UK unveils new code for streaming platforms

The UK Government has introduced a new piece of legislation to make sure there’s an up-to-date framework in place to protect public service broadcasters (PSBs) and streaming platforms.
An Ofcom-regulated video-on-demand code for major streaming platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+. These services will be subject to editorial standards similar to the ones that protect people from harmful content on broadcast TV. This means the regulator will be handling complaints about content shown on these platforms. Streaming services will also be subject to accessibility requirements such as subtitling, so more disabled people can access this content.
The Bill makes some changes to Ofcom’s existing responsibilities as regulator of broadcast media. Measures include:
Amending and simplifying the requirements of public service broadcasters so they can focus on creating high-quality programming that serves audiences. This includes protecting people’s ability to watch events of national interest for free, such as major sporting events.
New rules to make sure public service content is available, prominent, and easily accessible on connected TV platforms, such as smart TVs and streaming sticks. This will result in the on-demand players on which PSBs distribute public service programming (for example ITVX) becoming more visible on connected TV platforms. This will require us to establish new codes, guidance and dispute resolution processes designed to ensure a fair and sustainable system that serves audiences.
The Bill gives Channel 4 the ability to produce and monetise more of its own programming. Ofcom would review this to make sure the wider sector is not unduly impacted.
Removing outdated regulatory burdens on radio services, while protecting and strengthening the provision of local news. This includes new protections to make sure that BBC, commercial and community stations across the UK remain accessible to listeners via smart speakers.
What’s next?
The Media Bill is the first major update to UK legislation in this area for 20 years. It sets out to make sure UK audiences have access to a wide range of high-quality live and on-demand TV, while protecting people from harmful or offensive material.
In its approach to implementing the Bill, Ofcom will consult openly and use the range of evidence and research available to secure the best outcomes for people across the UK.


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