British public service broadcasters are planning to create a single app to provide a gateway to their online television and video services. They are hoping to agree a common approach in time for the app to be included in the next generation of smart televisions.

The Sunday Telegraph reports that British broadcasters are racing to sign off a single free streaming app by November as they mount a co-ordinated fightback against American online video services. The newspaper previously reported such an initiative at the end of January.

The plans are being prepared by Digital UK, which manages the Freeview platform and is jointly owned by the BBC, ITV, and Channel 4.

The aim is to create a joint application that would present programming from all the broadcasters, which could either be viewed directly through the app or through a link to the online services of the respective broadcasters.

The report says that the broadcasters would like to see a dedicated button on remote controls to access the app, as seen for other online services like Netflix and Amazon. It is not clear whether they are prepared to pay for the privilege or are hoping that it will be provided under regulations for the prominence of the services of public service broadcasters.

In July, the communications regulator Ofcom said that new rules are need to require public service media providers to offer their on-demand services to popular television platforms, which in turn should be required to include and give appropriate prominence to their programming, subject to powers for Ofcom to monitor and enforce this and resolve commercial disputes.

The broadcasters are reported to be seeing to reach an agreement to meet the deadline for the inclusion of a joint app on the models of smart televisions to be released in 2022.

Such a development seems long overdue. Broadcasters have long promoted their individual online apps rather than a unified online video viewing experience. It seems that they will continue to do so, through a common gateway, which is essentially what they have with Freeview Play.