In the United Kingdom, a new Media Bill threatens streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, and more. According to Deadline, UK ministers are pushing for the Office of Communications, known as Ofcom, to regulate streaming services in the same way as broadcast television channels. This means that Ofcom would have the ability to investigate and distribute fines to streaming services for displaying harmful material.
Fines could be up to £250,000, which equates to about $310,000.
In response to this emerging bill and to avoid being fined in the future, Netflix has made its own threat to remove films and television shows from their UK library before the bill comes into effect.
More specifically, Netflix stated to Deadline, “Without considerably greater clarity around the scope and application of these provisions, It would inevitably be easier to remove content pre-emptively from our UK catalogue than risk an onerous compliance burden and potential liability.”
Harmful material is in part defined as material that does not abide by impartiality. An example is if a show or film takes a biased stance regarding a political controversy.
Netflix explained to Deadline, “The range and variety of Netflix’s content, generally considered a strength of our offering in terms of maximising choice for British viewers, could equally become a potential source of risk from a compliance perspective if it fell within Ofcom’s remit.”
Even further, Netflix detailed this argument in a document to the Culture, Media and Sport Committee of the UK Parliament. They argued that streaming services should not be under the same stipulations since people can choose exactly what to click on when streaming. This differs from traditional broadcasts where individuals can stumble across content without meaning to.
Disney agreed with these statements made by Netflix in their own document sent to the Culture, Media and Sport Committee regarding Disney+. According to Deadline, Disney stated, “It seems inappropriate to apply uniform rules on all VoD services, whether that is strict content rules or mandated ratings.”
Companies, such as Disney and Netflix, continue to push back on the UK Media Bill with the belief that this type of restriction is unsuitable and unjust for streaming services.