Apple TV+ and Other Streaming Services Could Face Ofcom Regulation in the UK

U.S. video streaming services including Apple TV+, Netflix, and Disney+ are likely to face tighter regulation in the U.K. as part of proposals being considered by the British government.

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Ministers at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport today announced that they will consult on plans to bring streaming video platforms under British broadcasting laws in order to level the regulatory playing field with traditional broadcasters like the BBC, ITV, Sky and others.

Traditional broadcasters like the BBC and ITV must comply with regulator Ofcom's code, which covers issues including harm, offense, accuracy, and impartiality. If the rules of the code are broken, Ofcom can dole out fines and suspend licenses.

Currently the only streaming platform that must also adhere to the code is the BBC iPlayer, while the likes of Netflix and Amazon do not fall under its remit, because their headquarters are not located in the United Kingdom.

Some services use their own voluntary measures, such as Netflix's adoption of British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) age ratings on content. However, in a press release announcing the review, ministers say the time has come for the current status quo to change:

The current landscape makes for an inconsistent, ad-hoc and potentially harmful gap in regulation between video-on-demand services alongside a potential competitive disadvantage between UK broadcasters and their internationally-funded online counterparts.

It is also almost twenty years since the UK broadcast sector's regulatory framework was introduced in the Communications Act 2003, which was designed before the arrival of online companies such as Apple+, Amazon Prime and Netflix in their current form.

The government will also take forward existing commitments to legislate to strengthen public service broadcasters "prominence" online so that their video-on-demand content can easily be found and accessed on smart TVs and other platforms and devices.

According to the press release, the review will look at whether rules need strengthening to ensure that all streamers have appropriate content age ratings in place and whether they should be subject to standards on impartiality and accuracy for documentaries and news programming.

"Technology has transformed broadcasting but the rules protecting viewers and helping our traditional channels compete are from an analogue age," said Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, announcing the review. "The time has come to look at how we can unleash the potential of our public service broadcasters while also making sure viewers and listeners consuming content on new formats are served by a fair and well-functioning system."

The streaming service regulation review will be used to prepare a white paper, which could see traditional broadcasting laws transformed to account for the rise of streaming and on-demand services.

Note: Due to the political or social nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Political News forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

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Top Rated Comments

architect1337 Avatar
38 months ago

The Brits at it again. More grabs at unearned income. Really should have thought about Brexit more thoroughly. ?
You win the golden banana for the worst attempt to associate Brexit to any argument.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
bigchrisfgb Avatar
38 months ago

Tread careful UK, it'd be a shame for your Citizens to lose access to the likes of Ted Lasso, The Mandalorian, and the MCU.
Do you know what OFCOM is and prevents?
The majority of it is regulations state that adult content, pictures of violence etc have to be labelled so people with kids or people who don’t like those genre’s can easily avoid seeing that content. Apple of all the streaming platforms would be in favour of this, even Disney would be in favour of this considering in the USA they have separated the streaming platforms for their family friendly content, and more adult content, and have only recently launched their adult content under a different brand in the EU.

The rest of rules are there to prevent over advertising and the likes of Alex Jones spouting his conspiracy theories without any counter balance and/or evidence to his claims.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
PlayUltimate Avatar
38 months ago
I don't see a problem with updating the regulations to include the changes to media offerings. When radio became popular new rules were needed. When TV broadcasting became popular new rules were needed. Streaming is becoming, more and more, the de facto means of consuming video media. Local/National regulations need to be put into place to meet the changing dynamics.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Stan__ Avatar
38 months ago
Here we go again…. more censorship. What is happening to this country. Looks like it is turning to North Korea. Communists……
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Putzytart Avatar
38 months ago
I'm guessing this will also be an opportunity for them to change the TV Licence rules so that streaming non-live media on Apple TV, Netflix, and Amazon Prime Video will now require a TV licence. It's no secret that the TV licence model doesn't currently have a future with so many people abandoning live TV.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
phenste Avatar
38 months ago
Couldn’t even get the name right of one of the streaming services in the government-sanctioned press release.

It’s really, genuinely worrisome to me that some of the most prominent governments in the world are legislating on things where they have no clue what they’re talking about.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)