Digital Britain - The Interim Report
Submit Articles Back to Articles
Issued 29 Jan 2009
Government outlines plans for UK's digital transition
The Government has today published a plan to secure Britain's place at the
forefront of the global digital economy. The interim report contains more than
20 recommendations, including specific proposals on:
- next generation networks
- universal access to broadband
- the creation of a second public service provider of scale
- the modernisation of wireless radio spectrum holdings
- a digital future for radio
- a new deal for digital content rights
- enhancing the digital delivery of public services
The Digital Britain Report underlines the importance of the communications
sector, its crucial contribution to the economy and its role in building
Britain's industrial future.
Business Secretary, Peter Mandelson said: "This report sets out a strategy
for building a knowledge economy where our most valuable assets are the skills
and innovation that underpin our digital industries. This is absolutely vital if
Britain is to benefit fully from some of the greatest economic opportunities on
offer this century."
Culture Secretary, Andy Burnham said: "Britain has always led the world in
content creation - with the best music, films and TV - and it is vital that we
carry forward this strength into the digital age. This is a significant Report
for the creative industries, taking steps to establish workable systems of
copyright in an online age and to preserve choice of public service content. But
it is only the beginning of the process and we need to work hard in the coming
months to secure workable solutions."
The 22-point action plan outlines a programme of work with commitments to:
* upgrade and modernise wired, wireless and broadcast infrastructure;
* secure a dynamic investment climate for UK digital content and services;
* provide a range of high quality UK made public service content;
* ensure fairness and access, with universal availability and promotion of
skills and media literacy; and
* develop the infrastructure, skills and take-up to enable widespread online
delivery of public services.
In addition to specific commitments, the Interim Report outlines Britain's
progress in building a digital market-place, while also setting priorities for
industry engagement ahead of the publication of the final Digital Britain
Report, due before the summer.
Stephen Carter the Minister for Communications, Technology and Broadcasting
"The innovation, creativity and vitality of our communications industries
rightly demand clarity from Government on its role and a framework for the
"Delivering Digital Britain will depend upon a smart industry, working with a
committed Government to produce lasting solutions."
The Interim Report's 22 actions are attached.
Department for Culture, Media & Sport
Public enquiries 020 7211 6200
Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform
Public enquiries 020 7215 5000
The 22 recommendations in the Interim Report fall into the following four
- Legislation / regulatory reform
- Detailed analysis
- Initial assessment
In relation to Next Generation Fixed Networks, we propose a number of
ACTION 1 - DETAILED ANALYSIS
We will establish a Government-led strategy group to assess the necessary
demandside, supply-side and regulatory measures to underpin existing market-led
investment plans, and to remove barriers to the timely rollout, beyond those
declared plans, to maximise market-led coverage of Next Generation broadband.
This Strategy Group will, by the time of the final Digital Britain Report,
assess the case for how far market led investment by Virgin Media, BT Group plc
and new network enterprises will take the UK in terms of roll-out and likely
take-up; and whether any contingency measures, as recommended by the Caio
review, are necessary.
ACTION 2 - LEGISLATION / REGULATORY REFORM
Between now and the final Digital Britain Report, the Government will, while
recognising existing investments in infrastructure, work with the main operators
and others to remove barriers to the development of a wider wholesale market in
access to ducts and other primary infrastructure.
ACTION 3 - DECISION
The Valuation Office Agency has provided new, clear guidance which addresses the
problem of clarity over business rates identified by Francesco Caio in his
report, and will ensure that they respond to any queries from existing and new
investors and maintain clear, helpful guidance. For its part, the Government
will ensure that the guidance is widely understood by potential investors.
ACTION 4 - DETAILED ANALYSIS
We will, by the time of the final Digital Britain Report, have considered the
value for money case for whether public incentives have a part to play in
enabling further next generation broadband deployment, beyond current market-led
ACTION 5 - DECISION
The Government will help implement the Community Broadband Network's proposals
for an umbrella body to bring together all the local and community networks and
provide them with technical and advisory support.
In relation to existing and Next Generation Mobile Wireless Networks:
ACTION 6 - DECISION
We are specifying a Wireless Radio Spectrum Modernisation Programme consisting
of five elements:
a. Resolving the future of existing 2G radio spectrum through a structured
framework, allowing existing operators to re-align their existing holdings,
re-use the spectrum and start the move to next generation mobile services. This
must be achieved whilst maintaining a competitive market. If this can be done,
the economic value of the spectrum would be enhanced. Existing administered
incentive pricing (AIP) levels would be adjusted to reflect that enhancement.
The Government believes that an industry-agreed set of radio spectrum trades
could represent a better and quicker solution than an imposed realignment. There
is an opportunity for industry to agree a way forward by the end of April 2009.
In the absence of an industry-agreed trading solution by then, Government will
support an imposed solution.
b. Making available more radio spectrum suitable for next generation mobile
services. Ofcom has proposed the release of the so-called 3G expansion band at
2.6GHz. The Government will support proposals from Ofcom to play a key role in a
pan-European alignment of the Digital Dividend Review Spectrum (the so-called
Channel 61-69 band), being released by the progressive switchover from analogue
to digital broadcasting, pioneered by the UK. This will free up radio spectrum
particularly valuable for next generation mobile services.
c. Greater investment certainty for existing 3G operators: The Government
wishes to encourage the maximum commercially-sensible investment in network
capacity and coverage. But the further into a fixed term licence one goes the
greater the disincentive to invest. We want to resolve this issue now as part of
the structured framework. As part of the structured trading framework existing
time-limited licences could be made indefinite and subject instead to AIP beyond
the end of the current term. If this were achieved the Government would look to
ensure that the AIP then set reflected the spectrum's full economic value and
hence would capture over time the return equivalent to the proceeds that would
have been realised in the market from an auction for a licence of the same
d. Greater network sharing: the Government and Ofcom will consider further
network sharing, spectrum or carrier-sharing proposals from the operators,
particularly where these can lead to greater coverage and are part of the mobile
operator's contribution to a broadband universal service commitment.
e. Commitments by the mobile operators to push out the coverage of mobile
broadband eventually to replicate 2G coverage and mark their significant
contribution to the broadband universal service commitment.
In relation to Digital Television Networks:
ACTION 7 - DECISION
We will consider at what point and at what cost the standard offer provided by
the Digital Television Switchover Help Scheme could have a return path
capability, and we will ensure that such capability is available as an option.
ACTION 8 - DETAILED ANALYSIS
We will examine how the marketing and communications activity around Digital
Switchover could be enhanced to use the region-by-region programme of publicly
funded information and advice on one form of digital transition to provide
impartial information on wider opportunities of digital beyond digital broadcast
In relation to Digital Radio Networks:
ACTION 9 - DECISION / LEGISLATION
We will take action to support DAB digital radio in seven areas:
a. We are making a clear statement of Government and policy commitment to
enabling DAB to be a primary distribution network for radio;
b. We will create a plan for digital migration of radio, which the Government
intends to put in place once the following criteria have been met:
- When 50% of radio listening is digital;
- When national DAB coverage is comparable to FM coverage, and local DAB reaches
90% of population and all major roads.
c. We will create a Digital Radio Delivery Group which includes the
retailers, the Transmission Networks, the BBC, the Commercial Radio Companies,
the Car Manufacturers, consumer representatives and the device manufacturers,
whose role would be to increase the attractiveness, availability and
affordability of DAB and to advise on the Digital Migration Plan.
d. We will work with the BBC to explore how they could extend their digital
radio coverage to replicate at least current FM analogue coverage.
e. As recommended by the Digital Radio Working Group, we will conduct a
cost-benefit analysis of digital migration.
f. We will consult on new legislation to allow a one-off five-year extension
of existing community radio licences, to bring them in line with other radio
licences and recognise the important role they have in delivering social gain.
We also intend to re-consider the rationale for the current restriction of 50%
of funding from any one
g. We will commission an independent expert examination of the economic
viability, continuing social contribution of, and most effective delivery
methods for, local radio services and the relevance of the existing localness
In relation to the Economics of Digital Content:
ACTION 10 - DETAILED ANALYSIS
In the final report we will examine measures needed to address the challenges
for digital content in more detail, including opportunities for providing
further support to foster UK creative ambition and alternative funding
mechanisms to advertising revenues.
In relation to Rights and Distribution:
ACTION 11 - INITIAL ASSESSMENT
By the time the final Digital Britain Report is published the Government will
have explored with interested parties the potential for a Rights Agency to bring
industry together to agree how to provide incentives for legal use of copyright
material; work together to prevent unlawful use by consumers which infringes
civil copyright law; and enable technical copyright-support solutions that work
for both consumers and content creators. The Government also welcomes other
suggestions on how these objectives should be achieved.
ACTION 12 - INITIAL ASSESSMENT
Before the final Digital Britain Report is published we will explore with both
distributors and rights-holders their willingness to fund, through a modest and
proportionate contribution, such a new approach to civil enforcement of
copyright (within the legal frameworks applying to electronic commerce,
copyright, data protection and privacy) to facilitate and co-ordinate an
industry response to this challenge. It will be important to ensure that this
approach covers the need for innovative legitimate services to meet consumer
demand, and education and information activity to educate consumers in fair and
appropriate uses of copyrighted material as well as enforcement and prevention
ACTION 13 - LEGISLATION / REGULATORY REFORM
Our response to the consultation on peer-to-peer file sharing sets out our
intention to legislate, requiring ISPs to notify alleged infringers of rights
(subject to reasonable levels of proof from rights-holders) that their conduct
is unlawful. We also intend to require ISPs to collect anonymised information on
serious repeat infringers (derived from their notification activities), to be
made available to rights-holders together with personal details on receipt of a
court order. We intend to consult on this approach shortly, setting out our
proposals in detail.
In relation to the provision of Original UK Content:
ACTION 14 - DETAILED ANALYSIS
To inform whether any change to the merger regime is yet desirable or necessary
in relation to the local and regional media sector, the Government will invite
the OFT, together with Ofcom and other interested parties, to undertake an
exploratory review across the local and regional media sector and make
ACTION 15 - DETAILED ANALYSIS
The existing Terms of Trade between the independent producers and broadcasters
have worked well. In light of new entrants to the market, new business models
and new distribution channels, it makes sense to have a forward look at how the
relationship between independent producers and those who commission their ideas
could evolve. This review will focus on the appropriate rights holding
agreements and definitions required for a multi-platform digital future, on the
overall health of the sector and on continuing to ensure that viewers, listeners
and users get the best and most innovative content and programming.
ACTION 16 - DETAILED ANALYSIS
In the final Digital Britain Report, we will establish whether a long-term and
sustainable second public service organisation providing competition for quality
to the BBC can be defined and designed, drawing in part on Channel 4's assets
and a re-cast remit. It would be a body with public service at its heart, but
one which is able to develop flexible and innovative partnerships with the wider
private and public sector. While it makes sense to begin by looking at public
sector bodies- Channel 4 and BBC Worldwide- the Government is currently
evaluating a range of options and organisational solutions for achieving such an
In relation to Network Universal Connectivity:
ACTION 17 - DECISION
We will develop plans for a digital Universal Service Commitment to be effective
by 2012, delivered by a mixture of fixed and mobile, wired and wireless means.
Subject to further study of the costs and benefits, we will set out our plans
for the level of service which we believe should be universal. We anticipate
this consideration will include options up to 2Mb/s.
ACTION 18 - DECISION
We will develop detailed proposals for the design and operation of a new, more
broadly-based scheme to fund the Universal Service Commitment for the fully
digital age - including who should contribute and its governance and
In relation to the take-up of universally available broadband:
ACTION 19 - DECISION
We will encourage the development of public service champions of universal
take-up. The Digital Inclusion Action Plan recommended the appointment of a
Digital Inclusion Champion and expert taskforce to drive the Government's work
on digital inclusion. Clearly, the work of the Champion will be important in
ACTION 20 - INITIAL ASSESSMENT
We are inviting the BBC to play a leading role, just as it has in digital
broadcast, through marketing, cross-promotion and provision of content to drive
interest in taking up broadband. With other public service organisations, the
BBC can drive the development of platforms with open standards available to all
content providers and device manufacturers alike.
ACTION 21 - INITIAL ASSESSMENT
EQUIPPING EVERYONE TO BENEFIT FROM DIGITAL BRITAIN
A Public Service Delivery plan: we commit to ensure that public services online
are designed for ease of use by the widest range of citizens, taking advantage
of the widespread uptake of broadband to offer an improved customer experience
and encourage the shift to online channels in delivery and service support.
In relation to Digital Media Literacy:
ACTION 22 - LEGISLATION / REGULATORY REFORM
The current statutory and specific remit on Media Literacy is contained within
s.11 of the Communications Act 2003. As this report makes clear, since 2003
there have been significant market changes in the availability of digital
technologies and how they are used. We will ask Ofcom to make an assessment of
its current responsibilities in relation to media literacy and, working with the
BBC and others, to recommend a new definition and ambition for a National Media
Literacy Plan. This interim report sets out the background to these actions and
the analysis on which they are based, as well as providing more detail on how we
intend to fulfil them.
About the Author
© Crown Copyright. Material taken from the BERR- Department
for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform replacing DTI - Department for
Trade and Industry. Reproduced under the terms and conditions of the Click-Use
Follow us @Scopulus_News
Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2009-01-29 20:14:56 in Computer Articles