Ofcom has published new guidance covering the licensing of channels that broadcast into multiple territories. Confusion has arisen over the localisation of channels where there are variations in either programming content or advertisements.
The UK has long since provided ‘offshore’ licensing for channels such as the Scandinavian TV3 channels, which initially based themselves in the UK in order to circumvent local advertising regulations. As multichannel television services have evolved major broadcasters including Sony, MTV and Discovery Channel use the UK as a hub, even though their channels might not always be active in the UK market.
Ofcom says service providers themselves are responsible for deciding, and notifying, whether their content is different – and for a service to qualify for just a single licence the public must be able to watch the same editorial content and advertisements at the same time. The exception to the rule are some of the timeshifted +1 hour services and regional variations where one or more programmes are occasionally substituted.
Feeds with different editorial content (with the same or different advertisements, and whether in the same or different languages), staggercast channels with the same content shown in a different order or channels with the same editorial content with different advertisements all require a separate licence.