Digital UK stresses DTT value ahead of spectrum shakeup

Digital UKThe UK’s Freeview DTT platform returns almost £80 billion (€97 billion) to the economy and delivers more value per unit of spectrum than mobile broadband, according to a new report by Digital UK. 

The not-for-profit organisation claims the research “challenges the view that mobile broadband delivers more value from airwaves than television” as policy makers in the UK and Europe mull the possibility of freeing up more spectrum for the mobile market.

“Digital UK and its members (BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Arqiva) are urging government to ensure any further transfers of airwaves do not weaken Freeview and other terrestrial TV services, and that viewers should not suffer disruption or foot the bill for making the changes,” said Digital UK.

In a joint letter that accompanies the new report, BBC director general Tony Hall, ITV CEO Adam Crozier, Channel 4 CEO David Abraham and Arqiva CEO John Cresswell also stressed that terrestrial services like Freeview were necessary for the UK to remain a “world leader in television.”

“This report sheds new light on the value of DTT for viewers, the UK television sector and wider economy. With increasing demand for spectrum it is critical that DTT remains a strong proposition with the same coverage and range of channels viewers enjoy today,” said Digital UK chief executive Jonathan Thompson.

The report, which was commissioned by Digital UK, but carried out by media and telecoms consultancy Communications Chambers, claimed that DTT supports 15,000 jobs in broadcasting and independent production in the UK.

It also said that DTT provides £79.8 billion to the UK, more than was previously estimated, and drives innovation and investment in programme-making at the same time as keeping consumer costs down.

In terms of value, the report claims that the average value per MHz of spectrum for DTT is 50% higher than for mobile data, and claims that mobile “already has a far greater allocation of spectrum than DTT.”

“The increasing availability of free WiFi means mobile networks only carry 18% of mobile device traffic,” adds Digital UK.

Digital UK was formed by UK broadcasters to help consumers to switch over to digital TV. From last year, the organisation has also started to manage strategy and policy for digital terrestrial television in the UK.