This week, a ‘White Paper’ policy document revealed new plans under way for the UK government. According to the plan, they are set to regulate streaming services such as Netflix and Disney+ for the first time, just like linear broadcasters. The UK regulator, Ofcom, which currently monitors content on network television, is set to be responsible for these platforms.These include Apple TV+, Amazon Prime Video and others, which are not presently subject to the broadcasting code.
These changes would need video on demand platforms to make sure that their audiences are secured from harmful or abusive material. Along with it, ensure that principles of fairness, privacy and accuracy are all put forward for them.
For breaking the Code, the White Paper specifies possible fines, along with any errant VoD services liable to pay £250,000 or a figure of up to 5% of the organisations revenue, whichever is higher at the time.
All this while, linear broadcasters had been pushing for these guideline to be imposed to streamers for several years now. As a response to the proposal, Netflix stated that they welcome steps to update the legal system.
The streamer asserted: “We look forward to reviewing the White Paper’s other proposals and continuing to engage with the government on their plans.”
The proposals state these changes would indicate that the audiences in the UK are better secured from harmful content and have the ability to complain to Ofcom about any of their concerns. Under existing rules, maintenance of the ideals of free speech and proportionality, along with lower risk on-demand services in the country is ensured. The documents also pointed out how Apple, Amazon and Google are successful as they give ‘convenience and integration.’ However, it stated, their increasing power, along with their access to data would inevitably effect how ‘rights of access, carriage and prominence are negotiated moving forward.’
The policy document includes plans other than regulation of the streaming platforms. It includes plans to privatise Channel 4, which is presently owned by the government and paid for by advertising. This particular project has come in for intense criticism from all sides, across the British television industry. However, the Culture Secretary, Nadine Dorries has stuck to her word that the sale would aid the channel thrive in the modern times. Along with it, she ensured that the money raised would be invested back into television production sector.