Your commercial news round-up: interest rates, Disney and Warner Bros, Ofcom regulations, TikTok lawsuit

updated on 09 May 2024

Reading time: four minutes

Are you up to date on this week’s news? The Bank of England has announced that it’s holding interest rates, while Disney and Warner Bros are collaborating to create a new streaming package. Plus, in the world of social media, Ofcom has released new regulations for social media algorithms targeting children, and TikTok and ByteDance have launched a lawsuit in an effort to stop the app being banned in the US. Read this week’s commercial news round-up to find out more.

  • Today (9 May), the Bank of England (BoE) announced that its holding UK interest rates at 5.25%. This is the sixth time that the BoE has held the rate. However, the decision wasn’t unanimous – of the nine members on the Monetary Policy Committee, two voted to cut rates to 5% and seven voted to hold the rates. Andre Bailer, BoE governor,  suggested that a rate cut isn’t too distant as he’s “optimistic that things are moving in the right direction”. Despite this, he noted that the committee needed to see more evidence “that inflation will stay low” to justify cutting rates.
  • If you’re a fan of TV and film, you might be excited to hear that Disney and Warner Bros have announced a new combined streaming package, consisting of Disney+, Hulu and Max, to US customers. The new bundle will be available with and without adverts, and it’s hoped that it “will help drive incremental subscribers and much stronger retention”, according to JB Perrette, Warner Bros Discovery executive. The move comes as the two platforms face competition  from rival streaming platforms Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. The collaboration between Disney and Warner Bros aims to attract the different audiences using the respective platforms, as Disney is best known for family-friendly shows and Warner Bros’ Max is home to HBO and hosts more content aimed at adults. More information about the bundle will be released in coming weeks, according to the companies.
  • Ofcom has told social media firms to “tame aggressive algorithms” that suggest harmful content to children. The regulator has set new rules, as part of the children’s safety codes, which were introduced in the Online Safety Act. The rules require services to perform age checks or to make their platforms child safe as a default. Apps that use ‘for you’ style pages, such as Instagram and TikTok will need to make changes to their algorithm to ensure children are suggested appropriate content. However, this will be complicated with some companies describing algorithmic curation as a “black box”, given that they themselves are unsure how their systems suggest content. The draft code is open for consultation until 17 July 2024 and, services have been given three months to conduct risk assessments before enforcement begins. Ofcom chief executive, Dame Melanie Dawes, said: “We want children to enjoy life online. But, for too long, their experiences have been blighted by seriously harmful content which they can’t avoid or control. Many parents share feelings of frustration and worry about how to keep their children safe. That must change.”
  • TikTok and ByteDance sued the US federal court on Tuesday (7 May), with the aim to block a new law that would ban TikTok in the US or force ByteDance to sell its shares. US lawmakers are concerned that Chinese company ByteDance’s shares in the app could allow China to access American data. The lawsuit argues that the new law goes against First Amendment free speech protections, as well as other elements of the constitution. The new law states that, if ByteDance doesn’t divest in TiKTok, shops like Apple will be prohibited from offering TikTok and internet hosting services will be unable to support the app. TikTok’s lawsuit explained that divestiture “is simply not possible: not commercially, not technologically, not legally.” It added:  “There is no question: the act (law) will force a shutdown of TikTok by 19 January 2025, silencing the 170 million Americans who use the platform to communicate in ways that cannot be replicated elsewhere”. TikTok has had a range of conflict with the US over the past four years. According to the lawsuit, the app spent $2 billion implementing measures to protect US data and created a draft of a National Security Agreement developed through negotiations with the Committee on Foreign investment in the US.

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