A parliamentary committee in the United Kingdom has called for strengthening of obligations on smart televisions and other devices to ensure that public services are prominent on their platforms. It is calling for ‘significant’ rather than ‘appropriate’ prominence in listings and searches on connected devices, so that public service media is always carried and easy to find.
The committee recognises the need for legacy devices to be exempted from requirements but says that it is important that any exemption is not exploited. It recommends allowing the communications regulator Ofcom to de-designate legacy devices so that they are no longer subject to the provisions on prominence.
While the proposed legislation would only apply to television selection services that are deemed to be used by a significant number of viewers, the committee recommends that these should be specified by the regulator and affirmed by the Secretary of State.
The proposed legislation would introduce a must offer and a must carry obligation on public service broadcasters and platforms, based on certain agreement objectives. The committee recommends that the Government should examine the principles on which existing successful carriage deals have been negotiated and use this to improve the drafting of this provision in the legislation.
Among other recommendations are amendments to ensure a new video-on-demand code applies to all platforms and not just those with large audiences in the United Kingdom.
Dame Caroline Dinenage MP, Chair of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, said: “With significant legislation like this coming along only once in a generation, it is vital the Government gets it right. Our proposed changes to the Bill will ensure it is proportionate, future-proofed in a world of shifting viewing habits and rapid technological change, and most importantly in the very best interests of viewers and listeners.”
The Draft Media Bill: Final Report from the Culture, Media and Sport Committee is published on the UK Parliament web site, together with written evidence received in response to its inquiry.