Ofcom outlines measures to help PSBs prevail over streaming entertainment

Ofcom offices at Riverside House, BanksideImage: Ofcom offices at Riverside House, Bankside. Photo: courtesy of Jim Linwood/Wikipedia.org.

Ofcom has come up with measures aimed at ensuring that public service broadcasters (PSBs) continue to churn out high-quality content for UK listeners and viewers amid growing competition from Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video and other global on-demand and internet services.

The measures are expected to support PSBs now and for the future, said the regulator. One of them is updating rules to make sure that traditional PSB TV channels are easy to be found in programme guides.

The updated rules are expected to make traditional PSB TV channels easy and prominent to find within on-screen programme guides. According to Ofcom, this will protect the positions of BBC One, BBC Two, ITV, STV, S4C, Channel 4, and Channel 5.

The regulator will also define minimum levels of prominence for CBeebies and BBC News and other BBC channels, and also for local TV services.

Apart from that, Ofcom will recommend new rules to help make sure that PSB programmes and players are also visible clearly on internet-connected devices.

The regulator is endorsing commitments by ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 to grow their focus on high-quality children’s programmes. A national forum called Small Screen: Big Debate, which will discuss the future of public service broadcasting on TV and also online, is set to be launched by the regulator.

However, as of now, the regulator said that it cannot extend ‘prominence’ rules to television content provided through the internet but will recommend the government to define new rules to make sure that PSB content is clearly visible on smart TVs, set-top boxes and streaming sticks and other major viewing platforms.

Ofcom said that to be covered by the new prominence rules, broadcasters’ on-demand services will have to come up with a suitable range of high-quality PSB content.

Ofcom content and media policy group director Kevin Bakhurst said: “Our traditional broadcasters are among the finest in the world. But they’re facing unprecedented challenges from competition and new technology.

“So, we are ensuring their channels remain easy to find on TV guides, and convening a national debate on the future of public service media – including how we safeguard its benefits for future generations.”