Ofcom commissioned research has identified (but not named) 2 adult video sharing sharing platforms that are based in the UK. It will be interesting to see how age verification requirements will effect these UK services trying to compete with the rest
of world with no such requirements (for the moment).
We are seeking evidence and information related to the new requirements that will apply to video-sharing platforms.
Video-sharing platforms (VSPs) are a type of online video service where users can upload and share videos. VSPs allow users to engage with a wide range of content and social features and are particularly popular among young people. 90% of adults and 98% of children aged 8-15 who use the internet have used a VSP in the past year.
Ofcom will be given new powers this autumn to regulate UK-established VSPs. This will include a duty to ensure that VSPs have in place appropriate measures to protect young people from potentially harmful content and all users
from illegal content and incitement to hatred and violence. Services will also need to ensure standards around advertising are met.
This call for evidence sets out the background and legislative context to forthcoming VSP
regulation in the UK and an overview of the VSP regulatory framework. It also sets out Ofcom's approach to VSP regulation based around some core principles: protection and assurance; freedom of expression; adaptability; transparency; enforcement;
independence; and proportionality.
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
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.
Internet TV censor sets fixed fee for all participating websites
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.
Magazine publishers represented by the Periodical Publishers Association (PPA) have urged the government against inadvertently widening the scope of new video on demand regulations to include content streamed through the websites of magazine publishers.
The UK government is scheduled to implement a European directive on audiovisual content by 19 December 2009.
The directive aims to regulate TV-like VOD. Not the audio-visual material which is used to complement text and graphical material
usually found on magazine publishers' and business media companies' websites.
Guidance on the scope of the VOD services covered by the new law is due to be published. But PPA is concerned that the lack of clarity in the proposed guidance may
unintentionally impact its members.
PPA Legal Director David Hyams said: Video streamed through our members' websites is already subject to the Committee of Advertising Practice Code and editorial content on their websites is covered by the
Press Complaints Commission code. Both of which go further than the proposed regulations.
Under the new rules, the Advertising Standards Authority will continue to regulate streamed video advertising, although the directive requires that
regulations will now be enforced against the media owner rather than the advertiser.
Hyams added: This has serious cost, compliance and contractual issue for PPA members.
Ofcom have published a consultation on the future regulation and cenorship of Video on Demand (VOD) services.
Under revised European law, content on VOD services such as BBC iPlayer, 4OD, ITV Player, SkyPlayer and Demand Five will be regulated
from 19 December 2009. Such services are available through Virgin Media, Sky and BT Vision as well as through the internet.
Regulation of these services is a requirement of the EU's Audiovisual Media Services Directive and covers all VOD services
which are, according to the Directive, TV-like. The Government plans to give the overall duty to regulate these services to Ofcom.
Electronic versions of newspapers, private websites and unmoderated user generated material (hosted on
services such as YouTube) will not be regulated.
Industry Bodies ATVOD and ASA
Ofcom is consulting on its proposal that two bodies carry out most aspects of the regulation on its behalf: Ofcom proposes
that VOD services are regulated by the industry body, the Association for Television On Demand (ATVOD), and that advertising included in those services, is regulated by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
But VOD programming would not be
subject to Ofcom's Broadcasting Code, which broadcast services currently licensed in the UK have to observe
Under the proposed co-regulation, Ofcom will have back-stop powers to intervene if the new co-regulatory system does not work effectively
and Ofcom will also retain the power to impose sanctions against service providers.
Under the proposals for consultation ATVOD would regulate VOD services and would be required to ensure that programming on VOD services adheres to a number of minimum standards from the Directive which will be set out in UK legislation. Programmes, for
must not contain any incitement to hatred based on race, sex, religion or nationality
must not provide material which might seriously impair the physical, mental, or moral development of minors unless it is made available in such a way that
ensures that minors will not normally hear or see such content
sponsored programmes and services must comply with applicable sponsorship requirements.
Since 2004 the ASA has regulated TV and radio advertising in the UK under a co-regulatory agreement with Ofcom. Under the proposals for consultation the ASA would regulate the advertising on VOD services.
The new legislation requires that
advertising on VOD services must also comply with a number of minimum standards. For example:
advertising must be readily recognisable and cannot contain any surreptitious advertising or use subliminal advertising techniques
advertising must not encourage behaviour that is prejudicial to the health or safety of people
tobacco products, prescription-only medicines or medical treatments cannot be advertised.
Under Ofcom's proposals any complaints that viewers have about video material that they feel has breached these rules will be assessed by ATVOD or the ASA.
BBC content is jointly regulated by the BBC Trust and Ofcom.
Content on the BBC iPlayer will be subject to these new regulations but as with other BBC content will be regulated by the Trust and Ofcom and not under the proposed
Our consultation closes on 26th October 2009. See further details here