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ATVOD – Am I in or am I out? Almost everyone has the potential to create and make available video content these days,  whether they are in the media sector, or not. In fact, it could be argued that everyone is a media company now. But many who are new to the ‘on-demand’ content creation arena will have found out about ATVOD the hard way. Indeed we are finding more and more that it is very easy to be caught out – retailers, football clubs, magazine publishers,  and the porn industry – no-one is immune. ATVOD (the Authority for Television on Demand) is part of a co-regulatory regime with Ofcom and any video content which qualifies as an ‘On-Demand Programme Service’ (ODPS) will fall into ATVOD’s regulatory remit. What counts as an ODPS can be extremely difficult to define, and ATVOD is trying desperately to determine the boundaries.  However this is at the moment resulting in a large amount of controversy and challenge as to what should be covered. How do you navigate this minefield and establish whether or not you are in or out? Essentially, to be an OPDS, a service must fulfil five criteria:

  • Its “principal purpose” must be the provision of “TV-like” content (these are 2 very challenging and controversial tests!)
  • Access to it must be on-demand (this includes downloads and ownership models too.)
  • Someone must be editorially responsible for it (that’s you…probably)
  • It must be made available by that person for use by members of the public (corporate or closed group video is excluded.)
  • That person must be within the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom (Simple?  Not in the internet world!)

If ATVOD deems you are running a regulated service, you have to pay them up to £25,000 a year, and comply with a host of rules that impact on your freedom to create and monetise the content.  If you try and avoid them, you could be hit with a fine and other regulatory sanctions. We have seen by the recent spate of activity on the part of ATVOD that they are willing to enforce their role, but there have also been a number of successful appeals against the widening net. So if you’re not sure about ATVOD, it’s worth spending some time to find out where you stand. For more information, contact David Deakin. david.deakin@wiggin.co.uk

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