your2pence spoke to Stewart Purvis, former Content and Standards Partner at the UK regulator Ofcom, about how UGC is monitored and regulated.
y2p: How is UGC regulated by Ofcom?
SP: The crucial point is that the only regulation of UGC by Ofcom is when it is rebroadcast by a licensed broadcaster because then it has to meet the Broadcasting Code. In its regulation of licensed TV services Ofcom does not recognise any difference between UGC and any other content. It all has to conform to the Broadcasting Code.
“These standards [section 319 of the Communications Act] apply to all broadcast material whatever its origin: whether material is user-generated content or derived from more traditional sources.” Ofcom
y2p: Have there been any interesting cases when Ofcom has had to step in?
SP: There was an interesting test case when a mostly online content service called Sumo transmitted some of their content on Sumo TV and got into trouble. I think Sumo TV is the only case.
y2p: Should there be a regulator of non rebroadcast online content? Ofcom/PCC etc…
SP: There is a regulator of online content which is deemed to be ‘TV-like’. The regulator is called ATVOD [which regulates the editorial content of UK video on demand services].
SP: For content which is not ‘TV-like’ and that is most online content, there is no official regulator although some sites have their own standards requirements e.g. the ‘explicit’ warnings on i-tunes.
y2p: Will we see any changes in the future?
SP: The next Communications Act expected in 2015 will have to address the issues raised by media covergence.