27 November 2008

The government should focus on improving broadband speed and coverage, rather than investing in the expansion of public service broadcasting, a think thank has claimed.According to the Social Market Foundation (SMF), high-speed broadband would be able to provide more public content with greater efficiency than existing broadcasting channels.However, it warned that the country's infrastructure will need to be enhanced and coverage widened to ensure the UK's digital divide does not become greater.Jessica Prendergrast, a senior research fellow at the SMF, said that the continuing existence of major organisations like the BBC "will remain important", despite the influence of new technologies on the market.However, she added: "Equally important however is for the government to ensure widespread access to high-speed broadband as a top priority, just as it once prioritised access to analogue TV."Otherwise there is a risk that only the young and affluent will benefit."The think tank's findings are in line with the view of communications minister Stephen Carter, who said earlier this week that broadband must be considered in discussions on public service funding.

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