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Ofcom regulates Amazon Instant Video

Broadcast watchdog Ofcom will regulate video-on-demand (VOD) services – such as Amazon Instant Video – although rules for VOD content differ from broadcast

The regulator of video-on-demand (VOD) and catch-up programming services – such as those provided by Amazon Instant Video – is to be brought inside telecoms and broadcasting authority Ofcom.

The move of the Authority for Television On Demand (ATVOD) regulator to Ofcom was announced following a review to ensure content is regulated efficiently.

Ofcom reviewed the arrangements for on-demand video content, led by the Ofcom-designated Authority for Television On Demand (ATVOD) since 2010.

Ofcom decided that, due to the substantial take-up of such services in the UK – a recent study from the regulator showed VOD services were watched by 57% of viewers over 15 years old in the UK in 2014, compared with 27% in 2010 – it would be more effective to bring the ATVOD regime within the telecoms and broadcasting authority.

However, Ofcom said ATVOD's rules for regulating VOD content – set out in the Audio Visual Services Directive – would remain different from those for broadcast.

Ofcom said ATVOD played an important and effective role in regulating on-demand content and the two bodies would work closely together as it moved to Ofcom's organisation, so consumers remained protected from harmful content throughout the process.

ATVOD has played a significant role in regulating on-demand content over the past five years and, similarly to Ofcom, it is committed to protecting audiences from harmful content.

The move will take effect in January 2016. The Advertising Standards Authority will continue to act as a co-regulator for advertising content on video-on-demand services.

Netflix subscribers shoot up

Ofcom’s announcement came shortly after Netflix announced its third-quarter results, showing impressive growth in subscriber numbers outside its domestic US market, backing up Ofcom’s own statistics on market growth.

The service now boasts 69.2 million members worldwide, up from 65.6 million in the second quarter and 53.1 million this time in 2014. It added two million members outside the US during the quarter.

Although revenues of $1.74bn missed analyst expectations, Netflix made international sales of $517m during the period, up $62m sequentially. 

Read more on Telecoms networks and broadband communications

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