The Culture Secretary has admitted she shares her Netflix password with four other households across the country, breaking her rules. Nadine Dorries, 64, said four other people, including her mother, had access to her account with the streaming service, in breach of its terms and conditions which state that users must live together.
Before the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, she described the current subscription system as “incredibly generous”.
She added: “My mum has access to my account, so do the kids. I have Netflix but there are four other people who can use my Netflix account in different parts of the country.”
Laughing, she added, “Am I not supposed to do this?”
DCMS Permanent Secretary Sarah Healey added: ‘So many people are watching it back home, I had to pay for the most.
Ms Dorries was also asked about the future of Channel 4 after the government announced plans to pursue its privatisation. She said she “doesn’t see a scenario” in which a private Channel 4 would become partly or entirely subscription-based, and suggested any buyer might have to commit to a 10-year freeze on certain changes.
Last month, Netflix suffered its first loss of subscribers in more than a decade, sending its shares tumbling 25% in extended trading. Ms Dorries said a potential move by the streaming giant towards advertising, as opposed to subscription-only, would have a further negative impact on public service broadcasters such as Channel 4.
The broadcaster has been publicly owned since its inception in 1982 by the Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher, and is entirely funded by advertising.
She said: “I think people even try to paint a picture that Netflix is failing or struggling, that’s probably overstating the pudding a bit. Netflix has done what a lot of companies do.
“It’s reached market saturation point, which is good for Netflix, but they’re going to have to revise their business model, and they’re probably going to revise it in a way that will make it much more difficult for broadcasters to public service that depend on advertising revenue.”
Ms Dorries said the advertising budget pool had “decreased considerably” in recent years and that a platform such as Netflix would be another attractive prospect for advertisers and therefore competition for Channel 4. Asked what she Think of Channel 4 News, Ms Dorries said she ‘gets on very well’ with presenter Cathy Newman and had been invited on several occasions over the past two weeks, although she declined.
But in an apparent reference to eyewitness reports that former presenter Jon Snow shouted ‘F*** the Tories’ at Glastonbury Festival five years ago, she added: ‘I’ve been on Channel 4 News. This is pissed off. I’m not going to justify a news program whose presenter shouted obscenities about the Conservative Party.
“So they did themselves a disservice sometimes in the news program and I think that’s probably all I want to say about it.”
Ms Dorries also confirmed that the review of the BBC’s funding model and the future of the license fee will begin “considerably before the summer holidays”.
She added: “I anticipate it will take around six months and I want it to start as soon as possible and we will announce the terms of reference for the review very soon.”
Ms Dorries said the BBC should not pay for the review. Instead, DCMS will pay to avoid a “conflict of interest,” and the search for an independent chair will begin soon. The minister described the fee as a “regressive tax” which massively penalizes women.
However, Tory MP Damian Green suggested the upcoming review was a ‘sham’ because the minister had come to a conclusion before launching the consultation. Ms Dorries also addressed the Competition and Markets Authority’s ongoing report into music streaming and the market dominance of major labels, which was prompted by a DCMS committee investigation which saw submissions from labels, of streamers and musicians.
She said she had received interim findings and hopes the finding will be received by September or October.