Insights UK Parliament Culture, Media and Sport Committee publishes report on draft Media Bill


The draft Media Bill, published in March 2023, seeks to update the regulatory framework for the broadcasting sector by including provisions to create a new video-on-demand (“VOD”) standards code similar to Ofcom’s current Broadcasting Code, impose certain accessibility requirements on VOD services, improve the prominence of and access to Public Service Broadcaster (“PSB”) services on certain internet-delivered services, allow on demand programming to count towards the current PSB content quota, provide that listed events (e.g. important sporting events such as the FA Cup and Wimbledon) are reserved for PSBs, and require smart speaker platforms to provide access to all licensed UK radio stations.

In the report of its pre-legislative scrutiny of the Bill, the Committee states that it supports the introduction of the Bill but recommends a number of changes and clarifications, some of which are highlighted below.

PSB content quota requirements currently refer to the provision of content in specific genres (e.g. drama, comedy, music, news, sport, education, science, religion and other beliefs and programmes for children). The government proposes to replace this with a requirement that PSBs must make available a broad range of content which is “likely to meet the needs and interests of as many different audiences as practicable,” removing references to some of the specific genres. The Committee recommends retaining specific genres of content to guard against the reduction of certain types of content, particularly in less commercially successful areas.

Existing rules guaranteeing PSBs prominence within TV guides states that they are entitled to “such degree of prominence as Ofcom consider appropriate”.  The draft Media Bill uses similar wording, requiring TV selection services to give “an appropriate degree of prominence” to the PSBs. The Committee recommends that “appropriate” should be replaced with “significant” so as to ensure that PSBs appear prominently in listings and searches for content on internet-delivered services.

Finally, the draft Bill provides that the new audience protection standards code will only apply to the largest VOD providers. The Committee recommends that, in the same way the current Broadcasting Code applies to all broadcasters, the new VOD code should apply to all VOD services.

For more information and to access the report, click here.