Super-fast broadband offers great promise but at what cost?

After all the kerfuffle surrounding the new government over the last few weeks, it’s somewhat of a relief to see the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition promising super-fast broadband in its programme for government.

But will the possible use of TV licence fee money to fund it lead to unnecessary backlash?

In its document, the government has stated: “We will introduce measures to ensure the rapid roll-out of superfast broadband across the country. We will ensure that BT and other infrastructure providers allow the use of their assets to deliver such broadband, and we will seek to introduce superfast broadband in remote areas at the same time as in more populated areas.” All good news.

But then the bad news. “If necessary, we will consider using the part of the TV licence fee that is supporting the digital switchover to fund broadband in areas that the market alone will not reach.”

One only has to remember that the previous government was forced to scrap plans for a 50p a month tax on home phone lines to fund this to know that the proposal of using licence fee money will garner much resentment.

Of course, this will only be a concern if it does become necessary and the new broadband minister, whose appointment is imminent, will have to be well versed in the reasoning behind using these funds.

In the past, Jeremy Hunt, who is now the Culture, Media Sport and Olympics secretary, has pledged to help make the UK the first major European country that has superfast broadband in the majority of homes by 2017 dubbing the UK “one of the slowest countries in the developed world for broadband”.

He said Britain’s digital and creative industries “must have a proper communications infrastructure” if they are to become “world beaters”.

Digital marketers will be excited by these prospects and keen to see them progressed as soon as possible.

Hunt’s pledges resonate with them and will help the industry advance in its offerings, and make the online advertising industry a more engaging and intuitive part of a consumer’s everyday life.

The challenge after that will be for online advertisers to work towards the government’s other marketing-related goal of making society “more family friendly, and to take action to protect children from excessive commercialisation and premature sexualisation.”

Only this week, the Advertising Standards Authority banned its first video-on-demand ad for Carriers, a 15 rated film that played both as a pre- and post-roll spot for The X Factor final on ITV Player.

The voiceover described life after a virus outbreak and featured survivors wearing masks and carrying weapons alongside images of body bags, and the ad was found to be frightening and inappropriate for display during a family programme.

The online ad industry must continue to work hard at ensuring that mistakes like these do not become a common problem, especially given the parental fears that dominate the media on an everyday basis.

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