Government crack down on video on demand providers

Post date: 
Saturday, 1 March 2014
TV, Radio and Film

On 30 July 2013 Department of Media, Culture and Sport released a policy paper called Connectivity, Content and Consumers: Britain's digital platform for growth.

This paper addresses consumer need and proposes legislative changes to provide a better service to people with disabilities.

On 30 July the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) released a “policy paper” called "Connectivity, Content and Consumers: Britain’s digital platform for growth" as a response to a long period of consultation. This paper addresses the needs of the consumers and proposes a number of legislative changes in addition to a range of voluntary non-regulatory initiatives like the UK Online Centres that are already under way.

Addressing needs of people with disabilities

The paper asserts that new communication services, especially the online platforms, should be accessible to everyone including people who find it more difficult to use new technologies, such as those with disabilities and the elderly. The government is currently working with the e-accessibility Forum to encourage the industry to adopt guidelines on inclusive design and share best practice across all sectors to improve access to online services for people with disabilities.

UK broadcasters and other content providers get a special mention in the paper. It confirms that the government would like the UK to maintain its position as the world leader regarding the extent and the quality of access services available and in having broadcasters and other content providers who have committed to meet the needs of disabled people.

Following the commitment from the Public Service broadcasters, excluding Channel 5, who voluntarily agreed to provide audio description on 20 per cent of their content, the Government commits to work with Ofcom and stakeholders to increase the levels of audio description by non-public service broadcasters.

Additional measures to protect consumers in this area include:

  • Ofcom’s increasing focus on implementation of Electronic Programme Guides having, for example, clearly labelled and easy to find channels, and a complaints process for when this fails. The technical challenges to delivering this are being tackled by the industry-led Digital Television Group. This relates to given channels the same order and priority ranking across electronic programme guides for different platforms.
  • Working with the Authority for Television on Demand (ATVOD), the UK’s independent co-regulator for the editorial content of video-on-demand (VoD) services, to increase the levels of subtitles and audio-description for on-demand content and we will monitor progress through its annual survey. The paper clearly states that, "If it is clear that progress isn’t being made in three years’ time – a reasonable timeframe in our view – we will consider legislation (in this area)."

Praise from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport

In the acknowledgements, amongst other charities, consumer groups, mainstream equipment organisations, broadcasters and individuals, DCMS has thanked RNIB for contributing to this review over the past two years.

We have provided input in one to one meetings, in seminars, and with a response to the Secretary of State's open letter. 

Further information

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