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Friday, December 18, 2009

Practical video-on-demand co-regulation announced

And its pretty regulatory for 'television-like' services, comes into force tomorrow:

1.17 Since publication of the Consultation, ATVOD has, with the cooperation of industry stakeholders and Ofcom, undertaken a range of activities with a view to ensuring that ATVOD would be fit-for-purpose to be designated as a co-regulatory body. These activities include:
  • recruitment of a new Chief Executive Officer and a new Chairman of the ATVOD Board;
  • recruitment of new independent members of the ATVOD Board;
  • recruitment of a part-time company secretary;
  • taking measures to help establish adequate funding for ATVOD to carry out its co-regulatory duties; and
  • the development of a suite of documents covering complaints handling, and editorial standards requirements and interpretative guidance.
1.18 In Section 4 of this Statement, we lay out our decisions concerning the functions we intend to designate to ATVOD in relation to VOD editorial content:
  • in addition to the powers laid out in the ATVOD Proposal, we also intend to designate to ATVOD the power to issue enforcement notices against VOD service providers in relation to contraventions of the standards requirements covering VOD editorial content. We are continuing to discuss with ATVOD the appropriate terms for designation;
  • the duty to encourage VOD service providers to ensure that their services are gradually made more accessible to people with sight or hearing disabilities ("the Access Duty"); and
  • the duty to ensure that VOD service providers promote production of and access to European works ("the European Works Duty").
1.19 However, in designating both the Access Duty and the European Works Duty, we would explicitly require ATVOD to:

  • prepare written plans to discharge these duties, which must be approved by Ofcom; and 
  • report regularly on these issues to Ofcom.

1.20 Ofcom's approach, in principle, to co-regulation of VOD editorial content is, when powers and duties in this area are granted to Ofcom, to designate the widest possible range of powers and duties to the co-regulator. Under the relevant legislation, Ofcom retains such powers and duties in parallel and may act as the appropriate regulatory authority concurrently or in place of the co-regulator. We therefore anticipate designating the widest possible range of powers to ATVOD, subject to ATVOD not being permitted to exercise a certain restricted number of other powers. Powers that only Ofcom could exercise include:

  • the anticipated power to determine decisions on scope referred to Ofcom; 
  • and certain powers to impose statutory sanctions (financial penalties, or suspension/restriction of service): 
  • firstly, relating to notification issues, once notification has become a statutory obligation; and 
  • second, relating to potential contraventions of the Act that might be recorded by ATVOD.

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