Extra fee for digital TV licence angers adland

Advertisers and agencies joined the throng of commercial broadcasters giving the Davies Committee’s proposed digital licence fee supplement an overwhelming thumbs down last week.

Advertisers and agencies joined the throng of commercial

broadcasters giving the Davies Committee’s proposed digital licence fee

supplement an overwhelming thumbs down last week.



The committee recommended an additional temporary licence fee of pounds

24 for digital TV subscribers, arguing that this would prevent analogue

viewers from having to subsidise digital viewers and BBC digital

developments.



Commercial broadcasters and set-top box manufacturers, which had formed

a ’war council’ in the run-up to the publication of the committee’s

conclusions, are now threatening to take the case to the European

Council.



Their legal advisers are seeking to prove that using a licence fee to

fund BBC digital services would constitute use of state resources, and

that such a practice would need EC approval to avoid being declared

illegal.



But a spokesperson for the BBC said: ’This is simply a set of proposals.

In three months’ time we will see what the Government decides to

do.’



The Incorporated Society of British Advertisers said it had no

confidence in the viability of the digital licence fee supplement. It

also questioned the logic of the Davies Committee’s rejection of

advertising or sponsorship as a source of future funding, particularly

in the light of its recommendation of a partial sell-off of BBC

Worldwide and BBC Resources.



The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising also refused to support

the notion of an additional licence fee, arguing that there were clearly

other alternatives and that the fee would slow down the development of

digital TV.



Ray Kelly, chairman of the IPA media policy group, said: ’The IPA

remains committed to ensuring that the BBC works to its remit as a

public service broadcaster. We believe funding for digital services

could be found from a number of non-core services which would be better

provided by the commercial sector.’



Media Forum, p16.



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