John Whittingdale The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
Section 266 of the Communications Act 2003 puts a duty on Ofcom to require providers of licensed public service channels to prepare statements of their programme policies that set out how they intend to fulfil their individual channel remits. Currently, these statements must only be prepared in relation to the content provided by public service broadcasters on their traditional TV channels. Clause 4 amends section 266 of the 2003 Act. It expands these statements to reflect that the fulfilment of the public service remit could now include, as set out in clause 1, content delivered by on-demand services.
Going forward, the providers of licensed public service channels—channels 3, 4 and 5—must set out in their statement the services they are using to contribute to the fulfilment of the public service remit and explain how each service is contributing. The publication of these statements is important to allow proper scrutiny of our public service broadcasters.
Clause 5 of the Bill, which is grouped with clause 4, amends section 267 of the 2003 Act to update the definition of “a significant change”, so that it would apply if any of the services that a licensed public service broadcaster is using to deliver its remit—not just the main channel, as before—were to become “materially different in character”. For example, this will include on-demand services as well as the traditional TV channels. And like the previous clause, clause 5 will ensure that these statements continue to allow scrutiny of all the ways that the public service remit is fulfilled.