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    Monday, 29 October 2007

    Missing the big picture?: the misdirection of the AVMS

    Russ at OfcomWatch has highlighted an interesting article in The Times that passed me by last week. The piece is focused on the new Audio-Visual Media Services Directive (AVMS - the latest revision to the Television Without Frontiers Directive - the common position on which, incidentally, the EC Commission concurred with a couple of weeks ago). In short, it queries the rationale for content regulation in the digital age and suggests that a preferable approach would be to 'equalise down' approaches to linear (traditional pushed tv) and non-linear (ostensibly Internet tv delivered on demand) rather than extending the regulatory purview to new media.

    The piece is more eloquent than allowed above. The author, Graham Smith of law firm Bird and Bird (they of the cleverly simple - or simply clever - homepage address http://www.twobirds.com/), asks rhetorically: "does internet video herald the death of broadcast content regulation as an increasingly irrelevant anachronism?".

    Smith does not remain neutral on the question for long: "broadcast content regulation is an anomalous relic of the old days of spectrum scarcity. If convergence is thought to demand platform neutrality in content regulation, it does not automatically follow that it should be achieved by extending the remit of Ofcom. On the contrary, it can be achieved by rolling back broadcast regulation and subjecting the freed-up content only to the general law. If that is not palatable, the answer is not to extend broadcast regulation into areas in which it has no business. It is to refrain from seeking full platform neutrality in content regulation". Support is drawn from the most important, and least commented, pearl of wisdom in Tony Blair's feral beast speech regarding the unsustainability of divergent approaches to media regulation as determined by (converged) technology.

    For his part, Russ offers the additional thought that the impact of the new regulation will be minimal, in particular due to the jurisdictional opportnities open to web-based publishers.

    1 comment:

    cearta said...

    There is a typically perceptive discussion of Gordon Smith's article on Lex Ferenda, entitled Audiovisual Areogapitica; explaining the title of the post, Daithí says of Smith that "he does try and position opposition to broadcast regulation in general as in the tradition of Milton, which I don’t buy, and neither should you - there’s more to it than that."

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