Internet video to eclipse broadcast TV: Currie

Lord Currie

Broadcast television will be overtaken by internet-delivered video, Ofcom chairman Lord Currie predicted yesterday. Delivering the Westminster Media Forum's annual Ofcom lecture Lord Currie said teenagers and young adults were already watching seven hours per week less television than average viewers.

"I predict that by 2012 when digital switchover has happened successfully and the London Olympics are being staged that cohort will be parents with young children for whom broadcast television will have ceased to be the lead medium," said Lord Currie.

Younger viewers had always been the hardest for advertisers to reach, but broadcasters had depended on the fact that "as that cohort settled down and had families they had less disposable income, stayed in more and, so, watched more TV".

Lord Curry said many observers were becoming "increasingly sceptical" about whether that would happen this time. "In this case, where the young audience has gone, the mainstream audience may go in the future".

The move to an on-demand world would "cause immense disruption" to the broadcast television business, warned Lord Currie.

"As broadcast television overtook radio, then newspapers, so internet-delivered video content will overtake broadcast television. And advertising will follow suit, causing shifts in traditional business models."

And it would force a change in the "methods by which we deliver public service broadcasting". Channels such as Sky News, Arts World and the History Channel were examples of the market delivering public service broadcasting, but "in the future it may not deliver enough".

Lord Currie said it would be impossible to impose "all but minimal public service broadcasting obligations on broadcasters in exchange for licences after digital switchover because those licences will no longer be scarce".

Lord Currie confirmed the regulator was further developing its proposed public service publisher, a publicly funded entity competing against the BBC in public service broadcasting. "It would commission public service content but not be tied to a traditional linear TV model and it could distribute public service content across platforms," said Lord Currie.

  • Ofcom chief policy partner Kip Meek is to stand down from the Ofcom board early in 2007. Meek joined the Ofcom board in March 2003, and chairs the independent European Regulators' Group. "I have enjoyed my time at Ofcom immensely. However, with the completion of my term as ERG Chairman next year—and as my fifth year with Ofcom approaches—the time is right for me to move on," said Meek.

Lovelace Consulting  |  02.11.2006

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