Advanced Television

Media Bill: Industry reaction

November 9, 2023

By Colin Mann

Dame Caroline Dinenage, Chair of the UK House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee, has welcomed the introduction of the Media Bill after the Secretary of State confirmed that the Government has accepted the majority of recommendations made by the Committee after its pre-legislative scrutiny of the Bill.

Commenting on the First Reading of the Bill in the House of Commons, Dame Caroline said: “The Bill is vital to ensuring Public Service Broadcasters maintain their prominence at the heart of the UK’s media landscape and its introduction so promptly after the King’s Speech is very welcome.”

“This legislation must be fit for both the current and future media landscape, so I am pleased that the Government has listened to the Committee and accepted the majority of the recommendations we made after our pre-legislative scrutiny.”

“Stronger protections for the Listed Events regime are welcome. Broadcasters and platforms alike will welcome the clarity on brokering commercial agreements and dealing with legacy devices. The Bill also effectively balances the ability to adapt to future changes in TV and radio, with ensuring appropriate safeguards are in place.”

“The new inclusion of reference to genres in the Bill’s changes to the public service remit is a step in the right direction and we will closely monitor the passage of the Bill to ensure this meets the needs of viewers. The mitigations the Government has put in place, should Channel 4 start producing its own content, also merit particular scrutiny. Channel 4 plays a major role in the success of the UK’s independent production sector and mitigations to protect it are critical.”

“This is potentially a once in a generation chance to improve media regulation, so we need to get this right. Audiences deserve nothing less,” she declared.

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer has written to Dame Caroline to outline the Government’s response to changes to the legislation proposed by the Committee following scrutiny of the Bill earlier in 2023. The Committee will consider and publish the Government’s full response to its two reports at a later date.

The Committee’s first report relating to radio called for measures to address the risk to the industry of larger platforms controlling access to stations and driving listeners elsewhere. A further report on the wider provisions in the Bill included the recommendation that obligations on smart TVs, firesticks and set-top boxes to ensure public service broadcasters are prominent on their platforms should be strengthened.

“As the first piece of major new media legislation in two decades, we welcome the Media Bill’s prominence reforms and commitment to ensuring the biggest sporting events are freely available to everyone across the UK,” Tim Davie, BBC Director-General.

“It is now essential that it is swiftly passed into law to futureproof great British content and ensure that public service broadcasters continue to thrive in a globally competitive marketplace,” he asserted.

“We welcome the decision to prioritise reform of the media industry in the UK, which is long overdue,” commented Alex Mahon, Chief Executive of Channel 4. “Securing prominence for public service television must be made a reality as soon as possible – every day without it damages viewers’ ability to find the content they love and impacts a sector at the heart of Britain’s prosperous creative industries.

“We also welcome legislation to regulate streamers on a level playing field with broadcast content. We call on politicians to ensure rapid passage of the Bill through Parliament, because we cannot afford as an industry and as a nation to delay the strengthening of our public service media sector any further,” she stated.

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