Ofcom: Atvod can’t regulate publisher videos

UK tabloid The Sun has won an appeal to stop the video section of its website being monitored by regulators, a ruling that also clears services offered by all other newspaper publishers.

Ofcom has upheld an appeal by News Group Newspapers, the parent company of the Sun, not to allow the video section of the paper’s website to be classified as an on-demand programme service.

If the service had been classified as such it would have been subject to regulation by the Association of TV On Demand (Atvod), the body responsible for regulating “TV-like” video services, which would have included paying an annual £2,900 fee.

Ofcom overturned the submission from Atvod that the Sun’s video section should be regulated after deciding that the video content is ancillary to news stories and features, and is not a standalone service.
Following Ofcom’s announcement, Atvod released a statement withdrawing submissions that a host of other video services from newspaper and magazine publishers should also fall under its remit.

Atvod has dropped its cases against the Sunday Times Video Library, Telegraph TV, the Independent Video, FT Video, Guardian Video, Guardian YouTube, News of the World TV and Elle TV.

“Given the clear similarities between the Sun and the other newspaper and magazine websites under appeal, we have moved quickly to confirm that the determinations in relation to those services are being withdrawn with immediate effect,” said Pete Johnson, chief executive of Atvod.

Although the story has led to some observers questioning Atvod’s viability as it significantly cuts the number of industry players from which it can seek fees, the Authority contends that its viability is not in question at all. “Our budget and fee setting did not assume that we would receive fee income from services which were the subject of appeals and we do not expect to have a shortfall of income over expenditure. There are currently 178 notified services (excluding any at appeal) compared with an estimate of 150 made at the start of the year,” commented Johnson.

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