ITV's chief executive, Stuart Prebble, is demanding that the
Government should take a more proactive stance in leading the switchover
to digital TV while accusing the BBC of using licence fee money to
promote and develop enhanced sports services only available to satellite
Prebble, who was speaking at the Annual Goodman Derrick Lecture on
Tuesday night, urged the Government to run a public information campaign
about the digital switchover on TV. He said a public date for switchover
needed to be set to ensure that the TV industry takes action while
consumers are aware of the impending change.
He said the Government should support proposals that within the European
Union all wide-screen TVs sold after a particular date should include a
digital tuner, and he said it should lobby Brussels to reduce VAT on
digital TVs in order to make them more affordable to consumers. He also
suggested that a "digital champion" should be appointed to drive the
plans for digital TV forward.
Prebble called for all public service broadcasters to support the
digital television platform. "Firstly, they own their own bandwidth.
Secondly, they have control over the way they present themselves to the
public, and thirdly it's the only alternative to being distributed
courtesy of Rupert Murdoch," he said.
Prebble did not mince his words about the BBC's stance in the digital
marketplace, accusing it of not providing platform neutrality and saying
it was frittering away licence fee money. He said: "The constant
bombardment on BBC1 and BBC2 of trailers promoting the BBC's Wimbledon
enhanced service on satellite provided an unfair commercial advantage to
BSkyB's already dominant platform and should be prevented. This is a
totally inappropriate way to spend the additional licence fee given to
the BBC to fund its digital services, and paid by all."