UK Govt proposes law to make S4C’s Welsh language content available throughout the UK
The UK Government has published new draft legislation that will make it a legal requirement for smart TV’s, set top boxes and streaming sticks to prominently feature the Welsh language on-demand platform, S4C Clic.
The new draft Media Bill will give S4C, BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and STV new privileges and freedoms to make more hit shows and better compete with global streaming giants under new draft legislation published on Tuesday.
It will ensure S4C’s on-demand service is accessible anywhere in the UK as viewing increasingly shifts online and will help the broadcaster compete with streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+.
The draft Bill would also help Welsh language broadcaster S4C by removing geographic restrictions to broaden its reach in the UK and beyond and offer its content on a range of new digital services.
It marks the next step in the UK Government’s plan to “modernise decades-old broadcasting legislation” outlined in a White Paper last year and will “offer a level playing field” for UK broadcasters.
The legislation will see platforms in the UK brought under a new Ofcom content code for the first time to “protect audiences” from “harmful material” – in particular citing “misleading health claims”.
It will “strengthen Ofcom’s duty” to assess protection such as age ratings and viewer guidance, and allow “more robust powers” to force change under the new proposal.
This includes issuing fines of up to £250,000, and in the most serious and repeated cases “restricting a service’s availability in the UK”, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said.
The draft Bill will also allow viewers to formally complain to Ofcom about content on streaming platforms.
The legislation includes making streaming services more accessible to those with seeing and hearing impairments, having to provide subtitles on 80% of their programmes, while 10% must have audio description and 5% signed interpretation.
Siân Doyle, S4C’s Chief Executive, said: “We are delighted to see the draft Media Bill being published.
“This will confirm S4C’s position as a provider of multi-platform Welsh language content throughout the UK and beyond.
“We also welcome the proposals to update media regulation generally following the Government’s White Paper published last year.
“The new framework will make the UK’s indigenous languages, including Welsh, part of the new public service remit for television in the UK.
“It will also extend media laws to online TV viewing and ensure that S4C Clic will be available on connected TVs and prominent on TVs in Wales.
“This will support our ambitions for audiences to be able to find S4C on-demand on connected TVs and that our Welsh language content will be prominent and easy to discover for viewers in Wales.
“We welcome the Government’s intention to consult on the draft Bill and we look forward to reviewing the details of the Bill.”
Rhodri Williams, S4C’s Chairman, said: “On behalf of the S4C Board, I greatly welcome the publication of the Media Bill. This will modernise S4C’s remit for a digital age, building on the recommendations of the Independent Review of S4C conducted by the late Euryn Ogwen Williams in 2018.
“This will enable us to develop our services further and place Welsh language content on-demand on the main platforms across the UK.”
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