In a landmark ruling Ofcom has backed a decision by the industry regulator ATVOD that three Viacom companies were responsible for their own content on the Virgin Media platform.
Nickelodeon UK Limited, The Paramount Partnership and MTV Networks Europe had each appealed against ATVOD determinations that they respectively hold regulatory responsibility for the Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and MTV video on demand content on the Virgin Media platform.
The decision means that the three Viacom companies rather than Virgin Media are responsible for ensuring that the services comprising their video on demand programmes on the Virgin Media platform comply with the statutory rules that apply to On Demand Programme Services.
“This is a complex area and the appeal system is a vital part of the process, giving service providers, in particular, greater clarity over where regulatory responsibility lies,” said ATVOD chief executive Pete Johnson.
Ofcom based its decision on the definition of “editorial responsibility” as defined in section 368A of the Communications Act 2003, which states that a person has editorial responsibility for a service if that person has general control over what programmes are included in the service and over the manner in which those programmes are organised within the service.
In the original determination made in July 2011, Comedy Central argued that how the service was branded, promoted and marketed was all controlled by Virgin Media. However, ATVOD said such techniques were used by aggregators to facilitate the location of content.
The position was muddied by the acceptance of editorial responsibility by both BT Vision and the now defunct SeeSaw.