Feeds

Online video regulation structure outlined by Government

Ofcom steps up/sidesteps

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

Media regulator Ofcom will take over the regulation of video on demand services, but will delegate it to an industry-formulated co-regulator, the Government has said.

The Government has published details of how it will ensure that the UK complies with the European Union's Audio-Visual Media Services (AVMS) Directive, which extends regulation to television-like programmes regardless of the medium used to show them.

The Directive means that programmes distributed on the internet or mobile phones will be regulated in the same way as those that are traditionally broadcast. The Directive demands that state regulation replace industry self-regulation, but the Government has said that it will create a system of industry regulation backed by existing communications regulator Ofcom.

"The Directive does not allow us to rely on self-regulation, but it is right that industry should be allowed and encouraged to set up and manage its own regulatory arrangements as far as possible, as it has done very effectively since 2003 through the self-regulatory body, the Association for Television On Demand," said Andy Burnham, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.

"Ofcom will be given powers to regulate UK video-on-demand services so that Ofcom can then designate, and delegate powers to, an industry-led co-regulatory body to regulate programme content in these services," said Burnham in a written statement.

"In the light of these decisions, the Government urges video-on-demand service providers to work together to finalise the details of the new co-regulatory arrangements," he said.

The AVMS Directive replaces the Television Without Frontiers Directive and is intended to ensure that regulation is appropriate in an age where video content is distributed via the internet as well as via the broadcast airwaves.

The Directive provoked controversy by extending state regulation to internet video, but it only applies to television-like material, and not to user-generated videos such as those commonly posted to sharing sites like YouTube.

Burnham said that the Directive's definition of what is regulated will be passed straight into UK law.

"The definition is narrow and covers only mass media services whose principal purpose is to provide television-like programming to users," his statement said. "The co-regulator will be able to issue guidance on the interpretation of the definition and on the services which fall within its scope. Those whose role is only to provide access to other providers’ video-on-demand services will not be responsible for the content of those services."

Advertising in video on demand services will also be regulated, and Burnham said that this is most likely to be delegated by Ofcom to existing TV ad regulator the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

For content and for advertising, Ofcom will remain the ultimate regulator, able to deal with serious or repreated breaches of the rules. The Government calls these 'back stop' powers.

The Directive bans product placement but allows Governments to legislate for it in certain circumstances. Burnham said that the Government had decided not to allow the in-programme advertising.

"No conclusive evidence has been put forward that the economic benefit of introducing product placement is sufficient to outweigh the detrimental impact it would have on the quality and standards of British television and viewers’ trust in it," he said.

The Government will put an Order before Parliament to transfer its decisions into law before the end of the year. The deadline for the implementation of the Directive is December 2009.

Copyright © 2009, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

HP ProLiant Gen8: Integrated lifecycle automation

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
White? Male? You work in tech? Let us guess ... Twitter? We KNEW it!
Grim diversity numbers dumped alongside Facebook earnings
Bose says today is F*** With Dre Day: Beats sued in patent battle
Music gear giant seeks some of that sweet, sweet Apple pie
Amazon Reveals One Weird Trick: A Loss On Almost $20bn In Sales
Investors really hate it: Share price plunge as growth SLOWS in key AWS division
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Too many IT conferences to cover? MICROSOFT to the RESCUE!
Yet more word of cuts emerges from Redmond
Chips are down at Broadcom: Thousands of workers laid off
Cellphone baseband device biz shuttered
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.