Today, King Charles The Third, delivered his first King’s Speech as monarch to parliament, marking the start of the parliamentary year and setting out Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s plans for the year ahead. This was the first time a King had delivered a speech in seventy years. As part of the speech, the King revealed that the Media Bill would also be introduced. This new Media Bil includes regulation of streaming services like Disney+, which will have to comply with the same rules as traditional linear television networks.
The US streaming services like Netflix, Amazon and Disney will be required to comply with Ofcom’s regulatory framework, which would mean the streaming services can be fined up to £250,000 or possibly even have the platforms restricted in the UK, if they break the rules around making harmful and offensive material available to audiences. This would make streaming platforms like Disney+ in line with what applies to networks like the BBC, ITV and Channel 4. Currently, BBC iPlayer is the only video-on-demand service covered by the Code.
The government said in a statement:
“Internet access and streaming services have fundamentally changed how audiences access broadcast content, but our public service broadcasters are governed by laws written 20 years ago. The Media Bill is needed to enable these broadcasters PSBs to compete in this new world, so they can continue developing skills and driving growth in the creative industries across the UK.”
The Media Bill was first introduced in 2022 by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson and specifically calls out Disney+, Apple TV+ and Netflix.
Traditional broadcasters have said the Media Bill will ensure a level playing field and prominence of their content.
Established broadcasters like the BBC, Sky and ITV have welcomed the news to enforce streaming platforms to comply with their rules. However, streaming services like Netflix have said that this regulation may impact commissioning decisions and also may impact what content is available to subscribers. Netflix has previously said it may preemptively remove films and TV series from its U.K. service to avoid possibly contravening the regulation. It’s unknown if Disney would fall foul of any of these issues. While it’s unlikely this would impact on the core brands like Disney, Marvel or Star Wars, it might impact on what content is available through the Star hub in the future.
The new Media Bill will also include rules that force global TV platforms like Apple TV, Roku, Amazon, etc, to carry video on demand platforms for British broadcasters such as iPlayer, ITVX and Channel 4, to make sure British people have easy access to local content.
Caroline Dinenage, the chair of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee in the House of Commons, added:
“The Media Bill will be vital for ensuring our public service broadcasters can continue to thrive in an ever-changing media landscape and for enabling listeners to enjoy access to live radio on smart speakers.”
With streaming services becoming more global and more successful, they are increasingly coming under more scrutiny, especially by local governments and traditional media outlets, who have complained that they still have to comply with long-established rules, to which the streamers haven’t. I doubt Disney+ subscribers have too much to worry about any content being removed, though it might cause some issues for documentaries or news content.
Do you think Disney+ should apply to the same rules as the BBC? Let us know on social media!
Roger has been a Disney fan since he was a kid and this interest has grown over the years. He has visited Disney Parks around the globe and has a vast collection of Disney movies and collectibles. He is the owner of What's On Disney Plus & DisKingdom.