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The Media Bill [Bill 8 2023-24](PDF) was introduced in the House of Commons on 8 November 2023.

What would the Media Bill do?

According to the Explanatory Notes (PDF), the Bill would:

  • update the legislative framework for public service broadcasting, including provisions to facilitate the delivery of public service content through digital platforms.
  • introduce provisions so that public service content on designated services is available online.
  • address the sustainability challenges faced by Channel 4.
  • apply the Bill’s changes to public service broadcasting to S4C (the Welsh language television service), while retaining the Welsh language content requirement.
  • give Ofcom, the communications regulator, powers to draft and enforce a Video-on-Demand Code.
  • update the regulatory framework for commercial radio.
  • protect UK radio’s availability on connected audio devices.
  • repeal section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 which could (if commenced) force news publishers to pay the costs of any court judgment if they were not a member of the approved regulator, regardless of the outcome of the court judgment.

Policy background to the Bill, as it was originally introduced, is set out in the Library briefing, Media Bill  (17 November 2023).

Ofcom, the communications regulator, has published a “roadmap to regulation” on the Bill (PDF)(26 February 2024).

Progress of the Bill in the House of Commons

The Bill had its second reading on 21 November 2023 where it was broadly welcomed. It was considered by a Public Bill Committee over six sittings between 5 and 12 December 2023 where technical Government amendments were made. No Opposition amendments were agreed. The Bill [Bill 139 2023-24](PDF), as amended in Committee, was published.

The Government made minor and technical amendments to the Bill at report stage on 30 January 2024. There were divisions on non-Government amendments relating to:

  • Gaelic language services.
  • broadcasting listed sporting events.
  • repealing section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013.

None of the amendments were agreed.

Third reading also took place on 30 January 2024.

Progress of the Bill in the House of Lords

The Bill – HL Bill 44 (PDF) – was introduced in the House of Lords on 31 January 2024. It had its second reading on 28 February 2024 where it received cross-party support. The Bill will now be considered by a Committee of the Whole House.

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