BBC takes on Netflix as it calls for a button on ALL remote controls

BBC takes on Netflix as it calls for a dedicated on-demand button on ALL TV remote controls

  • Remote controls may soon have dedicated iPlayer, ITVX and Channel 4 buttons 
  • The BBC complained of ‘fierce competition’ suggesting the UK is ‘falling behind’ 
  • These demands were made in a letter to the House of Commons last month

The BBC has taken on Netflix after demanding for a new ‘on-demand’ button on all UK TV remotes.

Manufacturers may soon be forced to add buttons for iPlayer, ITVX and Channel4 on TV controls as the broadcasting giant complained of ‘fierce competition’.

In a letter to the House of Commons, the BBC said public service broadcasting (PSB) was ‘falling behind’ without a direct route to this content.

The bold move comes as branded Netflix buttons are widely used on TV remotes across the country, taking viewers to the popular service with a single press.

‘Remote controls are a major gateway to content on TV sets and user interfaces – their importance demonstrated by fierce competition between the largest content providers for branded buttons,’ the BBC wrote in the letter. 

Remote controls may soon have a dedicated BBC iPlayer, ITVX and Channel 4 button 

‘Without a legislative backstop, PSBs are losing out to global platforms. For example, French prominence legislation sets a clear precedent for this, and the UK risks falling behind in protecting the ability of audiences to find PSB content.’

READ MORE: What does Netflix’s password sharing crackdown mean for YOU? Everything you need to know

Millions are now barred from lending Netflix logins to people outside their household

LG, Samsung and Sony are among the manufacturers to sell remotes with a Netflix button, bolstering its popularity.

While details are scarce, the BBC claims its move is not ‘protectionist’ or backed by ‘unjustifiable discrimination’, but instead has a ‘legitimate objective’.

It added: ‘There should be a requirement for a dedicated PSB button on remote controls in instances where there are similar buttons for non-PSB audio-visual services, or a direct route to PSB apps from the remote in other instances (such as a long press on a numbered button).’

These demands come as part of a letter which scrutinises the proposed Media Bill published just three months ago.

If passed, it will ‘reform decades-old laws’, allowing public service broadcasters to better compete with the likes of Netflix and Disney+.

Lucy Frazer, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, explained: ‘The Media Bill will reform decades-old laws to turbocharge the growth potential of our world-leading public service broadcasters (PSBs) allowing them to better compete with global giants. 

‘It will give PSBs the tools to adapt to changing viewer habits as people now increasingly watch TV on-demand via Smart TVs and other connected devices instead of traditional “linear” services like terrestrial TV.’

The BBC complained of ‘fierce competition’ which may be a nod to the likes of Netflix 

The Bill also intends to hold big streaming services more accountable through regulations that better protect children and vulnerable people from harm. 

Ms Frazer added: ‘The draft legislation will bring video-on-demand (VoD) services such as Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video under new Ofcom content rules, ensuring children and vulnerable viewers are better protected from harmful material and that these on-demand online-only streaming services platforms are properly accountable to the UK regulator.’

However, it does not yet contain any details on compulsory remote control buttons.



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