Monday, March 20, 2017

Save us

Life peer Lord Wood of Anfield, former strategic adviser to Ed Miliband, leads on a Lords amendment today to the Digital Economy Bill.

Amendment 226A is a last gasp attempt to ensure that public service broadcasters get some guarantee of prominence on the landing/home page/start-up page of the myriad devices that attach to or form part of your modern tv.

In the good old days, this was principally a battle with Sky, and their Electronic Programme Guide, and the BBC sought "low" number listings so that its channels would always be amongst the first things viewers saw. But newer devices, like Sky Q pages, Now TV,  Netflix, etc, start up with mini-snapshots of the latest movies, box sets, sporting events, and getting to live tv is trickier. So the amendment seeks to protect both PSB live channels AND catch-up content.

The Government argues a) it's been like this for a while, and there's no evidence of damage to PSB viewing figures (indeed, the iPlayer is pretty market dominant) b) legislation would be almost impossible to frame effectively, with smart tvs manufactured for global markets, and home computers driving more and more tvs in a connected world.

The Digital Economy Bill is also the means by which regulation of the BBC formally transfers to Ofcom, so there'd better not be any hold ups. And this week, finally, we should get some more non-executive news from both Karen Bradley and Sir David Clementi. Can't wait.

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