Streaming services such as Netflix, Prime Video and Disney+ could soon be subject to similar rules that traditional TV channels in the UK like BBC, ITV and Channel 4 all have to adhere to. Under new Government plans announced this week, all streaming services will be regulated by Ofcom for the very first time. The proposals mean video on demand (VoD) services could be subject to a new set of rules which are similar to the broadcasting code that British TV channels have to adhere to.
These rules are in place to protect viewers from harmful content, and streaming services who break the proposed regulations from Ofcom could be fined £250,000 or up to five percent of the organisation’s revenue, depending on which is higher.
The proposed VoD Code would mark the first time that streaming services are subject to similar regulations that their TV counterparts have to adhere to.
At the moment, most video on demand services (VoD) in the UK are not subject to the Ofcom’s Broadcasting Code, with the exception to this being BBC iPlayer.
The Government claims the proposed rules will help “level” the playing field between VoD services and traditional broadcasters with viewers given new powers to complain to Ofcom if they see something they feel is concerning.
Besides offering a shake-up to Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+ and co operate in the UK, the Government claims the new rules will help usher in a “golden age” of British television.
Speaking about the measures outlined in a new Government White Paper, Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said: “The UK’s TV and radio industries are world-renowned for their creativity, driven by exceptional talent that is delivering groundbreaking public service programming.
“Set against the backdrop of the digital transformation of our viewing habits, today’s plans will revamp decades-old laws to help our public service broadcasters compete in the internet age and usher in a new golden age for British TV and radio. This will provide jobs and growth in the future along with the content we all love.”
While Netflix said: “As we’ve previously said, we are supportive of measures to update the legal framework and bring our service in the UK under Ofcom’s jurisdiction. We look forward to reviewing the White Paper’s other proposals and continuing to engage with the government on their plans.”
The Government White Paper also outlined measures to ensure high-profile events such as Wimbledon and the World Cup remain on public TV, as well as revealing further details about the controversial decision to privatise Channel 4.