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A House of Lords committee begins reviewing threat of streaming to public broadcasting

Tyrone Stewart

Houses of ParliamentA House of Lords committee is asking for evidence as part of an inquiry into whether public service broadcasters stand a chance against on-demand streaming services, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime.

The Communications Committee highlights that streaming platform subscription prices start at less than half the cost of a TV license, while conventional TV viewing declined five per cent in 2018 and has halved amongst under-25s since 2010.

The questions being asked include ‘how can commercial public service broadcasters fund original UK production at a time of declining advertising revenues?’, ‘are the obligations currently place on public service broadcasters appropriate?’, ‘does public service broadcasting do enough to reflect and serve demographics of the UK?’, ‘have public service broadcasters responded adequately to market changes?’, and more.

“Public service broadcasters must fulfil a range of obligations, including on the volume and type of adverts they show, programming in specific genres, the way they commission content, the audiences they serve and the watershed,” said Lord Gilbert of Panteg, chairman of the committee.

“On-demand services do not have these obligations and it has been suggested that these big budget productions are pricing public service broadcasters out of the market by inflating production costs. The Committee will investigate if the concept of public service broadcasting retains some value, what form it should take in future and how it could be financially viable.”

Those interested in submitting evidence can find the submission form here. The committee will stop collecting evidence on Friday 26 April 2019.

Over the weekend, the same House of Lords committee released a report calling on the government to begin properly regulating tech companies by setting up a ‘Digital Authority’, which would provide information to the public, the government, and parliament, while reporting to a joint committee formed between both Houses of Parliament.