THE UK Government is coming under increasing pressure to guarantee the future of “lifeline” traditional TV and radio for decades to come ahead of a major conference.

Current policy only commits to protecting terrestrial TV and radio that does not require a broadband connection until 2034.

But a report published on Wednesday by over-60s advocacy group Silver Voices suggests more than 80% of people want it to be safeguarded to at least 2051, with some going further and calling for protection until 2079.

The World Radiocommunication Conference – running from November 20 to December 15 – will see countries decide on the global allocation of the spectrum of radio frequencies used for broadcasting, including whether some should be used for technologies such as mobile phones.

Ofcom will represent the UK’s position and a petition sent to the UK Government earlier this year stated unless ministers commit to protecting terrestrial TV further before it, Freeview services may soon be disbanded.

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Many households in rural Scotland and in Scottish islands still rely on signals through aerials for TV and radio, but broadcasting is a reserved matter so all levers lie at Westminster.

SNP MP Gavin Newlands (below) – who has been highly vocal about getting Scotland football matches onto free-to-air TV - has said he is backing the Broadcast 2040+ campaign to try and ensure elderly and vulnerable Scots who depend on traditional services are not left behind.

He told The National: “The Silver Voices report highlighted the detrimental impact that a reduction in broadcasting would have on senior citizens.

“With the current cost of living crisis stretching household incomes to capacity, it is simply the case that many cannot afford the further expense of broadband and online streaming subscriptions.

The National: SNP MP Gavin Newlands

“The UK Government proposals, as they stand, will further isolate whole sections of society including those in more rural areas who do not have access to the high-quality broadband infrastructure required to replace terrestrial broadcasting.

“It is essential that this vital service is protected as many older and vulnerable members of society are dependent on access to free-to-air broadcast TV and radio.

“I was pleased to be able to meet with Broadcast 2040+ recently to hear their concerns. On the back of this meeting, I submitted a number of Written Parliamentary Questions, the answers were not as reassuring as I’d hoped.

“Terrestrial broadcasting is a lifeline to many, and we must protect it.”

The Safeguarding Universality: The Future of Broadcast TV and Radio report found almost three-quarters of respondents believe that the partial or total removal of broadcast services in the future risks leaving behind significant portions of the population, with almost half (46%) concerned about the potential impact of digital-only services on their broadband bills.

Mark Ruskell, the Scottish Greens media spokesperson, said the UK Government should listen to these concerns and reconsider its approach.

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He said: “Free-to-air TV and radio is a lifeline to lots of people. It is a window to our local communities and our wider world.

"It is vulnerable people who will be the most impacted if they lose access.

"The UK Government still has time to reconsider. I hope that they listen and that they ensure that so much fantastic TV and radio remains available to as many people as possible for decades to come."

SNP media spokesman John Nicolson added: “My colleagues in the Scottish Affairs Committee at Westminster have recommended that the UK Government maintain Freeview beyond 2034 and I agree with them.

“Scottish households who wish to continue using Freeview should not be cut off from it against their will.”

A UK Government spokesperson said: "The Culture Secretary has been clear that terrestrial TV and radio will remain accessible for the foreseeable future and that no one should be left behind amid changing viewing habits. 

"We are currently conducting research on the future of TV in the UK to inform long-term decisions on whether to extend the current commitment to keep Freeview on air until at least 2034.”