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Amazon, Netflix could face UK regulation

Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright hints at regulation during speech

Culture secretary Jeremy Wright has hinted the likes of Netflix and Amazon could face regulation.

Speaking at the Media and Telecoms Conference, Wright admitted both streamers are now an established part of the UK’s media landscape and that they are making a “substantial contribution”.

But Wright added that “we must also make sure that our concept of broadcasting, and our policies towards it, recognise and reflect the growing impact of the digital world.”

He added that Britain’s regulation of TV networks “is widely appreciated, including by audiences, for its robustness and effectiveness, and it sets the framework for much of the cultural and economic benefit that we so value.

“It provides crucial consumer protections, especially with regard to harmful and inaccurate content, which plays an important role in ensuring trust in our broadcasters. But for relatively new on-demand platforms, rules are in many areas not as robust.”

Without giving any specific proposals, Wright hinted that the streamers could be required to represent the diversity of the UK, in the same way public broadcasters are tasked to do. “We place high expectations on our public service broadcasters to reflect and represent the full diversity of the UK’s nations and regions, and in doing so creating a product that often appeals across the globe,” the culture secretary said. “On-demand platforms undoubtedly have global appeal. But it is worth thinking about how we can encourage them to develop in a way that means the content produced here truly reflects UK audiences.”

Wright also told the audience that the UK can thrive with both traditional broadcasters and the new players. “Having a thriving public service broadcaster system and a thriving SVoD world is not mutually exclusive,” he said.