UK parliament launches inquiry on the future of PSBs

The UK’s communications committee is launching a new inquiry that investigates whether there is a future for public service broadcasting as the rise of video on demand services continues.

In recent years video streaming services have emerged as powerful global distributors and producers, creating mounting challenges for PSBs such as the BBC and ITV, according to the committee.

Services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime have made available thousands of hours of content for subscriptions which start at £5.99 per month—less than half the cost of a UK TV licence.

As a result, the committee will ask how serious the threat to public service broadcasting is, whether it is worth saving, and what form it could take in the future.

It expects contributions to questions such as:

  • How can commercial PSBs fund original UK productions at a time of declining advertising revenues?
  • Are the obligations currently placed on PSBs appropriate?
  • Should there be further regulation of on-demand services?
  • Do PSBs do enough to reflect and serve the demographics of the UK?
  • Have PSBs responded adequately to market changes?

The committee has invited written evidence from all interested parties by 26 April. The submission form can be found here.

Chairman of the committee, Lord Gilbert of Panteg, said: “PSBs  must fulfil a range of obligations, including on the volume and type of adverts they show, programming in specific genres, the way they commission content, the audiences they serve and the watershed.

“On-demand services do not have these obligations and it has been suggested that these big budget productions are pricing public service broadcasters out of the market by inflating production costs. The committee will investigate if the concept of public service broadcasting retains some value, what form it should take in future and how it could be financially viable.”

The news arrives days after BBC boss Tony Hall criticised tough UK TV regulations. He said: “The landscape in which we operate has changed beyond all recognition over the past decade. But our regulation has stayed largely the same,”


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