Internet TV News

 2011

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24th December   

YouView WeCensor...


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YouView internet TV service to launch using BBFC classifications for films
Link Here

YouView logo The BBFC has added TalkTalk to the BBFC.online classification service.

TalkTalk will launch YouView in Spring 2012, and subscribers viewing film content will see the same classification symbols and content information as those the BBFC provides for cinema releases and DVDs. The BBFC's information will make it easier for consumers to make informed decisions about the films they and their families watch.

David Cooke, Director of the BBFC, said We're delighted to add TalkTalk to our BBFC.online service. Parents have told us it's important for them to see the classification symbols they recognise before they stream a film for family consumption. We asked parents for their views and 82% said they would prefer to download films that are classified with the trusted BBFC symbols and Consumer Advice.

Max Alexander, Director of TV at TalkTalk, said It's important that our customers trust the suitability of content they are about to watch and this agreement with the BBFC gives them what they want. Working with the BBFC shows our ongoing commitment to ensure that we help protect our customers across all products and services they use with us.

 

17th December   

Universal Censorship...

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Universal seems to have an agreement with Google to remove any videos it wants from YouTube, and is not limited to those over which it has copyright claims
Link Here

mega upload song video Universal Music Group has suggested it has the power to make YouTube take down any video it wants, even if it doesn't own the content or the copyright, thanks to a secret agreement with Google.

The world's largest record company apparently exercised that power when it ordered the removal of a competitor's star-studded video, as well as a news report about the controversy.  The video features a song and endorsements from a dozen celebrities, including Kim Kardashian, will.i.am, P. Diddy, Kanye West and Chris Brown.

The movie in question is called Megaupload Mega Song , a promotional video created by the Hong Kong-based file-sharing service Mega Upload. Record companies aren't impressed by the service and claim Mega Upload knowingly hosts pirated music and flouts international copyright laws.

For years, Universal has used the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to file take-down notices, requiring websites to remove copyrighted content owned by Universal. But in this case Universal have no rights to the Megaupload video content. The song is original and does not belong to Universal.

So Mega Upload sued the record company, alleging it acted outside the bounds of copyright law.

But Universal responded with a brief saying that their agreement with Google to remove YouTube videos is not limited to copyright claims.

For the moment the video is back on YouTube, but the legal action is continuing.

 

15th November   

Retired TV Life TV Retires...


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Expensive British censorship requirements renders small scale internet TV unviable
Link Here

retired life tvThe Retired Life TV has just been closed down.

The operator of the site, online video pioneer Chris Gosling, says that the Government Video On Demand Regulator ATVOD is too difficult to work with for him to wish to continue.

My main intention with Retired Life was to operate a video site which would help retired people make choices, improve their lives and have fun. It was something which I thought would make an interesting retirement project for myself, and a potentially worthwhile resource for older people, I also thought that, like other projects I've been responsible for, it might make a worthwhile small-scale TV programme for satellite or internet broadcast.

After a three month trial period, I was quite willing to continue it as a personal project even if it didn't generate any income, and cost money from my own pocket, but the immediate hostility I had from ATVOD makes me think that attempting to work with them would be a wasted effort. I don't need the stress of dealing with a Quango which seems to have a serious anti-small business and anti-enterprise standpoint.

ATVOD's main objective, Gosling says, is to be funded by major broadcasters and to work closely with them:

They are keen to work with large organisations to whom a few thousand a year in licensing is petty cash -- but they seem only to want to pay lip-service to working with smaller operators. I, as a one-person enterprise whose total business turnover was less than one-third of the ATVOD chief executive's salary, only blipped on their radar because I believe we should fight to get the best deal for the UK's small business sector.

Gosling says that he believes that ATVOD will damage the UK's smallest TV operators and will inhibit the development of new online services and methods of working:

The world of communication, especially in TV and video, is changing rapidly, and I believe that high-cost, low-benefit regulation like that being imposed by ATVOD is inappropriate in the online arena. Law-of-the-land regulation, through advertising, libel, and other normal laws and regulation is sufficient to regulate this area, although I do believe that there should be a register of small video publishers to ensure that legal oversight can operate.

 

12th November   

Googling for Quality Porn...

Vivid porn set to spice up ailing Google TV
Link Here

vivid on google tvVivid Entertainment, one of the world's major adult film studios, has said that it will launch Vivid for Google TV, the first TV app designed to make sexually explicit content available through the new Google TV set top device. The new channel will stream content in high definition to subscriber television sets and computer screens.

Vivid for Google TV will be available at no additional cost to subscribers to www.vivid.com, which currently offers a package of features such as streaming of Vivid's award-winning adult movies, celebrity sex tapes, XXX parodies of popular superheroes, educational videos and other content. Access to the site is restricted to persons over 18 years old.

People with Google TV set top devices can now access the new system.

Vivid for Google TV gives our fans a new way to enjoy Vivid movies in high quality HD and with other benefits that provide a very appealing, highly enjoyable, and user friendly experience, said Steven Hirsch, co-founder and co-chairman of Vivid. It is a central part of our making Vivid available everywhere concept, which gives fans unified access to our content through their personal computers, mobile devices, tablets, television sets and DVD players.

Hirsch said no other adult companies are currently deploying a true Internet system that includes 24/7 access and constantly streaming movie content. We spent more than a year developing a code base for a robust, standalone Internet-TV channel with a friendly interface for the consumer that can be used with the current Google TV technology and other Internet protocol presentation methods now in development, he said.

 

10th November   

Severin on Demand...

Cult label Severin set up Video on Demand service at TLACult.com
Link Here

Felicity DVD Cult cinema fans may like to knowthat Severin Films has partnered with TLACult.com, the cult, horror and exploitation online superstore, to offer some of Severin's erotic films via streaming rental.

The initial batch of films available to stream instantly at TLACult.com includes:

  • 1979's Felicity starring gorgeous Glory Annen as a teen girl experiencing her sexual awakening;
  • In the Folds of the Flesh, an ultra-lurid giallo epic starring Pier Angeli;
  • Emanuelle in Bangkok starring sexploitation goddess Laura Gemser; and
  • Vanessa , a 70s sexploitation coming-of-age tale starring the exceptionally beautiful Olivia Pascal.

Dan Reed, Managing Editor of TLACult.com said:

We've been huge admirers of Severin's for years and, when they came to us saying they needed a VOD home for their legendary erotic exploitation movies, we knew right away it was a perfect fit. We're large enough to have a platform for streaming rentals in place, but small enough to be free of the content restrictions against taboo materials and full-frontal nudity that the industry giants impose on themselves. Plus, our customers have purchased quite a lot of Severin DVDs over the years, so making these films available for our customers to stream was an absolute no-brainer.

The initial batch of films is available now for streaming rental. Other selections include films by noted exploitation directors Joe D'Amato, Gerard Kikoine and Lucio Fulci. TLA and Severin also plan to make more films available to stream in the next few months.

Each film is available to stream worldwide for $3.99 (for a 7 day rental) at TLACult.com and will also be available on TLA's adult site TLARAW.com.

 

2nd November   

More Downs than Ups...

SeeSaw TV on demand service closes
Link Here

See Saw logoSeeSaw video-on-demand television website has shut down.

SeeSaw once claimed over 2 million user visits per month before losing some of its content deals. The website had been online less than two years, offering content from BBC Worldwide, Channel 4, Channel Five and several production companies.

SeeSaw was created by the media services company, Arqiva, in February 2010. It used assets from the aborted catch-up TV platform, Project Kangeroo, which had been rejected by the UK's competition regulator.

It offered a range of free-to-watch programmes supported by advertising, with an optional fee to turn the adverts off. It also had premium pay-to-watch shows.

Channel 4's former chief executive, Michael Jackson, was announced as the firm's new chairman designate. However reports suggest he walked away from the post in September shortly after Channel 4 pulled its content. Channel Five removed its shows around a fortnight later.

In the end they didn't have the backing they needed to make it - the kind of content that drives significant levels of usage, said Ian Maude, head of Internet at Enders Analysis: They were in a very competitive market. ITV wouldn't supply them content, and Channel 4 only did for a while. With competition from Google's YouTube they just didn't have a chance.

 

30th October   

Flix on Demand...

US video streaming giant Netflix plans to open in the UK
Link Here

netflix logoUS film and TV rental firm Netflix is to launch a streaming service in the UK and the Irish Republic next year.

Netflix said it would provide a subscription service in the UK offering unlimited TV shows and movie streaming over the internet.

The company said further details about the service, including pricing and content will be announced closer to launch in early 2012.

In the US, the company has been losing customers since it increased prices for its US DVD service. The company is trying to re-build its business from being primarily a US-based DVD rental service to a global film and TV streaming operation. It recently expanded its subscription streaming service to Canada and is reportedly looking to launch in other European countries.

 

30th August   

Small Demand...

Video on Demand still a small part of British viewing
Link Here

comscore logo The viewing of television VoD comprises a small proportion of total online video consumption in the UK, according to new research from ComScore and Attentional. The findings showed that internet video consumption in the UK was broadly flat last year.

The research, from a consumer panel of hundreds of thousands of people, showed that only an average of 4.2% of video views were from services such as the BBC iPlayer and ITV Player.

The mainstays of video views are porn which provides 57% of video viewed and YouTube like sites that provided 38% of videos viewed.

Overall, it was found that an average person in the UK spends 19 minutes a day watching internet videos on computers, compared with nearly four hours a day watching live television, and a further 18 minutes watching recorded TV content.

 

7th August   

Driving Internet Business Offshore...

ATVOD publish their long list of websites under investigation
Link Here

Election Promise:

A Conservative government will introduce a powerful new Star Chamber cabinet committee, to be chaired by Ken Clarke, which will enforce a stringent One In – One Out requirement where any new law must include cuts in old laws.

. Con Lib logo
New law in:

Repressive new website registration law driving much of the UK internet business offshore

Old Law out:

Shops will be allowed to sell liquor chocolates without an alcohol licence.

ATVOD have announced a long list of websites that are under investigation for not registering with them, and of course, not paying their burdensome registration fee required to keep the red tape administrators in business.

ATVOD explained that the Website Registration Act requires that nearly all websites incorporating video need to notify ATVOD by 30 April 2010.

By the end of April 2010 it was apparent to ATVOD that a significant number of websites had not registered.

ATVOD therefore began an investigation process in order to ensure that such services were identified, were informed of their obligations, and were given an opportunity to notify or to make representations on the issue.

See  the long List of Websites under Investigation [pdf]

 

3rd August   

Update: ATVOD...An Expensive Heavy Handed Internet Censor and a Burden to Growth...

Jeremy hunt asks ATVOD if it is a burden to growth
Link Here  full story: VOD censorship in UK...Excessive age restrictions an adult internet video

jeremy hunt Government minister Jeremy Hunt wrote an open letter of 16 May 2011 on 'A Communications Review for the Digital Age'. This included the question:

Q13. Where has self- and co-regulation worked successfully and what can be learnt from specific approaches? Where specific approaches haven't worked, how can the framework of content regulation be made sufficiently coherent and not create barriers to growth, but at the same time protect citizens and enable consumer confidence?

Ruth Evans replied as chair of ATVOD:

As you would expect, the answer we are in a particularly good position to answer concerns models of self and co-regulation in the content arena:

...

Co- and self-regulation are particularly appropriate in rapidly developing sectors where the nature of services and the scope of potential consumer protection is subject to frequent change. Our experience is that co-regulation of video on demand services has proved capable of yielding nimble, economical solutions and the promise of establishing a broad consensus around light touch regulation. In our short life we have worked through some complex issues with the industry (e.g. the scope of the Regulations and determining where to draw the line on the protection of children from harmful content) in an efficient manner and have delivered more equitable funding arrangements for our second year, with concessionary rates for small scale providers and new market entrants.

We have taken a definitive stance on what video material might seriously harm children (and therefore an ODPS must make provisions so that children cannot access the material) and we suggest that in the area of child protection online some rules might benefit from greater clarity and certainty, building on the guidance we have determined.

The UK must not lose sight of the fact that the global nature of services accessible via the internet presents special challenges in respect of editorial regulation of VOD services. We are unable to regulate services sitting outside the UK which are accessible to UK internet users. We suggest that a combination of action in respect of services which are subject to ATVOD regulation and action by other internet intermediaries in support of parents will be necessary going forward. Action such as promoting use of filtering tools and greater awareness of the risks and protections that exist online will be important and complimentary to pure regulatory activity. Consideration should also be given by Government to what can done to harmonise actions on an international level in this regard.

What ATVOD really means is that it has invented a very expensive censorial regime for practically every website with video based in the UK, and for no benefit to them whatsoever. ATVOD has also imposed an almost impenetrable barrier to trade on all British adult sites that include hardcore video.

 

18th July   

Up and Down and Up Again...

Pay TV on demand at SeeSaw lives on
Link Here

See Saw logo Online TV service SeeSaw has been saved from closure by a consortium of investors including the former Channel 4 chief executive, Michael Jackson, in a deal led by a US private equity firm.

Criterion Capital Partners has taken a controlling stake in SeeSaw, which is owned by transmission business Arqiva, in a deal estimated to be worth over £ 10m.

Arqiva retainins a 25% stake in the business and a seat on the new board. Criterion, which will hold a majority stake in SeeSaw, has appointed Jackson as chairman.

 

12th July   

More Bureaucracy...

All UK adult sites to be questioned about registering for ATVOD censorship
Link Here

ATVOD logo 2011 An interesting comment from  lawdit.co.uk suggesting that ATVOD will trawl the website looking for contributors to its very hungry funding money pit:

I understand from a very good source that every adult website in the UK will be contacted over the next 12 months and asked to comment on whether or not it ought to be registered and if not why not. It is going to be difficult for many providers to argue that it ought not be registered and many adult websites will find themselves looking abroad as they ship their business affairs overseas.

It sounds a pretty tall order to try and track down all British adult websites though. It is not often obvious from the website who is behind it, nor their location.

 

6th July   

Video Clipped...

ATVOD decide that YouTube like video service requires their expensive censorship services
Link Here

ATVOD logo 2011 Newspaper and magazine publishers face paying thousands of pounds in fees if they continue using video content on their websites, industry groups have warned.

ATVOD has ruled that short video clips on publishers' websites provide a TV-like service.

This means publishers must register with ATVOD and pay an annual fee - a ruling strongly opposed by the Professional Publishers Association (PPA) and the Newspaper Society. While last year's annual fee was £ 2,900, the PPA claims that, depending on company turnover, that figure could rise to as much as £ 25,000.

PPA chief executive Barry McIlheney said: Essentially the disproportionate regulatory fees being charged by ATVOD are damaging innovative digital businesses and putting them at a disadvantage compared to their European counterparts.

A number of publications - including The Sun, News of the World, The Sunday Times and Elle magazine - are appealing the decision, after ATVOD ruled they were in breach of the Communications Act 2003 by failing to notify the watchdog they were operating video on demand services.

The Newspaper Society's political, editorial and regulatory affairs director Santha Rasaiah argues that under the EU's Audiovisual Media Services Directive, newspapers and magazines should be expressly excluded from the regulation.

 

5th July   

Offsite: Money for Nothing...

Lord Clement-Jones lambasts the 'rising and disproportionate cost' of Video on Demand censorship
Link Here

lord clement-jones One year on, and the reality of the co-regulatory system is far from light-touch. Individual companies have been engaged in an ongoing succession of disputes with ATVOD about which services must notify, which services should fall under ATVOD's remit, what constitutes one service as separate from another, and who holds editorial control of the VOD content and must act as the notifying company.

Above all, the most significant problem is the level of fees per service that are required to be paid to ATVOD on an annual basis. Under the new fees structure announced last week, fees for this financial year will be based on the revenue of the holding company rather than the website involved, and so will place a disproportionate burden on these services.

Not only does it appear that the fees are disproportionate for the services, but they also appear disproportionate to the obligations that ATVOD is tasked with carrying out. Contrary to initial assurances -- and the AVMS Directive -- short video clips, typically on magazine and newspaper websites, are caught. How can they be considered TV-like when services such as YouTube are exempted?

Furthermore the UK's approach is disproportionate when compared to the way that other EU member states have implemented this part of the Directive. As a result, many UK-regulated VOD providers are refraining from launching new VOD services.

...Read the full article

 

30th June   

Fees on Demand...

ATVOD set their year 2 fees
Link Here

ATVOD logo 2011 ATVOD have wisely decided against their first year £2900 fixed fee approach and replaced it with a graduated fee dependent on company revenue and the number of services run by that company.

The year 2 annual fees in £ are:

  • non commercial: 100 + 100 for additional services
  • commercial, revenue < 50k: 150 + 150 for additional services
  • commercial, revenue < 100k: 200 + 200 for additional services
  • commercial, revenue < 6.5m: 800 + 400 for additional services, max 25k
  • commercial, revenue < 25.9m: 5175 + 800 for additional services, max 25k
  • commercial, revenue > 25.9m: 10350 + 800 for additional services, max 25k

 

12th June   

Ofcom PIN Pricks...

Government wisely decided not to act on Ofcom call for PIN number age verification for internet video on demand
Link Here

Ofcom logoIt has emerged that the government has not acted on a recommendation from the TV and internet  censor Ofcom, which said last year that the law should be changed so that sexually explicit content on video-on-demand websites could not be seen by children.

The government asked Ofcom last year to examine whether the law should be changed to protect children from pornographic material that was easily available on some adult sites, including Playboy.tv, which allowed paying members to download a wide range of pornographic material.

Many of them also offer some sexual material as try before you buy content that can be easily viewed without a credit card or account number.

Ofcom recommended in a report passed to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) nine months ago that the government should pass legislation forcing those sites to protect their free trial content with a pin number. But the coalition has not published Ofcom's report or acted on its recommendations.

Predictably Labour has tried to claim a few morality votes from this technically infeasible Ofcom suggestion.

Ivan Lewis, the shadow culture secretary, said: David Cameron's commitment to act on Bailey's recommendations rings hollow now we know his government has suppressed this important report. It is either incompetence or a deliberate attempt to keep the public and parliament in the dark. Ofcom's report should be published without delay so we can consider its findings and take the necessary action.

The DCMS said the report was still being considered by ministers. It said: The government is committed to protecting children from accessing harmful material and DCMS has requested advice from Ofcom and others regarding regulation of video-on-demand services. There is a range of views on whether new measures are required and we are currently considering options.

The proposals would only affect UK websites that are monitored by ATVOD, the internet video on demand censor.

 

7th June   

SeeSaw SawnOff...

Pay TV on demand doesn't fare well against free catch-up TV
Link Here

See Saw logoArqiva is set to close online TV venture SeeSaw after failing to find an investment partner or buyer to keep the service alive. It is expected to close around 20 June.

[SeeSaw] no longer fits with the strategic direction in which we are taking Arqiva and requires considerable investment to succeed in an increasingly competitive market, a spokesman for Arqiva said. We have tried to find an investment partner, however this has not proved possible.

SeeSaw was launched using the assets of ITV, Channel 4 and BBC Worldwide's defunct VoD venture Project Kangaroo, which Arqiva acquired for about £ 8m.

At its launch in February last year, SeeSaw offered 3,000 hours of free programmes including Skins, Kingdom and Doc Martin. Three months later it began offering paid-for content, with 1,000 hours of shows including South Park and Spooks, and struck deals with US broadcasters including MTV and NBC Universal.

But third-party internet TV aggregators have strugged to compete with broadcasters' own in-house on-demand services, and SeeSaw failed to gain a significant following compared to rival offerings such as the BBC's iPlayer, ITV Player and Channel 4's on-demand service, 4oD.

SeeSaw's predecessor, Kangaroo, was originally conceived as a way for the BBC's commercial arm, BBC Worldwide, to monetise the corporation's content. While iPlayer programmes are free, they are only available for a limited window after broadcast.

 

2nd June   

Explicit Warnings...

UK online music services to carry parental advisory logos as per CDs
Link Here

parental advisory explicit lyrics logoParental warning logos are set to be introduced before songs and music videos on services such as Spotify and YouTube that contain explicit material, following recent 'concern' about supposedly risque music content available to children online.

Music industry body BPI is to update its 15-year-old Parental Advisory Scheme. Updated guidelines will expand the scheme for the well known advisory logo to appear with songs and videos available to stream or download on UK digital music and music video services.

Most audio and video streaming services including Google-owned YouTube, Spotify, Napster and Vevo do not currently have a uniform parental guidance system, according to the BPI.

We think it is important for parents to get the same standards of guidance and information online as they get when buying CDs or DVDs on the high street, said Geoff Taylor, chief executive of the BPI. We are updating our scheme for the digital age to ensure that explicit songs and videos are clearly labelled.

 

21st May   

Taken Down...

YouTube council tax protest video blocked on government request
Link Here

prison planet logoIt has emerged that You Tube is complying with thousands of requests from governments to censor and remove videos that show protests and other examples of citizens simply asserting their rights, while also deleting search terms by government mandate.

The latest example is You Tube's compliance with a request from the British government to censor footage of the British Constitution Group's Lawful Rebellion protest, during which they attempted to civilly arrest Judge Michael Peake at Birkenhead county court.

Peake was ruling on a case involving Roger Hayes, former member of UKIP, who has refused to pay council tax. Hayes has embarked on an effort to legally prove that the enforced collection of council tax by government is unlawful because no contract has been agreed between the individual and the state.

When viewers in the UK attempt to watch videos of the protest, they are met with the message, This content is not available in your country due to a government removal request.

We then click through to learn that, YouTube occasionally receives requests from governments around the world to remove content from our site, and as a result, YouTube may block specific content in order to comply with local laws in certain countries.

You can also search by country to discover that Google, the owner of You Tube, has complied with the majority of requests from governments, particularly in the United States and the UK, not only to remove You Tube videos, but also specific web search terms and thousands of data requests, meaning demands for information that would reveal the true identity of a You Tube user.

Between July 1 and Dec. 31 (2009), Google received 3,580 requests for user data from U.S. government agencies, slightly less than the 3,663 originating from Brazil, reports PC World. The United Kingdom and India sent more than 1,000 requests each, and smaller numbers originated from various other countries.

 

14th April   

Very Expensive Red Tape...

Newspapers and magazines speak out against ATVOD's expensive censorship fees and ludicrous remit creep
Link Here

newspaper society logoNewspaper and magazine trade organisations are speaking out in opposition to the UK's new VOD ATVOD. Several individual newspaper and magazine publishers are already protesting being included under ATVOD's oversight and having to pay through the nose for the privilege.

The Newspaper Society's director for policy, editorial and regulatory affairs, Santha Rasaiah, told paidContent:UK:

Electronic versions of newspapers and magazines are expressly excluded from the scope of the AVMS directive. Throughout negotiations on the directive and its implementation into UK law, assurances were repeatedly given, including during the course of Parliamentary debate, that publishers' current online activities, including video clips, would not be caught by the new legislation and did not satisfy the definition of 'TV-like' programme services for regulation by ATVOD. These recent determinations by ATVOD are therefore surprising and of concern to the industry. It is important that press freedom is not curbed by unintended regulatory creep.

See  article from  mediaweek.co.uk

The magazine business' Periodical Publishers Association, working with the Association of Online Publishers, complains that

Atvod has determined that short video clips, collected together on a section of a publisher’s website, fall under the definition of "TV-like" services, as set out in the Audiovisual Media Services Regulations (AVMS).

The PPA argues, however, that video clips on publishers’ websites are not TV-like and therefore do not fall within Atvod’s remit. It is in the process of appealing to media regulator Ofcom.

Barry McIlheney, chief executive of the PPA, said: Essentially, the disproportionate regulatory fees being charged by Atvod are damaging innovative digital businesses and putting them at a disadvantage compared to their European counterparts.

According to the PPA, ATVOD fees can rise to £ 25.000 whereas the next-highest equivalent fee in Europe is (EUR712) per company.

 

30th March   

Offsite: Small Ain't Cheap...

Smallscale TV response to ATVOD re consultation about Year Two Fees
Link Here

Small Scale TV logo Response to ATVOD consultation about Year Two Fees:

My interest in this consultation is limited only to the interests of smaller enterprises and existing/possible/potential ODPS, with turnovers less than ?100,000. It should be noted that I have no objection to the overall concept of content regulation in the public interest, but have an extremely strong objection to regulation which could damage UK-based business against European competition which may exist in a less costly regulatory regime, and world-wide competition which may not be regulated at all.

Over the past year, I have found ATVOD's standpoint to be consistently anti-small-business, characterised by a failure to research the internet video scene and engage properly with smaller organisations, and an air of disinterest in engaging with organisations outside of the UK's major broadcasters.

I would therefore like to see ATVOD return to the spirit of the original Government Directive which states: the Government expects that the fees payable to the regulatory authorities by businesses providing on-demand programme services will be set in such a way as to minimise any potential adverse impacts on small businesses.

...Read the full article

 

27th March   

Who'sView...

Alan Sugar hired for fire fighting role for the ailing YouView project
Link Here

YouView logo Alan Sugar has been hired by the BBC and the other major broadcasters, to cure kill off YouView.

YouView is an ailing exercise in control freakery designed to allow the major players to take control over internet TV. The project is to define a proprietary interface for internet TV set top boxes. They can then control which internet services can participate. Of course services that are liable to exclusion are not very keen on the idea and are kicking up a fuss.

Sugar has only been in the job of non-executive chairman for two weeks, but has already created a stir with his hands-on approach at the 150-strong company based in the BBC's offices.

Lord Sugar will either cure or kill off YouView. He has been brought on board by Richard Desmond [the owner of Channel Five] to cut through all the nonsense which has been continually delaying the launch and actually get the thing to work and be on sale as soon as possible, said on senior TV executive: He has been tasked with getting YouView on the shelves...especially after the millions that have already been spent on the venture. If he can't see a way to do it -- then he will feedback quickly to the shareholders and kill off the whole thing.

Ian Maude, head of Internet at Enders Analysis, said: The later YouView leaves it to launch, the market opportunity will shrink, with consumer demand being soaked up by other services and web TV applications. If they can't get it out before the Olympics, which is looking less and less likely, I wouldn't bother. It's a badly kept secret that the team are considerably behind schedule.

Dan Cryan, head of broadband at Screen Digest, added: With more and more TV catch up services, such as the iPlayer, coming to the living room TV set using the browser, YouView risks becoming irrelevant.

 

26th March   

Very Expensive Red Tape...

ATVOD get heavy about censorship fees for newspaper websites featuring short videos
Link Here

ATVOD logo 2011 The internet TV censor ATVOD has published determinations that Sun Video, News of the World Video, Elle TV and Sunday Times Video Library are on demand programme services

Video on demand offered by some national newspapers and magazines will be subject to regulation and expeiisve fees, under a unilateral ruling published by ATVOD.

Newspaper and magazine proprietors argued that their video offerings, accessed on-line and by mobile devices, are exempt from new regulations because they are part of online versions of newspapers, not services offering TV-like programmes which are subject to the new law.

But the video on demand co-regulator has rejected the argument. It believes some services are designed to offer TV-like programmes on-demand, and therefore must fall within the scope of regulation and ATVOD fees.

Proprietors will now challenge the ruling by The Authority for Television On Demand ( ATVOD ) by appealing to communications regulator Ofcom. If the ruling is upheld, affected newspapers and magazines will have to pay annual fees to ATVOD and ensure that the regulated video content meets ATVOD rules.

Commenting on the recent rulings, ATVOD Chair Ruth Evans said:

ATVOD has no desire or remit to regulate the press -- whether online or offline -- but we do have a duty to be even-handed and apply the new statutory regulations in a fair and consistent manner. Where video content appears as an integral part of an online version of a newspaper, for example alongside a text based story, then the service falls outside our remit: it is indeed excluded by law.

Many services provided by newspapers and magazines fall exactly into this category and can expect to hear nothing from ATVOD..

But that is not what happens in these particular services. In each case, a catalogue of 'TV like' programmes is offered as a discrete service, comparable with many others. There are clear differences between these services and on-line versions of newspapers.

Ofcom, who are responsible for hearing appeals under the new regulations, have confirmed that an appeal has been lodged with regard to Elle TV and that appeals are expected shortly with regard to Sun Video, News of the World Video and Sunday Times Video Library.

 

26th March   

Updated: Authoritatively Dismissing Whinges from the Easily Offended...

ATVOD make a good start and note that complaints about 'offensive' Frankie Boyle are outside their remit
Link Here

Frankie Boyle Live Through Strangle The Authority for Television On-Demand (ATVOD) cleared Channel 4's video on-demand service for offering a 'controversial' episode of Frankie Boyle's Tramadol Nights.

When episode two of the series aired on Channel 4 in December, it featured a range of pre-recorded sketches and Boyle making jokes in front of a studio audience, including derogatory remarks about celebrities such as Jade Goody, Heather Mills, Michael Jackson, Katie Price and Susan Boyle.

Ofcom received around 50 complaints about the programme, including one from Price, who accused Boyle of being a bully over comments made about her disabled son Harvey. Another complainant described the sketches and jokes in the programme as atrocious, demeaning and degrading... [and] entirely reprehensible .

As Channel 4 made the show available on catch-up platform 4oD, ATVOD, which this week changed its name from the Association for Television On-Demand, was tasked with addressing the complaints.

Statutory rules for VOD content are significantly less strict than those for TV broadcasts, and do not currently prohibit programming that is deemed offensive. In cases where content might seriously impair the physical, mental or moral development of persons under the age of eighteen , providers must make efforts to prevent young people from accessing the material.

After reviewing Frankie Boyle's Tramadol Nights, ATVOD ruled that the programme would not seriously impair the development of under-18s and so decided not to take any further action. The regulator also noted that Channel 4 had run a warning around the programme on 4oD, despite not being obliged to do so.

Commenting on the decision, ATVOD chair Ruth Evans said: Many viewers may regard the material as highly offensive, including to people with disabilities, and unsuitable for under-18s, but providing such content to under 18s is not a breach of the rules set by parliament if it does not fall foul of the 'might seriously impair' test.

Offsite Comment: Nutters of Mediawatch-UK Unimpressed

26th March 2011. See  article from  mediawatch-uk.blogspot.com

Mediawatch-UK banner The way we are watching television is changing and many of us are now choosing to watch online; this is particularly popular with the under twenty-fives. In this brave new world neither the watershed nor Ofcom's broadcasting code apply.

...

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.

We submit that post-watershed material should only be available to viewers who have been subject to a more rigorous age-verification check than the current tick box system on offer. We would like to see 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. We believe that there are feasible steps that can and should be taken by broadcasters to control access to post-watershed material by children.

 

22nd March   

Authority on Red Tape...

Internet TV censor renames to Authority for Television on Demand
Link Here

ATVOD logo 2011 ATVOD has announced a name change to coincide with the launch of its revamped website.

Formerly The Association for Television On-Demand , it is now rebranded as The Authority for Television On Demand . It will still use the acronym ATVOD .

The name change reflects the shift in ATVOD's status and role following designation by Ofcom last March as the new co-regulator for editorial content on certain video on demand services . Use of the word Authority in a company name requires the formal approval of the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills and this was secured with the support of Ofcom.

The change coincides with a major revamp of the ATVOD website designed to improve communication with internet TV providers and viewers. The changes include an online complaint facility for users of video on demand services who believe that a service may be in breach of the new statutory rules.

Commenting on the changes, ATVOD Chief Executive Pete Johnson said:

The use of 'Association' in our name was no longer appropriate and risked causing confusion over our role as a co-regulator working with the industry and designated by Ofcom to perform statutory functions. 'Authority' is a much more accurate description of our new role, status and function.

The website revamp was timed to coincide with the change in our name and will allow us to communicate much more effectively with users and providers of video on demand services. We are particularly pleased with the new online complaints facility which will make it much easier for users to register their concerns about video on demand programmes.

 

19th March   

Building New Dams...

Netherlands enters the new territory of internet audio/visual censorship
Link Here

commissariaat voor de media logo The Dutch Media Commission (Commissariaat voor de Media) said it will now begin registering audiovisual media services on the internet. The commission will also extend its monitoring of mobile services.

The regulator began last year with an inventory of web content. Web content providers must also abide by rules for, for example, advertising time, or forbidding the broadcast of certain age restricted programmes at certain times of the day.

The commission noted the difficulty in monitoring RTL Netherlands because of its statutory registration in Luxembourg. A something situation applies to monitoring a number of porn channels registered in the Netherlands, but which are aimed at other countries.

This is the first time some media companies have come under Dutch government regulation. The commission last year created a new registration licensing and monitoring department, as well as a new enforcement division.

The Dutch ministry of education, culture and science will have to modify certain rules in order to determine which web radio stations should be regulated and how much the monitoring duties will cost.

 

5th March   

Playing Expat Catch Up...

International BBC iPlayer to be available this year for less than $10 a month
Link Here

iplayer not available The BBC's Director General, Mark Thompson, has revealed that the international version of the BBC iPlayer will definitely be available before the end of this year, and will likely cost less than $10, or approximately EUR7.

Thompson is quoted as saying that the international iPlayer would cost, a small number of dollars per month, definitely fewer then 10.

The BBC iPlayer has huge potential internationally, with a strong BBC brand boosted by shows like Top Gear , and has the capability to earn significant revenues from the international iPlayer that could be re-invested back into the BBC to produce a greater number high quality shows.

 

18th February   

Boring Modern Censorial Nihilism...

YouTube censors art depicting young Europeans enjoying life
Link Here

juan francisco casas video On February 4th, Youtube deleted a documentary about the Spanish artist Juan Francisco Casas from the channel belonging to the magazine cafedada.tv . According the company, the video was withdrawn because it violated company policy relating to nudity and sexual content.

Juan Francisco Casas (Jae'n, 1976) is a hyperrealist artist known for his portraits of young Europeans drawn with a BIC pen. These portraits are highly valued in art markets and can fetch prices of over 10,000 dollars.

His work reflects a new carefree and hedonistic European generation that thrives organizing parties and exploring their sexuality. His style is classed by art critics as domestic hedonism and as a reaction against boring modern nihilism .

The video, censored by Youtube, is a documentary about his work made by the website cafedada.tv .

 

11th February   

BBFC Watch and Rate...

Pat on the back from Ed Vaizey
Link Here

Ed Vaizey Creative Industries Minister Ed Vaizey, has welcomed the BBFC's new Watch and Rate scheme, which provides classifications for straight to download content, as good for the industry and good for the public.

Speaking after seeing a demonstration of the new scheme, he said:

The Watch and Rate scheme is a welcome addition to the work done by the BBFC.

The internet has completely changed the way we access videos and music so it is good to see the BBFC adapting to meet the demands of the online world.

The BBFC is providing industry with a quick and cost effective classification system for straight-to-download content and the public with an age rating system they trust and understand.

Age ratings will help parents protect their children from inappropriate content and provide people with more confidence about the content they and their families are watching.

Since 2008 the BBFC has been working with the UK video industry to provide a content labelling system for film, video and TV content supplied by internet, wireless or mobile signal which the public can trust and understand. By giving over 200,000 titles a digital classification the BBFC has provided consumers with access to labelling and content information for a massive back catalogue of films and television programmes which are available through video-on-demand, digital rental/sell through, streaming, mobile platforms and connected TV.

Platforms and e-tailers using the BBFC's classifications for their online content pay a licensing fee under the BBFC.online service. As well as the back catalogue all their new content classified by the BBFC is given an online certificate for digital distribution.

For material which is going straight to online the BBFC has developed a brand new classification service, known as Watch and Rate which provides digital e-tailers and platforms with a robust labelling and child protection system for the online world at a cost and speed which reflects the needs of digital distribution.

David Cooke, Director of the BBFC said:

Our new service for straight to online content will provide the industry with a service which will ensure that they can get their content, along with BBFC labelling, out into the rapidly moving digital space. For parents it will offer labelling and content advice they know and trust in what is, for many, an unfamiliar landscape.

We have an exciting part to play in the film and video industry's digital future. For almost 100 years, we have supported innovation in the moving image industries, and our latest service is designed to support the ever-increasing technological development in our second century. Issuing 200,000 certificates at a stroke is a major step towards this.

Lavinia Carey, Director General of the British Video Association said:

The BBFC's act of issuing 200,000 'online' certificates has shown a major commitment to the digital development of home entertainment. At a time when the film and video industry is reinventing itself, the BBFC's role and contribution to the digital future is hugely appreciated and supported by our members .

Stephen Joy, Production Manager of Entertainment One said:

Watch & Rate enables us to distribute certified works digitally without the costs of marketing a physical DVD. Having their trusted symbols attached to our products in the digital space has allowed entry to key on-demand platforms fast, and at low cost.

Eric Stevens, Head of Independent Distribution for Independent Film Company said:

BBFC's Watch & Rate provided us with a cost effective way of certifying products for use in the On Demand space. Licensing and sign-up was quick, service costs were cost effective, for a content owner of our size and online submission was straightforward and streamlined.

 

23rd January   

Freer Speech and Video...

Ukraine MPs suggest removing internet video from state censorship requirements
Link Here

Ukraine flagA group of Ukraine lawmakers has drafted a bill proposing to end the licensing and censorship of internet video

I very much hope that our committee (the committee for freedom of speech and information) will support this bill, and it will be considered this month, one of the authors of the bill, MP Olha Bodnar of the BYT-Batkivschyna faction, said at a press conference.

According to her, the bill proposes amending some laws, in particular, to stipulate that the distribution of video on the Internet is not subject to licensing and censorship by the public authorities. T he responsibility for disseminating Internet child pornography and materials that are a threat to national security interests, would lies with the owners of the Web site.

 

20th January   

Minister for a Censored Internet...

Jeremy Hunt looks to impose current levels of repressive TV censorship onto internet video
Link Here

DCMS logoThe culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has been speaking about increasing censorship requirements for the internet and in particular, internet TV

He spoke after addressing media industry executives at the Oxford Media Convention.

Hunt admitted that while he did not believe it was possible to introduce blanket regulation for the internet, he was keen to put online content rules under scrutiny.

TV content on the internet is subject to lesser regulation than broadcast TV, in particular, that there are no taste and decency or impartiality requirements.

Hunt told reporters: I do want to look at what can be done to strengthen child protection on the internet and whether the structures we have in place are the best way to give reassurance to parents that their children are not going to have easy access to unsuitable content.

In his address he announced a review of media and communications that will lead to new Communications Act. He explained the timetable:

Over the next few months we will be coming to talk to you; asking for your answers to the key questions that need to be addressed. I want to hear how a new Communications Act can create regulatory certainty.

The certainty that people need to continue to develop and invest in the high-quality technology and content that is made here but enjoyed by consumers all over the world.

I am prepared to radically rethink the way we do things.

To take a fresh look at what we regulate, whether we regulate, and how we regulate. To consider whether there are areas we might move out of regulation altogether. And to think hard about what we mean by public service content.

As parents we want programmes to be suitable for our children. As citizens we want impartial news. And as consumers we want high-quality programmes we know and trust.

Whether we’re watching a broadcast live or though catch-up services, via a TV or a computer, it’s the content that matters, rather than the delivery mechanism.

So should it continue to be the case that the method of delivery has a significant impact on the method of regulation? Or should we be looking at a more platform-neutral approach?

What do we need to do to help our businesses grow and evolve between now and 2025? Where can regulation help and where is it a barrier? What can we do collectively to enhance the whole UK market?

This is not about tweaking the current system, but redesigning it – from scratch if necessary – to make it fit for purpose.

On the basis of what we hear from you, we will publish a Green Paper at the end of the year that will set out the full scope of a Bill.

One that will be put in place in 2015 and that will last for at least a decade.

And to make up for all the banned sexy, fun and opinionated internet content. Hunt proposes to bore us to death with his pet project of a new local TV channel.

 

13th January   

Watch and Rate...

BBFC make all back video certificates available for online scheme and offer service to rate online-only content
Link Here

bbfc online card 12 logo In the latest move to bring the BBFC's widely recognised and trusted classifications to the world of digitally distributed content, every VHS, DVD and Blu-Ray title classified by the BBFC since 1985 has been given a digital certificate.

Since 2008 the BBFC has been working with the UK video industry to provide a content labelling system for film, video and TV content supplied by internet, wireless or mobile signal which the public can trust and understand. By giving over 200,000 titles a digital classification the BBFC has provided consumers with access to labelling and content information for a massive back catalogue of films and television programmes which are available through video-on-demand, digital rental/sell through, streaming, mobile platforms and connected TV.

Platforms and e-tailers using the BBFC's classifications for their online content pay a licensing fee under the BBFC.online service. As well as the back catalogue all their new content classified by the BBFC is given an online certificate for digital distribution.

For material which is going straight to online the BBFC has developed a brand new classification service, known as Watch and Rate which provides digital e-tailers and platforms with a robust labelling and child protection system for the online world at a cost and speed which reflects the needs of digital distribution.

David Cooke, Director of the BBFC said:

Our new service for straight to online content will provide the industry with a service which will ensure that they can get their content, along with BBFC labelling, out into the rapidly moving digital space. For parents it will offer labelling and content advice they know and trust in what is, for many, an unfamiliar landscape.

We have an exciting part to play in the film and video industry's digital future. For almost 100 years, we have supported innovation in the moving image industries, and our latest service is designed to support the ever-increasing technological development in our second century. Issuing 200,000 certificates at a stroke is a major step towards this.

Lavinia Carey, Director General of the British Video Association said:

The BBFC's act of issuing 200,000 'online' certificates has shown a major commitment to the digital development of home entertainment. At a time when the film and video industry is reinventing itself, the BBFC's role and contribution to the digital future is hugely appreciated and supported by our members .

Stephen Joy, Production Manager of Entertainment One said:

Watch & Rate enables us to distribute certified works digitally without the costs of marketing a physical DVD. Having their trusted symbols attached to our products in the digital space has allowed entry to key on-demand platforms fast, and at low cost.

Eric Stevens, Head of Independent Distribution for Independent Film Company said:

BBFC's Watch & Rate provided us with a cost effective way of certifying products for use in the On Demand space. Licensing and sign-up was quick, service costs were cost effective, for a content owner of our size and online submission was straightforward and streamlined.

 

12th January   

Update: Out of Control...

Italy still trying to twist the law to get at Google and YouTube
Link Here  full story: Google on Trial...Google sued for YouTube bullying video

Italy flagItalian newspaper La Repubblica reports that the Italian Authority for Communications has passed two resolutions on internet video and internet radio respectively, that classify YouTube, Vimeo and other sites whose content is entirely user generated as television stations.

The reasoning is that if a site in any way curates their user generated content, even with automatic algorithms, this amounts to editorial control, and the site should be held to the same rules that apply to Italy's broadcast television stations. This would subject these sites to a small tax, would require them to take down videos within 48 hours of the request of anyone who feels they have been slandered, and to not broadcast videos unsuitable for children at certain times of day (whatever that would actually mean for a completely online service).

Most importantly, however, the new resolutions would make YouTube and other sites legally responsible for all of their content.

Italy has been trying for a while to pin YouTube and Google employees for videos uploaded on to YouTube by parties who had nothing to do with any of the companies' employees.

Another dispute with Google is that Mediaset, a company owned by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, is currently suing YouTube in Italian courts for about €500 million because it allowed users to upload copyrighted video taken from their broadcasts.

 

8th January   

Update: Smallscale TV...

Fighting the case for the small internet TV players stiffed by ATVOD fee structures
Link Here  full story: ATVOD Censorship on Demand...ATVOD appointed as internet TV censors

small scale tv logo Independent TV producer Chris Gosling has launched a new online campaign aimed at fighting for fair censorship charges for small-scale web-TV operators.

Gosling, who produces specialist TV shows about caravanning and boating for satellite platforms, is specifically concerned about the Association for Television on Demand (ATVOD), a new body established to regulate video on-demand content.

ATVOD, which took over VOD regulation duties from Ofcom in March last year, has imposed a flat-rate fee of £2,900 (rising to £3850 for 2011) on the services of all notified VOD providers in the UK, from the small to the enormous like SeeSaw and Virgin Media.

Gosling has launched a new website, called SmallScale TV , aimed at representing the hundreds and thousands of people in Great Britain and Europe who make online video content in a professional, responsible way [in] a recreational or small business environment .

I see a future in which small producers like me can make highly specialist programmes to play online, showing to maybe just a few hundred or a few thousand viewers every week or month - but instituting regulator fees that may be in excess of such a programme's annual budget is going to kill small enterprises like these stone dead.

Surprise surprise, consulting the big guys results in a fee structure to stiff the small guys

Based on article from smallscale.tv

The above story about the campaign featured in the media section of well-respected TV website Digital Spy spurred an almost immediate response from ATVOD Director Peter Johnson, defending the new regime.

For the first time on record, Johnson confirmed that ATVOD is now charging a concessionary fee of £150 for the current year to a number of organisations, although we only know of one such. Our understanding is that this organisation is a charity, which we don't believe should be charged in any event.

Johnson also said that ATVOD is fully aware of the concerns of smaller enterprises that fall within scope of the flat rate fee set for the first year of the new arrangements, claiming that this is a fee set after a public consultation held jointly by ATVOD and Ofcom. [and no doubt all the big TV media companies contributed. They have a bit of vested interest in keeping their fees down whilst being able to use censorship to keep small competitors out of the market]

It was certainly the case that in September 2010, when this writer had his first conversation with ATVOD's Peter Johnson, that no concessionary fee was available – or even available for discussion. During this and subsequent conversations, Johnson said that no smaller providers had come forward at the time of the original consultation, and that if his decision was that a service fell within scope, ATVOD would take any non-payer to court to force payment. ATVOD's currently online statement regarding concessionary fees on went online on 12th November 2010, apparently after extensive lobbying from a number of disgruntled parties.

But even the possibility of concessionary regulatory fees for small-scale video on demand doesn't hold out much hope for businesses considering developing online services.

 

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