25 September 2023

UNITED KINGDOM: BBC last barrier against fake news

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The Director-General of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Tony Hall (pictured) says public service broadcasting must be easily accessible to help people access “news and analysis they can trust”.

Mr Hall and Chief Executive of Channel 4, Alex Mahon were speaking to an informal gathering of UK Members of Parliament (MPs) to ask for updated legislation to ensure public service content could be easily found online and on-demand.

Mr Hall said the pair was also working with ITV and Channel 5 to ensure their stories could be widely seen.

“As the Secretary of State for Culture, Matt Hancock put it, the BBC is the nation’s best bulwark against fake news,” Mr Hall said.

“We know that to be true and it’s a duty we take extremely seriously.”

He said that in a world of fake news, disinformation and state propaganda, the debate had to be about giving everyone access to impartial, trusted sources of news when they were being bombarded with the opposite.

“We have a responsibility — all of us — to help people distinguish what’s a fact and what’s false, but we can only do that if it’s simple and easy for people to choose our services,” Mr Hall said.

He said British broadcasting was under threat and the current laws governing it were out of date.

The broadcasters have proposed protecting the prominence of public service broadcasters on any device sold in the UK, including set top boxes, smart TVs and games consoles, and requested the Office of Communications to look afresh at its rules of prominence.

The call for change comes in the wake of the rapid growth in popularity of streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, which are able to invest billions of dollars in original content.

“There’s a danger we are sleepwalking towards a world in which children and young people barely encounter public service broadcasting content,” Mr Hall said.

“Far from being anti-choice, this is about securing choice for UK audiences in the future; it’s about securing what Britain has to offer, as well as us enjoying big shows from the United States.”

London, 13 June 2018

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