King Charles III confirmed the government’s plan to push through with its long-discussed Media Bill on Tuesday morning during the traditional opening of Parliament ceremony in London.
Tradition dictates that the King’s speech (or the Queen’s speech, as it was previously known for the past 70 years), sets out the incumbent British government’s most pressing legislative issues of the day, effectively rubber stamping them on the way to becoming law.
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Among the key points in the Media Bill are protection for U.K. public service broadcasters (PSBs) such as the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 including “prominence” and discoverability on digital devices and platforms as well as the extension of media regulator Ofcom’s powers to cover streaming services. With the introduction of the bill, Ofcom will be able to investigate and penalize streamers.
Following protracted discussion of Channel 4’s future, the Media Bill also ensures the network will remain publicly owned but, for the first time, allows Channel 4 to produce its own content, a move that has shaken the U.K. production industry.
ITV CEO Carolyn McCall welcomed the bill, saying: “We are very pleased with the inclusion of the Media Bill in the King’s Speech. This is a critical step towards ensuring that public service broadcasters can continue to invest in the brilliant British content our audiences love, because our shows will be available and easy for people to find on all major TV platforms and devices.”
Chair of the culture, media and sport committee Caroline Dineage added: “The Media Bill will be vital for ensuring our public service broadcasters can continue to thrive in an ever-changing media landscape and for enabling listeners to enjoy access to live radio on smart speakers. We welcome its inclusion and look forward to seeing how the Government has taken on board the Committee’s recommendations to make sure the legislation is in the very best interests of viewers and listeners.”
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