Note of licence fee payer concerns over subscription-free
access to BBC digital services
This note was prepared by the BBC Trust Unit.
Lack of access to digital services is an important issue for many licence fee payers. When
they are given the opportunity to pose questions to the BBC, for instance at public meetings
or through unsolicited correspondence, it is a subject that frequently features in the top
three or four most-asked categories. The main issues raised are:
1.Viewers’ inability to receive BBC digital services
2.Their aversion to paying Sky for access to BBC services
3.The common misconception that access to BBC digital services is only available
through a Sky subscription service19The analysis presented below illustrates the issues raised by licence fee payers through both
quantitative analysis of BBC data and qualitative research. We have also included what we
have selected as a representative sample of comments and questions from licence fee payers.
Digital Terrestrial Television through a TV aerial (Freeview) is currently available to only
74% of the UK population. From the beginning of 2005 to the end of 2006 the BBC was
contacted by nearly 1000 people about the lack of digital coverage in their local area. Thesecontacts were as follows:
Unsolicited contacts fromthe public via BBC website, phone, email and letter 05/01/2005 – 29/12/2006
The BBC held five public meetings between July 2005 and July 2006, in Belfast, Cardiff,
Glasgow, Norwich and London. In the run up to each public meeting, licence fee payers who
were unable to, or didn't want to, attend the meetings were invited to send in questions via
the website (Suggest a Question). This facility was only open in the 3 to 4 weeks
immediately before the public meeting and not continuously over the year. The BBC
received 2,001 responses via this internet facility, with 200 of these (10%) concerning thelack of digital services. The breakdown of these figures is as follows:
Public Meeting Location Number of Number relating to Percentage
19 Freesat from Sky, a non-subscription service, is available for a one-off fee of £150, with 98% UKcoverage
Sunday, 10 February 2008
BBC TRUST FREESAT CONCLUSION.
AS REPORTED BY THE BBC TRUST IN APRIL 2007.