Paper clips 

14 April 2011

What exactly constitutes an online video-on-demand service? Certain major newspapers are now pondering this very issue in earnest as the Authority for Television On-Demand (ATVOD) takes over online video regulation from Ofcom, declaring that their websites should pay up for behaving like online repositories for video content.

Newspapers and certain other websites have recently been complaining about the BBC supposedly encroaching on their territory by virtue of its online news service featuring text articles alongside video clips, but technological progress works both ways with certain newspaper websites now starting to behave more like repositories for video content.

This in turn raises other tricky issues such as whether video clip(s) embedded on any news-related webpage become a repository if such page(s) subsequently appear on search engines or referenced via social networking, effectively becoming an indirect video-on-demand resource, even if such activities are presently outside of ATVOD’s remit.

Should ATVOD really be chasing Google, etc., instead for such payments? And what about press-related video clips on video sharing sites like YouTube, since they then form part of a larger repository, especially with portal(s) now accessible via suitably-equipped televisions? Will foreign-based websites be able to avoid ATVOD payments altogether?

Was ATVOD actually a good idea in the first place?

It seems that ATVOD as it stands bears all the hallmarks of compromise, especially when contextualized with other media ‘regulation’ where it ends up being just another sticking plaster for other preexisting media industries when the alternative could involve the active external regulation of all commercial press content, regardless of medium.

Newsprint regulation is something that’s still voluntarily handled by the Press Complaints Commission by most newspapers, perhaps because central government still doesn’t want to upset too many established press barons, but such an arrangement is now looking hopelessly out of date even if it wasn’t that good from day one.

Now some of those newspapers are having a taste of real regulation from the ATVOD, with its attempts to regulate video-on-demand in an ever-changing online environment, but it’s fairly easy to conclude that established newspapers have effectively helped to bring an undesirable situation upon themselves in the process.

So all of this could ultimately just end up being a case of “pay up or shut up” if they wish to continue offering such functionality, with the fee perhaps being reduced on appeal (of course).

A Transdiffusion Presentation

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