I had the privilege of attending the final report presentation & discussion with Lord Carter today in Edinburgh.
The event was very candid, helped dispel some myths and state in clearer terms other aspects of the Digital Britain Report. Such as the money that would be taken from the BBC would not be going straight to ITV. Also highlighting bits that the media aren’t focusing on, yet are very important, such as spectrum and paving the way for 4th generation mobile broadband (as my previous comment focused on), where Britain already ahead of the game.
As Ewan & myself were live tweeting the event (see @38minutes, @ewanmcintosh or search #digitalbritain), if you want to have a search through today’s session.
Lord Carter stated that had the report been done outside the government, he would have been able to say more. That technology needs to radically change in key markets, not just upgrade. The majority of people in the room (vote of hands), almost 100%, who have and use broadband/internet at home also use it at work and through this process are constantly learning, everyone should have this opportunity. Participation online for civic life relies on getting unconnected into work.
Broadband is coming to the point where it’s no longer a ‘want’ but a ‘need’ and should be viewed as a utility versus an add on. When asked if the unemployed will be paying the same as the wealthy, Carter admitted that it is a regressive approach and that it does apply to everyone. In addition, money will not be free. Providers will have to match the money given via their funds from the open market.
When asked about 90% of the population being covered in the Next Generation scheme and the other 10% who are also paying taxes, Carter replied with the notion that by this time next year the numbers will be 95% & 5% because of the pace that new technology moves these days and the first step makes the second step easier. “If we want this (universal broadband), we have to pay for it. Not all of it, but some of it.”
In regards to the BBC, the license paid by tax-payers currently is a Television License. Not a BBC License and should therefore be shared.
On the topic of local news, the only impartial news in UK comes from BBC and C4, stating, “Let 5 and ITV get on with being private”. The reason they are planning to offer subsidies for new local news channels is because newspapers and their respective websites, they are in a position where they can offer biased or opinionated news, where local news would be completely impartial and heavily regulated.
In about 8 weeks time we should start seeing the next step of Digital Britain taking place and I’m sure it will be reviewed over & over until then and after a progress report.
If you still haven’t and you want to gander through the massive report, you can download a pdf here.
posted as a comment on this debate on 38mintues