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PSBs should collaborate on ‘one-stop shop’ VoD offering

Report on the future of public service broadcasting published by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee

The UK’s public broadcasters should create a “one-stop shop” for their on-demand content according to a report looking at the future of public service broadcasting.

The report, issued by the Digital, Media, Culture and Sport Committee states that while the Committee recognises that the Freeview Play app offers live and on-demand content from Freeview channels, it believes that PSBs should be collaborating to create a ‘one-stop shop’ for their video on demand content.

There has been talk of a single free streaming app before. TVBEurope reported in February that the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 were in talks on the idea of a single free streaming app that would aggregate live broadcasts and catch-up programming in one place.

The report added that not only could aggregating PSB content into one easy-to-navigate app encourage users to browse and watch their content more easily, it would also strengthen their position when negotiating with platforms and manufacturers for prominence.

“There is more that public service broadcasters should be doing for themselves and only by pooling resources can they hope to compete with the likes of Netflix and the platforms,” said DCMS Committe chair Julian Knight. “The collaboration by the BBC and ITV on BritBox is a striking example of how they can work together to create a ‘one stop shop’ for video on demand content — a model for future work.”

Other key recommendations from The Future of Public Broadcasting report include:

  • Updating of the 2003 Communications Act to give broadcasters prominence that extends beyond the Electronic Programme Guide.
  • The government either needs to announce an alternative to the license fee that it can put to parliament, “or strongly support the current model for at least the next Charter period (2028–2038) and actively aid the BBC in driving down evasion.” The committee looked at a number of different funding models from various countries, but concludes that none are better than the current system.
  • Expectations for, and the remits of, public service broadcasters have to be realistic in relation to the available funding. If budgets continue to decline in real terms, the government should review the expectations set for broadcasters.
  • Streaming services should be required to share top-line viewing data (or at least the number of views) of broadcasters’ content with both the broadcasters as well as Ofcom to ensure they can make a full analysis of their reach. The report added that streaming services are an important ‘second window’ for PSB content but without viewer data, it is difficult to fully assess the reach of PSBs.