Government Backs Away from UK Satellite Spectrum Tax

16 July 2002

Following pressure from leading digital broadcaster BSkyB, the British government is dropping plans to tax satellite operators for use of spectrum.

The proposal was part of an independent review of spectrum use by Professor Martin Cave of Warwick Business School. To the horror of Murdoch-controlled BSkyB [WAMN: 14-May-02], he recommended a levy on satellite firms to bring them into line with terrestrial players, who pay for a broadcast licence.

However, in a new consultation document ministers have watered down the plans, suggesting a voluntary scheme in which satellite companies would pay between 50p ($0.78; €0.78) and £1 per customer.

The government proposals are likely to upset terrestrial operators, who feel they are treated unfairly, but they are also not wholly to the liking of the satellite industry. Although failure to join the scheme would not be deemed a criminal offence, the signals of companies who do not pay will get less defence against interference – an operation likened to a protection racket by one insider.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff