The BBC is lobbying the government over concerns that the TV market could be disrupted when 4G is rolled out, warning that current proposals could tip the scales in favour of pay platforms.
Ofcom estimates that up to 2.3 million Freeview households will be affected by 4G interference, and the government currently plans to withhold £180m from the spectrum auction at the end of the year to deal with the problem.
An organisation dubbed Mitco - Mitigation Company - will be set up and run by the mobile operators to help those facing disruption.
Affected households will be offered a filter for one TV set per household, but this will not work in all cases.
The back-up plan is to switch the household over to satellite or cable, and while the options will include Freesat, it is understood premium platforms such as Virgin and Sky will also be used.
But a senior BBC insider argued the proposal would “greatly affect the balance of power” between pay platforms and free access, and is calling for more investment to be put forward to prevent, rather than mitigate, the problem.
BBC director of policy and strategy John Tate told Broadcast: “This is a big deal. The government should put the viewer in the position they would otherwise be in and deduct an amount suffi cient to make good on the interference this will cause.
“Freeview is the best PSB environment - if you switch people over to satellite or cable, they will most likely be entering a pay environment and the net effect would weaken Freeview.”
“We think it should be prevention rather than mitigation. Being run by mobile operators creates a fox-in-the-hen house scenario,” he added.
Tate said it was unclear how much extra cash would be needed, but that it would likely be “somewhere north of ” the amount earmarked.
“This [spectrum auction] will be a hugely profitable exercise - it’s absolutely within the government’s gift to withhold enough to make sure everyone is a winner.”
The corporation, alongside other Freeview stakeholders ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and Arqiva, has begun lobbying “hard” for more money to be kept back, and for the responsibility to be taken out of the mobile operators’ hands.
ITV chief executive Adam Crozier also warned 4G could affect DTT’s scale and scope. “We need to ensure policy-makers don’t sacrifice DTT,” he said.