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Netflix ‘needs a British watchdog with teeth’, ministers are warned

Netflix ‘needs a British watchdog with teeth’, ministers are warned as Dutch regulators admit they have little power to sanction the streaming site over The Crown

  • The American streaming giant has its European headquarters in Amsterdam 
  • Comes under the scrutiny of Dutch regulators, who admit they have little power 
  • Come after protests at how The Crown has tarnished Royal Family’s reputation

Ministers are facing mounting pressure to bring Netflix under the control of British regulators.

The American streaming giant has its European headquarters in Amsterdam and comes under the scrutiny of Dutch regulators, who admit they have little power to sanction the company over its hit series The Crown.

Last night, Tory MP Tom Hunt said: ‘We need a British watchdog with real teeth, not a toothless Dutch one.’

The American streaming giant has its European headquarters in Amsterdam and comes under the scrutiny of Dutch regulators, who admit they have little power to sanction the company over its hit series The Crown. Pictured is former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, played by Gillian Anderson in the show

And pressure intensified last week when it was revealed that the head of the Dutch regulator had taken a senior job at Netflix.

The Government last week confirmed it will review regulation of streaming operators after protests at the way The Crown has tarnished the Royal Family’s reputation with fictitious scenes, including some featuring former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, played by Gillian Anderson.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has backed a call by The Mail on Sunday for each episode to carry a disclaimer telling viewers that the drama is only loosely based on real events.

The Government last week confirmed it will review regulation of streaming operators after protests at the way The Crown has tarnished the Royal Family's reputation

The Government last week confirmed it will review regulation of streaming operators after protests at the way The Crown has tarnished the Royal Family’s reputation

But today it can be revealed that:

  • Viewers in the UK who wish to make a complaint about any Netflix show are told many of the rules and regulations are available only in Dutch;
  • The Dutch regulator, Commissariaat voor de Media (CvdM) rejects many complaints because it generally has ‘no supervisory and enforcement competencies’ on programme content;
  • Its former chairwoman now works for Netflix as its most senior lobbyist in Europe after a ‘cooling off’ period of six months between jobs. Madeleine de Cock Buning was head of CvdM until last June, but since January this year has been vice-president for public policy at Netflix.
  • Sir Alistair Graham, the former chairman of the Commons’ committee on standards in public life, said: ‘I think it is inappropriate for a former media regulator to go and work for a company like Netflix after such a short time.’

The Dutch watchdog has said it has no powers to intervene over The Crown because under Dutch law issues of fairness and accuracy are governed by self-regulation. 

Tory peer and ex-Cabinet Minister Michael Forsyth said: ‘Netflix should be subject to the same high standard of regulation by Ofcom which govern the BBC, ITV and other UK broadcasters. Brexit enables Ministers to get on with this.’

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