Broadcasting watchdog to oversee newspapers’ online videos

Image by Shenghung Lin via Flickr Creative Commons

This is a few days old, but it could shake things up: the body that regulates video on demand intends to start monitoring the online video output of several UK newspapers and magazines, including Sun Video, News of the World Video, Elle TV and Sunday Times Video Library. This means that the output of traditional newspaper sites, previously covered by the Press Complaints Commission (PCC), will fall under the Authority for Television On Demand (ATVOD), which is a regulatory body with far more powers than the PCC.

ATVOD has sought control of these services because it they are “designed to offer TV-like programmes on-demand”, which is the authority’s remit. Publishers have battled the decision, saying that the videos are part of their newspapers’ output and should be governed by the PCC’s code of practice.

Twenty years ago we were all absolutely certain what a newspaper was. Now newspapers are sprawling, nebulous entities, and newspaper journalism covers everything from the printed article to blogs, comment moderating, interactives, events, podcasting, slideshows, and increasing quantities of video. And as journalists, we can flourish – but must be at least competent in more than one of the above. When this isn’t terrifying, it’s quite exciting.

Anyway. Back to ATVOD versus the newspapers. ATVOD chair Ruth Evans said her organisation had “no desire or remit to regulate the press”, and gave a clear, if debatable, definition of where she thinks newspapers end and on-demand TV begins: “Where video content appears as an integral part of an online version of a newspaper, for example alongside a text based story, then the service falls outside our remit.” The full ruling is here.

When you watch videos on a newspaper site, do you view it as inherently different from the rest of their content?

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