Amazon Prime Video and Netflix Could Face New UK Regulations

Netflix shown on a phone screen

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is considering a revamp of regulations as it targets on-demand streaming services. 

Following a UK Government crackdown on social media platforms, it is believed that the next focus will be on the rules governing on-demand video streaming sites, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

The Daily Telegraph reports that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is considering revising the rules in order to hold these digital channels to the same standards as traditional broadcasters.

Currently, the streaming platforms are not subject to the UK media watchdog, Ofcom, despite the fact UK users have access to these channels.

Netflix, for example, is only subject to the Dutch media authority’s jurisdiction as the company is headquartered in the Netherlands. According to sources familiar with the issue, the DCMS select committee may also “do something” this year in relation to this area.

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This follows recently proposed regulations targeting social media sites such, as Facebook. The proposed regulations will also include a revision of internet companies’ duty of care to users, which has come under intense scrutiny.

Last month, Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright suggested this could be the next focus of DCMS, saying that the rules for Netflix and Amazon Prime Video were “not as robust” as they were for other broadcasters.

“Our regulation of broadcasters 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,” he 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.”

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Currently, public service broadcasters are required to commission content from within the UK. For example, the BBC must ensure that UK-made shows form the bulk of its content, and around 50% of that comes from outside the M25 area.

Amazon and Netflix are bound by no such obligations, however, and the European Union is in the process of finalising new rules which will require digital streaming channels to ensure that 30% of their libraries contain content made by the EU-member states.

Last month, Netflix agreed to introduce a new age rating guideline to its system, in partnership with the British ratings board.

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18th October 2019

DIGIT Tech News Roundup: 18th of October 2019