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BritBox: Traditional media's answer to US streaming giants

Queen Victoria (Jenna Coleman) in Victoria (Credit: ITV)

It seems only a few short years ago that the BBC and ITV were thought of as the titans of British media. But all of us in the UK’s traditional media solar system are getting smaller and smaller in the Apple, Amazon and Netflix universe.” Thus said Lord Hall, Director-General of the BBC, in March, as he unveiled the corporation’s plans for its new financial year.

“We need to find new ways to adapt to the changing needs of our audiences, and we need to be able to do it in real time to keep pace with our global competitors,” he continued.

Our Friend in the North West: Cat Lewis talks production centres in the UK

Cat Lewis

As TV producers, we’re facing more global competition than ever before. Whenever they wish, viewers can watch one of many programmes from around the world on Netflix or Amazon, rather than one of our shows. Or they can stream or download dozens of feature films available via their TV sets.

I genuinely believe that the best response to this difficult situation is to embrace the creativity of the whole country, and not just rely on London­based programme-makers.

Are smart speakers becoming threats to privacy?

Amazon's Alexa (Credit: Amazon)

Smart speakers such as the Amazon Echo and Google Home accelerated their prodigious rate of adoption in the UK in the last quarter of 2018. Forecasts suggest that they will shortly be in a fifth of British homes.

But this trend of rising adoption could soon hit a wall. Surveys suggest that the majority of Britons fear that their privacy may be compromised if they invite voice-activated speakers into their homes.

Guest post: A four-step plan to safeguard UK television

Jonathan Thompson, CEO of Digital UK

Our reaction to a major change of any kind usually goes in phases…

Avoidance (“I’m not going to look”)

Denial (“I’ve looked but I don’t believe it”)

Fear (“We’re doomed”)

Panic (“I just need to do something”)

Response (“Ok – maybe there is something practical I can do”)

Acceptance (“Well that wasn’t so bad”)

British TV has been fairly consistent in following this pattern when it has faced transformative change in the sector in the past.

Hulu ups the ante

The Looming Tower (Credit: Hulu)

Sometimes, a single show can change the way a broadcaster or a platform is perceived. For the US streaming service Hulu, The Handmaid’s Tale – based on Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel – has been one such show.

The 10-part series was made for Hulu by MGM Television (Hulu does not have in-house production capabilities) and quickly became water-cooler viewing on both sides of the Atlantic. It went on to win multiple awards, including a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series and a brace of Golden Globes.

Is British TV under threat? BBC plans Netflix-style service

"The UK is sleepwalking towards a serious, long term weakening of its TV production industry," said Hall, in front of a DCMS committee in Westminster on Tuesday November 7th .

Hall proposed the idea of a new, paid-for on-demand service featuring BBC programming, following the closure of the BBC Store after only 18 months.

The appetite for video on demand (VOD) and other third-party platforms is growing in the UK and abroad, in what is a rapidly changing TV market.

Lord Puttnam: We need regulation to curb data capitalism

Lord Puttnam (Credit: RTS/Paul Hampartsoumian)

In a high-concept, passionate RTS lecture, illustrated by film clips and quotes from such 20th century giants as John Maynard Keynes and Bob Dylan, Puttnam mounted a passionate case for media regulation to curb the excesses of “data capitalism.”

“Tech monopolies (Google, Amazon, Facebook) are taking over the internet. A pernicious form of corporatism could, under the wrong set of circumstances, replace democracy as we have known and enjoyed it,” he said.

It was “nonsense” that these companies were too big to regulate.