Communications regulator Ofcom plans to assess whether broadcaster Channel 4 is directly under threat from new web-based content platforms as part of its third review of public service broadcasting in the UK.

The report will examine whether the youthful channel can survive in a landscape increasingly populated by "large, well-funded global media companies and ... innovative online providers."

In a statement, Ofcom posed the question of whether Channel 4's knack for attracting younger audiences can be sustained against the likes of Amazon, Netflix, Apple and Google who're going after similar markets.

It said those types of companies "offer compelling alternatives for the younger audiences that Channel 4 seeks to appeal to. Will Channel 4 be of sufficient scale to compete successfully and retain its younger audience?"

Those tech-friendly "new intermediaries which control platforms" (as Ofcom calls them), can reach consumers directly without users ever having to view content through a dish or aerial. By that, Ofcom means Smart TV apps, smartphones, tablets, games consoles and more.

However, Channel 4 and its viewers would probably argue they make live and on-demand content available easily through all of those platforms and is aided by their existence rather than hampered.

Meanwhile, one thing the review will not seek to is is debate the merits of the BBC license fee, which it claims is the job of the government and will be dealt with during the Corporation's forthcoming charter review.

"Our work on the BBC will focus on its role in the overall delivery of the public service broadcasting purposes and objectives, to establish both the contribution and impact of the BBC as part of the system of public service broadcasting, the regulator said.

Via Guardian