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BBC urges UK regulatory parity

The chairman of the BBC is to urge UK regulators to modernise the country’s media laws as the public broadcaster attempts to keep pace with streamers such as Netflix and YouTube.

David Clementi

Sir David Clementi will tell delegates at the Oxford Media Convention that current regulations need to be revised, with his call coming as the BBC attempts to allow programming to be kept on the iPlayer service for a year rather than the 30-day limit at present.

That move has been repeatedly delayed and the UK pubcaster has been told by media regulator Ofcom that a lengthy public interest test must now be conducted to explore potential impact on commercial rivals.

“We need to look again at whether regulation, born in a UK-centric linear era, remains fit for the global, digital age,” Clementi will say.

“The explosion of choice from the new online players has undoubtedly been a good thing for UK consumers. But in embracing the new we should also celebrate, and protect, what is good about our existing broadcast ecology.”

Clementi’s comments will echo those of BBC chief Tony Hall, who has also said the pubcaster must be allowed to adapt quickly in order to compete with US-based streaming giants.

“Netflix currently updates its app over 50 times a year with no need for regulatory approval, and can stream content for as long as they negotiate with rights holders. It’s a market in which to stand still is to go rapidly backwards,” Clementi will say.

“The current regulatory system has its origins in an era where the BBC was seen as the big beast in the jungle, the big beast against whom all others needed protection. But that view of the world has now passed. Increasingly, our major competitors are well-funded international giants – Netflix, Spotify, Facebook, YouTube – whose financial resources dwarf our own.”


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