Ofcom to make the UK a world-leading digital economy, House of Lords want to keep BBC mission and UKTV considering making channels available on Freeview : DTG Daily News February 25th

Ofcom to make the UK a world-leading digital economy

UKs comms regulator Ofcom has released plans on they propose to improve telecoms quality and coverage across the country. Following its Strategic Review of Digital Communications, Ofcom want to give consumers and businesses the best possible broadband and phone services, which will assist in making the UK a world-leading digital economy.

Calls from the industry for changes to BT's network subsidiary Openreach have been unsuccessful to date, but now Ofcom has stated that it is necessary to overhaul Openreach's governance and strengthen its independence from BT, there will be major changes in the coming months.

Ofcoms key decisions are:

- A choice of networks for consumers and businesses. Openreach must open up its network of telegraph poles and underground tunnels to allow rivals to build their own, advanced fibre networks, connected directly to homes and offices.

- Reform of Openreach. Openreach needs to change, taking its own decisions on budget, investment and strategy, in consultation with the wider industry.

- Better quality of service across the telecoms industry. Ofcom intends to introduce tougher rules on faults, repairs and installations; transparent information on service quality; and automatic compensation for consumers when things go wrong.

- Better broadband and mobile coverage. Ofcom will work with the Government to deliver a new universal right to fast, affordable broadband for every household and business in the UK. We also intend to place new obligations in future spectrum licences to improve rural mobile coverage.

House of Lords want to keep BBC mission

During discussions regarding the BBC at the House of Lords, the communications Select Committee has stated that there is no need to change the BBC's core mission—to 'inform, educate and entertain'—originally set out by the BBC's founder Director General, Lord Reith around 50 years ago.

“The BBC is, indeed, a national treasure. It is the envy of countries all over the world and the Select Committee endorsed its role, as it has been since the days of Lord Reith, ‘to inform, educate and entertain’,” declared Lord Best Chairman of the Committee.

“We received no compelling evidence for a reduction in the BBC’s scale and scope. Rather, the Committee sees merit in the universality of the BBC, underlining its special role of reflecting and bringing together the nations, regions and diverse communities of the UK.”

“The Select Committee has no disagreement with the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee’s recommendations for new governance structures (which were not part of the Lords’ inquiry). Our inquiry found evidence for the BBC’s next Charter to be for a longer term, to decouple it from the General Election cycle. This would provide stability for the BBC to allow for long-term planning, as well as protecting its impartiality and independence, which the Charter Renewal process so desperately needs,” he concluded.

UKTV considering making channels available on Freeview

As UKTV are preparing to launch Home on Freeview next month, it considers making more of its pay-TV channels available for free.

The decision follows the move of free channels Drama, Really and Yesterday onto Freesat in December, and supports a strategic shift from the broadcaster to help grow its audience and rebalance its portfolio.

Any final decisions are likely to coincide with UKTV's renegotiation on agreements with pay-TV platform partners Sky and Virgin Media next year.

Enders Analysis chief operating officer Gill Hind, comments that UKTV could offset the high cost of acquiring and running a Freeview slot by growing its reach.

“It makes sense for UKTV to take advantage of the advertising market, which is doing incredibly well at the moment,” she said.

“About 40% of households have Freeview on their main set, with many Sky and Virgin homes having it on their second set.”

DTG Staff  |  25.02.2016

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