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Media regulation is out of date, warns BBC chair

Sir David Clementi to address the Oxford Media Convention

BBC chair Sir David Clementi is to tell the Oxford Media Convention that media regulation is no longer fit for the modern age.

The BBC was told to delay upgrades to iPlayer that would make programmes available for longer than 30 days. Ofcom warned the upgrade would be unfair on the broadcaster’s rivals.

However Clementi considers the ruling unfair on the BBC, arguing that “Netflix currently updates its app over 50 times a year with no need for regulatory approval, and can stream content for as long as they negotiate with rights holders.”

Clementi believes the existing regulations, originally designed to stop the BBC having advantages over its commercial rivals, are out of date because the BBC is being outspent by the likes of Netflix.

He will tell the Convention: “The current regulatory system has its origins in an era where the BBC was seen as the big beast in the jungle, the big beast against whom all others needed protection. But that view of the world has now passed.

“Increasingly, our major competitors are well-funded international giants – Netflix, Spotify, Facebook, YouTube – whose financial resources dwarf our own.

“We need to look again at whether regulation, born in a UK-centric linear era, remains fit for the global, digital age. The explosion of choice from the new online players has undoubtedly been a good thing for UK consumers. But in embracing the new we should also celebrate, and protect, what is good about our existing broadcast ecology.”