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10th December   

Artificial Premiere...

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Arthouse premiere on demand at the same time as at the cinema
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artificial eye logo The movie premiere of a new BBC-backed film about the Iraq war will be made available on video-on-demand at the same time as it opens on the big screen.

In Our Name is one of two films being used by Curzon Artificial Eye (CAE), owner of the Curzon arthouse cinema chain, to launch its new on-demand service which it hopes will boost audiences and help tackle digital piracy. The film will be streamed in high definition-quality picture and sound for people to watch on their television, computer or mobile phone.

The Cannes film festival winner Tournée (On Tour) will also be released in the same way.

Available to watch for £8 a film (7 days rental, not to own) which compares with the peak-time cinema ticket at London's Curzon Soho, currently £12.50.

Philip Knatchbull, chief executive of CAE said the simultaneous release would help exploit word-of-mouth and critics' reviews that are generated by a cinema release. It will also expand the reach of the arthouse, independent and world cinema films, which lose out in multiplexes to big Hollywood blockbusters. A typical arthouse release only goes to between 50 and 100 screens across the country, added Knatchbull.

CAE initially plans to release around 10 films a year as part of its on-demand initiative, which has been partly funded by the European Union's Media Programme, which aims to strengthen the competitiveness of the European audiovisual industry. Around 100 films from its archive will also be made available on demand, priced £4 each.

 

9th December   

Censorship on Demand...

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Internet TV censor has a low key start
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ATVOD logo A new Internet TV censor for video-on-demand services has secured a budget of £400,000 a year and is recruiting a fourth member of staff - despite handling just four complaints in two months.

The Authority for Television on Demand (ATVOD) took over regulation of services such as the ITV Player and Channel 4's 4oD on September 20.

It has a full-time chief executive and two-part time employees, and has advertised for another full-time Policy and Investigations Officer. ATVOD also has a nine-member board, including representatives of BT, Channel 5 and BSkyB. It charges companies providing video on demand services £2,900 a year to cover its costs.

Peter Johnson, ATVOD's chief executive, confirmed this week that it had only received four complaints from members of the public since taking on its regulatory role two months ago: The success of a regulator shouldn't be measured by the number of complaints it handles . If regulation is working perfectly, the industry will be fully compliant.

But Daniel Cass, chief executive of Six TV, a company set up to provide local TV services, said that ATVOD is the worst sort of quango : ATVOD provides low quality regulation at a high cost to industry . It does nothing which Ofcom could not do better and cheaper. If ATVOD were abolished tomorrow nobody would notice any difference.

 

8th December   

Walled Garden or Window Box?...

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Virgin Media have a vision for a very restrictive Internet TV
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virgin media logo Virgin Media have unveiled a product which claims to be ahead of the game, a set-top box which it describes as the UK's first next-generation entertainment platform . Virgin is using TiVo, which pioneered digital television recording, to power a service which it claims will bring together TV, on-demand and the web in one box.

Users will now be able to do all the things they can already do on any personal video recorder, plus get access to over 4,000 hours of on-demand content - mostly the last week's programmes from the main channels - and a variety of web applications. Most of the television content will still arrive via the Virgin network, but a 10Mbps modem in the box will make sure those apps, which provide access to YouTube and to social networks, run smoothly. That 10mbps will in effect be a separate restricted connection to the web, and customers will continue to use their standard internet connection for general surfing.

What you won't get from Virgin's version of web TV is any real feeling of being on the web. This is very much a walled garden approach - you don't get a browser, and Virgin Media decides which apps you can have, from a very limited menu at the moment.

You can't plug your laptop into our box, said Cindy Rose firmly. There's no access to the open internet . It's a big contrast to what the likes of Google TV and YouView are promising viewers, but she believes this will be a selling point .

I asked whether companies like the movie subscription service Lovefilm would be allowed onto the TiVo box - and was told that might be possible if a deal could be done. But the walled garden approach means Virgin has the final say on what its customers can do - so if it decides it would rather they could only choose the in-house movies, that's what will happen.

So what we're seeing is two different philosophies about internet connected televsion. Platforms like Google TV - and to a lesser extent YouView - believe that the viewer wants the freedom to pull all sorts of content from the web onto the big screen. Virgin Media thinks viewers want a little more connectivity but would still prefer to sit back and let someone else manage the shape of their viewing experience.

 

14th November   

Nutters on Demand...

Mediawatch-UK suggest paid for PINs to keep children at bay from post-watershed internet TV
Link Here

wesminster media forum logo The Westminster Media Forum is an opportunity for policy makers and government agencies to meet with key players in the media industry, academics and interest groups. The subject under discussion at the most recent event was video on demand, catch-up and online TV.

The Director of Mediawatch-UK was a panellist and she spoke about our concern that children are easily able to access post-watershed content on broadcasters' VOD sites and called for greater protection from potentially harmful material. It is bizarre that broadcasters are, quite rightly, unable to broadcast certain material on air until after the watershed but are quite free to broadcast the same material over the internet at any time without there being adequate protection mechanisms in place.

One of the suggestions she made was that post-watershed material should only be available to viewers who had been subject to a more rigorous age-verification check than the current tick box system on offer. She suggested a PIN number which could be provided by the viewer's internet service provider, telephone company or the TV licensing body each of which need to paid for, in the vast majority of cases, by an adult.

Much discussion then ensued on the financial cost to the industry of such a system. Unsurprisingly, there appeared to be little appetite from the industry to incur costs on a system of this kind.

 

5th November   

Shared Concerns...

YouTube remove Anwar al-Awlaki videos after they are linked with Yemen bombs and attempted murder of British MP
Link Here

YouTube logo Under pressure from American and British officials, YouTube have removed from its site some of the hundreds of videos featuring calls to jihad by Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born, Yemen-based cleric who has played an increasingly public role in inspiring violence directed at the West.

Last week, a British official pressed for the videos to be removed and a New York congressman, Anthony Weiner, sent YouTube a letter listing hundreds of videos featuring the cleric. The requests took on greater urgency after two powerful bombs hidden in cargo planes were intercepted en route from Yemen to Chicago on Friday, with the prime suspect being the Yemen-based group Awlaki is affiliated with, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

In an e-mail, Victoria Grand, a YouTube spokeswoman, said that the site had removed videos that violated the site's guidelines prohibiting dangerous or illegal activities such as bomb-making, hate speech, and incitement to commit violent acts, or came from accounts registered by a member of a designated foreign terrorist organization, or used to promote such a group's interests.

Grand said that Google, YouTube's owner, sought to balance freedom of expression with averting calls to violence. These are difficult issues, she wrote, and material that is brought to our attention is reviewed carefully. We will continue to remove all content that incites violence according to our policies. Material of a purely religious nature will remain on the site.

Britain's concern over Awlaki and his group rose sharply with two developments. A young woman who had embraced his cause and watched dozens of hours of his videos was sentenced to life in prison for the attempted murder in May of a prominent legislator, and a top official in the government of Prime Minister David Cameron announced that a member of the Yemeni Qaeda group had been arrested earlier in the year in a previously undisclosed bombing plot against the country.

 

20th October   

YouView, WeControl...

YouView get the go-ahead from Ofcom
Link Here

youview 1 logo Ofcom has effectively given the green light to a controversial video-on-demand service backed by the BBC after declining to launch a competition investigation.

The YouView service previously codenamed Project Canvas is now due to launch by March next year.

The platform will allow users to stream on demand content from a number of providers from a single set-top box. It is backed by the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Five, BT, TalkTalk, Orange and Arqiva and will allow providers to stream pay-as-you-go as well as free to air content.

However, competitors including Virgin Media and BSkyB have raised concerns it could distort competition in the increasingly important content on demand market.

Ofcom acknowledged there could be competition concerns in the future but said it was unable to launch an investigation until it had time to assess the impact YouView has on the emerging sector. Ofcom chief executive, Ed Richards, said: An investigation would be premature at the current stage of YouView's development given the absence of a clear risk of consumer harm. But if evidence does emerge in the future that YouView causes harm to the interests of viewers and consumers we may reconsider whether to investigate.

Virgin Media branded the decision perplexing and may appeal.

YouView is a joint venture between media giants including BT, TalkTalk and ITV. It will offer video streamed over users' broadband connections through a set-top box. Broadcasters will be able to offer pay per view.

Update: Delayed

13th February 2011. See  article from  pocket-lint.com

New video-on-demand platform YouView has been delayed until next year, according to one of Pocket-lint's trusted sources. It was previously reported that the service, formerly called Project Canvas, had been pushed back to summertime, but we now understand that it is unlikely to surface until at least February 2012.

 

18th October   

Nudity on YouTube...

YouTube now allows artistic nudity
Link Here

amy greenfield video Earlier this year ncacblog reported on YouTube's removal and subsequent restoration of videos by dance-artist Amy Greenfield.

At that point NCAC voiced serious concerns about the lack of an appeals process for individuals who believe that their work has been unfairly removed from the site as well as the absence of art in the list of exceptions to the YouTube community guidelines banning nudity.

NCAC are now pleased to report that, in response to NCAC's and EFF's jointly voiced concerns, YouTube now has instituted an appeals process and has changed their community guidelines to include artistic purpose as justifying an exception to their no nudity requirement.

To provide YouTube reviewers with enough information so that they can make an informed decision when reviewing flagged work, YouTube advises its users to add as much 'artistic' context as possible when posting videos.

NCAC applaud the company's responsiveness to the interests of the wide and diverse community of people who use YouTube to access art work. We are also impressed that the company has so promptly acted to protect free speech.

 

6th October   

Cops on Camera...

Judge dismisses trumped up charges over YouTube video of police
Link Here

motorcycle pulled over video Maryland state police were wrong to arrest and charge a man for taping his own traffic stop and posting it on YouTube, a judge ruled earlier this week.

Motorcyclist Anthony Graber was charged with illegal wiretapping for recording plainclothes state trooper J.D. Uhler jumping from his unmarked sedan and drawing his gun -- and waiting a good five seconds before identifying himself as a police officer. The tape was shot with a conspicuous, helmet-mounted camera that captured the video and audio of the confrontation.

On Monday, a Maryland state judge stated in no uncertain terms that the felony charge never should have been filed.

Those of us who are public officials and are entrusted with the power of the state are ultimately accountable to the public, Circuit Court Judge Emory A. Plitt Jr. wrote. When we exercise that power in a public forum, we should not expect our activity to be shielded from public scrutiny.

Under such circumstances, I cannot, by any stretch, conclude that the troopers had any reasonable expectation of privacy in their conversation with the defendant which society would be prepared to recognize as reasonable.

After he posted the video on YouTube, police raided his home, hauled away his computers and the state's attorney charged him under a law that went onto the books before cell phones even existed.

 

26th September   

Google Pragmatics...

Spanish court confirms the legal model that copyright owners must identify infringements on user generated content websites
Link Here

telecinco tv logoA Madrid court has thrown out copyright infringement charges brought against Google's YouTube by Spanish TV station Telecinco.

The court dismissed charges and found it the responsibility of copyright owners to guard their own intellectual property and inform Google when it is infringing copyright.

The judgement, translated by AFP, said it was impossible to control all the videos that are made available to users, as there are in fact more than 500 million. YouTube is not a supplier of content and therefore has no obligation to control ex-ante the illegality of those.

YouTube's chief European spin doctor said in a blog post that it was a big win for the internet . He said the court noted that YouTube offers content owners tools to remove copyright infringing content and this means that it is the responsibility of the copyright owner not YouTube to identify and tell YouTube when infringing content is on its website. This decision reaffirms European law which recognizes that content owners (not service providers like YouTube) are in the best position to know whether a specific work is authorised to be on an Internet hosting service...

 

22nd September   

New Censors Now On Demand...

ATVOD now the point of contact for Video on Demand complaints
Link Here

ATVOD logo Ofcom has officially handed responsibility for overseeing all video on-demand complaints to its co-censor, the Association For Television On-Demand (ATVOD).

ATVOD, which took over promised light touch regulation duties from Ofcom in March, will now respond to any complaints relating to editorial content on UK-based VOD services.

Ofcom has tasked the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) with handling all advertising related issues, while ATVOD will deal with all matters pertaining to consumer protection standards and guidelines for taste, decency and sponsorship requirements.

Ruth Evans, former deputy chair of Ofcom's consumer panel, currently acts as ATVOD's independent chair on a five-strong board that includes former Channel 4 News editor Sara Nathan, Advertising Association chief executive Tim Lefroy, ASA Council member Nigel Walmsley and broadcasting censorship specialist Ian McBride.

Sky's Daniel Austin, BT's Simon Milner, Virgin Media's Simon Hunt and Five's Chris Loweth will provide the ATVOD board with an industry perspective.

The organisation has further hired Pete Johnson as its chief executive, after he previously managed VOD and censorship policy for the BBFC.

The material to be regulated, though, does not include all internet video. The rules apply only to television-like services delivered on demand, not to user-generated videos such as those that appear on YouTube.

Material qualifies for regulation if it is similar in form and content to television programmes; if it has a person who is editorially responsible for it; is based in the UK; and is available on an on-demand basis.

The material that does fall under ATVOD's regulation must conform to some of the standards expected of broadcast television. It must not incite racial hatred; harm under-18s; or break rules on sponsorship or product placement, ATVOD's rules say.

 

19th September   

YouView...We Control...

Project Canvas becomes YouView
Link Here

youview logoA new free-to-air, web-connected TV service combining Freeview digital channels with on-demand content such as iPlayer will launch in the UK in 2011.

YouView - formerly known as Project Canvas - is a partnership between BT, the BBC, ITV, Five, Channel 4, Arqiva and TalkTalk.

Users will access it via a set-top box, which will go on sale next year. The set-top boxes will be sold either on a stand-alone basis, or as part of a package provided by internet service providers. [And later, built into TVs]

However, both the price and set-top box manufacturer has yet to be decided.

The principle behind YouView is that it should make it easier for viewers to catch up with programmes from the BBC iPlayer, ITV.com and 4OD on their TV set, rather than on a laptop, desktop, or smartphone. The service will enable viewers to watch programmes up to seven days after broadcast, along with the ability to search programmes by type, such as films, sport and documentaries.

However, the project has come in from criticism from several quarters. Sky's director of corporate affairs, Graham McWilliam, has called it nothing short of BBC mission creep while Virgin Media lodged a complaint with media regulator Ofcom in August saying it was anti-competitive and could destroy the online TV market. The issue being that YouView will be able to control which channels are to be included in the line up.

 

27th August   

Jerk Choices...

Google suddenly restrict Sex Party campaign advert to adults only
Link Here

jerk choices video The Australian Sex Party is up in arms over what it claims as censorship from Google. The company reclassified the party's lampoon advertisement Jerk Choices as Adult Only content in spite the fact that it has already aired on primetime on free to air television.

The campaign, which is meant to highlight wowsers in Australian society, had already appeared on shows such as The 7pm Project and Gruen Nation .

Fiona Patten, the Sex Party's president, says that the advertisement, which had been considered suitable for general release, was suddenly reclassified as Adults Only two days before the election. Patten says that the change hurt the campaign's viewing numbers.

The reclassification was said to have taken the ad out of circulation when advertising for the elections was at its heaviest. Google did not give the party any warning about the reclassification. It also did not tell the political party what measures it can take to have the original rating reinstated.

 

14th August   

Newport State of Mind...

Popular spoof Jay-Z video taken down by EMI
Link Here

ymerodraeth state of mind video The hit internet spoof video Newport State Of Mind which parodies Jay-Z has been removed from YouTube due to a copyright claim by killjoys at EMI Publishing.

The clip had been viewed hundreds of thousands of times since last month.

The video, which parodies Jay-Z and Alicia Keys' Empire State Of Mind using the backdrop of the south Wales city, was directed by filmmaker M-J Delaney. Made for less than 100, it also featured rapper Alex Warren and singer Terema Wainwright.

Whilst viewers are blocked from seeing it on YouTube the video is still available on other websites.

 

2nd August   

Censors on Demand...

ASA appointed to censor advertising on Video on Demand
Link Here

ASA logoFrom 1 September 2010, the way the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) regulates advertising on TV-like video-on-demand (VOD) services will be changing. The ASA has been designated by Ofcom as the co-regulator for advertising appearing on VOD services.

A new Appendix has been included in the British Code of Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing (the CAP Code), which will apply to aspects of advertisements on VOD services that are subject to statutory regulation. This Appendix contains rules reflecting the new statutory requirements.

The Appendix doesn't introduce new requirements for VOD advertising: VOD providers are already required, under law, to comply with them and the Appendix doesn't go beyond the rules that are already in the CAP Code. Adding these requirements to an Appendix of the CAP Code means that the ASA can take action on suspected breaches against the VOD service provider and without the need to refer to Ofcom for legal action.

In practice, very little has changed: advertisements on ATVOD-regulated VOD services are already subject to these requirements under the law and the ASA already considers complaints about VOD advertisements under the CAP Code.

What has changed is that the ASA is now able to consider all aspects of VOD advertising, whether the relevant rules derive from the self-regulatory CAP Code or from the law. Previously, the ASA referred complaints that might fall under the law to Ofcom. This change will make it easier for viewers, who can be confident that the ASA is the right body to deal with complaints about advertising in all media, regardless of the underlying legal framework. [except babe channels with remain under the censorship of Ofcom!]

 

4th July   

Update: Distorted, Silenced or Beeped?...

Glastonbury on iPlayer
Link Here

Glastonbury Disc DVD Julien Temple I have been listening to some of the BBC Glastonbury recordings on iPlayer.

Last year, the BBC's swear word lyric solution was to apply some weird kind of filter, presumably in an attempt to remove the swear word without you noticing, but in practice it resulted in some horrid distortion, that left you thinking it was a flaw in the performance or production, and only after a while did I realise it was intentionally added by the BBC due to swear words.

This year they've gone for the classic of turning the sound down altogether. It's as if John Beyer himself is controlling your volume knob for you, so you don't hear anything he doesn't want you to hear.

Bring back the bleep I say - at least it's honest. Everyone knows it's being bleeped because someone else might be offended.

 

28th June   

Dancing with Spirits...

'Outrage' at striptease on Ayers Rock
Link Here

alizee sery on ayers rock video A French dancer has caused 'outrage' among Australia's Aboriginal people for performing a strip show on the top of Ayers Rock, which they regard as sacred territory .

Alizee Sery stripped down and put on an exotic show for a friend with a video camera on the top of the rock - which the Aborigines call Uluru - and posted it on YouTube.

Aborigine John Scrutton, who lives in the Northern Territory city of Darwin, described people who show no respect to the rock as evil . Aboriginal lore and law should be brought into effect - not all of us blackfellas are living in the dirt in humpys (a crude traditional dwelling).

What Miss Sery had done, he said, was the equivalent of someone defecating on the steps of the Vatican.

 

28th June   

Canvas Stitched Up...

BBC Internet TV set top box to restrict access and content
Link Here

canvas logoThe BBC Trust, has approved the BBC set top box Project Canvas with certain conditions.

UK broadcasters are collaborating on a common set top box, with IPTV and web built-in.

The Canvas project copyrights vital parts of the technical specification, which can't be seen except under NDA. Effectively this hardwires the content into the silicon: like buying an FM radio in Singapore and finding it only plays Singapore-approved content when you get home.

The Trust makes four conditions for the BBC's continuing supports - and demands that these be enshrined in the objects and shareholders' agreement . The conditions are:

  • The joint venture may develop ways in which to recover operational costs but, for the avoidance of doubt, any such activity will be charged to third parties on a cost recovery basis only.
  • Entry controls in terms of technical and content standards will be minimal.
  • Access will not be bundled with other products or services.
  • Listing on the electronic programme guide and UI will be awarded in a fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory manner.

OpenIPTV specs are by contrast, well, open and global. But basing a Canvas box on truly open standards may have opened up the market much wider. We can't be having that - UK viewers must be protected by having a UK-only device serving up nice, UK-approved content in a UK-approved manner. If it stays a UK-only platform and means fewer devices get made, so there's less competition and higher prices, well, that's too bad.

 

21st June   

Update: Price on Demand...

Internet TV censor sets fixed fee for all participating websites
Link Here

ATVOD logo The Association for Television on Demand (ATVOD) has imposed an annual fee on all video on-demand providers, but critics remain concerned that small-scale operators could be unfairly penalised under the scheme.

ATVOD, which took over VOD regulation duties from Ofcom in March, yesterday announced that a flat-rate fee of £2,900 will be imposed on the services of all notified VOD providers in the UK.

The fee is being introduced so that ATVOD can be adequately funded to carry out its regulatory activities .

Last month, the United For Local Television (ULTV) group expressed concern that the approach could penalise small-scale VOD players unable to afford an annual fee.

Taking into account the concerns, ATVOD acknowledged that there could be some (as yet unidentified) small-scale providers of actual or prospective ODPS [on-demand programme services] services who might find a fee of £2,900 prohibitive, and that such a fee would therefore not be justifiable or proportionate in relation to them . ATVOD has therefore invited small-scale VOD providers, most likely local and community groups, to contact the regulator if they will have genuine difficulties in being able to pay the fee. All such providers must write directly to Ofcom before July 15.

 

19th June   

Projector.tv...

Streaming internet in the UK
Link Here

projector tv logoProjector.tv, the newest internet movie service, is in talks with local distributors Icon and Artificial Eye. It has already licensed 43 films from Metrodome for its video-on-demand business. London-based Projector also claims to be the first internet VOD service to be screening films during a major film festival.

The Edinburgh International Film Festival has signed a deal with Projector to show 10 features during the festival. Viewers at home will be able to pay £6.99 ($10.49) to watch films during the June 16-27 event. The titles though are pretty obscure, including Chinese film Fog and documentaries Girl With Black Balloons and Superhero Me .

Lovefilm, the UK equivalent of US Netflix, is the dominant internet movie service over here. It has 1.4 million subscribers all of whom have access to streamed movies as part of their membership -- making it the third-largest subscription movie service after Sky and Virgin Media. There are 5,000 titles available to watch over the internet, compared to 60,000 on DVD. Lovefilm hopes to double the number of streamed titles to 10,000 available by Christmas.

FilmOn is another London-based internet VOD service, run by colourful Greek Coca-Cola magnate Alki David. FilmOn also has a sister porn site, the charmingly-titled FilthOn.

 

23rd May   

Searching for Something to Watch...

Internet TV based on Google search and Chrome browser
Link Here

Google logoGoogle has unveiled its long-rumoured new service for enabling viewers to browse the web while watching TV.

The new Google TV platform will combine the TV that you already know with the freedom and power of the internet .

Using the Android operating system, Google TV-enabled sets will allow viewers to search content on the web and download applications via an on-screen Google Chrome browser.

Google TV will be incorporated into television sets and Blu-ray players manufactured by Sony, with the first products due to launch in the US this autumn.

In a statement, Google said: With Google Chrome built in, you can access all of your favourite websites and easily move between television and the web. This opens up your TV from a few hundred channels to millions of channels of entertainment across TV and the web. Your television is also no longer confined to showing just video.

Google further intends to tap into the Android developer community for creating a range of apps specially designed for the TV screen.

 

20th May   

Censors on Demand...

ASA find that trailer for Carriers was not suitable playing with the Video On Demand X Factor final
Link Here

Carriers DVD Chris Pine A video-on-demand (VOD) film trailer for the 15-rated film Carriers , was seen by the complainant before and during the X Factor final on the ITV Player.

The voice-over described life after a virus outbreak and stated The sick are already dead, avoid populated areas at all cost. You come into contact with other people - assume they have it . The ad featured survivors wearing masks and carrying weapons, such as a gun, as well as images of body bags piled up and dead people with decayed skin appearing to come back to life. Issue

The complainant objected that the ad was frightening and inappropriate for display during a family programme, because it had distressed his young children.

ASA Assessment: Complaint upheld

Although we acknowledged that the trailer was representative of the content of the film, we considered that younger children were likely to be frightened by some scenes in the ad, and in particular the scene in which the dead decaying body appeared to come back to life. We noted that children had seen the ad on the ITV Player. We noted that if a VOD programme contained adult themes, ITV had safeguards in place to ensure that it could only be accessed if the viewer was over 18 and, in those cases, an on-screen notice warning of the adult content also appeared prior to the start of the programme. However, we understood that X Factor itself on the ITV Player was not protected by a restricted content warning, nor was there any warning about the scenes in the trailer.

Because we considered that some scenes in the ad were unsuitable for younger children, as they were likely to frighten them, and because adequate steps had not been taken to ensure that the ad was appropriately targeted around suitable programming, when shown on a VOD service, we concluded that the ad was in breach of the Code.

 

2nd May   

Offsite: Sharing Repression...

Tunisia blocks most major video sharing websites
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Tunisia...Blogs and websites banned in Tunisia

flickr logoTunisia is carrying out one of the most massive wave of online censorship targeting major social websites, video-sharing websites, blogs aggregators, blogs, facebook pages and profiles. The most recent victim of this wave is flickr, the popular and one of the best online photo-sharing website, blocked today, April 28th, 2010.

Last week, on April 22, 2010, Tunisia has added 3 more websites to its list of banned video-sharing websites in the country. Blip.tv, metacafe.com and vidoemo.com are not welcome aymore in the country. In early April, 2010, WAT.TV, another social networking and media-sharing website, which is believed to be the 3rd video broadcaster on the Internet in France, has also been blocked.

The targeting of video-sharing websites by Tunisian censors started on September 3rd, 2007, with the ban of Dailymotion, then it was the turn of Youtube to be banned from the country's Internet on November 2nd, 2007.

...Read full article

 

29th April   

Carrot and Stick...

YouTube ban supporting the hype for Redheads and MIA's Born Free
Link Here

born free video Musician M.I.A's video for her new single Born Free has been banned from Youtube.

The controversial video, directed by Romain Gavras, shows American police rounding redheads, and subjecting them to brutal violence.

Critics have suggested the explicit video is a publicity stunt for M.I.A and the director, whose debut feature film Redheads , is based on the same premise.

 

27th March   

Who Pays the Censor?...

Ofcom suggests a fee of £2500 on each VOD provider
Link Here

ATVOD logo UK video-on-demand providers must pay a combined £375,000 to two bodies that will regulate their industry.

The Association for Television On Demand (ATVOD) was last week confirmed by Ofcom to co-regulate, along with it, the VOD sector.

Ofcom says 150 VOD services must pay the fees - but, despite reviewing the sector last year, it has not published a list identifying the companies affected.

Indeed, singling out those services which fall under the joint Ofcom-ATVOD auspice is tricky. The EC directive applies to TV-like services, which it says must not contain any incitement to hatred based on race, sex, religion or nationality ; must provide appropriate protection for minors against harmful material and sponsored programmes and services must comply with applicable sponsorship requirements .

But what TV-like means is open to interpretation, as media continue to converge and innovate. After commissioning research in to the topic, Ofcom says the scope should extent to services that provide access to programmes that compete for the same audience as television broadcasts, and therefore, are comparable to the form and content of programmes included in broadcast television services . Only services that have editorial responsibility over their content are covered.

Specifically, Ofcom says catch-up TV websites and set-top box services, TV archives and movie VOD services [doesn't sound very TV-Like to me!] fall under regulatory scope.

Ofcom has opened a consultation with three options for raising the money:

  • Option A: Charging based on services' revenue, so as not to disadvantage smaller providers.
  • Option B: A mixture of revenue-based fee and a flat £1,000 fee.
  • Option C: A flat £2,500 fee. [Ofcom preferred option]

 

19th March   

ATVOD are the new VOD Censors...

Pete Johnson previously of the BBFC is the Chief Exec
Link Here

ATVOD logo The Association For Television On Demand (ADVOD) has confirmed a series of senior appointments as it takes over video on-demand regulation from Ofcom.

Ofcom has now officially handed over statutory powers to independent body ATVOD for supposedly light touch regulation of online video, including all consumer protection standards and guidelines for taste, decency and sponsorship requirements.

In response, ATVOD has restructured its operation. Former deputy chair of Ofcom's consumer panel Ruth Evans has been appointed to lead the organisation as its new independent chair.

Aside Evans, the five-strong ATVOD board includes former Channel 4 News editor Sara Nathan, Advertising Association chief executive Tim Lefroy, ASA Council member Nigel Walmsley and broadcasting compliance specialist Ian McBride. Sky's Daniel Austin, BT's Simon Milner, Virgin Media's Simon Hunt and Five's Chris Loweth will provide the ATVOD board with an industry perspective.

The organisation has further hired Pete Johnson as its new chief executive, after he previously managed VOD and packaged media regulatory policy for the BBFC.

This is a landmark moment for video on-demand services in the UK which offer programmes that are comparable to those shown on traditional TV channels, said Johnson, who will outline ATVOD's regulatory policy on March 25 at IPTV World Forum: On UK services, children will be protected from the most extreme content, and for the first time use of product placement and sponsorship will be subject to controls and restrictions.

Recent Ofcom research suggests that there are around 150 operators on the UK market that meet the statutory criteria for providing TV-like VOD services. All providers must now contact ATVOD before April 30 to outline their service propositions, with any firms meeting the criteria required to pay a fee based on the overall cost of regulating the sector . ATVOD said that it will soon launch a six-week consultation with Ofcom into the fee structure, in which all stakeholders will be able to have their say.

 

10th March   

Update: Coming Up to 2 Years...

Turkish newspaper highlights the ongoing YouTube ban
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Turkey...Website blocking insults the Turkish people

milliyet logo The Turkish courts banned YouTube in May 2008, and now a new protest campaign launched by the editorial team of the Milliyet newspaper is drawing attention to how long the country has been prevented from using the website.

The initiative, which was was launched on February 19, is not the first campaign of this type. But it's notable because previous protests came from the blogosphere and, as a result, did not receive international coverage. The current ban is the fourth such action by the Turkish courts since 2007; hopefully, this campaign will draw attention to this policy of censorship.

The editors of Milliyet were inspired to act by a February 16 piece in the Wall Street Journal by David Keyes, a founding member of Cyberdissidents.org. Keyes wrote that there is nothing European, let alone cultural, about prohibiting citizens from viewing YouTube. Turkey's status as the 2010 European 'Capital of Culture' should be suspended until this ban is repealed.

In announcing the protest campaign, Milliyet columnist Mehves, Emin said: Everybody has changed their DNS settings and can access YouTube, just like the Prime Minister does and has said he does. This is why people have become insensitive about this ban. But YouTube is still blocked in Turkey and this affects Turkey's image negatively and this issue needs to be resolved. So as the editorial team of Milliyet Cadde, we agreed to show everyday how many days have passed since the ban.

 

25th February   

Update: Justice Gives Way to Victim Advocacy...

Google execs sentenced for bullying video posted on YouTube
Link Here  full story: Google on Trial...Google sued for YouTube bullying video

YouTube logoThree Google executives were convicted in Italy of allowing film of an autistic schoolboy being bullied to be posted online in a ruling that could profoundly change the way in which video clips are put on the internet.

The three Google executives David Drummond, senior vice-president and chief legal officer, George Reyes, Google's former chief financial officer, and Peter Fleischer, global privacy counsel were each given a six-month suspended prison sentence, but were cleared of defamation charges. A fourth defendant, Arvind Desikan, senior product marketing manager, was acquitted.

Alfredo Robledo, the prosecutor, said that he was very satisfied with the verdict in the case, adding: Protection of human beings must prevail over business logic. Robledo said that the video, which was posted on September 8, 2006, had remained online until November 7 and should have been taken down immediately.

Google said that it would appeal against the ruling. The American company said that the decision attacked the principles of freedom on which the internet is built. Bill Echikson, a Google spokesman, said: It's the first time a Google employee has been convicted for [violation of] privacy anywhere in the world. It's an astonishing decision that attacks the principle of freedom of expression.

Italian bloggers also criticised the verdict, with one blogger on the La Stampa website declaring: From today we are less Western and more Chinese.

Matt Sucherman, vice-president of Google and its deputy general counsel for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, conceded that the video was totally reprehensible , but said that Google had taken it down within hours of being notified of it by Italian police and that none of those convicted had had anything to do with it. He said: They did not appear in it, film it, upload it or review it. None of them know the people involved or were even aware of the video's existence until after it was removed.

Sucherman said that the ruling by the judge, Oscar Magi, meant that employees of hosting platforms like Google Video are criminally responsible for content that users upload. If social networks and community bulletin boards were held responsible for vetting every single piece of content that is uploaded to them every piece of text, every photo, every file, every video then the web as we know it will cease to exist and many of the economic, social, political and technological benefits it brings could disappear.

 

20th February   

Shared Concern...

17 year old jailed for 'highly disturbing' racist material
Link Here

Old BaileyA boy from Norfolk who posted highly disturbing white supremacist videos online has been given a two-year conditional discharge.

The boy, 17, who cannot be named for legal reasons, admitted two charges of inciting racial hatred on or before 22 April 2008 at King's Lynn Youth Court.

The boy was 15 when he was arrested for posting videos on YouTube. The Crown Prosecution Service believes he is the youngest person in England and Wales prosecuted for the offence.

The boy also put material on a website he had set up himself, the court heard.

Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) lawyer Viv Goddard said: This is thought to be the first time the CPS has prosecuted someone as young as this defendant for incitement to racial hatred after posting racially-inflammatory material on a social networking site. Young people need to realise that it is not a joke to post hate-filled material on video-sharing websites or sites they set up themselves. The material in this case was not just offensive but highly disturbing in its violence and imagery.

Viewers to his site had to agree to statements before they were allowed access, the lawyer said. These statements included I do swear and verify that I am of the white race and I am not or have never been a follower of the Jewish religion . The boy also stipulated that viewers believe in the segregation of the races and have never engaged in an inter-racial relationship .

 

18th February   

SeeSaw...

BBC combines with Channel 4 and Five for internet TV service
Link Here

SeeSaw logoA new online TV service was launched yesterday which brings together shows from the BBC, Channel 4 and Five on a single site.

SeeSaw went live with more than 3,000 hours of content including The Apprentice, Shameless and Neighbours .

The service is currently free, but SeeSaw is planning to introduce a pay model.

The service is only available to viewers in the UK.

 

12th February   

Is It Safe?...

YouTube adds safety mode to filter searches
Link Here

Is It Safe? YouTube have added a Safety Mode feature to the video-sharing site that allows users to screen out potentially objectionable content.

We know that some of you want a more controlled experience, Jamie Davidson, an associate product manager at Google-owned YouTube, said in a blog post: That's why we're announcing Safety Mode, an opt-in setting that helps screen out potentially objectionable content that you may prefer not to see or don't want others in your family to stumble across while enjoying YouTube.

Activating Safety Mode will not return any results for a search using the keyword naked or sex, for example.

Safety Mode can be turned on or off through a link at the bottom of the YouTube page.

 

11th February   

Update: Conroy Down the U Tube...

Google refuses to censor Australia's wide range of banned YouTube videos
Link Here

YouTube logoGoogle says it will not voluntarily comply with the government's request that it censor YouTube videos in accordance with broad refused classification (RC) content rules.

As it prepares to introduce legislation within weeks forcing ISPs to block a blacklist of banned RC websites, the government says it is in talks with Google over blocking the same type of material from YouTube.

YouTube's rules already forbid certain videos that would be classified RC, such as sex, violence, bestiality and child pornography. But the RC classification extends further to more controversial content such as information on euthanasia, material about safer drug use and material on how to commit more minor crimes such as painting graffiti.

Google said all of these topics were featured in videos on YouTube and it refused to censor these voluntarily. It said exposing these topics to public debate was vital for democracy.

In an interview with the ABC's Hungry Beast, which aired last night, Conroy said applying ISP filters to high-traffic sites such as YouTube would slow down the internet, so we're currently in discussions with Google about ... how we can work this through . What we're saying is, well in Australia, these are our laws and we'd like you to apply our laws, Conroy said: Google at the moment filters an enormous amount of material on behalf of the Chinese government; they filter an enormous amount of material on behalf of the Thai government.

Google Australia's head of policy, Iarla Flynn, said the company had a bias in favour of freedom of expression in everything it did and Conroy's comparisons between how Australia and China deal with access to information were not helpful or relevant . YouTube has clear policies about what content is not allowed, for example hate speech and pornography, and we enforce these, but we can't give any assurances that we would voluntarily remove all Refused Classification content from YouTube .

The scope of RC is simply too broad and can raise genuine questions about restrictions on access to information. RC includes the grey realms of material instructing in any crime from [painting] graffiti to politically controversial crimes such as euthanasia, and exposing these topics to public debate is vital for democracy.

 

9th February   

Update: Hands off the Net...

Italian parliamentarians request that the government back off from treating bloggers and YouTube as broadcasters
Link Here

Italy flagItalian lawmakers on committees in the Senate and Chamber of Deputies (upper and lower houses of parliament) have requested sweeping changes in a proposed broadcasting law, particularly in the section governing the internet, which had aroused widespread condemnation.

Deputy Communications Minister Paolo Romani, who was responsible for promoting the broadcasting  law, said the government would take rigorous account of the lawmakers' suggestions.

Blogs with amateur videos, online newspapers, search engines and the online versions of magazines are free, and editorial responsibility does not fall on providers who host content generated by others, Alessio Butti, the government lawmaker who drew up the text approved by the Senate committee, told reporters.

The Chamber and Senate Commissions have proposed significant and positive changes to the draft broadcasting law, Marco Pancini, senior European public policy counsel for Google Italy, said in a prepared statement. Under the original draft of the broadcasting law, which the government says enacts a European Union directive, YouTube risked being treated as a conventional television broadcaster, requiring a special licence from the government and assuming editorial responsibility for all material uploaded to its website.

Paolo Nuti, president of the Association of Italian internet Providers (AIIP), said he welcomed the change of heart expressed by the parliamentary committees but pointed out that their recommendations were not binding on the government.

Bloggers were also quick to welcome the government's apparent U-turn. This is a new U-turn made necessary by the incompetence of the geriatric ward that, unfortunately for us, on both sides of the political spectrum, occupies Italy's seats of power, said Andrea Guida, writing on the blog geekissimo.

 

19th January   

Updated: Hands off the Net...

Italians to require government permission to upload videos to websites
Link Here

Italy flagNew rules to be introduced by government decree will require people who upload videos onto the Internet to obtain authorization from the Communications Ministry similar to that required by television broadcasters, drastically reducing freedom to communicate over the Web, opposition lawmakers have warned.

The decree is ostensibly an enactment of a European Union (EU) directive on product placement and is due to go into effect at the end of January after being subjected to a nonbinding appraisal by parliament.

Opposition lawmakers held a press conference in parliament to denounce the new rules -- which require government authorization for the uploading of videos, give individuals who claim to have been defamed a right of reply and prevent the replay of copyright material -- as a threat to freedom of expression.

The decree subjects the transmission of images on the Web to rules typical of television and requires prior ministerial authorization, with an incredible limitation on the way the Internet currently functions, opposition Democratic Party lawmaker Paolo Gentiloni told the press conference.

Article 4 of the decree specifies that the dissemination over the Internet of moving pictures, whether or not accompanied by sound, requires ministerial authorization. Critics say it will therefore apply to the Web sites of newspapers, to IPTV and to mobile TV, obliging them to take on the same status as television broadcasters.

Italy joins the club of the censors, together with China, Iran and North Korea, said Gentiloni's party colleague Vincenzo Vita.

The decree was also condemned by Articolo 21, an organization dedicated to the defense of freedom of speech as enshrined in article 21 of the Italian constitution. The group said the measures resembled an earlier government attempt to crack down on bloggers by imposing on them the same obligations and responsibilities as newspapers.

The group launched an appeal Friday entitled Hands Off the Net, saying the restrictive measures would mark the end of freedom of expression on the Web. The restrictions would prevent the recounting of the life of the Italians in moving pictures on the Internet, it said.

Update: National strike

19th January 2010. Based on article from variety.com

Google logoGoogle has announced it will counter regulations being drafted by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's government that would police content on Google-owned YouTube.

The Internet measures are contained in a radical package of TV legislation now being pushed through parliament. The sweeping bills are also drawing fire from TV and film industry workers, who have called a national strike today to protest against other aspects of the package, including the elimination of quotas that support local indie productions.

Google's European public policy counsel, Marco Pancini, has requested an urgent meeting with Paolo Romani, the communications undersecretary who drafted the decree designed to give the government control over video content uploaded onto the Internet, similar to the authority it already has over broadcasters.

We are concerned over the fact that Internet service providers, like YouTube, that simply make content available to the general public, are being bundled together with traditional television networks that actually manage content, Pancini told paper La Stampa. It amounts to destroying the entire Internet system.

 

9th January   

Updated: Funky Chicken...

Strangulation induced highs feature in YouTube videos
Link Here

YouTube logoChildren are posting videos on the internet showing them choking other youngsters to the point of collapse, in a craze that doctors warn has led to brain damage and death.

In one, a group of teenagers set out clear guidelines to the practice in an instructional video , while in several others British voices can be heard.

The problem has been increasingly acknowledged in the United States, Canada and France but campaigners warn that Britain is turning a blind eye. The craze is spreading on the internet largely without the knowledge of adults.

This is disturbing, highly dangerous, very risky and the practice should be avoided at all costs, said Professor Steve Field, chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners. The American Centres for Disease Control and Prevention warned recently: Parents, educators and healthcare providers should become familiar with warning signs that youths are playing the choking game.

In Britain, the Department for Children, Schools and Families said it was aware of the activity and was monitoring the situation closely. There is no authoritative research on the issue in the UK, despite campaign groups compiling 86 cases of young people in Britain who may have died this way.

Known by a variety of names from funky chicken to space monkey, the game involves hyperventilating or squeezing the carotid artery in the neck for a few seconds to achieve a high. Constricting the artery cuts blood flow to the brain; when the pressure is released, the resulting rush of oxygen causes the high. Experts say it is most prevalent among high-achieving adolescents who do not want to get in trouble by taking drugs or drink. The practice is different to autoerotic asphyxiation because it is not done for sexual gratification.

In the troubling footage on YouTube, British teenagers can be seen losing consciousness, their eyes rolled back, as they collapse to the ground to the sound of their friends' laughter.

The videos show teenagers applying pressure to the necks of friends. Others try to create the high on their own, using a ligature, with a greater risk of killing themselves if anything goes wrong and help is not at hand.

One American entry on MySpace, to background rap lyrics of spaz if you want to , claims to be an instructional video on the different ways of playing the pass-out game and shows different teenagers collapsing among their friends.

Doctors warn the choking game can lead to seizures, head injuries, strokes, heart failure and brain damage. Parents are warned to look out for unexplainable headaches, bruising round the neck, bloodshot eyes or ear pain.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families said officials were aware of the activity: Through the UK Council for Child Internet Safety, we will continue to work with the internet industry to keep young people safe online, including through reducing the availability of harmful and inappropriate content.

Update: Craze Strangled by YouTube and MySpace

9th January 2009. Based on article from independent.co.uk

Dozens of videos of children deliberately choking each other to the point of collapse have been deleted by two popular websites.

Last night, both YouTube and MySpace confirmed that all the videos breached their terms of use and had been deleted from the websites: We're grateful to The Independent for raising these videos with us. We'd encourage anyone who sees a video that concerns them to report it to our review team straight away, using the 'flag' button found underneath every video, said YouTube.