Convergence and On-Demand Services

January 15, 2008

In a joint initiative by the Department for Business and Regulatory Reform (BERR) and the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), a new Convergence Think Tank (CTT) has been established. It aims to examine the implications of technological development for the media and communications industries, and the consequences for both markets and consumers. The BERR states that it will have a key role in helping to shape future policy development in relation to these sectors, which include TV, radio, mobile and fixed telecoms and online services. On the basis that steering tanks carefully is vital (a view strongly endorsed by those of us living near Salisbury Plain), a steering group will be formed to guide the work of the Convergence Think Tank. Ofcom will provide input and advice to all aspects of the CTT’s work and the steering group will draw on the experience and knowledge of a number of leading experts with a wealth of experience of both the broadcasting and telecommunications sectors who will act as a sounding board in its deliberations. Robin Foster, John Willis, Chris Earnshaw and Tess Read have agreed to serve on the group. A series of seminars will be held during 2008 which will explore in detail how to:

  • secure open markets, competition and plurality
  • empower and protect both users and consumers, ensuring that they can take full advantage of the opportunities convergence may bring
  • secure universal access to high quality, public service content.

The aim is for the CTT to reach its conclusions early in 2009. Its findings, say the BERR, will inform Government on the possible need for changes to the existing public policy and legislative framework which governs the sector.

Laurence Eastham comments: It is difficult to avoid the temptation of pointing out that 2009 is a bit late for forming policy on convergence. The Internet and television have been converging like rabbits for a while and are now planning how to decorate the nursery for their children. The CTT may find itself chasing rather than leading. Account must also be taken of the new EU initaive on creative content online. See here for more on that.

The establishment of the Convergence Think Tank coincides with the coming into force of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive, which replaces the Television Without Frontiers Directive. The UK and other Member States have until 19 December 2009 to implement the new Directive. A crucial element in the new Directive is the control of on-demand video services. DCMS and Ofcom have set up a stakeholder group to discuss the implementation of the Directive and are keen to continue the close contact with consumer groups, civil society groups and industry as plans develop.  They intend to hold a public consultation in Spring-Summer 2008 on the proposals for implementation.  If you would like to be kept informed about developments and are not already on the TVWF/AVMS stakeholder list, please contact James Venus (

For more about the Convergence Think Tank, click here
For more about the AMS Directive, see click here