UK wants to regulate internet

The UK’s culture and media secretary says that if 1m people view a YouTube video then it’s akin to broadcasting, and should be subject to broadcasting’s rules and regulations. Andy Burnham (pictured, left) also disappointed commercial broadcasters by ruling out product placement, and maintaining the impartiality obligations on broadcasters. On June 11, Andy Burnham made a strong speech outlining his views and saying that some lines should not be crossed. “One of which is that you can buy the space between the programmes on commercial channels, but not the space between them.” ITV, in particular, had been lobbying hard for a relaxation of the product placement ban and its share price fell 3.1% on the day. Burnham was appointed in January, and is the fourth Labour Party Secretary of State looking after media, sport and culture since 1997.

“There is a risk that product placement exacerbates this decline in trust and contaminates our programmes,” he added. “There is a risk that, at the very moment when television needs to do all it can to show it can be trusted, we elide the distinction between programmes and adverts.”

Burnham also ruled out any changes in news coverage in Britain. Some had suggested that removing the obligation against bias, along the lines of Fox News in the US, might benefit some broadcasters.

His comments on Internet-based “programming” from the likes of YouTube created the greatest anxiety. “If a clip on YouTube gets a million hits, it is akin to broadcasting and it doesn’t seem to me to be too difficult to have an alert on that clip, an alert for language, or violence or sex,” he said.