Rapid changes in technology, viewing habits and the emergence of global media giants have brought new challenges for UK broadcasters. More people are watching programmes on their phones, laptops, tablets, games consoles and on smart TVs. Competition
for viewers and advertising revenue has intensified.
According to Ofcom, the share of total viewing for 'linear' TV channels such as ITV and the BBC fell by more than ten per cent between 2017 and 2020. The share for subscription
video-on-demand services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video rose from 6% to 19% over the same period.
Proposals include measures to protect audiences from a wider range of harmful material - such as unchallenged health claims
- while watching programmes on video-on-demand services (VoDs). These services will be brought under UK jurisdiction and subject to a Video-on-Demand Code similar to the Broadcasting Code, enforced by Ofcom. Fines for breaches could be up to £250,000 or
five per cent of annual turnover.
Requiring it to continue to meet the obligations placed on PSBs, the government will move ahead with plans to move Channel 4 out of public ownership to become a privately-owned public service
broadcaster like ITV and Channel 5.
The government intends to legislate as soon as the parliamentary timetable allows.
Regulation of video-on-demand services
three in four UK households use a subscription video-on-demand (VoD) service. But services like Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video are not regulated in the UK to the same extent as UK linear TV channels. Netflix and Apple TV+ are not regulated in the UK at
Except for BBC iPlayer, on-demand services are not subject to Ofcom's Broadcasting Code which sets standards for content including harmful or offensive material, accuracy, fairness and privacy. There are some protections for
under-18s but minimal rules exist to protect audiences from, for example, misleading health advice or pseudoscience documentaries.
The government will give Ofcom powers to draft and enforce a new Video-on-Demand Code, similar to
the Broadcasting Code and in line with its standards, to make sure VoD services, which target and profit from UK audiences, are subject to stricter rules protecting UK audiences from harmful material. This will primarily be aimed at larger 'TV-like'
video-on-demand services such as Netflix, ITV Hub and NOW TV and level the rules between VoD services and traditional broadcasters.
UK viewers will be given new powers to complain to Ofcom if they see something concerning and will
be better protected from harmful material. Ofcom will be given a strengthened duty to assess on-demand providers' audience protection measures such as age ratings and viewer guidance, with powers to force changes if necessary.
maximum fine for regulated VoD services will be £250,000 or an amount up to five per cent of an organisation's revenue, whichever is higher.
Offsite comment: We don't need to be protected from Netflix
30th April 2022. See article from spiked-online.com by