Tuesday, October 17, 2006

'Video Bloggers' under threat from EU broadcast rules

Well the un-elected peeps down in Brussels have mustered up another obtrusive act to justify their over inflated wages...

THE Government is seeking to prevent an EU directive that could
extend broadcasting regulations to the internet, hitting popular
video-sharing websites such as YouTube.

The European Commission proposal would require websites and mobile
phone services that feature video images to conform to standards
laid down in Brussels.

Ministers fear that the directive would hit not only successful
sites such as YouTube but also amateur “video bloggers” who post
material on their own sites. Personal websites would have to be
licensed as a “television-like service”.

Viviane Reding, the Media Commissioner, argues that the purpose
is simply to set minimum standards on areas such as advertising,
hate speech and the protection of children.

But Shaun Woodward, the Broadcasting Minister, described the draft
proposal as catastrophic. He said: “Supposing you set up a website
for your amateur rugby club, uploaded some images and added a link
advertising your local sports shop. You would then be a supplier
of moving images and need to be licensed and comply with the

The draft rules, known as the Television Without Frontiers
directive, extend the definition of broadcasting to cover services
such as video-on-demand or mobile phone clips.

Ministers argue that while television programmes should be subject
to minimum standards, the content of websites should not be subject
to EU regulation.

Mr Woodward is proposing a compromise that requires EU states to
agree a new definition of what constitutes “television”. He said:
“It’s common sense. If it looks like a TV programme and sounds like
one then it probably is. A programme transmitted by a broadcaster
over the net could be covered by extending existing legislation.
But video clips uploaded by someone is not television. YouTube and
MySpace should not be regulated.”

British criminal law already covers material that might incite hate
or cause harm to children, Mr Woodward added. The Government’s
definition of online broadcasting covers feature films, sports events,
situation comedy, documentary, children’s programmes and original
drama. It excludes personal websites and sites where people upload
and exchange video images.

“The real risk is we drive out the next MySpace because of the cost
of complying with unnecessary regulations,” Mr Woodward said. “These
businesses can easily operate outside the EU.”

Ofcom, the media regulator, is also opposing the proposed directive,
which it believes could discourage new multimedia business in Europe.

Mr Woodward is seeking EU member state support for the British
compromise. So far only Slovakia has pledged support, but Mr Woodward
believes that other nations will come onboard before a key EU Council
meeting on November 13.

The influence of “user-generated” websites was demonstrated last week
when Google bought YouTube for $1.65 billion (£883 million). Launched
in February 2005, it has grown into one of the most popular websites.
YouTube has 100 million videos viewed every day.

The House of Lords European Union Committee began an inquiry yesterday
into the directive, which could also introduce paid-for product
placement on UK television for the first time.

Lord Woolmer, the committee chairman, said: “The proposals bring
within the regulatory framework areas of the media previously
untouched by broadcasting legislation.

“Britain is at the cutting edge of new media and alternative
broadcasters in Europe, and we are keen to ensure that the proposals
will not damage this growing industry in seeking to incorporate them
into EU regulation.”

Article here TimesOnline


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