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ITV chairman says Ukraine war shows need to keep digital terrestrial TV services

(Nicholas T Ansell/PA)
(Nicholas T Ansell/PA)

The chairman of ITV has stressed the importance of maintaining the UK’s digital terrestrial television (DTT) service in light of the war in Ukraine.

Sir Peter Bazalgette told the Lords Communications and Digital Committee he expected most TV signals to be distributed through the internet a decade from now.

However, he said some should remain in case of a serious geopolitical conflict in which satellites were targeted.

During a session relating to the future funding of the BBC, Sir Peter said: “Yes, we are moving to an on-demand world and, as I said earlier, most television signals will be distributed by the internet in 10 years’ time.

“However, woe betide the country in my opinion who completely dismantles its other means of transmission, that is its DTT or its satellite systems – in particular DTT.

“Because we only need to look at the Ukrainian conflict at the moment and the fact that in a more prolonged conflict one of the targets will be the satellites that fuel and make the internet run worldwide.”

Sir Peter, who was president of the Royal Television Society between 2010 and 2017, warned that internet communications are “vulnerable to future geopolitical conflict”.

He added: “Every country, not only does it need a BBC for what I might call its civil strength – you only have to look at the viewing figures for the announcements about Covid from the Government – but it also needs the security of that signal not just via the internet.”

During the first weeks of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the BBC launched two new shortwave frequencies in the region for four hours of World Service English news a day, which could be received in Kyiv and parts of Russia.