The future of PSB and terrestrial television the hot topics of the Westminster Media Forum

On July 6, 2022, the Westminster Media Forum hosted the latest in its series of regular policy conferences, focusing on the theme “The future of UK media policyThe first session of the conference was chaired by Lord Inglewood, the former Broadcasting Minister, with a series of speakers discussing “heritage, competition, relevance and sustainability – key issues for the future of British media”.

Unsurprisingly, there were several strong advocates of strong, well-funded public service broadcasters (notably Clare Sumner, director of policy at the BBC), but also Jean Seaton, professor of media history at the University of Westminster ( and also the BBC’s Official Historian), who stressed the importance, especially in today’s age of disinformation, of broadcasters like the BBC providing a neutral, unbiased and trusted source of news and programming to the public British.

This view was echoed by Colin Browne, chairman of Voice of the Listener & Viewer (the consumer group that defends public service broadcasting and speaks on behalf of listeners and viewers), who spoke out against the project of Channel 4 being privatized by the government, despite various public consultations purporting to demonstrate a broad lack of support for such a move.

One of the most illuminating contributions of the morning session came from Laurie Patten, Director of Strategy and Regulation at Arqiva, one of the UK’s leading providers of broadcast transmission infrastructure. Patten cited research into terrestrial broadcast viewing habits in the UK (although commissioned by Arqiva themselves), which revealed the continued reliance on linear viewing of terrestrial TV channels by a significant portion of the public, even though PSB channels are widely available online through services like the BBC. iPlayer and ITV Hub. In some cases, more than 50% of the population segments continue to watch TV content through home TV antennas, especially among the elderly and in rural communities.

Patten and the “Broadcast 2040+” campaign group, which campaigns to safeguard digital terrestrial television and protect its government funding beyond the 2030s, also highlighted the green credentials of digital terrestrial broadcasting – as opposed to services streaming services accessible via broadband – and the fact that free “no cost” television is more important than ever to consumers in an era of soaring cost of living.