Skip to main content

Broadcasting Policy

Volume 697: debated on Wednesday 23 June 2021

Today, we are announcing our intention to publish a Broadcasting White Paper in the autumn. In order to inform the White Paper, we will consult on the future of Channel 4 and on regulating video-on-demand services.

We believe that the need for public service broadcasting (PSB) remains as strong as ever and it is therefore necessary to bring the UK’s broadcasting framework into the 21st century.

The forthcoming White Paper will look ahead to the challenges of tomorrow, ensuring the UK’s broadcasting system is dynamic, relevant and can continue to meet the needs of UK audiences in the future. This will include proposals on prominence, to ensure that high quality public service content is made easily accessible to UK audiences across online platforms. The White Paper will also be influenced by Ofcom’s ongoing PSB review, the Government’s own strategic PSB review, as well as the recommendations of the Digital Radio and Audio Review which will report this summer.

This summer we will launch a consultation on the future success and sustainability of Channel 4.

Since its inception almost 40 years ago, Channel 4 has delivered on its remit, aims and objectives, and has done an excellent job in managing the uncertainty in the market over recent years.

However, Channel 4’s current ownership model and remit places material restrictions on its ability to keep pace with the challenges posed by the fast-evolving media landscape.

Now is the time to proceed on the basis that an alternative ownership model—but one where it keeps a public service remit—may be better for the broadcaster and better for the country.

We will also launch a consultation on the regulation of video-on-demand services. Services such as Netflix, ITV Hub or Amazon Prime Video provide huge value to UK audiences, and in many cases significant, and growing, contributions to the UK economy. However, they are also services that are regulated far less robustly than traditional broadcast television stations, particularly in relation to the regulation of content standards and audience protection, and some services are not regulated in the UK at all.

So this summer we will consult on whether it is time to set the same basic rules for video-on-demand services as we do for traditional broadcasters.