‘We must go faster and further than ever before’
The companies responsible for the UK’s biggest TV service today called on industry and policy makers to ‘step up’ their response to the profound changes in television being driven by American tech firms.
Speaking to more than 100 delegates at an industry event, ‘Outside the Box’, Guy North, Freeview’s Managing Director, and Jonathan Thompson, Digital UK’s CEO, said there was an urgent need to respond to challenges posed by the likes of Amazon, Google and Apple.
Mr North highlighted how an explosion of choice was leaving many people confused about how to get the programmes they want. “Increasingly consumers don’t care whether shows come through an aerial, a dish a cable or a pipe – they just want to watch it how and when they want,” he said. He announced a new online Freeview ‘Bundle Builder’ service as a response to growing demand for skinny bundles based on free TV.
Mr North said Freeview Play was becoming increasingly important in the growth of on-demand viewing. He said: “Today, we’re working with all but one of the leading manufacturers so we’re well on the way to achieving our ambition for Freeview Play to be built into every TV sold in the UK.
“To ensure that free-to-air television remains at the forefront of the UK’s TV industry broadcasters and policy makers must rise to the challenge and make sure content remains free and universally available whether broadcast, streamed or on-demand.”
Jonathan Thompson warned that industry was in danger of under-estimating the speed and scale of change coming to UK television and urged action to safeguard British programme-making, public service content and competition. He said: “We have a choice. We can
choose to become a footnote in the quarterly results of Apple or Amazon or we can strive for something better.”
“Our industry needs to lead the charge and act together to strengthen rather than loosen the bonds on which our success was built. We must go faster and further than ever done before.”