UK to regulate streaming platforms

OTT platforms like Netflix, Disney+ and Apple TV+ will come under regulation in the UK for the first time, while super-indies are set to be examined over their ‘independent’ status. According to a white paper related to the broadcasting sector, the UK government is set to update the ‘decades-old broadcasting regulation’ and promises a ‘new golden age of programming’.

Changes to the streamer regulation were the first move unveiled by the government last year. The OTT services will now fall under the scrutiny of UK’s media regulator Ofcom, which requires them to meet similar standards as that of broadcasters in the country. The regulatory push is designed in such a way that it will protect the audiences from ‘harmful material’ such as unchallenged health claims and it will also allow public service broadcasters (PSBs) to compete with global streamers. These plans will revamp decades-old laws to help PSBs compete in the internet age.

The new proposals would allow the Ofcom to create a new code of practice for streamers, covering areas such as accuracy, privacy and fairness, said the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

With this new change, a simplified remit for PSBs will also be drawn up focusing on creating shows that reflect British culture and support local production firms. The White Paper pointed to UK successes such as Doctor Who, I May Destroy You, The Great British Bake Off, Luther and Planet Earth. The status of super-indies in the UK will also be investigated, following years of growth which has seen some production groups getting bigger than the broadcasters that commission them.

PSB linear channels till date have occupied the first five slots on EPG’s but due to the viewers’ shift to using global streaming services and smart TVs, it has become difficult for the organisations to secure a higher place. The paper, which also contained more details about the government’s plan to privatise Channel 4, was welcomed by ITV, which said its proposals “notably reform to prominence and inclusion rules, a more flexible approach to remits, and changes to the listed events regime – look very sensible.”

C4 reiterated that it is against privatisation. The BBC did not immediately comment, and Netflix repeated that it would continue to work with the government on the proposals.

World’s biggest streamer said that they are supportive of measures to update legal framework and bring our service in the UK under Ofcom’s jurisdiction.


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