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Arqiva boss underlines importance of Terrestrial TV for the future

Charles Constable, Arqiva's Managing Director of Digital Platforms, has been stating the case for digital terrestrial TV to be given enough capacity in the future ahead of a proposed spectrum release to mobile network operators and dismissing IPTV as a replacement to traditional broadcasts.

He noted how pay-TV platform operators paid millions to keep HD channels off Freeview.

Speaking at a recent Westminster Forum Event he said "I think that linear TV will retain the lion’s share of eyeballs for the foreseeable future, even more so given that the majority of on-demand viewing is catch up, and is anchored around the linear schedule.

"So just ahead of any future spectrum release, in about five or six years' time, I think there will be more DTT homes than ever.

"Despite the ever growing demand from mobile operators for more spectrum, Freeview needs to be able, in my view, to offer the same number of channels, both PSB and commercial, as it does today, and the same number of people need to be able to receive it who receive it today. It should offer consumers, broadcasters and advertisers the regionality it delivers now, and this all needs to be in the viewing format that consumers expect. For me that means HD has an important role to play."

Addressing critics of HD programming he noted "the fact that pay TV platforms pay millions every year to keep HD channels off free-to-air, reveals HD’s importance. I think this will only increase as 4K sets and audiences’ seamlessly endless appetite for larger screen sizes continues, particularly with the World Cup.

"The investment in innovation will, spectrum permitting, sustain DTT. I don’t see IPTV as a substitute for the current broadcast platform for a long time, if indeed ever. At present the Government’s 2017 target of 95% broadband penetration will leave 3 million homes without access to broadband, and there remain millions who could access it but don’t, some because they feel they can’t afford it. Even today, if you have it you can’t be sure it will work and that’s just not good enough for television."