Published On: Thu, May 9th, 2024
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Warning as millions of older people could be ‘left behind’ as Ofcom to make huge change | UK | News

Millions of older people who rely on free-to-air terrestrial TV could be “left behind” by regulator proposals to switch it off, campaigners have warned.

A report released by Ofcom today presents the option of a “managed switchover” which would risk the digital exclusion for millions of viewers who rely on terrestrial TV and radio services every day.

Elizabeth Anderson, CEO of the Digital Poverty Alliance, said: “Talk of a managed transition to streaming is easy – but there are millions of people in Britain today who cannot afford fast broadband or expensive subscriptions.

“Many will end up being left behind under these plans – free broadband is not a realistic expectation, and the digital divide is growing, not shrinking. It is critical that terrestrial TV is protected so that the most vulnerable in our society are not cut off from the world around them – looking to force them online will not work, and will simply worsen exclusion.”

The Daily Express has called for radio stations and TV to be free to air for those who cannot stream or lack digital subscriptions through the Keep Us Tuned In campaign.

The crusade backs calls for terrestrial services to be safeguarded until the 2040s at the earliest.

Campaigners have called for political parties to act decisively in a bid to prevent the exclusion of millions of viewers from essential television services.

They said that failure to address this issue promptly could have “profound and lasting consequences” for digital inclusion in the UK.

A spokesperson for the Broadcast 2040+ Campaign said: “When the banks were taking cash machines away from our high streets, the government stepped in to protect access to cash.

“Now they need to do the same and protect traditional terrestrial TV, received for free via an aerial, for the long-term.

“Without certainty about its future, millions who use and rely on broadcast services, including many of the most vulnerable in society and those who cannot, or do not wish to pay for, super-fast broadband or who lack digital skills, face the threat of TV exclusion.

“Any debate about the future of television must put viewers first. Millions of people in Britain, often the most vulnerable, rely on universal, free to air terrestrial TV and will continue to do so for decades to come.”

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