As part of a shakeup of British television which will see publicly-owned Channel 4 sold off, the UK government is considering whether to increase regulation on video-on-demand services such as Apple TV+.
As the UK anti-competition regulator examines the , and separately also the Apple/Google effective "duopoly"App Store, the government will also examine streaming video. The announcement comes as part of a series of measures centered on the sale of the UK's Channel 4, previously an advertising-funded but publicly-owned station.
"The time has come to look at how we can unleash the potential of our public service broadcasters while also making sure viewers and listeners consuming content on new formats are served by a fair and well-functioning system," said UK Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden in a statement.
"So we'll now be looking at how we can help make sure Channel 4 keeps its place at the heart of British broadcasting and level the playing field between broadcasters and video-on-demand services," he continued.
The government says that it will consult with the industry over whether the regulation of video-on-demand services "need strengthening so that they are subject to similar rules" as network broadcasters, BBC, ITV, and Sky. The plan is to consider "changes to age ratings" and "addressing impartiality rules for documentaries and news content."
Dowden's statement does not address how the UK broadcast regulator Ofcom could have jurisdiction over international streaming broadcasters, however. As well as Apple TV+ and Disney+ being US-based, Netflix's European service is headquartered in Amsterdam.
The government's proposals have been greatly criticized in the UK. David Attenborough — known to Apple TV+ viewers for his nature documentaries — has written an open letter objecting to the plans. According to The Guardian, the letter has been signed by over 100 prominent individuals, including former MI6 chief Sir John Sawyers.
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