ITV’s CEO Carolyn McCall has urged the UK Government to urgently pass the proposed Media Bill as it is “fundamental” to its future as a public-service broadcaster (PSB).
The company confirmed today it has applied to Ofcom to begin the process of renewing the Channel 3 nations and regions licences in England, Border Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, as well as applying to renew the national Channel 3 breakfast licence.
The current licences expire on 31 December 2024 and ITV has applied for a 10-year extension.
In return for delivering their PSB licence obligations, Channel 3 and Channel 5 licence holders receive benefits that non-public service broadcasters do not, such as prominence within on-screen programme guides and privileged access to the UK’s broadcasting spectrum.
“The new framework in the draft Media Bill will be fundamental to ITV’s future as a PSB,” McCall said. “ITV is confident that the proposed reforms will give us the certainty to commit to renewing our Channel 3 licence in 2024 and to continue to deliver our public service provisions for a further 10 years and we would ask the Government to urgently make available Parliamentary time for the legislation to be passed.”
Earlier this year, ITV welcomed the publication of the Media Bill as a “decisive staging post” on the journey to a modern and flexible regulatory regime for TV and media in the UK.
There are 15 regional Channel 3 licensees in the UK and one licensee providing the national breakfast-time service.
Last year Ofcom confirmed that it believes ITV and Channel 5 should retain their PSB licences for Channel 3 and Channel 5, having accepted they will be able to fulfil their public service broadcasting obligations at a commercially sustainable cost, over the next 10-year licence period.
While Ofcom recognised that commercial sustainability could come under increasing pressure with the rise in popularity of streaming TV services such as Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video, it is thought that the Government’s proposed legislative reforms will make PSB’s services and content easier to discover online.