BBC says research backs case for free-to-air HDTV

The BBC claims independent research proves a need for free-to-air high
definition TV (HDTV) services.

It says research conducted by Indepen Consulting shows a so-called
“value to society” deficit of between 4bn and 15bn.

The figures are based o…

BBC%20ThompsonThe BBC claims independent research proves a need for free-to-air high definition TV (HDTV) services.

It says research conducted by Indepen Consulting shows a so-called "value to society" deficit of between £4bn and £15bn.

The figures are based on factors including public service broadcasters losing viewers to commercial rivals away from digital terrestrial television (DTT), on which Freeview lives.

The £4bn figure takes into account the launch of a free satellite service, which the BBC is looking into, but the report says the deficit could spiral to £15bn if there is no free service. It also takes into account the cost of viewers having to upgrade to pay-TV services.

The research has been submitted to Ofcom, which is consulting on the Digital Dividend Review (DDR), ahead of an auction of spectrum freed up by the change from analogue to digital signals expected next year.

Indepen says that under current funding and institutional arrangements by the public service broadcasters – the BBC, Channel 4, Five and ITV – they would "have difficulty justifying" any bids for spectrum.

The broadcasters, together with electronics manufacturers, have previously lobbied Ofcom and the Government through the HDforAll group, saying they fear they will be outbid by organisations such as mobile phone companies for the spectrum in any auction.

BBC director-general Mark Thompson says/ "[High definition] is a technological advance that can and should be available as far as possible to all viewers of digital TV, whether they watch through cable, satellite or an aerial, and whether they choose pay or free-to-air services."

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