Ofcom Chair Addresses Netflix Concerns Regarding UK Streaming Laws

Netflix, along with other streaming giants, will not be required to remove films and TV shows from its platform to comply with new UK streaming laws, according to Michael Grade, the chair of Ofcom, the UK media regulator. Under the proposed Media Bill, Ofcom will be granted additional powers to oversee content on streaming services, enforcing standards related to impartiality and accuracy.

Speaking at a conference in London, Grade assured Netflix and Disney+ that they should have “no fears” about the upcoming regulations. He dismissed claims that streaming platforms would need to purge content to adhere to the new laws as an attempt to “frighten the life out of everybody.”

While Netflix has generally welcomed the regulation, it has expressed concerns about the potentially “nebulous” and “onerous” rules on “due impartiality” outlined in the draft legislation. In May, Netflix informed a UK parliamentary committee that it would need to continually review its extensive catalog to avoid breaking impartiality standards, potentially leading to the removal of titles.

Benjamin King, Netflix’s head of policy in the UK, emphasized the potential “chilling” effect on the platform’s documentary offerings for British audiences due to the proposed rules.

Grade, a prominent figure in UK television with experience at the BBC and ITV, reassured that companies fearing regulation was a common reaction. He stated, “People who’ve never been regulated always have a fear when regulation comes in. But I think they need have no fears.”

Netflix, in response to Grade’s comments, reiterated its consistent support for the introduction of the Media Bill and the principle of Ofcom regulation for its service in the UK.

Disney has also raised similar concerns, arguing in a letter to the UK Parliament’s Culture, Media, and Sport Committee that existing audience protection measures on Disney+ make it disproportionate to introduce blanket streaming regulation.

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