EXCLUSIVE: Amazon’s call for a “dedicated consultation” on new UK streaming laws looks set to be rejected by the government.
Streaming giants including Prime Video and Netflix will be regulated in a similar way to traditional broadcasters under a Media Bill being introduced in Britain.
The major streamers have similar misgivings about the draft legislation, which will hand Ofcom the power to fine services up to £250,000 ($310,000) for carrying harmful content.
Amazon has become the latest to voice concerns, saying there needs to be more thought given to a “video on demand code” because streamers operate in a different way to the likes of the BBC.
“The draft Bill has automatically transferred the principles of the broadcasting code to the new VoD code, without considering if these principles are appropriate or practical for the digital environment,” Amazon said in a submission to UK Parliament’s Culture, Media and Sport Committee.
“We would ask for a dedicated consultation to be undertaken to consider what principles the code should include.”
Amazon, home to UK originals including Clarkson’s Farm, said streaming regulation should reflect the “differences and nuances” in viewing habits for online video services.
It said viewers make active decisions to watch content online, whereas on traditional TV, they “rely on broadcasters to make certain viewing choices for them,” making safeguards necessary.
Amazon added that its catalog of content has “not been curated with a new UK VoD Code in mind,” arguing that it will need 18 months to ensure it is compliant with new laws.
Responding to Amazon’s call for more consultation, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport said: “We have completed a wide-ranging consultation on the objectives of the video-on-demand code proposed in our draft Media Bill.”
Netflix has threatened to preemptively remove films and TV shows from its UK library, calling calling draft legislation “nebulous” and potentially “onerous.”
The Media Bill states that major streamers must consider “due impartiality” in the context of contemporary events, pointing specifically to “current public policy” and matters of “political or industrial controversy.”
Netflix said that staying on the right side of this rule would require it to keep its giant catalog of content under continual review, ensuring that it is “purging titles on a regular basis” regardless of when a show or film premiered.
Disney has made a similar argument. It said: “Given the differences between linear broadcasting and VoD, the robust audience protection measures put in place by most VoD services, the varying consumer propositions and brand promises made by different VoD services, it seems inappropriate to apply uniform rules on all VoD services, whether that is strict content rules or mandated ratings.”