The boss of the US media company Paramount has said he does not want to remove historic programs from his new subscription streaming service because they no longer meet current expectations.
Bob Bakish, Paramount’s CEO, said his company had thousands of shows in its back catalog. “By definition, you have some things that were made in a different time and reflect different sensitivities,” he said. “I don’t believe in censoring art that was made historically, that’s probably a mistake. It’s all on demand – you don’t have to watch anything you don’t want to.”
Streaming companies have struggled with how to adapt to modern cultural expectations when it comes to archive shows, with BritBox and the BBC’s iPlayer among those removing content that is no longer deemed appropriate for modern tastes.
Bakish also said the company would not comment on speculation linking it to a potential purchase of a privatized Channel 4, saying: “We’re good with where we are in the UK.”
Paramount, formerly known as ViacomCBS, owns the US television networks CBS, MTV and Nickelodeon, along with Paramount Pictures, which recently had a global hit with the film Top Gun: Maverick.
In the UK it is the parent company of Channel 5, which has enjoyed a revival under its ownership. Nevertheless, it is a late entrant to the British streaming market, which is already dominated by Netflix along with new arrivals such as Apple TV+ and Disney+.
As a result, Paramount+ is being pitched as an additional streaming service costing £6.99 that offers access to Paramount’s film back catalog along with shows such as Star Trek, South Park and SpongeBob SquarePants.
The company has agreed a deal with Sky that will mean millions of Sky Cinema customers will receive Paramount+ for free. Although this gives Paramount instant access to millions of customers, it also means it will earn less money per customer.
Bakish said: “We don’t view streamers as a winner-takes-all market. We want to be one of a number of services in the household.”