UK’s internet video regulator is here to stay

The UK’s controversial new VOD regulator has been re-appointed to the task, after a review backed every aspect of its work.

The Authority for Television On-Demand (ATVOD) has ruffled online publisher and broadcaster feathers since its introduction in 2010. Complaints included:

  • the fees ATVOD charges operators to be regulated by it
  • classifying online publishers like newspapers sites as “TV-like” under its auspice.

But, after an inquiry launched in May in to ATVOD’s suitability, UK communications regulator Ofcom has concluded it is acting adequately on all counts.

It has re-assigned ATVOD to continue overseeing content standards on UK “TV-like” VOD services. In fact, Ofcom is also giving ATVOD more freedom to act without having to notify it of certain aspects of its work.

ATVOD’s renewal may come as a disappointment to some online publishers. Newspaper and magazine publishers like News International have protested being classified for ATVOD’s attention, arguing that any video they publish is just a small part of their service. BSkyB has argued that rightsholders of the TV shows it makes available through its on-demand TV service should be held responsible for the content, and not it.

ATVOD was appointed in 2010 because the UK consented to implement the European Commission’s 2007 Audio-Visual Media Services directive – legislation which compels “TV-like” services (including online) to protect minors from harmful content, to comply with sponsorship requirements and not to incite hatred. Ofcom, which adopted the directive, handed joint implementation to ATVOD under its oversight.

ATVOD recently reduced the fees required by companies it regulates by 3.58 percent.