Boris Johnson confirmed the government’s intention to privatize Channel 4, saying the sale would “unleash the potential of the UK’s creative sector”.
The remarks formed part of the Prime Minister’s introduction to the Queen’s speech, which was first read by the Prince of Wales at the State Opening of Parliament at a ceremony that the monarch had not attended in nearly 60 years.
Among 38 bills in the government’s new legislative program is the Media Bill, which pledges to “reform decades-old laws” to “promote public service broadcasters” and includes the controversial privatization of Channel 4.
Channel 4 has been publicly owned since its creation in 1982 by Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government, and funded entirely by advertising.
The government said the media bill would enable a change in ownership to give the broadcaster the “tools necessary to succeed in the future as a public service broadcaster while protecting its exclusivity”.
The bill’s key element clauses allow the broadcaster to “change from a statutory corporation to a new corporate structure that can be sold” and “other changes relating to Channel 4’s obligations and remittances to ensure the sustainability of the broadcaster”. is mentioned.
Further benefits of the media bill, the government says, would be to ensure proper prominence for content from public service broadcasters, so that it is always “carrying and easily found for UK audiences across connected devices and major online platforms”, et al. Even on devices such as smart TVs, set-top boxes and streaming sticks.
As noted in last month’s white paper, the bill also strengthens Ofcom’s recently announced plans to regulate streaming platforms to “protect viewers” from “harmful content.”
Under the law, as announced earlier, the media regulator will have powers to draft and implement a new video-on-demand code aimed at “big TV-like services” like Netflix, ITV Hub and Now TV. ” is to set the standard for. rules with traditional broadcasters.
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The maximum fine for a Code breach will be up to £250,000 or 5% of the Company’s revenue – whichever is greater.
Ofcom will also be given a “strong duty” to assess safety such as age ratings and audience guidance, along with powers to force changes under the new proposal.
The bill also seeks to repeal Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013, a provision that, if triggered, courts media organizations for not signing up to a recognized regulator for defamation, privacy, malicious intent. Lies and harassment claims allow all costs to be paid, even if they win.
The powers under section 40 are applicable only if there is a recognized regulator.
The Press Recognition Panel (PRP), an independent body established under the Royal Charter to accredit press regulators, currently only recognizes one body – Impress, which oversees 116 publishers, its website says.
An additional body in the UK is the Independent Press Standards Organization (Ipso), a voluntary press-funded body that is not supported by the government.
Ipso was launched in 2014 in the wake of the Leveson inquiry, which concluded that the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) was not functioning.