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Ofcom, the UK regulator, has announced a range of measures “to ensure that public service broadcasters (PSBs) continue to deliver high-quality content for UK viewers and listeners”. It says that public service broadcasting is now at a crucial juncture, as broadcasters face unprecedented competition from global on-demand and internet services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and YouTube. In a package of measures, including recommendations to government, Ofcom is updating rules that ensure traditional PSB TV channels are prominent and easy to find within programme guides; asking for legislation to help ensure PSB programmes and players are also clearly visible on internet-connected devices, such as smart TVs, set-top boxes and streaming sticks; and endorsing commitments by PSBs to increase their focus on high-quality children’s programmes. It is also launching Small Screen: Big Debate – a national forum to discuss the future of public service broadcasting on TV and online.
Currently, Ofcom cannot extend “prominence” rules to television delivered via the internet, so the UK parliament would need to introduce legislation to extend regulation to online platforms and services. On the debate, Ofcom says it will need to address questions such as where PSB content should be available in future, who should provide it, and how to guarantee a mix of high-quality UK content online. “By the end of the year, we will publish our assessment of the state of PSB, and how it has performed over the period 2014 to 2018. We will bring together evidence not only about the main PSB services, but also the range of media services – television, radio, online and elsewhere – available to people in the UK. This will provide us with evidence on PSBs’ performance, and help us identify areas of risk and potential opportunities to be investigated more closely.”
Ofcom Issues Public Service Broadcasting Measures
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