Advanced Television

UK DCMS to regulate VOD services

July 28, 2008

Plans to regulate video-on -demand services and product placement on British television have been set out by Department of Culture Media and Sport in a consultation document published by Culture Secretary Andy Burnham.
The proposals are part of a comprehensive consultation on how the UK should implement the EU Audio Visual Media Services (AVMS) Directive. The Directive updates EU minimum standards on scheduled television services. It also for the first time brings in common standards for VOD services.
Burnham said: “Preserving standards must be the guiding principles as we look to the media of the future. We need to ensure that traditional protections against inappropriate content and advertising standards are secured as technology advances. While citizens embrace the opportunities offered by massively increased choice of content, and can watch on demand on TVs, online or phones, it’s right that the same standards apply.”
The consultation focuses on the Government’s proposals on three specific issues in the Directive. These are: 
– product placement in television and VOD services
– introducing a system for regulating VOD services in the UK 
– controls over the content of non-EU satellite channels which are uplinked from a ground station in the UK.
The AVMS Directive states that all EU member states must prohibit product placement, but they may decide to allow certain exemptions. Currently product placement is banned on any UK made programmes. The Government has already said its initial view is not to change this. The consultation document however sets out the arguments for and against, and seeks views from both sides.
Under the Directive the UK also has an obligation to ensure its VOD services meet new cross-EU standards. It encourages Member States to seek an industry solution in which the system of regulation is owned and run by the VOD industry, but with backup powers for Government or a national authority such as Ofcom. The consultation seeks views on a number of different options designed to achieve this.
The consultation runs for three months and closes on 31 October, 2008.

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