TV services that depend on set top boxes like the Apple TV, are unlikely to see a considerable jump in sales in 2008, ABI Research believes. Even with Apple TV at its front line, the company describes this market segment as a struggling breed
of retail-based Internet video devices and estimates that about 1.2 million of these systems will make their way to consumers in 2008.
So far, ABI said, Internet TV boxes have had difficulty resonating with consumers, largely due to their higher prices and competition from legacy set-top boxes, as well as confusion over the benefits they will ultimately bring to the buyer.
The high cost of these devices, their reliance on the home network, the need for consumer self-installation, and the scarcity of content have all contributed to their lack of commercial success, said research director Michael Wolf.
Orange has postponed the commercial launch of its UK fixed-line broadband television service until next year.
The company was due to offer the service, a rival to Sky, Virgin Media and BT's Vision, before Christmas.
However, analysts said the company's broadband network is not yet developed enough for a full roll-out.
Orange, which has a successful TV service in France, revealed that is has been trialling the service with 350 customers in London and Leeds.
It allows customers to watch video on demand content through their Orange Broadband connection on their home TV.
Analysts are sceptical about the potential profitability of internet television (IPTV) but say it is a crucial way to stop customers defecting to broadband rivals that offer TV services.
Despite a strong last quarter, Orange has been lagging its rivals in terms of broadband subscriber additions, said Ian Maude of Enders Analysis: They are not going to make any money out of IPTV - we estimate for example that Virgin Media makes
around £2 to £3 a month per video-on-demand subscriber. But Orange needs to offer it because everyone else is and to prevent broadband and telephony customers leaking to the competition.
Orange's service is expected to be a hybrid of Freeview channels offered over the air and on-demand content down the phone line, similar to BT Vision.
Disappointingly the initial download release is restricted to the US, but maybe the wider release promised will be available in the UK.
Perhaps it will have an impact at the BBFC, particularly as they have sometimes cut stunt movies on worries of the stupidity being tried at home. Download movies can legally bypass the BBFC, but there is voluntary ratings scheme if companies feel
that it is beneficial to get BBFC approval.
Jackass 2.5 , the third in the series of stunt movies featuring Johnny Knoxville and copious amounts of nudity, is to become the first studio-backed feature film to receive its premiere on the web.
Paramount Pictures is hoping that it can open up a new stream of web-based revenue when it makes the one-hour plus film available free of charge on December 19.
Customers will have to watch several 15 or 30-second advertisements before being able to watch the movie, which will be streamed rather than downloaded. Viacom, Paramount's parent company, is also aiming to attract traffic to the jackassworld.com
site, which offers archival episodes of the MTV 'Jackass' series from five years ago.
The new film will feature new material, as well as previously unseen outtakes from the second Jackass film.
The film is not rated and the online version will only sold with 'age verification technology' that attempts to ensure viewers are 17 or older.
Movie industry experts said that the film reflected a new desire on the studios' part to embrace the idea of releasing free, ad-supported content - partly as a consequence of their failure to prevent films being circulated on illegal file-sharing
On December 26, the 'download to own' version of film will go on sale on iTunes and Amazon for between $10-15 and a DVD featuring 45 minutes of extras will also be available for $30.
In January other ad-supported streaming sites, such as Joost, will start showing the film, followed by a broader release through the video-on-demand services of cable and satellite networks in February.
Microsoft has announced the launch of a Video on Demand store in the UK as part of the autumn dashboard update for its Xbox 360 games console.
The dashboard update was made available today, and the video store will actually go live on December 11. The store will offer UK customers standard-definition films for 250 Microsoft Points (around GB£2) and high-definition versions from
380 Microsoft Points (about GB£3.20).
Titles available from December 11 will include The Matrix Revolutions, Ocean’s Eleven, The Perfect Storm, Swordfish, Superman 3 and The Fugitive . This list is expected to increase as the service grows and gains support.
Arash Amel, Senior Analyst at market research firm Screen Digest, added: The Xbox Live Marketplace Video Store, as the first multi-territory hardware-based online movie delivery service in Europe, is expected to be a European market leader for
movie downloads. Consumers in both the US and Europe have already made it abundantly clear that they are reluctant to watch two-hour long films on their PC, instead preferring to view them on portable devices or most preferably devices that can
provide a link to their large-screen living room TVs and home entertainment systems.
The European Parliament yesterday passed the Audiovisual Directive, which aims to modernise and consolidate laws governing video content however it is transmitted.
The Audiovisual Media Services Without Frontiers Directive covers all media services and grants citizens certain rights to access extracts of important events for new purposes and better access for hearing or visually-impaired
people. It aims to provide converged regulation for an increasingly converged media world.
Under the new laws, broadcasters will have to make clear when and where product placement is taking place.
EU member states now have 24 months to move the provisions into national law so they will apply by 2009. The law keeps the country of origin rule - that you must obey the laws of the country where the broadcaster is based not all the countries in
which programmes are subsequently broadcast.
Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media, said: With these modernised rules that improve legal certainty and reaffirm the country of establishment principle... There will be less regulation, better financing for
content and greater visibility to cultural diversity and the protection of minors.
Channel 4 and Disney-ABC International Television have linked up to enable US shows such as Ugly Betty to be made available free of charge for 30 days, with ads, on Channel 4's video-on-demand channel 4oD.
Shows including Desperate Housewives , Brothers & Sisters and upcoming series, such as Reaper and Dirty Sexy Money , will be available free on 4oD via PC for up to 30 days after their original TV broadcast.
This is the first time in Europe that Disney-ABC International Television has made its network series available on demand, free of charge to viewers, and supported by advertising.
After programmes hit the 30-days post transmission mark, they will continue to be made available on a pay per view basis on 4oD.
PlayTV UK is a British broadcast network which has incorporated high-definition and digital technologies, in order to provide a triple-play package including IPTV, telephone and broadband services.
What is IPTV?
IPTV is multi-channel internet protocol television, which can facilitate the delivery of multi-definition content. Instead of a signal being transmitted via satellite, cable, or terrestrial routes, the IPTV signal is transmitted via a broadband
telephone line. The viewer may watch IPTV on a terrestrial television set (using an IP set-top box), on a PC, or on any other compatible media (such as a mobile telephone, or a gaming console).
What is an IP set-top box?
An IP set-top box (IP-STB) is essentially the technological catalyst which allows the broadband-streamed content to be watched on a terrestrial television set and has the capability to support literally thousands of IP channels. The PlayTV UK
(VeHDa) IP-STBs are also pre-programmed to enable free-to-view access to over 700 channels from 84 countries around the world; allowing viewers to watch ‘local TV’, regardless of their geographical location.
PlayTV UK / VeHDa IP-STB capacity includes: digital tuning; high-definition (HD) conversion (which turns all standard signals into HD resolution); and an 80Gb digital video recorder (DVR), which enables the viewer to watch one channel and record
another at the same time.
Connectivity includes: HDMI; USB; scart; ethernet; RF in/out; S/PDIF (digital sound); and digital coax.
Optional extras include: external hard drive (increasing the DVR to 160Gb, 320Gb, 400Gb, or 480Gb); wireless keyboard; gaming control; and more.
The IP-STB also enables internet function (e.g. email, web-surfing, et al) on a terrestrial television set.
Which channels are on offer?
PlayTV UK will deliver the largest selection of all-genre channels from around the world; including sports, film, culture, lifestyle, music, entertainment, news and current affairs, religion, education, local to international … and many, many
Full channel listings will be available upon launch and content will be available as free-to-view; video-on-demand (VoD) and pay-per-view (PPV).
Do any classifications apply to streamed content, such as IPTV?
Although streamed / download content is not required, by law, to be submitted to the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) for category award (e.g. PG, 15, 18, R18, etc), PlayTV UK implements the *IP software which was developed in order to
prevent minors from accessing material, as classified in accordance with BBFC regulations, inappropriate for their age. As such, any age-restricted content broadcast by PlayTV UK will be regulated accordingly.
* PIN access is only available to those over the age of 18 who are able to provide official forms of ID as required. PIN access is then controlled by the master user (to whom it is issued) and they may assign age-appropriate profiles for family
Can PlayTV UK be delivered to different rooms around the home, or to different properties in the same building?
An additional integrated circuit (IC) adapter, which enables the delivery of local area network (LAN) signals through the existing home powerline (home wiring), is available for those who require it. Intellon’s HomePlug-based IC essentially
creates a home network for distributing data and content, thus alleviating the need for re-wiring, or for additional new cabling to be installed. This technology is designed to provide the necessary bandwidth to support HD applications and is, as
such, particularly well suited to IPTV.
Apple made its first foray into British television yesterday, and immediately found itself facing questions over the costs of its video downloads, which observers said were forcing British consumers to pay
much higher prices than their US counterparts.
After years of speculation, the iPod maker launched its UK television download service, a project that allows customers to buy a handful of American television series through the company's massively popular iTunes Store.
But some experts said the service - whose offerings, for £1.89 a show, include the fictional series Lost , plus Ugly Betty , and Desperate Housewives - was much more expensive than in the US. The same purchases from the
American iTunes Store, where television shows have been available for almost two years, cost just 99p ($1.99) an episode.
Apple refused to comment on how it arrived at the video download prices. The European commission this year decided to investigate the company over the pricing of iTunes tracks. That inquiry was prompted by a complaint from the consumer group
Which? claiming that variations in cost and availability of music downloads from country to country were unfair to consumers.
Apple's TV downloads will also face stiff competition, not least from British TV companies, most of which have launched video-on-demand; some of the shows are free for a time.
But one industry analyst said Apple's video prices were competitive in relation to other options open to British consumers. In some cases iTunes UK is cheaper than the DVD format, said Arash Amel, chief analyst with Screen Digest.
Some of the largest broadband providers in the UK are threatening to "pull the plug" from the BBC's new iPlayer unless the corporation contributes to the cost of streaming its videos over the internet.
The likes of Tiscali, BT and Carphone Warehouse are all growing concerned that the impact of hundreds of thousands of consumers watching BBC programmes on its iPlayer – which allows viewers to watch shows over the internet – will place an
intolerable strain on their networks.
Some of the companies involved have told the BBC that they will consider limiting the bandwidth available to iPlayer – a process known as traffic shaping. The measure would limit the number of consumers who could access the iPlayer at any one
Once customers download the title, they can play it at their convenience forever, just as if they have a DVD in their player. Mac users have not been served well in the past by streaming companies, since the standard Windows Media Players using
DRM [Digital Rights Management] are not supported by the Mac. DivX now has a new player that can be downloaded by Mac users that works with their proprietary DRM.
After years of technical development and months of regulatory hurdles, the BBC iPlayer has been launched to the public.
The iPlayer offers an online, on-demand catch-up service for the bulk of the BBC's TV output.
Initially, it will only be available to users of computers that run Windows XP, but versions for other platforms - including Apple Macs and Windows Vista - will follow.
Users can register online at www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer and will need to download and install the bespoke iPlayer software. After that, they will be able to download about 70% of programmes that have been broadcast on the BBC over the last seven days,
excluding content whose copyright is difficult to clear - such as American acquisitions and sport.
While today marks the moment when anybody in the UK can use the iPlayer, it is still officially in a "beta test" phase. If the service is successful, a full-scale launch and marketing campaign will follow in the autumn.
The BBC's main commercial rivals - ITV, Channel 4, Five and Sky - have already launched online, on-demand services.
But the launch of the iPlayer, with the BBC's huge library of content at its disposal, is likely to see the market really take off.
Channel 4's on-demand service, 4oD, launched online last October. During its first five months, 4oD attracted 2.5million unique users, who between them watched over 20 million programmes. In the near future, it is likely to exceed 500,000 PC
BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the BBC, is finalising proposals to launch a commercial version of the iPlayer early next year.
Initially, it will be available only in the UK and will offer both ad-funded and pay-to-view content from the BBC's archive.
Services for other English-speaking countries, starting with the USA and Australia, are likely to follow later next year.
While the major film studios have been reluctant to allow their movies to be downloaded online and burned onto a DVD, the porn industry appears ready to make that leap at once.
Vivid Entertainment plans to offer its films via the online CinemaNow movie service beginning Monday.
Other studios' reluctance to do the same thing is largely based on their unwillingness to risk the wrath of big-box retailers like Wal-Mart and Best Buy who currently are the largest sellers of DVDs. But Vivid's
Bill Asher told USA Today that his company doesn't have to be concerned about any of its retailers: We sell in smaller stores, mainstream chains, but no one dominant component where we're going to get that phone call.
Play TV UK is a British Broadcaster of IPTV delivering the very best content available via broadband to any room in your home and viewed on your TV (NOT your PC) via our Hybrid set top box that includes IPTV,
Freeview Digital Tuner, High Definition Up-scalar and a 80G DVR (Digital video recorder).
Our aim is to give you the viewer a far greater choice than Freeview, satellite or cable. Flexibility so you can watch what you want when you want. Give you the viewer the control over the content you want and when you want it. Continue improving
upon our team of professionals delivering a top class service always looking at can we/could we do it better. To provide a secure and safe viewing platform for your whole family’s home entertainments.
Play Movies > 9 Movie channels constantly streaming the very latest Blockbusters plus some great classics, 1 Adult channel (with real adult content), Age pin protection/on-line classification to protect your
family from unwanted content.
Play Sport > Launching with 10 premium sports channels (with more channels to follow)
Play Entertainment > Local TV - local news – events and entertainment from your town not region, Entertainment all the Freeview channels plus Comedy - Sci-Fi - Living – Gold and more, Kids Boomerang,
Nickelodeon, CBBC, Cbeebies, C-ITV and many more, Music from all Genres plus PPV & VOD music, News, Local – Regional – National and International news, Documentaries, Discovery – History – People – Animals and more, Teletext, HD, High
Definition video library, Shopping, Religion, Gaming, over 400 Games, Lifestyle including Food – Style - Fashion and more
Play Radio > Current listings include Play Radio UK, Play Rock, Play Classical, Play Top 40, Play Dance, Play Jazz, Play Reggae, Play R&B, Play Country, Play Love, Play Talk and Play Sussex, Future Genres
will include Indie, Scar, Xmas, Hip Hop, Chill, 30’s to 50’s, 60’s & 70’s, Latin, Africa, India, Asia, Disco and Soundtracks.
Play World > Local TV your TV from around the world including Europe, Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa, Middle East, North & Central America, South America, Australia & Oceania.
Independent filmmaker Mary McGuckian's new online movie site has a tagline that runs not playing at a cinema near you . Her MoviePol site, which launches at the end of the summer, is a direct
response to frustration at trying to battle past the blockbusters to get her films shown in US cinemas.
The idea to put her films straight on to the internet started around a dinner table when she and fellow European directors decided the only way to tackle the dominance of US studios was to build their own New York cinema.
We were all bemoaning the state of the American distribution system, she says. Even a film with Colin Farrell and Kate Winslet can't guarantee to get a release. The difficulty for all of us is that unless they perform in the US, it's very
difficult to release in other countries.
So we thought 'Why not do it online?' [We would have the] same access but much wider reach and we would just have so much more potential to release the many, many films that are really worthy of a wider platform than they get.
MoviePol is part of an emerging trend for filmmakers to shun the established industry release pattern and go straight to the web. Independent directors and producers argue that the film distribution industry is monopolised by a small number of
executives whose taste and commercial aims dictate who gets to see what. The spread of broadband and the advent of piracy-protected video playing systems is encouraging growing numbers of stymied producers and distributors to bypass cinemas and,
as they put it, "democratise" the system.
One of the first big UK releases comes from independent distributor Peccadillo. This month peccadillopod.com hosts the premier of Surveillance , a thriller starring Tom Harper, Sean Brosnan, Dawn Steele and Simon Callow. A one-off viewing
costs £2.99 or customers can download and keep it for £9.99.
Peccadillo's founder Tom Abell says his company will not abandon cinema but it has had to react to diminishing variety on the big screen. It is getting harder and harder to get our films into cinemas. We have a wealth of material we've had for
a while that hasn't been released yet.
Thanks to Dan
Based on an article from the
Nutters fear that the BBC’s new iPlayer could kill family viewing and threaten the TV watershed. Viewers will be able to download popular shows for seven days from the internet to watch on computer.
But industry observers say the £130million plan, to be launched on 27 July, will ‘fragment’ family viewing.
John Beyer, director of mediawatch-uk, said: The digital revolution has meant that viewing has become an individual rather than a family activity. More affluence means more television sets in the home and it is
now a much easier option to avoid family disputes that everyone watches their own programmes on their own sets or, with downloading, on their own computers. In these circumstances, it is easy for the broadcasters to advance the rationale that the
concept of family viewing ought to be abandoned.
There are no watershed provisions with the new iPlayers. A ‘labelling’ and pin protection system may be used to prevent children from downloading post-
BBC, Channel 4 and ITV; the big three terrestrial broadcasters are said to be in talks about developing a single video download service
"Project Kangaroo", the initiative by the BBC, Channel 4 and ITV, will "do for broadband what Freeview did for digital TV", a spokesman said. It aims to create a "one-stop shop" media player for viewers to download
their favourite shows.
At first, it is expected to deliver programmes to computers via broadband, but the ultimate aim is to transmit direct to televisions. The rise of broadband-enabled Freeview boxes and television sets would help drive the project.
Project Kangaroo is also designed to make money for the three broadcasters from broadband downloads beyond the already planned seven-day catch-up services.
The project is likely to come under scrutiny from the broadcasting watchdog Ofcom, particularly as it has parallels with its own public service publisher idea.
The US music company Warner has signed a deal with an online TV company to make its vast catalogue of music video available online for free. Warner will work with Premium TV to create a series of video sites.
Users will be able to log their favourite music and stream video for free from Warner's catalogue. The sites will also offer previously unseen footage. Warner says the deal will make it the first of the world's four main music companies to supply
its whole video archive online under a new business model that raises money via advertising.
Warner will stream video that contains adverts to users and hopes to make additional revenues by selling downloads.
European ministers have agreed on new rules for television and on-demand video on the internet..
The European Commission says the new version of the 1989 "TV Without Frontiers" directive will make the EU's audiovisual market more competitive.
The new package features the country-of-origin principle, meaning that broadcasters are governed by the rules of their home country, even if their programmes are transmitted in other states with different rules.
That principle was left out of the final version of the commission's Services Directive - dealing with service industries across the EU - after months of heated debate.
The new Audiovisual Media Services Directive is due to take effect by the end of this year. It has now been backed by the commission, the European Parliament and the member states' governments.
It still allows countries some flexibility to set stricter national rules. The UK's Creative Industries Minister Shaun Woodward welcomed the deal, saying it avoided too much regulation and would lead to more television and online services.
EU Media Commissioner Viviane Reding said the new legislation: brings Europe's audiovisual policies into the 21st Century, providing a welcome shot in the arm to industry. It promises less regulation, better financing for European content and
higher visibility to Europe's key values, cultural diversity and the protection of minors.
SexQube.TV was established by a former Sky TV Creative Director & National Geographic Head of Interactive and ex-Penthouse UK MD & Television X New Media Director.
It is a broadband TV channel with a free video stream advertising its subscription and video-on-demand areas, giving monthly and pay-per-view access to R18 content, on demand, across all genres. Films cost £5
for 2 weeks of viewing.
In the UK SexQube.TV is targeting 11.2 million broadband enabled homes, with 27% of those customers already using broadband TV. The Nielsen Net Ratings survey of February 2006 reports that 9.1 million men and 1.5 million women (growing at 14%
p.a.) used adult websites in the UK. Adult websites also enjoy the fastest growing online spend, with an average spend of $310 per person per year.
Joost, the on-demand online video service backed by the founders of Skype, has launched commercially. Until now Joost could be watched by just a few thousand testers. These will now be given an unlimited
number of invitations to give to new users.
The internet television service boasts more than 150 content channels - from cartoons to music videos and films.
The service provides video streams in broadcast quality, and is distributed using peer-to-peer technology. The services delivers full-screen high quality video, a huge advance on the small size of film clips offered on websites such as YouTube or
Films on Joost are interrupted by adverts from the 32 blue-chip companies that are the company's launch partners, among them Coca Cola, Hewlett Packard, Intel and Nike.
Joost has struck a series of content deals, among them US media giant Viacom. Later this month, CNN will start delivering news on the service, while Sony will offer classic programmes from the 1970s to the 1990s.
Joost users, however, must be aware of the heavy load the service will put on their broadband connection. If the deal with their broadband provider has usage limits, they could quickly find themselves paying extra.
At launch time though, Joost is totally lacking any porn but Hollywood insiders say that once the new platform is established it won’t take long before it streams porn, whether soft, hard or in-between.
At launch time, we’re not offering any ‘late-night’ content, Brian Baumley told XBIZ : But we’re constantly looking at opportunities.
A new service, ITV.com, will go live "within weeks", and offer live streaming of channels, a 30-day catch-up service allowing viewers to watch programmes they have missed, and the chance to watch classics from the
The service will also include made-for-broadband commissions in a section called Web Lives giving the public a chance to document their lives in a series of short episodes.
A network of "citizen correspondents" will be encouraged to upload mobile or webcam clips, with the best contributions aired on ITV news bulletins on ITV1.
The service will also offer broadband versions of the classic game shows Blockbusters, Catchphrase, Countdown and Family Fortunes.
Viewers will be able to watch BBC programmes on the internet under the terms of a new service agreed last week. The iPlayer website will allow users to download any programme shown on BBC television or radio up to a week
after transmission and give them another 30 days to watch or listen to it on their computers.
DRM will prevent programmes from being copied or kept for longer than 30 days. The service will only work on PCs and not on Apple Macs.
The BBC will also "simulcast" its TV channels online, meaning that people will be able to watch them on any computer with a broadband internet connection.
While viewing of traditional television channels steadily declines, the corporation wants to find new ways of delivering its content to maintain its "reach" and justify the licence fee.
As well as the iPlayer, the BBC trust (acting as the BBC regulator) has also approved the BBC's Freesat proposal, which will allow the corporation to offer subscription-free digital TV by satellite - alongside its terrestrial Freeview service.
Under the new BBC Charter, the trust must take into account the BBC's impact on its commercial competitors, and the trust has imposed tighter restrictions on the iPlayer than BBC management wanted.
The BBC initially asked for a three-month "storage window" - the length of time that viewers are allowed to watch programmes after downloading them - but the trust cut this to just 30 days.
The BBC had proposed to provide classical music that users could download and keep forever - rather than for the 30-day window - given that most classical music is out of copyright. The trust refused to allow this, saying that it might harm the
commercial market for classical CDs. Commercial providers complained bitterly when the BBC offered large amounts of Beethoven free online in 2005.
The BBC has not yet specified when the iPlayer will launch.
Some of America's best loved television shows, including The Simpsons, House and 24 , are to be made available for free on a new video-sharing website that threatens to challenge the might of YouTube.
The as-yet unnamed service, due to be launched this summer, is the creation of NBC Universal and Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation.
Funded by advertising, it will let users watch clips, entire programmes and films owned by the two media giants for free. Users will also be able to post video playlists and create "mash-ups" - clips of films, songs and TV shows edited
by the public.
The new service is designed to challenge the popularity of YouTube, the Google-owned do-it-yourself video site used by millions of people every day to post and watch videos. Although YouTube is intended as an outlet for amateur videos, it has
become an unofficial archive of television shows, films and pop concerts.
Last week, Viacom, which owns MTV, sued Google for more than one billion dollars, claiming "massive intentional copyright infringement" for allowing programmes to be posted on the YouTube site.
Because of existing licensing agreements with broadcasters outside America, the service is initially being targeted at American audiences. Last night it was unclear when the service would be available to Britain and rest of the world.
The site will be funded by advertising, with Cadbury Schwepps, Cisco Systems and General Motors among the companies to have signed up. The site's owners have struck a deal with AOL, MSN, MySpace and Yahoo! to distribute the service
available to most US internet users.
A spokesman for News Corporation confirmed that the service could come to Britain. However, British broadcasters such as Channel 4 and ITV have exclusive deals to show many of the programmes owned by News Corporation and NBC Universal. Making
them available for free online could cause problems.
The amendments have not pleased the UK government who say that European plans to regulate online audiovisual content remain a threat despite modifications.
Warning that continental Europe had a "stronger predilection for state intervention" than the UK, Shaun Woodward, the minister for creative industries and tourism, told a conference on Tuesday that the UK had nearly lost
its battle to change the Television Without Frontiers (TVWF) directive, now renamed the Audiovisual Media Services (AVMS) directive.
Woodward went on to plead with the media industry to help him in the continuing fight against the directive, saying that it had not done enough to combat what he said was a measure which would have damaged [the creative] industry beyond
The original purpose of the directive was to create a "level playing-field" across Europe for audiovisual services, whether on television or online. In effect, however, this meant that each country would have had to regulate all
audiovisual online content put up in that country, with little distinction being made between, for example, what a television station put on normal TV screens and what it put online.
In November a European Council vote was held that forced a rephrasing of the directive, itself soon to be renamed. The latest draft of what is now the AVMS directive, published last week, makes a much clearer distinction between
"linear" (ie scheduled, as on television) and "non-linear" (ie on-demand) content — a modification designed to exempt services such as YouTube from the regulation.
Critics are still unhappy with the wording of the directive, however, which some say remains open to interpretation.
Woodward maintained that a self-regulatory approach, with occasional requests that inappropriate or illegal content be removed, was the way to go: The industry in the UK has been achieving spectacular growth in new media… without the need for
state controls, Woodward added, while repeating his claim that imposing regulation on the new media industry would only drive production outside EU jurisdiction while failing to protect consumers from accessing "bad" content.
Tim Suter, the Ofcom partner responsible for content and standards, agreed that self-regulation was desirable, and suggested that an organisation for online media, along the lines of the Press Complaints Commission, might be the best option.
Describing the AVMS directive as "wrongheaded", he said the best way to protect audiences from inappropriate content was to educate them.
Entertainment giant Viacom is to provide TV programmes and films to much-hyped online video service Joost. The deal includes programming from MTV Networks, BET Networks and film studio Paramount Pictures.
Joost was founded by Niklas Zennstroem and Janus Friis, the men behind Skype, and is pitching itself as a broadband video network.
The content Joost will receive from Viacom is aimed at a younger demographic, with programmes such as Laguna Beach, Beavis and Butthead, Real World and Punk'd on offer.
BT is to provide Home Box Office programming on its TV service, BT Vision. The agreement will provide BT Vision viewers with award-winning series, mini-series, documentaries and comedy specials not shown in the UK
BT Vision customers will be able to choose whether they wish to pay for shows individually or as part of a monthly subscription package. The programming line-up will be available from May and will be updated on a weekly basis. Over time the
library will build to include, on demand, all episodes of series such as The Sopranos , Six Feet Under , Entourage and Curb Your Enthusiasm .
TV shows like Doctor Who are expected to be temporarily available for download later this year after the BBC Trust gave initial approval to the BBC's on-demand plans. Full approval of the on-demand plans will
follow a two-month consultation until May 2nd 2007.
Under the proposals, viewers will be able to watch popular programmes online or download them to a home computer up to a week after they are broadcast.
But the trust imposed tough conditions on classical music, which could stop a repeat of the BBC's Beethoven podcasts.
The BBC will be able to launch its long-awaited iPlayer, a computer application which allows audiences to watch or download any programme from the last seven days. A programme will remain playable for 30 days after being downloaded or seven days
after being watched.
The BBC Trust, an independent body that replaced the corporation's governors at the beginning of 2007, said the on-demand plans, which also cover cable TV, were likely to deliver significant public value.
But it agreed with broadcasting watchdog Ofcom, which said earlier this month that the iPlayer could have a "negative effect" on commercial rivals. As a result, the trust has imposed several conditions on the BBC. It wants the
corporation to scale back plans to let downloaded "catch-up" episodes remain on users' hard drives for 13 weeks, suggesting that 30 days is enough.
Some shows will be able to remain on a viewer's computer beyond the standard seven-day window using a feature called series stacking. Every episode of a "stacked" series would be made available until a week after transmission of the
Trustees said the BBC needed to be clearer about which programmes would be offered on this service - but suggested "landmark" series "with a beginning and end", like Planet Earth or Doctor Who, should be eligible.
The trust also asked the BBC to explore ways of introducing parental controls to its on-demand services, as it is worried at the heightened risk of children being exposed to post-watershed material.
Podcasts also came under scrutiny, with the Trust recommending that audio books and classical music be excluded from the BBC's download services. There is a potential negative market impact if the BBC allows listeners to build an extensive
library of classical music that will serve as a close substitute for commercially available downloads or CDs, it said.
In a blow to Microsoft, the Trust also insists the service be platform agnostic. As proposed by the BBC, the service would have relied on Microsoft's digital rights management framework. The Trust requires the BBC
to adopt a platform-agnostic approach within "a reasonable timeframe" to enable users of other platforms such Apple and Linux to access the on-demand services.
An EU bid to make internet broadcasters subject to the same laws as traditional television is "seriously misguided", a House of Lords committee has said.
Proposals risk damaging the new media industry, pushing broadcasters to set up outside Europe, the committee said.
The committee was discussing European Commission plans to update the 1989 TV without Frontiers EU directive. The Audiovisual Media Services Directive aims to reflect huge changes in broadcasting in recent years.
It has proved controversial as the EU attempts to increase regulation of video content on the internet, and create a "level playing field" between traditional TV-based and online broadcasts. The EC argues that new broadcasters are
effectively competing for viewers and advertising and should be subject to the same rules.
But the all-party Lords European Union Committee rejected this, saying it was not the role of regulation to protect established broadcasters from new competition operating under different business models.
Committee chairman Lord Freeman said: We believe that this attempt was seriously misguided and any future efforts to do the same would be in grave error. Such an attempt risks damaging the new media industry, which is a vibrant and important
sector of the UK's economy.
The committee said enforcing the new directive would be difficult, as the pace of change in new media was so quick the definition of services covered may not offer enough legal certainty.
There was also particular concern about attempts to water down the "country of origin principle", which allows broadcasters to offer pan-European services, while complying with the laws of the country they are based in.
Lord Freeman added: Most of our concerns on the proposed directive rest on whether the country of origin principle, which we see as essential to the proper operation of single market legislation, will be maintained. We are firmly convinced
that it should be.
The BBC's plans to offer all its TV and radio shows on-demand via the internet and cable TV have been criticised by Ofcom.
Ofcom said that certain aspects of the BBC's on-demand service, which is due to start later this year, could have a "negative effect" on commercial rivals.
It added that while the BBC's plans would boost interest in rival services, it would likely limit their investment. Ofcom said such an outcome would not be in the long-term public interest.
Under the BBC's proposals, viewers would be able to watch any BBC programme from the previous seven days via the internet, using a tool called iPlayer, or through NTL-Telewest's cable television service at a time of their choosing.
Ofcom estimates that the BBC's on-demand service could account for almost four billion viewer and listener hours by 2011. In addition to limiting investment by commercial rivals, Ofcom said it was also concerned about the impact on related
markets such as DVD rentals and sales. For this reason it has recommended that the BBC's on-demand service reduces from 13 weeks the planned amount of time that users could keep downloaded programmes.
From Strictly Broadband posting on the Beer and Bollocks webmasters forum Also see notes from NOC Meeting on a similar subject
I had a meeting with the BBFC last week to discuss their plans, and get their views on where the law is going. Note that the BBFC don't set the law, but they need to interpret it. Below are the points that came out of the meeting,
most of them known already to some degree. A follow-up meeting will be held next week to look in more detail at how they intend to enforce the use of their online certificates specifically for streaming content.
The BBFC will shortly (well before the end of this year) be introducing a VoD certificate. This will be issued free of charge to companies that submit content for distribution on DVD/video. It will cover downloads for sure, and
possibly streaming. The certificate will allow companies to display BBFC certificate logos on their web sites.
For companies that do not certificate for the time being, the BBFC will soon be publishing a set of guidelines for adult web companies laying out in more details what they do/don't consider legal content. I see this as a good
step forward, as it will allow adult webmasters a clearer view of what may be likely to get them prosecuted under the OPA.
Certification will for now be voluntary for online use.
Online certificates will have three parts:
1. A visible logo to display online
2. A video "card" to put at the start of a certificated video
3. A paper certificate to file away
The BBFC will be making content submission possible online - currently you need to submit on physical media.
By 2010, the UK will have to sign up to the EU's Television Without Frontiers framework - this means that laws will be introduced to regulate online content - my interpretation of this is that within a couple of years, all adult
content online will fall within regulation.
The BBFC expect that their certification of online content will be a key part in enforcing the new legislation.
People within the BBFC scheme will be fairly well protected from prosecution - those outside the scheme have no protection.
In the longer term, the BBFC are investigating content labelling schemes, especially for adult material - this will be technically similar to existing ICRA content labelling.
The timescales are fluid, but will be forced by the implementation of the EU legislation.
I raised the specific issue of watersports; many webmasters are unaware that this is illegal in the UK. the BBFC have no role in deciding what is classed as obscene, they are simply guided by the police. I was informed that the
police have made prosecutions of web sites for this content - the problem being that webmasters tend to plead guilty to avoid a prison sentence, and so the guideline hasn't been challenged in court.