UK TV channels ‘losing out’ in battle against streamers due to outdated laws, parliamentary inquiry finds

UK TV channels ‘losing out’ in battle against streamers due to outdated laws, parliamentary inquiry finds

Isobel LewisThu, 25 March 2021, 10:13 am

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

UK TV networks are being “let down” by outdated laws preventing them from competing fairly with streaming services, a parliamentary inquiry has found.

The inquiry by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee is calling for a new broadcasting act to help terrestrial channels such as the BBCITV and Channel 4 compete with US streaming giants like NetflixAmazon Prime Video and Disney Plus.

In findings published on Wednesday (24 March), the committee called on the government to help make UK broadcasters more accessible and regulate streamers, who they said had “undue influence over the ability of consumers to access public service broadcasting content online and through streaming”.

DCMS committee chair Julian Knight said that for public-service broadcasters to “compete in a digital world,” the government must renew broadcasting laws nearly 20 years out of date.

“It’s a question of prominence. Too often public service broadcasters lose out on dominant platforms with content that’s hard to find or isn’t branded,” he said.

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“However, there is more that public service broadcasters should be doing for themselves and only by pooling resources can they hope to compete with the likes of Netflix and the platforms,” Knight continued, citing BritBox as an example of the BBC and ITV working together to create a “one-stop shop” for streaming content.

One proposal is to encourage smart TV manufacturers to include shortcut buttons for platforms such as BBC iPlayer alongside Netflix on their remote controls.

In response to the inquiry, a BBC spokesperson said the network welcomed the “thorough and detailed report.”

“We’re also pleased to see the committee call for updated legislation to ensure the BBC is prominent on digital platforms so audiences can easily find public service programmes and agree that changes should be made to the BBC’s regulation to ensure we can respond quickly to audience expectations online,” they said.

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