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House of Lords Communications Committee: Public service broadcasting in the age of video on demand

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This article is my response to the House of Lords Communications Committee Inquiry on ‘Public service broadcasting in the age of video on demand’, which was carried out in 2019. The inquiry was important and relevant as the successful UK public service broadcasters (PSBs) BBC, ITV, C4, C5 and S4C are currently facing major challenges from video-on-demand (VoD) services. These challenges primarily concern competition for content from VoD services in a highly competitive broadcasting market characterized by shifts in audience behaviour. Audiences are watching less scheduled TV as they are attracted by the business model of global streaming services like YouTube, Amazon Prime Video and Netflix. Fierce competition from mainly US-based, unregulated global VoD players investing billions of pounds in content has escalated programming costs and made it difficult for tightly regulated PSBs with modest domestic UK budgets to compete. This article is largely in favour of sustaining properly funded, universally available PSBs, who can deliver quality and original programming, alongside impartial and trusted news in the era of fake news and post-truth politics.
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Keywords: House of Lords Communications Committee Inquiry; media audience behaviour; media market competition; media policy and regulation; public service broadcasting; video on demand

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 0000000419368497City, University of London

Publication date: March 1, 2020

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  • The Journal of Digital Media and Policy (formerly known asĀ International Journal of Digital Television) aims to analyse and explain the socio-cultural, political, economic and technological questions surrounding digital media and address the policy issues facing regulators globally. This double-blind-peer-reviewed journal brings together and shares the work of academics, policy-makers and practitioners, offering lessons from one another's experience. Content is broad and varied, ranging from a mixture of critical work on technology, industry and regulatory convergence, to the emerging wider socio-cultural and political questions such as the application of online networks, the rise of cloud computing and the Internet of Things. We intend to examine critically emerging wider questions such as the role of 'digital citizens', the regulatory environment for the new platform industry and the role of state regulation in an increasingly global media industry.
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