BBC chair: ‘Broadcast regulation not fit for digital’

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The chair of the BBC suggests that the system of media regulation is no longer fit for the modern age, after the corporation was forced to delay plans to make more programmes available for up to a year on iPlayer.

Sir David Clementi says that iPlayer’s 30-day catchup window is one of the main complaints he hears from licence fee payers. The BBC chair will say: “Netflix currently updates its app over 50 times a year with no need for regulatory approval, and can stream content for as long as they negotiate with rights holders. It’s a market in which to stand still is to go rapidly backwards.”

The public broadcaster had wanted to make more shows available on iPlayer for longer, but has been told by the media regulator, Ofcom, to conduct a public-interest test into the proposals, in the belief it could harm commercial television rivals.

Clementi told the Oxford Media Convention that many parts of the existing regulation system were designed to stop the well-funded BBC trampling over its commercial rivals in an era when UK TV channels were competing for audiences. He believes these regulations are out of date because the BBC itself is being massively outspent by the likes of Netflix, who are capturing younger viewers and drawing away top stars.

“We need to look again at whether regulation, born in a UK-centric linear era, remains fit for the global, digital age. The explosion of choice from the new online players has undoubtedly been a good thing for UK consumers. But in embracing the new we should also celebrate, and protect, what is good about our existing broadcast ecology.”


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