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IPTV regulation a turn-off for Ofcom

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Ofcom will give web-based TV services a free pass, the super comms regulator's executive chairman has said.

Existing, licensed broadcasters are already offering programming over the net. At number of web-based TV services are in the offing, including a P2P service from Janus Friis and Niklas Sandstorm, the duo behind Kazaa and Skype, which has technology, but apparently no fixed abode.

The potential upshot is a plethora of operators, which could be based anywhere in the world.

Such a slippery situation clearly doesn't appeal to UK regulators.

Asked if the agency planned to extend its remit to cover such services, Lord Currie told The Register: "I should hope not."

The agency already takes a hands off attitude to internet content. While the BBC may want PC users to buy a license if they want to watch programs on their computers, when it comes to peer to peer and other totally net-based services, Currie said: "I don't think the regulation system will aim at that space."

This laissez-fair attitude would certainly relieve the likes of Friis and Sandstorm of the sort of boorrring public service obligations that force mainstream TV companies to be fair and balanced and show the odd bit of news.

However, Currie added, they would not be completely off the hook. Industry self regulation would pick up some of the slack he said, with organisations like the Internet Watch Foundation tracking seedier material, while existing laws would deal with the truly nasty stuff, such as child porn. Oh, and presumably the lawyers will thrash out those tricky issues, such as copyright. ®

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