EU Digital Terrestrial TV Households to hit 55 million by 2009

21 June 2004

Basingstoke, UK (21 June 2004):- The number of EU households with digital terrestrial television (DTT) is set to reach nearly 55 million by 2009, representing 55% of all digital households in the union and 30% of all TV households, according to a new report from Juniper Research. Furthermore, whilst none of the ten new member states have yet launched DTT services, most are expected to begin transmissions within the next five years, contributing more than 5 million DTT households by the end of the decade.

The report – which also takes BSkyB’s latest free-to-air satellite package into account – reveals that the UK will remain the EU country with the highest overall level of digitalisation, although its forecast digitalisation rate by 2009 (89-90%) will be some way short of the British government’s target for analogue switch-off (95%). Other countries expected strong digital growth over the period are Finland (85% by 2009), Italy(83%) and Spain (77%).

By contrast, Greece– which offers around a dozen channels via analogue terrestrial means, and in which pay TV packages have proved to have limited appeal – is expected to have digital penetration of less than 10% by the end of the period.

However, the prognosis for pay DTT services is less hopeful. Report author Dr Windsor Holden, said, “Generally speaking, DTT growth will be strongest in markets with only a limited number of free-to-air services. However, given the strength of existing pay TV services in the majority of countries, pay DTT alternatives will find it extremely difficult to compete given the comparatively small number of services they would be permitted to offer.”

Dr Holden also expressed his concern that the implementation of proposals made by the Broadcasting Policy Group in Beyond the Charter (that the majority of the BBC’s digital channels, including BBC1 and BBC2, should cease to receive public funding from 2007, and should instead be paid for by subscription and/or advertising) would negatively impact upon the development of digital services in the UK.

“Quite clearly, the success of digital terrestrial television in the UKis due to the availability of a significant number of additional free-to-air services, most of which – such as BBC4 and CBeebies – are provided by the BBC. Were any future government to adopt the subscription model recommended in Beyond the Charter, then it is likely that take-up of digital services would decline markedly.”

White papers and further details of the study ‘Digital Terrestrial TV: Prospects in the Enlarged EU’ can be freely downloaded from