BT’s Content Connect might threaten hyperlocal TV’s prospects

Not content with shying away from laying down fibre while competitor Virgin does a JFDI like a good little broadband supplier, BT is now trying to single-handedly demolish net neutrality in the UK. Below are my thoughts, which I’ve sent in a letter to my MP, Michael Fabricant.

Via a number of sources including this article I learned that BT is planning a service which offers higher quality delivery service to content providers (such as the BBC with iPlayer).

Although I support the need for companies like BT to charge appropriately for services it’s clear that this service could create the two-tiered internet we fear. I can see two impacts;

1) Companies, such as the BBC, Channel 4, Sky, YouTube etc will be forced into a position whereby in order to maintain the quality of their current service they will have to pay substantial amounts of money to an already profitable BT Group. Sustaining could well mean raising prices, cutting costs (and we all know where..) or cutting the service altogether.

2) What I’m most worried about is the impact on local content. The recent Shott report clearly told the Government that local TV isn’t going to be delivered by 81 or 21 stations through masts, it will be over the web; “In the long-term, local TV looks set to be delivered through IPTV technology; therefore, any steps the Government takes through new regulatory interventions to facilitate local TV should have regard for this…”

Already several local ‘TV’ ‘stations’ have sprung up on the web including in David Cameron’s own constituency of Witney. There are similar efforts in Cornwall, Saddleworth (reporting on the Woolas by-election issue) and I would like to do the same in Lichfield.

I may find that The Lichfield Blog is priced out of providing good quality ‘TV’ services to residents though, thanks to this two-tier level of access to BT’s infrastructure.

For example, who is to decide whether programs from Sky’s on demand service are more important than a Lichfield-made documentary about the contentious HS2 issue or Friarsgate?

I hope you’ll put my argument to the minister responsible but also consider the potential impact on your constituents too.






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