Ofcom clears ATVOD to continue regulatory role

The Authority for Television On-Demand (ATVOD), the body designated by overarching communications regulator Ofcom in relation to the regulation of on-demand programme services, has been cleared to continue in its role, also being released from a number of significant obligations.

Ofcom, in accordance with the 2010 Designation, had undertaken a Review as part of a broader look at how co-regulation was working and whether the body was still appropriate to be regulating ‘TV-like’ Internet services.

Ofcom has decided to maintain the co-regulatory model, under the Designation. It has also decided to make some amendments to the Designation. Ofcom’s assessment is that ATVOD has adequately performed its functions and carried out its duties. These include in respect of the following matters which were the main focus of stakeholders’ responses to the Review:

• the scope of regulation and the notification to ATVOD of On Demand Programmig Service (ODPS);
• the setting of regulatory fees; and
• the enforcement of content standards.

Ofcom’s current views are that, in the particular context of ODPS and the relevant part of the Act:
• Industry’s incentives and citizens and consumers’ interests are sufficiently aligned as to support co-regulation (by ATVOD under the Designation) for the time being; and
• with the amendments we have decided to make, the Designation, together with the concurrent and backstop powers it and the Act give to Ofcom, would provide for an effective and efficient co-regulatory model, involving co-regulatory bodies with an appropriate balance of powers, consistent with the appropriate principles and statutory requirements.

Subject to the amendments Ofcom decided to make to the Designation, ATVOD will, therefore, retain the functions, powers and obligations delegated to it, with a number of obligations removed.

Among the significant amendments are that ATVOD no longer needs to refer to Ofcom any particular case to decide whether a service is an ODPS or whether a programme is included in an ODPS and to remove ATVOD’s obligation to obtain Ofcom’s approval prior to publishing or amending ATVOD’s guidance on the statutory rules and/or on the scope of regulation.

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