Sunday 20 October 2019

Channel 4 calls for ‘appropriate prominence’ for public service broadcasters

The rise of smart TV interfaces, streaming sticks and other ways of watching TV have hit the visibility of the likes of the BBC, ITV and Channel 4.

Channel 4 headquarters (Philip Toscano/PA)
Channel 4 headquarters (Philip Toscano/PA)

By Sherna Noah, Press Association Senior Entertainment Correspondent

Channel 4 has called for action to make public service broadcasters easy to find for viewers.

Current laws make it obligatory for electronic guides to give “appropriate prominence” to the likes of the BBC, ITV and Channel 4.

But the rise of smart TV interfaces, streaming sticks and other ways of watching TV means “we are sleepwalking into a position where public service content is no longer prominent”, Channel 4 chief executive Alex Mahon said.

Battles that were hard fought and hard won are now quietly being undone Alex Mahon

The broadcasters get prominence in exchange for delivering programming such as news and current affairs and shows produced in the regions.

“Government, regulators and policy-makers have not adapted to the pace of technological change that is fundamentally changing viewing behaviour,” Ms Mahon said.

“Battles that were hard fought and hard won are now quietly being undone.

“As the world keeps shifting to on demand content through smart TVs and streaming sticks, prominence is no longer secured” by regulation.

She told the Media & Telecoms 2019 And Beyond Conference: “This has a direct impact on viewers’ ability to access the well-regulated, trustworthy, impartial programming that has defined British television for decades.

“And if you think of the damage that fake news has already done, I think we should all find that deeply concerning. Public service television matters.”

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