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Ministers will be forced to respond to demands to protect traditional television services after a huge response to the Daily Express Keep Us Tuned In crusade. TV and radio transmitted through an aerial is only guaranteed until the mid-2030s under current government plans.
Dennis Reed, the director of the campaign group for the elderly Silver Voices, said there is growing “public alarm” about the threat to services.
More than 10,000 people have backed a petition calling for action, triggering an official response from the Government.
Mr Reed said: “The success of our petition and the Express’s Keep Us Tuned In crusade now forces the Government to make a clear statement on where it stands in this debate. Our official petition has reached 10,000 signatures, so a ministerial statement must be made within three weeks.
“The novelty of streaming services is already wearing off and cost-of-living pressures mean that households need to reduce expenditure on such luxuries. At the same time, reliance on standard Freeview TV and aerial radio has never been greater.
“The pandemic showed how vital terrestrial TV and radio are for Government to be able to provide public information and advice at a time of crisis.”
The Daily Express and the Broadcast 2040+ coalition, which includes Silver Voices, are demanding ministers take action to protect terrestrial television until at least the 2040s.
It follows concerns that online streamers like Netflix, Amazon Prime, NOW and Disney+ could eventually force out terrestrial TV.
According to a survey, more than eight out of 10 people aged over 65 see traditional TV as important or essential to their daily lives.
Unless the Government takes action, ahead of the World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC) in November, the spectrum of frequency allocated to digital terrestrial TV (Freeview) may be lost and services disbanded.
Decisions at previous WRCs have already led to a reduction in the spectrum allocated to digital terrestrial TV.
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