Feeds

Top Gear isn't TV, not when it's on YouTube

Ofcom overrules streaming regulator

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

Ofcom has overruled its appointed VOD regulator in deciding that chunks of Top Gear and BBC Food channel programmes found on YouTube don't constitute TV-like services and thus fall outside regulation.

ATVOD, Ofcom-appointed regulator of UK video-on-demand, decided that clips circulated by BBC Worldwide constitute TV content and thus fall under its regulatory remit. BBC Worldwide contended they're promotional and thus it had no need to register with ATVOD (and pay the requisite fee) so both parties toddled along to Ofcom, which has decided that programmes without credits aren't programmes all.

Ofcom is arbiter to the increasingly tortuous process of deciding what gets regulated, having appointed ATVOD (a private company) to deal with video-on-demand role as it tries to cope with the increasing fragmentation of television and the regulatory environment within which it exists.

It's easy to see that BBC iPlayer falls under ATVOD's remit, as does PlayBoy's video-on-demand service - which last week copped an ATVOD fine of £100,000 for failing to check the age of viewers properly.

Broadcast channels like BBC1 clearly fall under Ofcom, but things get more hazy once the internet gets involved - for example, Sports Tonight (Freeview 227) is delivered by IP, but it has a schedule, so it falls under Ofcom, while The Space (Freeview 232) lets viewers pick the show, so it falls under ATVOD.

ATVOD charges for registration, £10,000 for companies worth over £26m, and registration is obligatory so the decision about which services fall within its remit are far from academic.

BBC Worldwide uses YouTube to distribute content including segments from Top Gear and BBC Food programmes. Given the length of the clips (seven to eight minutes) ATVOD decided these were TV shows and thus registration was required. BBC Worldwide disagreed, arguing that Top Gear without the 'tween-segment prattling of Clarkson and his minions couldn't be considered a TV show at all, so it needn't register.

Ofcom sided with BBC Worldwide, citing the lack of credits as another defining factor in the Top Gear case, which hinged on whether the YouTube clips could be considered "programmes".

The promotional nature of the content wasn't relevant, as borne out by another appeal from Greystone Media, which argued it was giving away episodes from its Business Channel as promotions and thus didn't need to register with ATVOD - a view with which Ofcom disagreed as it’s the content which matters, not what's charged for it.

But both cases are symptomatic of the difficulties in controlling media in an internet age. We (almost) all agree that some level of regulation is required to control content, ensuring the protection of children and editorial independence, but the practicalities of doing that are still a work in progress. ®

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

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
Nadella: Apps must run on ALL WINDOWS – PCs, slabs and mobes
Phone egg, meet desktop chicken - your mother
White? Male? You work in tech? Let us guess ... Twitter? We KNEW it!
Grim diversity numbers dumped alongside Facebook earnings
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
Dude, you're getting a Dell – with BITCOIN: IT giant slurps cryptocash
1. Buy PC with Bitcoin. 2. Mine more coins. 3. Goto step 1
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
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.