Insights House of Lords Communications Select Committee launches new inquiry into public service broadcasting and video on demand


The new inquiry will investigate whether there is a future for public service broadcasting in the context of the rising popularity of video on demand services.

The Committee notes that in recent years video streaming service such as Netflix and Amazon Prime have made available thousands of hours of content for subscriptions that start at £5.99 per month, i.e. less than half the cost of a TV licence.

This has created mounting challenges for PSBs such as the BBC and ITV. Conventional TV viewing fell by 5% in 2018 and conventional TV viewing by under-25s has halved since 2010. There are concerns that the popularity of video on demand services has made PSBs redundant.

The inquiry will ask how serious the threat to PSB is, whether it is worth saving, and what form it could take in future. The committee has asked for contributions on questions such as whether:

  • commercial PSBs can fund original UK productions at a time of declining advertising revenues;
  • the obligations currently placed on PSBs are appropriate;
  • there should be further regulation of on-demand services;
  • PSBs do enough to reflect and serve the demographics of the UK; and
  • PSBs have responded adequately to market changes.

The deadline for submissions of written evidence is 26 April 2019. The Committee expects to hear oral evidence from invited witnesses from March to July 2019 inclusive and intends to report in the autumn. The Government has undertaken to respond in writing to reports from Select Committees. To read the Committee’s news release in full and to access the call for evidence, click here.