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UK Internet TV censorship

UK catch-up and US internet streaming


EPG listing set to require that included streaming channels submit to UK TV censorship rules...

The UK government dreams up a new wheeze to take censorship control of streaming TV channels under current law

Link Here26th September 2023
Full story: UK Internet TV censorship ...UK catch-up and US internet streaming
The government writes:

Broadcast television in the UK is subject to a system of regulation overseen by the independent communications regulator Ofcom, which is key to ensuring protections for audiences. This regulation ensures that regulated television channels available in the UK abide by a common set of rules and standards in relation to the programmes they show.

Over the last century, the number of channels available in the UK has increased significantly 203 from a single channel in 1922 to several hundred today. This trend has been recently accelerated by the increasing availability of internet-delivered linear television, known as internet protocol (IP) delivered television. For example, Sky's newest product Sky Stream delivers content via the internet, compared to Sky Q that delivers its services via satellite.

Under the amended Communications Act 2003, in general only channels that appear on regulated electronic programme guides (EPGs) are subject to UK regulation. Which EPGs are regulated in the UK is described in legislation and under this description these currently are Freeview, Freesat, Sky, Virgin Media, and YouView. This list of regulated EPGs means that many of the newer EPGs and channels utilising IP technology are unregulated and can be easily accessed by audiences on their television sets. While millions of people still choose to watch television through the traditional regulated EPGs, there are increasingly significant numbers of UK viewers accessing linear television channels and content via television sets that can be connected to the internet. Data suggests that the UK has a high proportion of these kinds of televisions, with smart televisions already in as many as 74% of UK households.

This shift is transforming the way that audiences access television, with many new services now delivered via the internet. This evolution of distribution means that there is greater choice for consumers in how they access linear television content and that there is more competition within the market for delivering services, allowing for new and innovative services to emerge.

Many of the larger providers of unregulated EPGs have voluntarily put in place terms and procedures to protect audiences from harmful content, which may result in some comparable levels of protection as the regulated EPGs while incurring lower administrative costs for the providers.

However, the introduction of these newer unregulated and self-regulated guides has resulted in a clear regulatory gap within the existing statutory regime, which could result in inconsistent protections for audiences and limited options for independent complaints handling. This also means that guides do not have to ensure other benefits for audiences like prominence for public service channels and accessibility for people with disabilities.

The government is therefore concerned that the combination of the defined set of regulated EPGs and the growth of new, IP delivered services means that there is increasingly a lack of regulation. UK audiences being able to access unregulated EPGs means there is an increasing number of linear television channels and services that are not regulated by Ofcom and to the standards audiences in the UK expect. This has the potential to cause harm, especially for children and vulnerable audiences, with no statutory protections on these unregulated services.

The lack of protections in place for these unregulated services mean that there is a range of potentially harmful content that could be shown on television with no independent recourse for action to be taken. This includes content that would be unsuitable for younger audiences that are available during the day, that would need to be shown after the watershed if regulated, such as those that include swearing, violence, and sexual content.

Moreover, an inconsistent application of statutory regulation means that EPGs delivering similar -- and often competing -- services do not currently have to comply with the same statutory requirements. This means that there is not currently a fair competitive environment between providers.

Given the landscape of changing technology and the increasing risk to audiences of unregulated content appearing on television, the government believes that legislation is required to update the EPGs that are regulated in the UK. The government is therefore consulting on whether and how to use existing powers that allow it to update which EPGs are regulated in the UK.

This 8-week consultation seeks views on whether and how the Secretary of State should exercise this power, and seeks views on a proposed approach.

In summary, the government is consulting on:

  • The impact of regulating EPGs.

  • The proposed approach for defining which EPGs should be regulated.

Responses from all individuals or organisations on the specific consultation questions and content of the consultation document are welcome.



Over blocking will be the Netflix response to new UK censorship laws for streaming...

Netflix said it will remove content from its UK service just in case it may fall foul of the UK government's new laws allowing streaming services to be censored to the same standards as broadcast TV

Link Here31st May 2023
Full story: UK Internet TV censorship ...UK catch-up and US internet streaming
Netflix has said it may have to to pre-emptively remove movies and TV shows from its UK library to avoid breaching new internet censorship laws being introduced by the British government.

UK ministers are pushing for the internet censor, Ofcom, to be able to censor streaming services in a similar way to which it already does for traditional broadcasters.

The Media Bill states that major streamers must consider impartiality in the context of contemporary events, pointing specifically to current public policy and matters of political or industrial controversy.

In a submission to UK Parliament's Culture, Media and Sport Committee, Netflix addressed the plans to introduce due impartiality rules, calling the draft legislation nebulous and potentially onerous for services to enforce. There were still a number of areas where it would welcome greater clarity.

Netflix said staying on the right side of the proposed rule would require it to keep its giant catalogue of content under continual review, ensuring that it is removing titles on a regular basis regardless of when a show or film premiered.

The range and variety of Netflix's content, generally considered a strength of our offering in terms of maximising choice for British viewers, could equally become a potential source of risk from a compliance perspective if it fell within Ofcom's remit, it said.

Without considerably greater clarity around the scope and application of these provisions, it would inevitably be easier to remove content pre-emptively from our UK catalogue than risk an onerous compliance burden and potential liability.



Streams of censorship...

The government outlines plans to extend TV censorship rules to streaming services

Link Here10th April 2023
Full story: UK Internet TV censorship ...UK catch-up and US internet streaming

The draft Media Bill will include measures bringing mainstream video-on-demand (VoD) services consumed in the UK - such as Netflix and Disney+ - under a new Ofcom content code, to protect audiences from a wider range of harmful material - such as misleading health claims. The latest research from Ofcom indicates that traditional 'linear' TV viewing - where viewers watch programmes broadcast at a scheduled time usually via terrestrial or satellite - is down more than 25% since 2011, and 68% among 16-24s.

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer said:

Technology has revolutionised the way people enjoy TV and radio. The battle to attract and retain audiences has never been more fierce. British content and production is world leading but changes to viewing habits have put traditional broadcasters under unprecedented pressure.

These new laws will level the playing field with global streaming giants, ensuring they meet the same high standards we expect from public service broadcasters and that services like iPlayer, All4 and ITVX are easy to find however you watch TV.

The Media Bill will level the playing field between public service broadcasters and video-on-demand services. For the first time, UK-focused mainstream VoD services will be brought under rules similar to those that already apply to linear TV. It will mean that UK audiences, especially children, are better and more consistently protected from harmful material.

VoD viewers will now be able to formally complain to Ofcom, and the Bill will strengthen Ofcom's duty to assess audience protection measures on VoDs such as age ratings and viewer guidance. Ofcom will have more robust powers to investigate and take action to enforce standards if they consider it appropriate, including issuing fines of up to 250,000 and - in the most serious and repeated cases - restricting a service's availability in the UK.



Prime censorship...

Government publishers white paper outling the extension of suffocating TV state censorship to the major streaming services

Link Here30th April 2022
Full story: UK Internet TV censorship ...UK catch-up and US internet streaming

Rapid changes in technology, viewing habits and the emergence of global media giants have brought new challenges for UK broadcasters. More people are watching programmes on their phones, laptops, tablets, games consoles and on smart TVs. Competition for viewers and advertising revenue has intensified.

According to Ofcom, the share of total viewing for 'linear' TV channels such as ITV and the BBC fell by more than ten per cent between 2017 and 2020. The share for subscription video-on-demand services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video rose from 6% to 19% over the same period.

Proposals include measures to protect audiences from a wider range of harmful material - such as unchallenged health claims - while watching programmes on video-on-demand services (VoDs). These services will be brought under UK jurisdiction and subject to a Video-on-Demand Code similar to the Broadcasting Code, enforced by Ofcom. Fines for breaches could be up to 250,000 or five per cent of annual turnover.

Requiring it to continue to meet the obligations placed on PSBs, the government will move ahead with plans to move Channel 4 out of public ownership to become a privately-owned public service broadcaster like ITV and Channel 5.

The government intends to legislate as soon as the parliamentary timetable allows.

Regulation of video-on-demand services

Ofcom estimates three in four UK households use a subscription video-on-demand (VoD) service. But services like Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video are not regulated in the UK to the same extent as UK linear TV channels. Netflix and Apple TV+ are not regulated in the UK at all.

Except for BBC iPlayer, on-demand services are not subject to Ofcom's Broadcasting Code which sets standards for content including harmful or offensive material, accuracy, fairness and privacy. There are some protections for under-18s but minimal rules exist to protect audiences from, for example, misleading health advice or pseudoscience documentaries.

The government will give Ofcom powers to draft and enforce a new Video-on-Demand Code, similar to the Broadcasting Code and in line with its standards, to make sure VoD services, which target and profit from UK audiences, are subject to stricter rules protecting UK audiences from harmful material. This will primarily be aimed at larger 'TV-like' video-on-demand services such as Netflix, ITV Hub and NOW TV and level the rules between VoD services and traditional broadcasters.

UK viewers will be given new powers to complain to Ofcom if they see something concerning and will be better protected from harmful material. Ofcom will be given a strengthened duty to assess on-demand providers' audience protection measures such as age ratings and viewer guidance, with powers to force changes if necessary.

The maximum fine for regulated VoD services will be 250,000 or an amount up to five per cent of an organisation's revenue, whichever is higher.

Offsite comment: We don't need to be protected from Netflix

30th April 2022. See article from by Matthew Lesh



Making the UK internet the most censorial and red tape infested outside of China...

The Government salivates over suffocating proposals for censoring internet TV, now that it can go even further than the red tape Dystopia called the EU

Link Here30th August 2021
Full story: UK Internet TV censorship ...UK catch-up and US internet streaming
The UK Government has just opened a public consultation on proposals to significantly extend censorship laws for internet TV to match the nannying, burdensome control freakery that currently applies to broadcast TV in the UK. The tone of the press release highlights the obvious glee that the Government holds for more censorship:

Government to consult on better protections for UK audiences on video-on-demand services

Audiences could be better protected from harmful material like misinformation and pseudoscience while watching programmes on video-on-demand services (VoD), Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has announced.

  • Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV+ could be subject to stricter rules protecting UK audiences from harmful material
  • It would mean audiences - particularly children - receive a consistent level of protection on video-on-demand services as they do on traditional broadcasters
  • Ministers seek views to level the regulatory playing field in consultation launched today

The government is considering how to better level the regulatory playing field between mainstream VoD services and traditional broadcasters and is seeking views on the matter in a consultation launched today. This could mean aligning the content standards rules for on-demand TV services with those for traditional linear TV like BBC 1 and Sky.

Now that the UK has left the EU there is an opportunity to create regulation suited to UK viewers that goes beyond the minimum standards as set out in EU regulation under the revised Audiovisual Media Services Directive.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said:

We want to give UK audiences peace of mind that however they watch TV in the digital age, the shows they enjoy are held to the same high standards that British broadcasting is world-renowned for.

It is right that now we have left the EU, we look at introducing proportionate new rules so that UK audiences are protected from harm.

Ofcom data shows a huge growth in popularity and use of on-demand services in the UK. The number of households that subscribe to one rose by almost 350% between 2014 and 2020. In 2021, 75% per cent of UK households say that they have used a subscription VoD service.

Viewers have access to thousands of hours of VoD shows and content at the touch of a button. However, services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ are not regulated in the UK to the same extent as UK linear TV channels.

For example, except for BBC iPlayer, they are not subject to Ofcom's Broadcasting Code which sets out appropriate standards for content including harmful or offensive material, accuracy, fairness and privacy.

This means there is a gap between existing protections for audiences watching traditional TV and those watching newer VoD services. There are some protections for under-18s but minimal rules exist to regulate content. There are very few rules to protect audiences, for example, from misleading health advice or pseudoscience documentaries.

Some service providers have taken welcome steps to introduce their own standards and procedures for audience protection - such as pin-codes and content warnings - but the extent of these measures varies across services. Age ratings are also inconsistent and sometimes non-existent.

The consultation asks for views on whether UK audiences viewing TV-like VoD programmes should receive the same or similar level of protections as when they are watching traditional television. It asks which measures can and should be made consistent across VoD services.

It will also consider whether mainstream VoD services not currently regulated in the UK by Ofcom - like Netflix and Apple TV+ - should be brought within UK jurisdiction to provide accountability to UK audiences who use them.

Not all VoD providers deliver a TV-like experience, so any regulatory change will need to be proportionate, particularly for smaller or niche services, to ensure essential protections like freedom of speech are not affected.

Notes to Editors

  • The consultation is open for 8 weeks and closes on 26 October at 23:45 BST.
  • This review into VoD regulation will form part of a number of measures as part of a wide-ranging broadcasting White Paper into the future of broadcasting which will be published this autumn.
  • The consultation examines the current level of audience protection from harmful content provided through regulation and voluntarily by individual VoD services, and what steps are required to ensure appropriate protection levels for UK audiences going forward.
  • Now the UK has left the European Union, this is an opportunity to improve upon EU aligned provisions under the Audiovisual Media Services Directive with regulations that are designed in the best interests of UK audiences.
  • This consultation does not seek responses on wider broadcasting regulation, nor changes to how television or public service broadcasters such as the BBC or Channel 4 are funded or regulated. This consultation will also not cover changes to advertising rules/restrictions and does not cover topics such as introducing levies/quotas on VoD services. Responses on these issues will not be considered as part of this consultation.



The crown jewels of cenorship...

The UK government is set to extend the TV censorship regime to cover internet streaming services

Link Here 21st June 2021
Full story: UK Internet TV censorship ...UK catch-up and US internet streaming
The British government is set to extend the remit of UK TV censorship to cover major streaming services, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime.

Oliver Dowden, the Culture Secretary, is due to set out the proposal this week, with other streaming giants including Amazon Prime and Disney+ also brought under the UK's TV censorship framework. The plans will be set out in a broadcasting white paper.

Ofcom will then be able to censor content on the streaming channels and apply Ofcom rules on bias and accuracy.

The Telegraph suggests that a reason for the move was in part down to last year's row over the accuracy of scenes in The Crown , the historical drama based on the Queen and the Royal Family. Amazon Prime was also picked up for hosting anti-vaccination documentaries in the US that it later removed.

Under current rules, Netflix does not fall within Ofcom's jurisdiction because it is based in the Netherlands. Instead, it is subject to Dutch regulation even on its English language programmes tailored to the UK version of its site.



No respect...

Britbox adds a silly trigger warning to Da Ali G Show and Keeping Up Appearances

Link Here20th May 2021
Full story: UK Internet TV censorship ...UK catch-up and US internet streaming
Woke Britbox bosses have added a trigger warning to Sacha Baron Cohen's Da Ali G Show.

The Streaming platform is warning viewers sensitive to racist terms. Viewers are warned episodes contain crude humour, including racist terms which may offend, sexual references and strong language.

The show first aired on Channel 4 in 2000. Cohen won a string of awards playing the wannabe urban rapper and spoof interviewer for several years.

The Sun quotes a TV insider saying:

The warning will be greeted with disbelief by anyone who watched the original series which was almost universally liked.

There were some voices who criticised the show for allowing people to laugh at black, urban street culture, but the majority of viewers thought Ali G was hilarious.

The classic comedy Keeping Up Appearances, which originally ran from 1990 to 1995, has also suffered similar treatment by Britbox.  A trigger warning has been prefixed saying that episodes contain language and attitudes of the era that may offend.

The Sun speculates that the offending lines were about Polish imigrants and phrases such as bent as a 4 note.

Offsite Comment: Is it cos I is racist?

20th May 2021. See article from

Da Ali G Show, an anti-racist satire, has been slapped with content warnings about its racist content.



A stereotypically self deprecating Brit...

'Inappropriate' classic sitcoms already banned from BritBox

Link Here 8th November 2019
Full story: UK Internet TV censorship ...UK catch-up and US internet streaming
BritBox, the new internet TV  joint venture from the BBC and ITV will not include classic homegrown series that are deemed to be inappropriate for fragile modern audiences.

The new 5.99-a-month service, which will also offer shows from Channel 4 and Channel 5, is aiming to compete with Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

However, bosses have said a range of classic shows, such as the BBC's Till Death Us Do Part and ITV's Love Thy Neighbour , will not appear on the service because of content deemed racist or otherwise unacceptable.

Reemah Sakaan, the senior ITV executive responsible for launching the service confirmed that Till Death Us Do Part, Love Thy Neighbour, and It Ain't Half Hot Mum will all be absent.

There are numerous individual episodes of some shows that will appear on BritBox eg Only Fools and Horses and Fawlty Towers could be deemed inappropriate for modern viewing. However, it is understood that no Fawlty Towers episodes will be cut from the service, although they will run with warnings about offensive language, (and presumably censor cuts).

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