Ex-ITV chairman Bazalgette urges greater support for public sector media

TV industry grandee Peter Bazalgette, who recently stepped down as chair of ITV, has warned that the UK public service system is facing “an existential threat” as a result of the unfettered market power of foreign-owned tech-driven platforms.

Peter Bazalgette

“In a nutshell,” he said, “how can public service media survive in an era, a post-network era, when their TV services are mostly streamed via foreign owned internet platforms? BBC iPlayer, All4 and the imminent ITVX all have to negotiate carriage with the likes of Amazon, Apple, Samsung and LG, as well as Sky and Virgin. These are all powerful, foreign-owned platforms that can take shares of PSM revenue and withhold PSM viewer data, in the largely unregulated arena of the Internet.”

According to Bazalgette, “In the digital age if you have no data, you have no business. This is why we had a far-sighted media White Paper published earlier this year which promised an update of the prominence rules enshrined in the 2003 Communications Act; not just prominence for PSM on home pages but also guaranteed access to the platforms and fair value for the services too.”

Unfortunately, he argued, these proposals have not been debated effectively because “they’ve been drowned out by something else in that White Paper…the privatisation of Channel 4. Whatever the rights and wrongs of that idea, it’s become a damaging distraction from the thing that matters, prominence in the Internet age.”

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