Digital TV to herald the end of BBC licence fee

The BBC’s licence fee will disappear when digital TV arrives in the UK, predicts David Elstein, BSkyB’s director of programmes.

Speaking at a TV industry conference last week Elstein said the encryption technology of digital TV would make cutting off viewers possible so the fee wouldn’t be needed.

“Pay TV is the logical outcome of digital TV. Once you can disconnect defaulters there is no place for a compulsory tax for services that people may not want.”

Later the conference was told by Paul Styles, head of media consulting at KPMG, that 1 million households, or seven per cent of the UK, will have digital TV by 2001.

Elstein told the conference that the key issue for digital take-up is the subsidy manufacturers are willing to put on digital set-top decoders to get the price as low as possible. Digital decoders are currently expected to retail at about 500.

Styles also predicted that cable and satellite TV would be in 38 per cent of homes by 2001. It is currently in 21 per cent. He said the growth in cable and satellite, Channel 5 and digital would reduce ITV’s ad revenues by one to four per cent over the next five years.

PACT, the television producer’s association, called at the conference for a forum to be set up where advertisers and agencies interested in funding programme makers directly can meet up with TV production companies.

However, LWT managing director Steve Morrison warned that it was for broadcasters to talk to advertisers as only they could guarantee a programme would be broadcast, scheduled and promoted.

The fragmentation of TV audiences caused by cable and satellite, Channel 5 and digital TV will make media planning so complex that agencies will need to charge clients for work beyond simple buying, the conference was told.

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here