The internet may seem a lawless fiefdom where anything goes but a fiercely fought battle over the rights to regulate audiovisual content threatens to re-shape the future direction of digital content.
A newly established regulatory body, The Association for television on demand (Atvod), is leading threats to upend long cherished freedoms enjoyed by the press in their right to self regulation under the auspices of the Press Complaints Commission by challenging the rights of newspapers to exist outwith its remit.
In a letter to publishers the body has bared its teeth by identifying “television-like” content currently being displayed on newspapers without regulation was a loophole that it, alongside co-regulator Ofcom, wished to see closed.
The move comes amidst a flurry of EU directives geared toward creation of a level playing field between broadcasters and websites, a process which could see identified papers forced to stump up a £2,900 fee.
Distinction will be made however between video content that is integral to a websites content and those which are brought together in one place on the site.
The PCC are resisting the measure, pointing out that their remit was expanded in 2007 to cover the content that Atvod now wishes to get its mitts on.
If Atvod is successful in its bid it will be the first time that the UK press, which cherishes its self-regulatory status - has been brought under legislative control.