Netflix UK planning massive content purge due to government regulations
(Credit: Mollie Sivaram)

Netflix News

Netflix UK planning massive content purge due to government regulations

Netflix is contemplating preemptive content removal from its UK library to avoid breaching new regulations proposed by the British government. The government wants media watchdog Ofcom to regulate streaming services like Netflix in a similar way to traditional broadcasters. 

The proposed Media Bill requires major streamers to consider impartiality regarding current public policy and political or industrial controversies. Netflix submitted concerns about the draft legislation, calling it vague and burdensome to enforce. The company expressed the need for greater clarity and stated that compliance would require constant review of its content catalogue. 

Netflix worries that its wide range of content could pose compliance risks. The streaming giant believes it would be easier to remove content preemptively than to deal with the compliance burden and potential liability.

If streamers like Netflix or Prime Video violate the proposed laws, they could face fines of up to £250,000 for carrying harmful content.

Similar concerns were raised by Disney Plus and Prime Video. Ofcom’s regulation powers cover TV channels and radio stations, but the proposed bill aims to subject video-on-demand services to similar standards. Currently, Netflix is regulated by the Dutch media regulator in Europe.

The company suggested that regulating streaming services should be approached differently from traditional broadcasters since viewers actively and deliberately choose to watch Netflix content, unlike stumbling upon potentially harmful shows on linear TV.

Disney, which shares similar concerns, supported Netflix’s viewpoint, stating that its audience protection measures on Disney Plus, such as age ratings, make blanket streaming regulations disproportionate.

According to a spokesperson from the UK’s Department for Culture, Media & Sport, who spoke to Deadline, the bill aims to ensure that Video-on-Demand (VoD) services are held to the same high standards as traditional broadcasters. As per the SVoD’s UK Head of Policy“prove unworkable or risk a chilling effect.”

Benjamin King, Netflix’s Senior Director of Public Policy, UK and Ireland, expressed support for Netflix and spoke about the platform’s contributions to the UK arts and entertainment arena. He mentioned examples like Ncuti Gatwa from Sex Education and Yasmin Finney from Heartstopper, who gained recognition through Netflix shows and secured roles in the upcoming season of Doctor Who on the BBC. 

King highlighted the positive impact of these opportunities, stating, “There is a virtuous circle at work here, and I’ve no doubt that [Gatwa and Finney] will be one of many examples of this in the years to come.” He also shared that Netflix has co-financed over 100 scripted and unscripted TV shows with UK broadcasters.