Walmsley calls on government to boost fortunes of digital terrestrial television by cutting ITV licence fees
Carlton Communication's deputy chief executive made a plea to the government last night to support ITV's struggling digital platform by calling for a reduction in its annual taxes, writes Ann-Marie Corvin

In a speech to the Royal Television Society Nigel Walmsley argued that ITV companies were effective building a new communications infrastructure which it could not finance while so few channels were making any money.

'The salutary reality is that a small number of pay channels account for the lion's share of digital pay viewing and a large number of channels account for very little - just ask the Money channel,' he said.

'?No one in TV is making money in digital television - yet. All of us - Sky, the cable operators, ITV digital - are effectively building a new national infrastructure - and national infrastructures don't come cheap,' he added.

Walmsley argued that in order to promote this infrastructure the government should cut ITV's£300m annual license fee.

'What is the point in asking the private sector (and mainly ITV companies) to finance the build of a national digital terrestrial infrastructure while charging ITV£300pa in extra taxes.'

The Carlton deputy also spoke out on so called killer applications in digital television including electronic programme guides ( EPGs) and Personal Disc Recorders ( PVRs) such as Tivo - on which he thinks the jury is still out.

'The technical powers and convenience of Tivo and PVR's are tremendous, but, at this stage in their product cycle the incremental cost to the consumer, even after subsidy, feels more than the incremenal benefit?Will they take off as prices fall? I just don't know.'

Nigel Walmsley's speech to the RTS