UK rejects proposal to regulate online video

Ministers tried to propose a compromise yesterday in an attempt to prevent the European Union extending television regulation to encompass Internet video.

Writing to all European Union member states, the Government said that it “was strongly of the view” that the scope of the directive should be confined just to television broadcasting.

However, the letter did concede that if Europe wanted to widen the scope of regulation, it should draw in only video on demand — such as HomeChoice and BT’s forthcoming Vision service — because it is “closely similar to traditional television”.

At issue is the revision of the 1989 Television Without Frontiers Directive, which introduced a basic framework for television regulation across the European Union. The first draft of the directive also proposed introducing limited regulation of “non-linear audio-visual content” — Europe-speak for video online.

Officials led by Viviane Reding, the European Media Commissioner, argue that they want only to introduce minimum standards, banning racial and religious hatred and ensuring the protection of minors.

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