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Ofcom opens consultation on the Audiovisual Media Services Regulations 2020

More Guidance

23 November 2020

On 1 November 2020, new regulations (the AVMS Regulations) applying to UK-established video sharing platforms (VSPs) came into force. VSPs must now take 'appropriate measures' to achieve and implement specified protection purposes, including protecting minors from content that might impair their physical, mental or moral development and protecting the public from content that incites violence or hatred.

You can find our analysis of the new regulations, related Ofcom guidance, and proposed next steps here.

Futher Guidance

On 19 November 2020, Ofcom published further draft guidance aimed, specifically, at helping potential VSPs understand whether they fall within the scope of the AVMS Regulations and, as such, are obliged to notify Ofcom of their services.

Ofcom is inviting industry stakeholders and affected parties to comment on the Guidance with a view to publishing its final guidance on the matter, taking into account the feedback it receives, in March 2021. The deadline for responses is 5pm (GMT) on 14 January 2020.

Ofcom expects to consult, separately, in early 2021, on the types of harm that the AVMS Regulations are designed to protect against and the appropriate measures that VSPs will have to take to be compliant. This is with a view to publishing final guidance on the topic in Summer 2021.

What is a VSP?

To be classified as a VSP under the AVMS Regulations, the following conditions must be satisfied:

  • the principal purpose or essential functionality of the service, or a dissociable section of the service, must be to provide videos to members of the public;
  • the service must be made available by means of an electronic communications network;
  • the service, or dissociable section of the service, must be provided on a commercial basis; and
  • the service must have general control over the manner in which videos are organised but not have general control over what videos and content are available.

It is worth noting that the AVMS Regulations apply both to whole platforms (such as websites or apps) and subsections or services of platforms (such as subdomains of a web properties or distinct parts of an app). As such, content providers who do not ordinarily think of themselves as VSPs, such as newspapers, but do host audiovisual content, will need to consider the AVMS Regulations and the Guidance to determine whether there are parts of their service that fall within the scope.

Your obligation to notify Ofcom

VSPs which fall within the jurisdiction of the UK are responsible for notifying Ofcom of their services between 6 April 2021 and 6 May 2021.

This article was written by Will Hanway, Trainee Lawyer, TMT Group