In April this blogger asked who would be paying for the UK’s digital future. Lord Carter’s Digital Britain report has now proposed that the public will pay for this in two ways.
Taxation: Under the proposals reported by the BBC yesterday, everyone with a fixed-phone line will pay a small levy (a tax!) of £6.00 per year to contribute towards the costs of bringing broadband to everyone.
Television Licence Fee: It is further proposed that up to £250 million of licence fee income should be spent on ensuring broadband access is extended to all.
The proposals yesterday may not necessarily please all those who currently benefit from and pay for faster broadband. However it does seem that they might actively ensure wider digital inclusion than currently exists and bring broadband opportunities to a third of the poulation with no current access.
On a closely related issue, the Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw announced in Parliament yesterday that the Government wished to continue to support strong local and regional news services and that licence fee monies might be spent on broadcasters other than the BBC in the future.
The BBC have used Channel M – TV for Manchester as an example of the kind of broadcaster that might benefit from future licence fee funding. Note: I could not get Channel M’s video player to work on my limited broadband connection!