Culture Secretary: Amazon, Netflix Could Be Forced to ‘Represent Full Diversity of UK’ Like BBC


British Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Jeremy Wright appeared to threaten heavier regulation of streaming services like Amazon Prime and Netflix to “encourage” them to “reflect and represent” the “full diversity” of the United Kingdom, like the BBC.

Mr Wright, of the governing Conservative Party, or Tories, told the Enders Conference that “our broadcasters remain powerful forces for good at home” and that it was important to maintain a “level playing field” for them.

“[W]e must… make sure that our concept of broadcasting, and our policies towards it, recognise and reflect the growing impact of the digital world,” he said.

“We all know the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime are now an established part of our media landscape and we will soon see other players entering too… Viewers clearly welcome their presence here and they have made a substantial investment [in them].”

“But as the SVoD [Subscription Video on Demand] landscape develops, we do need to understand what this means for UK broadcasters,” he added, somewhat ominously.

“Our regulation of broadcasters is widely appreciated — including by audiences — for its robustness and effectiveness… especially with regard to harmful and inaccurate content, which plays an important role in ensuring trust in our broadcasters,” he claimed, suggesting this regulation would need to be applied to streaming services, too.

“We place high expectations on our public service broadcasters to reflect and represent the full diversity of the UK’s nations and regions, and in doing so creating a product that often appeals across the globe,” Wright continued, conceding the “global appeal” of on-demand platforms, but suggesting the British state should find a way to “encourage them to develop in a way that means the content produced here truly reflects UK audiences.”

Failing to do so, he suggested, “risks that audiences become more reliant on content that feels, as Sir Peter Bazalgette said recently, ‘curiously stateless’,” — a slightly bizarre issue for a notionally conservative minister to be concerned with, according to critics.

The Warwickshire MP indicated that one of the ways the Government was seeking to achieve “equity” between establishment broadcasters and streaming services would be a review of “potential advertising restrictions, for high fat, salt, and sugar products.”

The Culture Secretary told his audience that his speech was informed in part by a recent trip to California, where he went “to meet leaders of many of the world’s biggest technology firms.”

One of these leaders is the fanatically anti-Brexit former Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the left-wing Liberal Democrats, Sir Nick Clegg, who moved to California to take up a well-remunerated post as Vice President of Global Affairs and Communications by Facebook after being ejected from the British parliament by voters.

Mr Wright did not say whether Clegg was one of the figures he consulted with, however.

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