The public service broadcasters, BBC, ITV and Channels 4 and 5 have all signed an open letter urging the government and Ofcom to set out new rules, ensuring prominence against the tech giants like Netflix and Amazon.
The Guardian published the open letter whichwas co-signed by:
Carolyn McCall, CEO, ITV
Tony Hall, director general, BBC
Alex Mahon CEO, Channel 4
James Currell, president of Channel 5s parent company Viacom UK
Simon Pitts, CEO, STV
Owen Evans, CEO, S4C.
They argued, “Regardless of where youre watching, which device youre watching on, or who provides your television service, you should always be able to easily find PSB services and programmes in the UK.”
PSBs in the UK have had guaranteed top slots in the EPGs since 2003, thanks to the introduction of new legislation, however, since online streaming has soared in popularity and viewer habits have shifted, it has resulted in viewers sometimes bypassing the EPGs altogether.
The minimised use of the EPGs and more frequent ‘top picks’ function, has pulled into question whether the likes of Virgin Media, BT and Sky (who have a combined viewer household of 17m) are promoting their own content over the PSBs.
The letter continues, “Global players have a growing influence on what UK audiences discover when they turn on their screens. Increasingly they are becoming the gatekeepers to what we watch but they have little interest in reflecting UK culture, investing in the nations and regions, or ensuring the news they provide is accurate and impartial.”
The broadcast regulator Ofcom has recently closed a consultation around prominence and said: “To ensure public service channels are easy to find on TV delivered through the internet, parliament would need to introduce new legislation“. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DMCS) has pledged it’s support to the prominence issue, a spokesman for DCMS said they were “committed to working with PSBs and the sector to ensure our world-class TV industry continues to thrive“.
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