Ofcom Hands Over UK VoD Content Regulation To ATVOD

Jonathan Sutton

In addition to the existing BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, Channel 4’s 4oD and Demand Five, quite a number of new video-on-demand (VoD) services are about to hit United Kingdom: YouView, the venture formerly known as Project Canvas backed by BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, BT, TalkTalk and Arqiva; Sony’s Qriocity subscription service that will allow PS3 users to stream HD music and video on demand; and to a lesser extent Google TV that is co-developed by Google, Intel, Sony and Logitech. Given the inevitable boom in this particular area of media entertainment, an organisation has been set up and empowered to provide statutory regulation in this previously unsupervised sector.

Association for Television On Demand (ATVOD) is the name of the regulating body. Initially designated as a co-regulator responsible for overseeing editorial content on VoD services in the UK, ATVOD has taken over the duty in full from Ofcom as of yesterday. ATVOD will handle complaints from viewers about all UK VoD content, and make sure that the content are compliant with the EU Audiovisual Media Services Directive which has been approved to protect the minors and monitor product placements among other objectives.

Ofcom decided to hand over the responsibility fully to ATVOD because only a low number of editorial complaints were lodged since March this year (when the task was shared between the 2 parties). Complaints over the advertisements broadcast within the VoD platforms remain under the jurisdiction of Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) with some input from Ofcom.

ATVOD’s Board of Members include Ofcom board founder member Sara Nathan, chief executive of the Advertising Association Tim Lefroy, Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board (BARB) chairman and ASA council member Nigel Walmsley, broadcast compliance professional Ian McBride, and former Ofcom consumer panel’s deputy chair Ruth Evans. Daniel Austin from BSkyB’s legal department, Simon Milner from BT’s Group Industry Policy division, Simon Hunt from Virgin Media, and Chris Loweth from Channel 5’s legal compliance team have also been given roles to offer perspectives from the VoD industry in general.