16 DEC 2020

STREAMING SERVICES COULD FACE TIGHTER REGULATIONS IN THE UK

John Whittingdale, UK’s Media Minister, said that international platforms may be required to obtain a special license to operate in the the territory, to ensure they abide by minimum standards.

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“The Crown”

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Streaming services such as Netflix could be subject to tighter regulation after a row over inaccuracies in “The Crown,” The Times informed. John Whittingdale, the Media Minister, said that international platforms may be required to obtain a special license to operate in the UK, to ensure they abide by minimum standards. “There is a glaring difference between the strict rules for broadcasters including the BBC and ITV and the light-touch regime under which streaming services operate,”  Whittingdale commented.

UK broadcasters must comply with the broadcasting code, enforced by the watchdog Ofcom, which contains detailed regulations around offence, accuracy, impartiality and fairness. However, Netflix, for example, is based in Holland, and it does not need to have a UK license.

Regulation of the American streaming giant has been in particular focus since the latest series of “The Crown” was released in November. Allegations of unfair portrayals of royals like Prince Charles and made up conversations have plagued this new season. “Netflix is something that’s playing an increasingly important role. We’ve seen this with the controversy in recent days over ‘The Crown’s’ depiction of the royal family. Effectively, Netflix (which is based in Holland) is not regulated at all within the UK, and you have to hope they will be good citizens,”  indicated Julian Knight, Chairman of Ofcom.

“Video on demand are subject to virtually no regulations or requirements at all. If they are UK based, then they would require a broadcasting license, if they are EU based they come under AVMSD (Audiovisual Media Services Directive), but if they are outside Europe, they are not subject to anything at all,”  Whittingdale explained.

Asked if Ofcom should have more access to VOD services, Whittingdale added: “It would require a much greater regulation intervention. There is an argument that you could require all services providing content to UK customers to have some kind of licence. That goes a lot further that we are at present, and is not something we have decided - but it’s something one could look at”.

There is a glaring difference between the strict rules for broadcasters including the BBC and ITV and the light-touch regime under which streaming services operate” John Whittingdale UK’s Media Minister