The Children’s Media Foundation (CMF)

Broadcast 2040 – Protecting an Invaluable Asset for Children and Young People

CMF has responded to the Ofcom consultation on the decisions to be taken at the World Radiocommunications Conference  2023. You can read our response expressing concerns about the loss of TV through an aerial - for many less well-off households and the children who live in them.

Laurie Patten, Director of Strategy and Regulation at Arqiva, describes below the advance work being put in to protect the broadcast spectrum for services which have broad public support. Particularly for the children's services they provide.

Broadcast is an enormously valued asset for children

For all the new ways of watching content like streaming, broadcast services remain the backbone for many. These services are vital for children, particularly those who are living in low-income households, as they are the least likely to have a superfast broadband connection, devices to access streaming apps or the budget to afford subscription costs. This is especially true due to the current cost of living crisis families in the UK are facing. Broadcast TV and radio delivered via an aerial - which are free at the point of use offer great value for money and help ensure that all children across the UK have access to educational and entertaining content.

Broadcast TV and radio is also regulated, supporting content that is appropriate and safe for children. Online content platforms are not yet all regulated in the same way and may not have requirements in place that are specific to children’s content.

Recent research from Ipsos has found that 85% of adults across Great Britain believe Government or their local MPs should actively support the continued provision of broadcast TV and radio.  And new data will be published in the coming weeks on the value of broadcast TV – as opposed to online TV and streaming – for children’s viewing.

The future of broadcast will be decided in the coming years

On current plans, there is only certainty for the provision of TV and radio through an aerial until the early 2030s. That may feel like a long way away but on a topic like this, it's closer than you might think. There are some major upcoming policy decisions the UK must take if it wants to commit to broadcast services for the long term.

The first of these decisions will be taking place at the World Radiocommunication Conference 2023 (WRC-23). At this international conference, countries will decide how spectrum – radio frequencies used for broadcasting – should be allocated to TV and other technologies like mobile services. There are also other decisions that could impact the ongoing provision of broadcast services in the near future, including those around funding models for the BBC, the next BBC Charter Period, and the future of Public Service Broadcasting.

That’s why the Broadcast 2040+ campaign was launched

Arqiva, a TV and radio infrastructure provider, launched the Broadcast 2040+ campaign in June. The campaign is backed by a coalition of voices including the Children’s Media Foundation, Age UK, Silver Voices, the Rural Services Network, the Voice of the Listener & Viewer, and the British Broadcasting Challenge. Through the campaign, we are asking the Government to provide certainty and a commitment to preserving broadcast until 2040 and beyond.

By speaking up now in support of these critical services for children, together we can preserve them for years to come.

If you’re interested in joining the campaign, we’d love to hear from you – please contact:

Industry Policy

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The Children’s Media Foundation (CMF)