RTS CAMBRIDGE. BSkyB CEO James Murdoch has spoken out against the possibility of gifted terrestrial spectrum designed to allow the Big Five channels to launch HD services. “You have people paying for this and to suddenly say it has crossed the threshold of public necessity is preposterous,” Murdoch told delegates at the Royal Television Society Cambridge Convention.
In a rare sign of agreement, Malcolm Wall, CEO of Virgin Media’s Content Division, also found gifted capacity difficult to bear. “HD is not a public service issue, but a value add and as such people will pay for it.”
Putting the case for the Big Five, Carolyn Fairbairn, director of policy and strategy, ITV, was left to explain why the broadcaster that otherwise chose its projects through commercial reasoning was now looking to be granted free spectrum. “From a purely commercial standpoint its doubtful that ITV would do HD if it had to buy spectrum on the open market,” she said. “We’re not asking for the spectrum. This is purely a public policy question.”