Wednesday 13 November 2019

Public service broadcasters vital to democracy – report

Peers have heard evidence on the threats to traditional media outlets.

Peers have backed the BBC and other public service broadcasters (Anthony Devlin/PA)
Peers have backed the BBC and other public service broadcasters (Anthony Devlin/PA)

By Craig Simpson, PA

Public service broadcasters are vital to UK democracy and need support to match Netflix competition, a report has said.

British media received the backing from peers who heard evidence on the threats posed by streaming giants.

The House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee’s report hailed the value of public service broadcasters, arguing they should be supported to showcase the UK and maintain its democracy.

Peers urged the Government not to impose any further regulatory challenges on traditional broadcasters.

If we fail to support our public service broadcasters, audiences would miss them when they're gone Lords committee report

Committee chairman Lord Gilbert of Panteg said: “At a time of polarisation, public service broadcasters play a role in unifying the country through shared experiences.

“Our recommendations will ensure that public service broadcasters are able to continue to serve us and afford to make world-class programmes.

“If we fail to support our public service broadcasters, audiences would miss them when they’re gone.”

Peers suggested that these broadcasters be given help by maintaining their prominence in TV guides, and ensuring broadcast rights to popular sporting events such as the Ashes on free-to-air TV.

The committee also suggested any future licence fee settlement for the BBC should be generous enough for it to keep projecting the UK’s “soft power”.

The report said: “Our evidence overwhelmingly indicated that public service broadcasting is as important as ever to our democracy and culture, as well as to the UK’s image on the world stage.”

Peers noted however that streaming services, as well as having vast budgets, do a better job in attracting minority audiences.

They suggested media watchdog Ofcom be given powers to collect data on the ethnic balance of production teams to help ensure diversity.

PA Media

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