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British lawmakers to question TV executives amid Media Bill debate

The proposal would allow regulators to fine streamers for distributing offensive content, similar to penalties on public and commercial broadcasters.

The proposal would allow regulators to fine streamers for distributing offensive content, similar to penalties on public and commercial broadcasters.

The Houses of Parliament as viewed across the Westminster Bridge in London. (Photo by Adrian Pingstone)
The Houses of Parliament as viewed across the Westminster Bridge in London. (Photo by Adrian Pingstone)

Executives from several major television companies and streaming services will appear before British lawmakers on Tuesday.

The executives will be questioned in front of lawmakers who comprise Parliament’s Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), who are currently scrutinizing proposed legislation that would put streaming services under similar regulatory scrutiny as public and commercial broadcasters.

The proposal, called the Media Bill, would allow the British regulator Ofcom to fine streaming services like Netflix, Amazon and others up to £250,000 (about $305,000) if they allow British users to access content that is considered harmful or indecent.

The move is intended to help public and commercial television broadcasters like the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 better compete against streaming rivals, which have slowly started to chip away at viewership and revenue in the United Kingdom.

The three executives who are scheduled to appear on Tuesday will be Anna Hatfield of Amazon, Benjamin King of Netflix and Alistair Law of Comcast’s Sky pay television service.

Separately, a panel will weigh whether streaming radio platforms should be regulated to help public and commercial radio networks compete in the UK. Proposed regulation in the radio sector could require streaming platforms like TuneIn and Apple Music provide access to the web streams of British radio stations, free of charge, and prohibit platforms from charging broadcasters for streaming on their services. A second panel comprised of executives from Google, TuneIn and other audio platforms will convene at a later date.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).