The development of online video services raises questions about the long-term future of traditional television broadcasting platforms like digital terrestrial television. In the United Kingdom, the communications regulator Ofcom is asking for submissions from stakeholders and consumers about how they anticipate the market will develop over the next decade and beyond.

In its White Paper, Up next– the government’s vision for the broadcasting sector, the government set out that it would ask Ofcom to undertake an early review of market changes that may affect the future of content distribution on digital terrestrial television and other distribution platforms.

Changes to the way that television is delivered are relevant for the statutory of duties of Ofcom. These include maintaining broadcast standards to protect audiences, and the regulation and licensing of the public service broadcasters, managing the optimal use of radio-spectrum, and promoting the availability of high quality, resilient broadband networks.

Ofcom has issued a call for evidence consultation, providing an opportunity for interested parties to submit their perspectives.

The consultation raises six key questions:

  1. How are audience demands and expectations evolving, and how does that vary for users of different TV platforms and different demographics?
  2. What do audience trends mean for the financial prospects and sustainability of TV distribution platforms, and what are the key decision points over the next ten years?
  3. How do broadband networks and supporting infrastructure need to evolve to support resilient delivery of TV over the internet in the future?
  4. In what ways might different types of ‘hybrid’ terrestrial and internet services deliver benefits for audiences and what risks may arise?
  5. Given the sharing of infrastructure, what would the implications for other sectors be if there was a change to the use of digital terrestrial television?
  6. What coordination and planning across the value chain might be necessary to secure good outcomes for audiences and key providers over the long term?

Ofcom says that it wants to hear from a wide range of audience groups, content providers, network and infrastructure providers, device manufacturers, and television platforms.

Following the consultation, Ofcom will publish a statement explaining what we are going to do, and why, showing how the views of respondents helped to shape these decisions.

The Ofcom consultation on the Future of TV Distribution closes on 12 December 2023.