UK unveils TV reforms to regulating Netflix and selling Channel 4

Bloomberg – UK to force video-on-demand services like Netflix Inc. (NFLX) to limit substances deemed harmful, such as “undisputed health claims” or risk fines of up to 5% of its annual sales under a package of proposed reforms to television laws.

The Ministry of Culture, Media and Sports on Thursday submitted a bill granting new powers to the media regulator, Ofcom, in the so-called White Paper.

The bill would allow citizens to file a complaint about content that currently escapes regulations. For example, the head of the National Health Service in the United Kingdom attacked “Goop . LabFrom Netflix, about Gwyneth Paltrow’s wellness brand, for spreading ‘misinformation’.

New regulations could see Ofcom investigate these types of complaints, which could result in warnings and fines. At the time, Netflix responded by saying the series was “designed for entertainment and not for medical advice.”

By updating old laws, the UK will include the internet in its so-called public service broadcasting obligations, channels that take on added importance in exchange for additional responsibilities such as regional programming and news coverage. PSBs are British Broadcasting Corp. and ITV Plc (ITV), Channel 4, Paramount Global’s Channel 5, STV Group Plc (STVG), and S4C.

The new law will also force tech companies to prioritize telecom service providers across pay TV, digital platforms and devices such as smart TVs and streaming sticks in the UK, amid fears they could be neglected as traditional TV use declines and foreign companies grow. Able to maintain content.

Companies like Comcast Corp. (CMCSA) and Liberty Global Plc (LBTYAN) devices to compete with companies like Apple Inc. (AAPL) and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (005930) in a battle to control access to programming.

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Ministers will also consult on the possibility of television broadcasters commissioning “privileged British” programming so that they do not remove local terms and expressions to appeal to global audiences and are “indistinguishable” from international programmes.

Media lawyer John Enser, partner at CMS, said the video-on-demand proposals give British Culture Secretary Nadine Doris the final decision on whether or not individual services such as Netflix will be regulated.

“It is about re-establishing political control on a large scale in media regulation, which is not allowed in the EU, where media regulators must be independent,” Ansser said by email.

The official is referring to Article 30 of the bloc’s Audiovisual Media Services Directive, which states that regulators in member states must be legally distinct and functionally independent from their governments. DCMS representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment on this item.

Doris will also push for the sale of the free state-owned TV channel Channel for Television Corp., which is facing opposition from all major British political parties.

Channel 4 will be able to produce and sell its own content, but will maintain various commitments to commission programming from independent producers, produce outside London and a mandate to show news as well as original and “creative” programming.

An ITV spokesperson said it would consider the proposals but it “seems very logical” at first glance.

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