Amendment 1

Part of Media Bill - Report and Third Reading – in the House of Lords am 4:30 pm ar 23 Mai 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Culture, Media and Sport) 4:30, 23 Mai 2024

The noble Lord will not be surprised that I do not agree with his final points. But I agree on the importance of local television, which we have heard about in our debates. Local television services continue to play an important role in the wider broadcasting system, adding great value to communities, including during the pandemic as well as in normal times. The Government remain committed to securing the most effective framework for local TV operators going forward. I hope I can reassure him that we very much care about them.

On Amendment 10 tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, we are in complete agreement with her on the need to protect children and vulnerable audiences from harmful and inappropriate video on demand content to which they might be exposed. I wish we had more time to continue the discussions on the important matters she raised; my noble friend Lord Bethell and others would have looked forward to that. I reassure noble Lords that the concerns they raised are already well covered by the Bill as drafted. Ofcom will be given extensive powers to set standards, assess video on demand services’ audience protection measures and take action that it considers appropriate. If audiences are concerned, they can complain to Ofcom, and the regulator can, in the most serious cases, set sanctions such as financial penalties or even restrict access to that service in the UK.

The noble Baroness’s amendment looks to set specific standards for services that use age ratings. The Bill already gives Ofcom the power to set these standards and others through the new video on demand code. Ofcom must keep these rules under constant review so that they can be adapted to take into account changes in technology and audience expectations. I am grateful to her for reiterating this important point today, and I hope I can reassure her that the Government are proposing effective and proportionate regulation that covers this and other issues.

With that, I urge noble Lords not to press their amendments—other than the Amendments 1 and 4 tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Bull, which I am pleased to be able to support.