UK homes are connecting to broadband at a rate of 60,000 a week, and within three years the majority of broadband households will have video-capable connections.
Ofcom, the UK communications regulator, notes the growing importance of broadband in its response to the Government Green Paper on the Review of the BBC Royal Charter. Its submission takes the opportunity to advocate its proposal for a public service publisher to support public service broadcasting.
In its response, Ofcom emphasises the importance of ensuring a strong, properly funded, public-service focused and independent BBC.
Ofcom notes that the number of homes receiving digital television is growing by 50,000 a week, now reaching 60% of UK households.
However, the number of households with broadband internet is growing at a faster rate of 60,000 connections a week. Now 30% of homes in the UK have broadband and average access speeds are increasing, to the point where within three years, the majority of broadband households will benefit from video-capable connections.
While believing that the BBC remains the cornerstone of public service programming, Ofcom also recommends that the Government must ensure that other suppliers of public service programming and content, beyond the BBC, are also able to prosper through the transition to digital.
Ofcom says it essential that the BBC is not allowed to become isolated in a growing, and exclusively commercially-focussed, sector.
Therefore Ofcom recommends that the Government explore potential sources of funding for programming and content beyond that provided by the BBC, bringing forward its review of public service funding, and pursuing more detailed work on the public service publisher model that Ofcom has proposed, together with a review of the prospects for Channel 4.
Ofcom also recommends a review of the BBC’s approach to competition, and suggests that market impact assessments of new BBC services and significant changes to existing services be carried out by Ofcom, rather than the BBC governors.