DCMS Communications Review Seminar Series

DCMS Communications Review: Seminar Series

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DCMS Communications Review Seminar Series

The Communications Review

An opportunity to build on our telecommunications, media and technology capabilities, and turn the UK into Europe’s technology hub.

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The Seminar Series

Half-day seminars to help inform policy options for a White Paper, covering a variety of topics with input from a wide range of people.

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Future of Broadcasting speech by Ed Vaizey MP

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On 27 June, Ed Vaizey MP gave a speech to The Future of Broadcasting conference. Here you can read highlights of his remarks on topics relating to the Communications Review.

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The Broadcasting sector

We are lucky to have a thriving broadcasting sector in the UK:

• the BBC is the most respected and successful public broadcaster in the world
• ITV is investing more in production
• Channel 4 continues to innovate and thrive
• Five is becoming profitable
• Sky has transformed programming in news, sport and the arts, and is also now investing heavily in original drama and film
• the UK is the largest per capita exporter of television programmes and formats in the world
• we lead the world in digital radio

And we are in a great place we are for inward investment with companies like Discovery, Disney and Nickelodeon, employing thousands of people and investing in UK production.

So we start from a position of success.

Opportunities

A whole definition of broadcasting is changing. From content platforms like Apple, to over the top services like NetFlix and LoveFilm, from social media players like Facebook, there are many more companies keen to get their hands on great content.

Broadcast platforms are changing, with consumers not only watching television, but also accessing content through mobile, tablet and games console.

Threats

There are also threats, not least the piracy of intellectual property in the digital age, as well as the recognition by other countries of the need to invest in content production.
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A world-class infrastructure

Government needs to ensure that we lay the groundwork for future success. Through the Communications Review we are working to secure the UK’s position as a leading marketplace for creating content.

We aim to provide a world-class infrastructure; the right incentives for investment in content; and support for open and dynamic markets through flexible, proportionate regulation.
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Accessing content

The future of broadcasting is pretty easy to predict. In five, ten, even 15 years’ time people will still be watching soaps, the news, sport, drama and children’s television. They will probably be voting for their favourite talent show contestants and watching fly on the wall documentaries and they will still be listening to the Archers and to a range of music and talk programmes. The one thing that is constant in the picture is good content.

What is changing is the way that businesses distribute and consumers access that content, and the nature of relationships all along the supply chain. Businesses must be free to invent, adapt and innovate to stay ahead of the curve.

Connected television is here and will grow. When YouView hits our stores later this year it will revolutionise the public’s appetite for these new technologies by coupling them with free to air content.

The Government will play its part in this convergence by designing a regulatory system that allows and supports innovation and growth.
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Content platforms

The rapid changes in the content market mean that the value chain is changing shape. The relationship between consumers and content is being reshaped through companies who specialise in licensing premium content to online platforms so consumers can access the content they like in different ways, through PCs, Tablets and Connected TV.

The use of innovations such as digital product placement is opening up opportunities for revenue generation to support content investment – and players are investing in technology which integrates traditional content with user-generated material, including apps that can be used while a programme airs.

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Our seminar programme

A series of seminars are taking place in early July and in the autumn, to help tease out some specific areas where people have told us there are issues to address. These will help inform a White Paper in early 2013. The seminars in July will cover:

• spectrum management
• the consumer perspective
• competition in content markets
• investment in TV content

We will also look at a number of other issues in the Autumn, including radio, IP/copyright, content regulation and media plurality.

If our seminars had been taking place two years ago they would have been dominated by conversations about public service broadcasting, and of course the PSBs still play a vital part in the landscape.

But we want to move the debate along a bit and open up some discussions about what might be coming next and whether or not the existing reliance on regulation to sustain content growth will be relevant.

There are some traditional mechanisms for supporting greater investment, but there may be things that we are missing and we want to explore them further.

Competition in Content seminar

In our seminar on 9 July we will be opening a discussion on competition in content markets. The competition regimes for broadcasting and telecommunications are different. Broadly speaking the former is a licence-based system whereas the latter follows a market-based approach as required by the European Communications Framework. Does this matter? As convergence between the telecommunications and broadcast markets continues apace, some people think it does and that greater consistency and/or clarity is required.

The seminar will provide the perfect opportunity to test the arguments on both sides. We don’t have a firm view on what the answer should be but are keen that consumers benefit from an open and competitive market.

Investment in Content seminar

Our seminar on 16 July will look closely at investment in content. As we have already demonstrated through our proposal for tax credits for high end drama, video games and animation, the Government is willing to put its money where its mouth is to support a strong content market.

This will be one of the key themes of the seminar and will open discussions about the policy issues and practical implementation of this potential credit. This seminar is ideally timed to feed in views to the Treasury’s consultation on tax credits, which closes in September.

This seminar will also cover some of the other regulatory levers that could be used to support investment in content. We’ve been looking closely at some factors that could influence investment – EPG prominence and ‘re-transmission’ fees. Neither are straightforward issues, and we want a debate about whether the options open to us would result in a net increase in investment and a net reduction in regulation. We have commissioned research on both these issues and the outcomes will be presented at the seminar.

We will also be looking closely at how we can make the future legislative framework support and not stifle innovation in the creation and delivery of digital content. The way both consumers and industry pay for content is shifting – we can see that through the increasing prevalence of personally targeted marketing, micro-payments and over the top delivery platforms.

The emergence of these new technologies raises questions about how business models for investment in content will correspondingly evolve. Government wants to determine whether it is possible, and desirable, to design regulatory solutions to mitigate any threats these changes pose to the UK content industry.

Radio seminar

In September we will hold a seminar on maximising growth in the radio sector. Radio has been subject to significant relaxation to its regulatory regimes in the last few years. However, it still remains one of the most regulated of the parts of the communications landscape.

This is a changing landscape and the internet is likely to have a profound effect on music services and the provision of audio content. Therefore, we need to build a firm foundation for UK radio businesses to grow and adapt to new technologies, whilst protecting what listeners so passionately love about radio.
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Next steps

I am very much looking forward to listening to what you have to say about how best to support the world-class UK talent in this culturally and economically important sector.

Read the full Ed Vaizey MP Future of Broadcasting speech transcript

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