For the first time, streaming services like Apple TV+, Netflix, Disney+, and Amazon Prime could be regulated as linear broadcasters under the United Kingdom government’s new plans due to a “White Paper” policy document.
As reported by Deadline, “the UK regulator Ofcom, which currently monitors content on network television, will be responsible for applying and enforcing guidelines on streaming services, which aren’t currently subject to the Broadcasting Code.”
The changes would require video on demand services to ensure their audiences are protected from harmful or offensive material, and that principles of fairness, accuracy, and privacy are all applied.
The White Paper outlines possible fines for breaking the Code, with any errant VoD services liable to pay £250,000 or a figure up to 5% of the organization’s revenue, whichever is the higher amount.
As of now, these rules would only apply to larger streaming apps. Although Apple TV+ is not a giant streaming service, it’s owned by, well, the most valuable company in the world.
“These changes will mean UK audiences will be better protected from harmful material and better able to complain to Ofcom if they see something they are concerned about. Respecting issues of free speech and proportionality, smaller, lower risk on-demand services in the UK will continue under existing rules,” says the whitepaper.
The document also highlights the problem with global players such as Google, Amazon, and Apple:
These new global players – the Googles, Amazons, and Apples of this world – are successful because they provide convenience and integration. But the growing power of these players, and the data they have at their fingertips, will inevitably impact how rights of access, carriage and prominence are negotiated moving forward. While the increase in range and ownership of distribution platforms generates potential benefits around consumer choice and innovation, there is a risk that the broadcasters that we in the UK know and love are simply crowded out.
You can read the full White Paper document here.
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