The solutions

Increasingly as our ways of watching, reading and listening to the media change, we will sit down and choose between content which looks the same but which is subject to different standards or indeed none at all.

In our inquiry, we have thought long and hard about how to update the system so people can have confidence about these sorts of decisions.

That’s why we have recommended that the Government gets ready to reorganise the system so that content which we think of as being the same is treated in the same way.

We also recommend that a standardised system of certificates, like we’re used to in the cinema, should be introduced to guide our decisions about what children should watch. Those are two pretty significant and useful steps in the right direction.

They won’t necessarily work, however, for content provided over the internet by people not within our reach, outside the UK and the EU. For them, we have to try something completely new.

If you think about the internet in three parts, our recommendation there is mainly about the middle

  • at one end there are people who upload content
  • at the other, there’s you, the audience
  • and between you there are intermediaries like your internet service provider, search engines, social networks and content aggregators like YouTube

There’s no sensible way for us here in Parliament to make the people uploading content uphold standards. That means we need to focus on the people in the middle.

Some of them are already doing good work, and we think the best thing to do is to encourage them to keep going, with one small change.

At the moment there is no formal way for them to know what the UK public expects of them. So we are recommending that the Government makes sure the voice of the UK public is heard by these intermediaries.

That might sound like a small step, but these companies are generally large and they need and want your trust. Once they hear a clearly expressed view of what the UK public expects, it will be much easier for them to see where they need to improve.