VoD services, except for BBC iPlayer, are not subject to Ofcom’s Broadcasting Code, which includes enhanced protections to audiences from harmful and offensive material. VoD services apply a range of audience protection tools, including password-protected accounts, pin codes, content warnings and age verification. However, approaches are not consistent across services and can lack familiar, trustworthy signposting and guidance, which may cause concern and confusion. The government is minded to better align the rules between VoD services that provide a TV-like experience and ‘traditional’ linear TV, ensuring UK audiences receive a similar level of protection.
According to Ofcom’s Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes Report 2020/21, the UK’s digital divide has narrowed over the last year as the proportion of homes without internet access reduced from 11% in March 2020 to 6% in March 2021 (though around 1.5m homes still remain offline). Adults with previously limited digital skills have embraced online shopping, digital banking and video calling friends and relatives – while younger people acted as IT support, helping older or less digitally-confident friends and relatives get connected. (more…)
The government’s digital strategy recognises the increased importance of digital technology and data in people’s lives and wants the UK to maximise the benefits of a tech-led recovery to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Following the earlier consultation on the Online Harms White Paper, a new regulatory framework has been announced by Secretary of State for DCMS and Secretary of State for the Home Department. A new Online Safety Bill will be published in 2021 and Ofcom will be named as the new online harms regulator.
The 2018 revision to the AVMS Directive introduces a regulatory framework for a new category of service, Video-Sharing Platforms (VSPs). In September the government transposed the framework into the Communications Act. From 01 November 2020 VSP providers must comply with new requirements aimed at protecting users from harmful content. They will need to take appropriate measures to protect children from harmful content and protect the general public from incitement to hatred, violence, and criminal content. Ofcom has powers to take enforcement action in line with its existing enforcement guidelines for regulatory investigations. (more…)
Ofcom has published its Communications Market Report.
Revenue from telecoms contributed £32 billion to the UK economy in 2019. Retail fixed and mobile generated £13.4 billion and the remainder was from wholesale revenues. Ofcom also reported that 80% of households have a fixed broadband connection and 98% have a mobile phone. (more…)
Ofcom published its third annual UK media nations report.
In April when the UK was in full lockdown, the average amount of time people spent watching audio-visual content increased to an estimated 6 hours 25 minutes per person per day, an hour and a half more than the average figure for 2019.
The Covid-19 crisis has reinforced the importance of public service broadcasters as trusted providers of news and information. Demand for news programming helped them to achieve their highest combined monthly viewing share in more than 6 years in March 2020, when they captured 59% of broadcast TV viewing. BBC services were the most-used source of news and information about Covid-19, with 82% of people saying they used them for this purpose in the first week of lockdown, well ahead of social media and other sources. The Prime Minister’s broadcasts to the nation, on announcing lockdown in March, easing lockdown in May and the Queen’s address in April were the top three most viewed. BBC dramas such as Normal People helped BBC iPlayer attract a record 570 million programme requests in May 2020 which was 72% higher than last year. (more…)
The three regulators CMA, ICO and Ofcom have announced the formation of a non-statutory body, Digital Regulation Cooperation to ensure online services work well for consumers and businesses. The forum brings together collective knowledge and will help to coordinate action and support the development of informed and responsive regulation. Through the forum the organisations aim to achieve coherent, informed and responsive regulation of the UK digital economy. (more…)
The ONS this week published their annual Internet Access – households and individuals report.
The release highlighted a number of trends which we have witnessed over the last few years, not least that household internet access has largely plateaued;
With a high penetration of households and more people using mobile internet than ever before, understandably usage remains extremely high with 87% of adults using the internet daily in 2019. Whilst this includes the traditional demographic trend of younger people tending to use the internet more, 2019 saw the first year in which more than half of adults aged 65 years and over shopped online;
Of course this still leaves a significant minority of people and households who do not have internet access. The reasons for this are relatively well understood in terms of access to connectivity, skills and financial restrictions. However, the overriding factor for the ONS release was attitude/awareness with 61% of households who do not have internet access saying they did not need it.
This ties in with the BSG’s recent research on digital inclusion.
The BSG today published the ‘Good Practice Principles on Audiovisual Content Information – One Year on’.
Last year the BSG facilitated the creation and publication of the Audiovisual Content Information Good Practice Principles. The principles committed signatories to providing clear, consistent information about audiovisual content, in order to ensure that consumers are able to make informed choices about commercially provided content.
This paper has been published one year following the launch, to give an update on how the principles have worked in practice. This includes how the signatories are working to meet the principles, and also includes information from three new signatories to the principles: BSkyB, MySpace and Tiscali.
The Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG), the UK broadband advisory body, has faciliated the development of good practice principles on audiovisual content information, agreed to by leading players in the industry.
Research by Ofcom has demonstrated that consumers, particularly parents, want clear information about the content they and their children can access, whether it is online, on a mobile phone or on television.
These principles set out the underlying approach that content providers are taking so that consumers get the information they need, and in a way that makes sense to them across different platforms.
Building on existing good practice, the principles promote common sense, simplicity and transparency to ensure that consumers are empowered to make safe and informed choices about commercially produced content.
They relate to content that may be unsuitable for children and young people or which some members of the public may find offensive.
While the format of the information provided may vary from platform to platform, content providers are committed to ensuring that it:
- is easy to use and understand
- enables the user to make informed choices
- uses plain and consistent language
- is practical for the medium in which it is made available
- Channel 4
- Mobile Broadband Group (represents Orange, 02, 3, T-Mobile, Vodafone and Virgin Mobile)
- Teacher’s TV
- Virgin Media
- ATVOD (Association for Television On Demand)
- BBFC (British Board of Film Classification)
- FOSI (Family Online Safety Institute)