New ‘Britishness’ requirements for public service broadcasters set out by Govt

Plans to protect “distinctively British” shows and broadcasters have been set out by the Media Minister today at the Royal Television Society Convention.

Media Minister John Whittingdale announced the new rules for public service broadcasters (PSBs) to make “iconic, not generic” British shows in a bid to help them compete with US streaming giants.

The new rules, announced by Whittingdale in a speech at the Royal Television Society Convention in Cambridge, require PSBs to produce and air “distinctively British” content, as well as specific rules for content aired on digital platforms.  

“If it’s set in Britain and made in Britain by our public service broadcasters, then it should be distinctively British.”

The rules on PSB content will “showcase British culture,” in the face of growing competition from abroad, according to a statement by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

“Global investment is extremely welcome – but I want to make sure it doesn’t water down British creativity or the British brand,” explained the Media Minister.

Shows like Dr Who, Downton Abbey, Great British Bake Off, Top Gear, The Bodyguard and Planet Earth were given as examples of popular British TV shows which “reflect Britain and British values”.

Whittingdale also set out his plans to make PSB content legally bound to always be “carried and discoverable to UK audiences on connected devices and major online platforms” from smart TVs to streaming sticks, in a nod to the increasing popular alternatives to traditional TV. Whittingdale said the department planned to put this into legislation “as soon as possible”.

The full proposals for the measures will be published later this year in a Broadcasting White Paper.