The future of DTT and universal TV: a new report from Ofcom (UK)

posted on 24 May, 2024   (public)

Ofcom calls for a clear and careful planning to safeguard the universality of TV

On 9 May 2024, Ofcom published a report on the future of TV distribution, looking into market changes that may affect Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT).

This report follows a request from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. It is informed by the responses from a previous call for evidence, research into audience behaviours and analysis of commercial dynamics. 

Ofcom's report sets out the audience's changing behaviours, the responses undertaken from the broadcasters and the broadband capacities. Building on these key indicators, Ofcom analyses the future potential impact on some audiences, infrastructure and market. 

Main findings of the report: 

  • Audience consumption keeps evolving with a continuous decline of time spent on DTT, especially among the young generations who consume audiovisual content mostly over the Internet.

  • While distribution costs over broadband and DTT are rising, stakeholders 'anticipate a tipping point at which it is no longer economically viable to support DTT'.
  • Perpetuating the current scheme could lead to a lower level of quality of the services and a threat to the universality of public service TV

Ofcom's identified approaches:

The regulator sets out three potential approaches to consider for the future of DTT:

  1. Investment in a more efficient DTT service
  2. Reduce DTT down to a core service (for example, the main public service broadcasters) to reduce infrastructure costs.
  3. Move towards DTT switch-off over the 2030s, provided that universality of public service channels is ensured and no audiences are left behind.

In any case, Ofcom, as well as most of the stakeholders, call for: 

  • A clear and timely vision to ensure that no audiences are left behind. 

  • Cross sectoral collaboration.

  • A significant consumer support.

Ofcom plans and sets out in this report upcoming additional work on the topics to contribute to the public debate on the future of TV distribution. 

Ofcom's report "Future of TV distribution"

Ofcom's press release

Source: Ofcom

EPRA resources: The future of content delivery was a key theme on the EPRA Work Programme in 2023. The topic was addressed by media regulators during the 57th EPRA meeting in Oslo in spring 2023 (background paper and summary publicly available here) and the 58th EPRA meeting in Bucharest in autumn 20223 (internal document only).