FITT report calls for UK TV tech collaboration

May 20, 2014 11.52 Europe/London By Chris Dziadul, DTG Summit 2014, London

Ed VaizeyA leaders’ group is needed to take the findings of the Future of Innovation in Television Technology (FITT) report forward.
Otherwise, according to Ed Vaizey MP, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, its findings could go to waste.

Speaking at the DTG Summit 2014, he added that he would be happy to play some role in the group, which will be launched this autumn. The FITT report is an 18-month collaborative industry project about which Vaizey said:

“The FITT report helps to clarify a number of important issues, opportunities and challenges facing the UK television industry. We will take careful note of the specific recommendations for government and will work closely with the industry-led Next Generation TV Planning Programme.”

The report covers new reviews of Consumer Trends, the Evolution of Devices and Applications, Computing for the Creative Industries, Data Management, and, Future Networks and Infrastructure. The Steering Group made 13 recommendations based on the evidence from this work. These include the establishment of a Leaders Assembly to guide a Next Generation TV Technology Planning Programme; a Technology Advocacy Programme for innovators to share newly-developed technologies and applications; and a cross industry working group to respond to the challenges of big data in television.

Many of the recommendations were guided by consumer trend data and projections that showed that although viewing to the main television set remains stable, it is increasingly augmented by viewers choosing to watch on any device, any time both inside and outside of the home. The taskforce believes that these trends coupled with the increasing connectivity of devices, people and content creates massive business potential for UK media companies. However, consumer anxieties about privacy remain the biggest barrier to realising these ambitions, and this highlights the need for transparency from providers – potentially delivered via an industry-led review of self-regulation – and digital literacy programmes for consumers.

Dr. David Docherty, Chairman of the FITT taskforce and of the DTG said in response to the report and recommendations:
“The UK TV industry is an amazing success story, with an enviable heritage of innovating in television technology. But it’s facing unprecedented challenges to its ability to compete, let alone lead. The FITT report is testament to the resolve that exists within the industry to deliver innovation that consumers and viewers want and to keep the UK TV technology industry globally competitive.”

There was also a response to the report from John Cresswell, CEO of Arqiva. He said: Arqiva welcomes the key points in the Future of Innovation in Television Technology Taskforce report. We firmly support its call-to-action to ensure long-term vibrancy and competitiveness of the UK TV market, championing broad consumer choice across TV platforms and the on-going role for free and pay TV. However, it’s clear that the longevity of TV relies on the Government providing certainty and clarity to the industry, so it can continue to invest and innovate. This includes the need for commitments around the availability of sufficient spectrum to ensure Freeview can continue to offer a diverse range of channels nationwide, as well as the necessary support for a future DVB-T2 switchover to allow more HD, and ultimately ultra-HD, programming.”

“We also note with interest the report’s focus on some new technological developments – in particular the role of WiFi in enhancing connectivity to provide viewers with new services, as well as the future importance of innovation related to the Internet of Things. Indeed, as well as having a strong heritage in, and commitment to broadcasting, Arqiva is continuing to invest in both of these areas – we have recently announced our commitment to build and run a dedicated Internet of Things network, starting with 10 cities across the UK, using SIGFOX’s ultra-narrowband technology to be part of their global network.”

Questioned on other areas, Vaizey said he was a strong supporter of DTT. Asked by BBC3, he said the decision about its future came entirely from the broadcaster and was “driven by bold thinking”. The BBC had compelling reasons and its decision had been thoroughly thought through.