UK broadcasters will remain front and center on smart TVs and speakers

Natalie Portman
By Natalie Portman 2 Min Read
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LONDON (RockedBuzz via Reuters) – On-demand services from the BBC, ITV and other British public service broadcasters must remain easy to find on smart TVs and set-top boxes.

The new bill will also put Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ under regulator Ofcom’s mandate to help protect the public from harmful material such as misleading health claims, he said Wednesday.

UK public service broadcasters have protected positions in electronic program guides, ensuring viewers can easily find the content they need to produce, for example in the news.

But with more people choosing to watch on-demand television via apps on their smart TVs or other platforms, broadcasters have expressed concerns that their on-demand services could become less visible to viewers.

Culture secretary Lucy Frazer said changes in viewing habits had put traditional broadcasters under unprecedented pressure.

“These new laws will level the playing field with global streaming giants by ensuring they meet the same high standards we expect from public service broadcasters and that services like iPlayer and ITVX are easy to find no matter how you watch TV.” he said in a statement.

The bill will also help UK radio stations compete with global rivals as listenership shifts from AM and FM stations to internet-based services.

Smart speaker platforms, such as Google and Amazon, will be needed to secure access to all licensed UK radio stations, from major national stations to smaller community stations, the government said.

Platforms will also be banned from charging stations for hosting on their services or overlaying their own advertisements on top of programs, he added.

The government has said it will publish the bill in draft form as it continues to consult with industry on reforms.

(Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by Alison Williams)

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