'TV-like': aesthetics, quality and genre in the regulation of video-on-demand services

Daithi Mac Sithigh

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1 Citation (Scopus)
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From 2010 to 2015, video-on-demand services in the UK were regulated by the Authority for Television on Demand (ATVOD), under an agreement with the statutory regulator Ofcom and applying the pan-European standards introduced through the 2007 EU Audiovisual Media Services Directive. A key question for the regulators and for service providers was whether any given service fell within the ‘scope’ of the law – that is, which services met the legal definition of an on-demand audiovisual media service. This is a study of how Ofcom exercised its role as the final arbiter of that definition, through a close examination of its 15 decisions in appeals against initial determinations by ATVOD. The use of the legal test for ‘comparability’ with conventional television services, and the regulatory focus on ‘TV-like’ on-demand services, has demonstrated the significance of production and aesthetics as a determinant of regulation. In particular, production decisions regarding titles, credits, and duration, as well as a range of issues of perceived quality (audio, video, voiceover, editing, and the like), have been taken into account. It is contended that Ofcom has relied on focus group research, rather than on wider insights from television studies research, in assessing these factors, and that the underlying Directive may have been flawed in its concepts and definitions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)464-484
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of British Cinema and Television
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 29 Sep 2017


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