The Sun publisher News Group Newspapers has won its appeal against rules which could have seen the video section of its website being monitored by the regulator Authority for Television On-Demand (ATVOD).
The ruling has resulted in ATVOD dropping similar cases against publishers including The Sunday Times, the FT, The Guardian and The Independent.
The Sun’s appeal has been upheld by the media regulator Ofcom, which means the video part of its website cannot be classified as an on-demand programme service.
Earlier this year ATVOD ruled that short video clips on publishers’ websites provided a “TV-like” service, which meant publishers must register with ATVOD and pay an annual fee which they feared could rise to high as £25,000.
In a statement ATVOD said:
ATVOD has acted promptly following a decision by Ofcom today to uphold an appeal by News Group Newspapers Ltd. against a determination by ATVOD that The Sun’s website included a video on demand service which fell within the video on demand regulator’s remit. Given the similarities between The Sun case and other newspaper and magazine websites, ATVOD has today announced that it will withdraw its Determinations that The Sunday Times Video Library, Telegraph TV, The Independent Video, FT Video, Guardian Video, Guardian You Tube, News of the World TV and Elle TV were On-Demand Programme Services.
ATVOD had held that The Sun’s internet video offering met the definition of an On-Demand Programme Service, set out in the Communications Act 2003. The Ofcom decision is that the Sun Video section of the website (previously styled as ‘Sun TV’) is not subject to regulation by ATVOD.
ATVOD chief executive Pete Johnson said:
Most people will recognise that defining the scope of new regulations in a fast-moving market is a complex and difficult task.
The appeal system is a vital part of the process, giving users and providers of video on demand services greater clarity over where the new protections for consumers do and do not apply.
Given the clear similarities between The Sun and the other newspaper and magazine websites under appeal, we have moved quickly to confirm that the determinations in relation to those services are being withdrawn with immediate effect.
We will now reflect further on the appeal judgement and consider any implications it may have for any other past and future rulings on whether a service falls within ATVOD’s remit.