UK government sets PSB reforms for new golden age of British TV | Major Businesses | Business | News | Rapid TV News
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Even as it finds itself in the middle of controversy regarding its plans to privatise Channel 4, the UK government has published a white paper setting out the steps it sees as necessary to protect British content by giving public service broadcasters a more flexible remit.
channel4 Headquarters 5 April 2022
The key aim is to construct a plan to better protect viewers of video-on-demand services from harmful content with UK broadcast regulator Ofcom to rule on new content standards and given new regulatory powers and for Channel 4 to have  the tools it needs to succeed in the future as a public service broadcaster while protecting its distinctiveness.

Noting that viewers have in front of them a new golden age of programming, the UK government says that it needs to update decades-old broadcasting regulations to give the UK’s vital public service system a deal fit for the streaming age. It added that rapid changes in technology, viewing habits and the emergence of global media giants have brought new challenges for UK broadcasters. The Government quoted Ofcom research showing that the share of total viewing for ‘linear’ TV channels such as ITV and the BBC fell by more than ten per cent between 2017 and 2020. The share for subscription video-on-demand services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video rose from six per cent to 19 per cent over the same period.

Plans in the new broadcasting white paper will aim to boost domestic public service broadcasters (PSBs) which develop talent and skills, drive growth in the creative industries and deliver distinctive, diverse British content. It is designed to all PSBs to compete fairly and continue to make shows loved at home and abroad and support the UK’s booming production sector, which the UK government calculates is worth £3 billion, even before accounting for the success of the BBC, ITV and Channel 5’s own production studios.

UK public service broadcasters will no longer be subject to a set of ‘purposes’ and ‘objectives’ from laws made in 2003. Their remit will, says the UK government, be overhauled and simplified, with a new definition of what it means to be a PSB and a focus on creating distinctive shows which reflect British culture, support domestic film and TV production, and provide impartial and accurate news.

Commenting on the white paper, a BBC spokesperson said: “We welcome the steps to secure the ongoing success of public service broadcasters, including the increased and improved prominence of our services on TVs and platforms. We also look forward to engaging with the Government on both the forthcoming mid-term review and then the national debate on the next Charter. The White Paper recognises the BBC’s critical role in supporting the UK creative sector and we remain focused on delivering great value for all licence fee payers and representing the UK to audiences around the world.”

ITV added: "We welcome the government's recognition of the huge value the PSBs deliver to the UK and its decision to introduce a Media Bill to deliver the necessary reforms to ensure PSBs can continue to thrive in future given market changes. We will engage carefully with the substance of the White Paper once it is published, but many of its proposals - notably reform to prominence and inclusion rules, a more flexible approach to remits, and changes to the listed events regime - look very sensible."

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