the world will meet in Dubai to determine if the frequencies currently used by DTT across the UK, Europe, Middle East and Africa should be reassigned to mobile broadband networks beyond 2030.
There is broad support within the UK and Europe to keep the status quo until the middle of the 2030s. This only postpones the inevitable end of DTT, placing pressure on broadcasters and platform operators to develop and transition viewers to an online universal free-to-air broadcasting system. Everyone TV (formerly Digital UK) has stepped up to develop ‘Freely‘, which may well replace Freeview and Freesat in the long term.
At the same time, some neighbouring countries are investigating the use of 5G Broadcast. This would use current DTT frequencies and transmitter sites for an online based terrestrial platform that would provide free-to-access public service broadcasting content to TVs, tablets and mobiles.
In the meantime, current fixed line broadcast networks will need to be engineered to be more resilent. This includes being able to cope with greater quantities of streaming data and being able to fix faults more quickly.
- Further information about Ofcom’s call for evidence can be found on its website. The call for evidence is open until 12th December 2023.