Netflix Gets Called Out by King of England, Legal Doom Ahead

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Image of King Charles III against a laptop opened to Netflix

Credit: Inside the Magic

The massive streaming platform Netflix is getting a stern talking-to from Charles III, the new King of the United Kingdom and all the Commonwealth realms, and it’s official.

Netflix logo superimposed over the planet Earth
Credit: Netflix/Inside the Magic

While the monarch of England rarely gets directly involved in international business matters, the United Kingdom has been increasingly wary of the largely unregulated streaming content industry dominated by Netflix. Although the service has been left mostly to its own devices, along with its competitors Disney+, Apple TV+, Amazon Prime Video, Max, and all the rest, it seems that is changing soon.

King Charles was coronated all the way back in May 2023 but only recently gave his first King’s Speech, the official reading that traditionally sets a new monarch’s government priorities and intentions. In the speech, the king announced that UK Parliament would be taking up the hotly debated Media Bill, which promises to regulate Netflix and other streaming platforms with far greater rigor than at present (per Deadline).

Disney+ and Netflix logos side by side
Credit: Inside the Magic

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In the United Kingdom, broadcast media and telecommunications are subject to regulation by the Office of Communications (or Ofcom, for short), which has the power to severely fine media figures, studios, and channels that do not stick by strict content guidelines.

Now, the King and the UK government have decided that streaming content will be added to Ofcom list, with officials stating, “better protect children by applying similar standards for TV to the streaming giants. The bill will ensure standards are upheld on video-on-demand services through a proportionate new Video-on-demand Code, to be drafted and enforced by Ofcom.”

Although Netflix has been generally supportive of the Media Bill in the past, it has also warned the UK that being placed under new regulations may cause the country to have its streaming catalogs stripped of content or even that UK customers may be charged more for the service. It seems that this passive threat has not been enough to stop the introduction of the Media Bill and, with it, new control over the world’s most popular streaming service.

Disney+, Netflix, and Apple TV+ logos combined against a black background
Credit: Inside the Magic

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Unsurprisingly, traditional broadcast outlets are very much in favor of the Media Bill, which theoretically will even the playing field between streaming and more old-fashioned telecommunication. ITV CEO Carolyn McCall said, “We are very pleased with the inclusion of the Media Bill in the King’s Speech. This is a critical step towards ensuring that public service broadcasters can continue to invest in the brilliant British content our audiences love, because our shows will be available and easy for people to find on all major TV platforms and devices.”

It will have to remain to be seen whether Netflix will actually limit its content in the UK or whether it might simply find other ways to make sure it is compliant with British regulations. After all, the streaming market is competitive and Netflix can’t afford to lose millions more customers.

Should streaming services be regulated the same as traditional broadcast? Tell us your opinions in the comments below!

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