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British TV and the threat from tech…

BBC sounds music Radio podcasts from BBC Radio 4 hello this week off Media regulator put out a pretty start warning traditional UK broadcasting is at risk without radical shake-up, but at risk of what and what kind of shake-up are they talking already this year of Commons given the go-ahead to two new TV channels including 14 Rupert Murdoch's News UK and I'll come is reportedly about to take on the massive task of regulating online harm including social platforms like YouTube and Instagram but is a UK regulator really able to police the world wide web well.

I'm dry by the person's best able to answer those questions.

They Melanie Dawes is newest chief executive of Ofcom a job.

She started in February this year and she's giving her first major interview to the media show Elena welcome to the media show thank you very much.

Let's start with a quick fire round and what will you listen?

Gosh, I was listening to BBC Radio news Radio 4 Today programme which is what I often do in the morning some also these days increasing listen to X radio as well, but that's how often wake up in the morning and what's your primary news source that you first turn the program so it's a mix of the newspapers in a household during the day.

I I'm Sky News app quite a lot also BBC News and and I'm a fan of BBC Radio and things like newscast is one of my favorites as well.

What was the best thing you've seen on TV this time of year for me and my tummy is definitely strictly.

It's just that time of year.

Isn't it? So we're addicted to that every Saturday night and Sunday night for the results show on ITV show me things I sometimes watch the BBC News sometimes ITV ITN but to be honest increasingly like a lot of people.

I'm I'm watching it on catch up or

Turn on the radio to three haven't got Disney but we've got Netflix and prime and some of the others so it's a real blend actually traditional British TV alongside some of the new streaming services.

I'm so come onto that balance and what it should look like in the future.

I don't know about your background your career very distinguished career in the arts or Media or in the film set in The Newsroom that's no I never have myself but of course what you know what I do.

Bring is in understanding public policy and how you make surgeons in that can contact them and I am turn off interview and lift NOW TV and radio.

Why would someone who is a master of public policy, but hasn't got a background in media and communications.

I mean Sharon white with similar where she works in the Treasury Familiars what's that say about the thing?

Your appointment so much about my own appointment but the important thing in Ofcom is that we have got a lot of experience more sort of different walks of Life you've got people who are Radio engineers who know everything about managing spectrum which is one of the jobs.

We do we've also got a lot of people with a background in the broadcasting industry, so my job is to leave the organisation and pull all that together.

We talked a lot about this program is a media regulator this is may not realise quite have brought.

Your remit is could you just give us a quick run through of the vast number of areas that come under your purview communications regulator so we look at how to get broadband improved across the country and mobile phone services making sure that the consumers fairly served but we also as we're going to come onto today.

We we oversee their broadcasting sector and some of the rules and regulations that work there.

Just give out with you too sensible of Kintyre the content regulator.

Can you talk through this week's ruling that you made over ITV what did you find what happens next?

He had broken are rules this is about how they were running on their competitions and some viewers who wrote in and and or in that competition didn't have their votes counted so was great wish we have really good engaged with ITV the moment they spotted this they told us about it and they've already taken steps to address it so we won't be taking any further accident but they did break the rules should I be punished including face and finds, I'm really can start to be right from the beginning so we take that kind of thing into account and that's why I will be taking no further action of Commerce authority than ultra come from the fact that it can hurt people financially there's obviously a bit of you know social stigma opprobrium attached the fact.

He might be found against by your come, but is your power ultimately you can hurt people in their pocket.


I mean I think when you're ready later.

You've got a range of things that you're able to do it.

Ideally is a last Resort and an awful.

Lot of Ofcom does and we've been with us in the report.

We published this week is actually bring research and evidence to bear on an important questions and to make sure there's fancy about what's going on a little bit on your role as a content regulator look at the other big media storage around the streets Oliver dowden culture secretary.

You must speak to you on a regular basis as written to Netflix asking you to clear the drama series The Crown is fictionalized the Crown with broadcast on BBC One and therefore fail under ofcom's broadcast code which guys make the BBC put a disclaimer on it in question.

I mean you know as you're hinting out there different rules for different kinds of streamers that we can now see on our TV so if you were watching a programme on BBC One Match on Sky or Virgin then you're watching programmes that are regulated by Ofcom broadcasting code if you're watching Netflix then it's a much narrower set of regulations and if that.

The regulator there is in Holland because Netflix headquartered there for the whole of Europe and actually watching on on YouTube then there's no regulation at all.

So it is quite confusing sometimes for the viewer.

I think usually confusing I pay to understand.

I find a very tricky but just on the principle as well.

Is it the sort of thing where is it the same thing of confirmation intervention on if they say that you know the people feel that the depiction of Prince Charles is unfair and my full people thinking it to an accurate historical portrait is the sort of intervention Ofcom would make does that include saying to you.

Got to make play this is fiction his first of all.

Look at what viewers are actually saying so we look at what country might receive and it would it will probably be about a specific episode.

I think and you weigh up the need for freedom of expression which is right at the heart of that code actually is the right of the broadcaster to you know put on high quality drama and the right of the viewer to to see that and have a really wide.

A brilliant TV but we do have some rules on fair treatment of individuals, but will also be looking at what the audience expectation was in whether or not they really knew as in this case that it's drama, so we've been looking all those things in the right.

It's a bit hard to give you know and answer in a hypothetical scenario, but I think the me just just raises the question about the regulatory framework and the rules being a bit out of date Easter can you be I'm so lucky to have said that you guys are not a sensor.

You don't get involved really before things go out your retrospective absolutely with very much not in in the mode of trying to stop things certainly not for broadcast and as I say freedom of expression and freedom of speech and talk about news and current affairs in right at the core of of what we always think about you mentioned is pretty confusing who I've come down and doesn't know you don't really Netflix measure the headquarters in in Holland but you do regulate Disney's new streaming service Disney plus and Amazon Prime videos lots of other streaming services like britbox.

Why is Netflix treated differently?

I know what you're saying but in principle.

Why should it be treated differently well, it is about the regime that there are regulated under so it's a it's just an any use at our rules and this hasn't been looked at in the UK for a number of years and I think the broader question for us is actually is actually when it comes to the regulation that allows our public service broadcasters to compete with the global streamers that is getting increasingly out-of-date.

It means that these days when you turn on your TV if you're looking on Sky you can see all of our public service british.

Channels right up there at the front of the list for you know they're it means are broadcasters confined their audiences and get commercial income from advertising and so on but increasingly when you look on things like smart TVs or with a streaming stick you may not see those services at all and if you do see them, then the chances are that someone else like Netflix or Disney has paid to be higher up the list so it's that playing field that is the thing that we think is really quite important if we're going to protect that British

Service for the future regulations regulations that you're on that are normally which is Netflix Netflix has a long-term lease studios in Shepperton which are near London they've already announced that next year.

They Gonna spend 1 billion dollars on Productions in the UK this year this bit more Productions in the UK than anywhere except America certainly more than they spend in the Netherlands in the past few months I posted the stream of senior executives to work for them the latest thing and a mallet the former head of ITM she's going to go Netflix's international studio operations.

She's give me based in their London office.

What more does Netflix have to do to qualify for Ofcom detention well, it's not so much are attention and of course I getting a lot of attention for review it is the end for Minister's to to work out whether they want to change the rules but whatever I say is Netflix is a great addition to our broadcasting landscape again.

I'm not saying that Netflix is a problem, but it offers a different service to the one.

The public service broadcasters, you don't get from Netflix very much British contents more than 30000 hours of TV in 2019 from the Public Service broadcasters was showing British programming made in the UK for our audiences and famous streamers.

It's only a couple of hundred hours by comparison, so that's something.

I think it's really important.

You know let Netflix carry on that's great and it's great there in Britain but they're not going to provide anytime soon the kind of service that viewers really really value director-general waiter.

There's a danger to get kind of homogenization of content it will become kind of American Californian that's high quality stuff, but it's American do you worry that there is this kind of retreat from you are saying that kind of British content of British you is at home americanization worry is something that I grew up with in the 17th my mum and dad wearing about that and I think actually British British

Which TV is being very very resilient over these years and actually now? It's a major export for us.

Isn't it? But I think when we did our research for this report we publish this week.

I think there's one woman in Wales watching put it really well when I watch Netflix it's like eating chicken nuggets.

It's great, but it's not quite the same as when I watch one of the British TV programmes there.

I'm getting a hot meal.

So it's about balance.

Isn't it about making sure that that really really good program which all our research shows that more than 70% of the people we talk to you said that it's at British content that is the thing that they really look for for my public service broadcasters longside things like News children's programming and soul often feel the actually need to acknowledge the fact that many of them aren't even online.

There are a lot of people in this country in the year 2020 going into the third decade of this century wear if you're in a rural community if you're a poor kid if you're old and vulnerable perhaps more likely to be exposed to the ravages of coving.

You don't necessarily have access to digital services how concerned are you buy Britain's digital divide? Well.

I think there's about 11% of households that don't have access to the internet at all and for them things like dressed your TV channels are really really important and some of those households those families are actually quite disadvantages as well and actually the silly loneliness come from being on your own particularly for elderly people off on the TV is one of the things that really helps them so it does really matter and I think one of the challenges that we've got to Embrace the digital world you got it invest in new forms of digital TV but we've also got to continue to cater for all the audiences him that just isn't where they are right now.

I don't have internet and there's also I think about 5% who only use a mobile phone to access the internet so again they're not they're not looking for toddler.

Laptop or anything that's bigger screen, so it said they do really matter problem here.

Not that the Landscape around Ofcom beyond recognition in recent years and that the regulations provide your remit your job to enforce rather than design as an actually changed so the Ofcom broadcasting code was written at time when they're limited channels and Ofcom control them research you mentioned this week found that only 38% of 16 to 34 year old viewing and 67% among older adults, what's traditional broadcast content streaming services told you they can imagine watching no broadcast TV at all in 5-years time.

We need to radically rethink what you do.


I think we certainly need to think the overall Saturday rules that apply here.

Yes, and that's what we're saying.

We're saying that none of it has been updated really since the digital age the internet came along and so you've got this.

Is parity now between the traditional rules that apply on traditional TV and what's their online and I saying earlier.

You know you can these day turning your Smart TV and you might even see the channels that you love you alone season-high up the list that really matters, but I think you know in addition to that.

There's also big questions.

There are broadcasters who are doing a pretty amazing job trying to adapt and it's been really you know I'm very impressive, but they managed to do this year during the coronavirus pandemic and an adaptor despite production being shut down.

I really can't show on the road, but but they too need to adapt to the Future they need to invest in their digital services will also asking you need to collaborate even more in future and join together more to be able to compete with the big Giants into the libertarian.

Just say that the market run wild what's the point of a regulator in the 21st century.

I'm working regulation that goes alongside.

It is very clear when you talk to viewers.

I've already said in a more than 70% of people see that British content that brings us together in flexsys back to yourselves, the society is high quality trusted news and people really do trust the news they see from the BBC iTV Channel 4 and elsewhere people people really value and also sky actually really important thing and the other thing I draw out is that because of the rules at the broadcasters are required to follow on regional production.

There's a huge economic benefits as well as nearly £3 get spend on producing British TV each year and increasing you that is happening outside London because of the rules that are applied.

So these are all the range of benefits that we think you say the report this week.

This is a critical moment for public service broadcasters and it's After Siri talk about it a lot out on the media.

Show that the new streaming services are a threat to PSPs

Exactly is the nature of that threat different programs in different places these days, but I think the thing that that is is that we really need to watch is it increasingly the big global platforms on the west coast of America Google and so on they are actually controlling interface between the viewer and the TV company and have more power and economic might than any company before I'm not just about the people who produce you know other TV which is greater that doesn't provide the same as are dressed your broadcast.

I'm talking about the platforms which increasingly controller interface whether that's through YouTube whether it seems like Amazon Smart Stick which is controlling who's prominent when you turn your Smart TV in and whose content.

So it's that kind of market imbalance that is also part of this so that the laws need to be over all that primary legislation as opposed to the regulation that you do you want new providers to start delivery public service programs.

What do you mean by that look at the moment? So that we have a regulatory set of Rules that that is at the broadcasters in about their channels and the Increasingly we need to move to a concept of public service Media which is about a content because that's what we really care about not necessarily organisations, but actually the service they provide to the viewing public that one of the things that we should also explore is open that up two more providers.

I think there's a big role for the ones we know in love today still being in the market and if we stayed the regulator TV that's a lot of what they need to stay able to compete but if we could open it up.

I think there are opportunities may even to some people like sky Discovery who do

Service content at the moment, but just not underneath that that framework, but when I just accept that the commercial sector does a better job of princeton's make a big budget TV dramas and company should public sector broadcasting right back to its essential essential so regional news education programming Netflix and Disney plus you do the rest.

I think we would do is then is we would lose the British content and I can't really see overside enough how strongly this came through in our research and if you look at some of the some of the recordings that we be published and you can really get a feel for what people think and it's sensory programmes that just bring us together and it's not just the big-budget drama either.

It seems like soaps game shows it's all the stuff that we see on ITV today.

It's the stuff that we talk about when it comes to a public service the evidence suggest that trust in news providers respect the impartiality is declining.

Why do you think that is when you look at when you look at people think?

Actually, they still very high confidence in the accuracy of our new services and people do trust them and you can see that for all the the news providers at the BBC it's all pretty much the same around 70% which is really good when you've talked about impartiality things get more complicated and it's quite interesting actually when you you talk to people people's sense of impartiality is often product of their own political views, Sophie the strong views are the more likely you are to have an issue with the news that you might be watching so is definitely something that the broadcasters need to watch out for and I think it's great day VW director-general of the BBC is put this right at the centre of his priorities for the BBC but it is it is little complicated when you ask people what they really think the British Media which we going to see the arrival to additional news channels at engineer IV BBC presenter is logb news 24-hour rolling new station is also the chairman of The Spectator and it's it's a parent company.

And that's a writing magazine.

It's not free to be productive.

You've also given the go-ahead to News UK to launch their own channel and UK's home by Rupert Murdoch die also is Fox News in America that leads to intellectually lady trope around that these channels are going to be Fox News for the UK and I've spoken to you about it and that's not what he's planning.

What do you think they're going to be going to have to wait and see I mean I think it's really good that we've got new service is coming in I welcome x radio they actually had decided that they want to be part of our system.

So they've they decided to broadcast in a way that does bring them into the broadcasting code and the rules on on impartiality and so on rather than broadcasting on the internet where the outside or remit so I think that's a good sign.

It's a sign and rules are working but I think it's a really good thing when we get more offer for the viewing public and more diversity and plurality of TV shows.

Who was a guest in the meteor shower over the summer? How do you speak to us about so-called cancel culture quite a lot of attempts recently to pull off come into the culture Wars I can see you smiling free sample you had a massive 24500 complaints about a performance on Britain's Got Talent that reference black lives matter that seems to be part of what I would call a coordinated or organise with you all that there was nothing wrong with that performance should we see Ofcom as a kind of impartial adjudicator in the battle for our culture well, when we when we look at complaints always engaging with the programme makers who in the end of the Frontline of making those judgements are like I do actually really respect the way that the Editors and producers a constantly trying to be as you say can be any creasing you challenging climate where people look quite quick to you no have an argument about about things in that particular case we looked at really carefully.

And we judge the actually the central message of that dance on Britain's Got Talent by diversity was actually about peace and about you know coming together.

So so you know I'm sure continue to have a steady stream of these things but we will always do our best to get in there and really look at the facts and really and really try and take a balance for you because you have a sense that there are people who want off come to play a role in these culture Awards Awards at all and we are inevitably going to end up being asked to duplicate some specific TV and radio shows the reason my smile is because you know I smile because there's a bit of debate going on because certainly you can see in ofcom's inbox some of the wider questions and debates that have been paid out in society, but we're just one pair of months very many you have been vocal about the need for Greater diversity both on the screen and off.

What to do about that? Are you looking at a more diverse understanding of diversity itself so for instance selling quotas on the number of Staff from certain socioeconomic backgrounds.

Yeah, we'll look what we do is bring transparency to this debate and I think that's beginning to work and actually the commitment is there now across all of the industry to try to improve things so yes, you're right social class is something that we really highlighted this year in our broadcasting report will also really highlighted it for the BBC is something that they need to look out for because when you look at the BBC's satisfaction you left like to be satisfied if you come from a working-class households, and you're actually less and less likely to be watching BBC news as well.

So so it is a dimension that I don't think he's had as much attention in the past same time when you look at Takeley who works rubber castors and it is not just the BBC it's everybody there are really she's around race to so if you're black and minority ethnic background your much less.

Play the senior role making decisions because you haven't actually be human the white paper has been published.

You don't actually clear understanding what you might not be we don't know what will be in the online harms bill but can we just talk about something complex is regulating tech is there in a Broadway how do you enforce the policing of contour in a world where for instance on YouTube hundreds of hours have been uploaded every single minute if there is a practical challenge which is immense and ultimately means you're going to be leaving on machinery rather than Manpower doesn't it? Does he say we're waiting for the government to come forward with the their proposals and I know it's a real priority for them.

But this won't be erased theme that is like the things out of Come Dancing relation to a TV services where we do actually take complaints an individual shows this will be about making sure that the Tech platforms have the right processes and rules in place and that's transparent to the public.

Place at the moment and while they're taking steps to to make sure that they live it harm in certain places none of that got a Statutory underpinning.

It's inconsistent and nobody really knows exactly what's going on.

So that's a lot of money to change here.

Obviously will await for detail when the things that people say about current legislation with his gdpr or other European or American or German legislation is fine to pre Pitiful I mean at the moment is a cap on the phone as you can impose and broadcasters 5% of revenue or 250000 whichever is bigger Facebook's yearly revenue is reported to be around 70 billion dollars.

I mean don't you need if you're going to make financial penalties meaning for in the world of date of giants bigtech.

Don't define to be pretty big where the government comes out all of this and I think you have to look at it in the round and see and see what it's going to achieve and then what the sanctions are they need to go with that that would expect fine speak part of the regimen normally they related.

Relevant turnover that's what operates in other sectors and we're speaking markets unit that comes out different regulatory competition and markets authority this is going to be a separate building regulations covering Facebook and Google's market dominance and other companies like that stuff on tech giants and you know had many a minister say that the UK should be one of the best places to do technology but also the toughest places do technology we believe that actually a government is interested in changing this when I talked about it means you're censored actually you know the market is a significant step in the in the development of a new regime protect.


I think it is a significant step and I think the online Honda assume will be another significant step and very complementary there going to be dealing with the same platforms, but the digital markets unit will be looking at the broader economic harms that are created by having such dominant global players operating in the UK market.

The way that stifles competition and does things like make it example very difficult for news publishers who continue to start their business together because advertising revenues so so so so much go through the plat don't know whether you so it's a complementary reading but it's another really important piece of The Jigsaw there's the Daily Mail your husband at the daily rate of course he is reported to have been offered the chairmanship of Ofcom is that your understanding this really is one for the government.

They get to choose off Sharon and whoever on your chair is ours that I look for working with the middle of February we spoke to Paul Dacre about that.

Thank you very much.

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