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BBC and Sky among broadcasters calling on Government to ‘urgently’ regulate tech giants Facebook, Google and Twitter

By Dorothy Musariri

British broadcasters have jointly written to the Government to criticise the lack of regulation over content distributed on Facebook, Google and Twitter and call for regulatory oversight to be “urgently” brought in.

The BBC, Channel 4, ITV, Sky, BT and TalkTalk all signed a letter, published in the Sunday Telegraph, which suggested a new watchdog be created to tackle the growing presence of harmful misinformation online.

The letter was drafted by BBC director general Lord Hall, ITV boss Carolyn McCall and Channel 4 chief executive Alex Mahon.

They said they didn’t think it was “realistic” or “appropriate” to expect social media companies to make decisions on what content they can and cannot publish, without some sort of “independent oversight”.

“There is an urgent need for independent scrutiny of the decisions taken, and greater transparency,” they said.

“This is not about censoring the internet, it is about making the most popular internet platforms safer, by ensuring there is accountability and transparency over the decisions these private companies are already taking.”

UK broadcasters themselves are regulated by Ofcom. The regulator’s chief executive, Sharon White, herself called for independent regulation of tech giants in a letter published in the Times in July.

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She wrote: “We welcome emerging actions by the major online players, but consider that the argument for independent regulatory oversight of their activities has never been stronger.”

The Government is expected to publish a White Paper on online safety early next year. A spokesperson said: “We have been clear that more needs to be done to tackle online harms. We are committed to further legislation.”

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