Melon Farmers Original Version

Minister of Nasty Cultures

Andy Burnham as UK government internet censor

18th May

Update: Filtered Out as Low Priority...

Andy Burnham's international internet censorship going nowhere fast

Months after announcing his intention to work with the Obama administration to develop new restrictions on unacceptable material online, Culture Secretary Andy Burnham is still waiting for anyone in Washington to listen to him.

At the end of December, Burnham took to the airwaves and newspaper pages to decry content that should just not be available to be viewed . He also suggested international cooperation to create a system of cinema-style age ratings for English language websites.

But yesterday in response to a question from the Liberal Democrats, Burnham's junior minister Barbara Follett conceded that four months into the new US administration, no progress had been made on the plans. Officials in London were still waiting for someone interested to be appointed across the Atlantic, she explained.

I remain keen to discuss an international approach to areas of public concern about certain internet content and look forward to engaging with the appropriate member of the US Administration once the relevant appointment has been made, Follett said.


12th March

Internet TV Censor...

Burnham will create co-regulatory censor for Video on Demand services

Culture secretary Andy Burnham has confirmed he will create a co-regulatory body, led and funded by the industry, to take on responsibility for regulating programme content on video-on-demand services. Under the new rules, all UK providers of VOD services will need to notify the co-regulator that they are providing a service, Burnham's department for culture, media and sport said.

Burnham's announcement signals the UK government's acceptance of most of the provisions in the European Commission's new Audiovisual Media Services directive (AVMS), drafted in 2007 to replace its 20-year-old Television Without Frontiers rules. AVMS, which is being implemented by EU member states, makes the first regulatory distinction between linear and on-demand media, which was designated to get only light-touch regulation.

Burnham's implementation through co-regulation will throw the spotlight on the existing Association for Television On Demand (ATVOD), which has operated since 2003 to self-regulate the sector.

Burnham said: Video-on-demand services only come within the scope of the AVMS directive if they are mass media services whose principal purpose is to provide TV programmes to the public on demand.

But technology is changing rapidly and the interpretation already appears out-dated. Not only is YouTube already available on TV sets through Apple TV, Nintendo Wii etc, and not only do services like Joost absolutely want to provide TV shows on-demand… most web-based VOD services ultimately also want carriage to the TV, too. In appealing to those such services, BBC's Project Canvas, for example, is aiming to make internet VOD mass media , just as Burnham defined.


2nd February

Diary: Taming the Wild Web?...

Westminster Media Forum on online content regulation

Wednesday 11th February 2009
Sixty One Whitehall, London SWIA 2ET

  • The internet: ‘A lawless zone'?

    To what extent was Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Rt Hon Andy Burnham MP correct when he described the internet as ‘lawless'? Who currently regulates what? How effective is the regulation currently in place, and where should responsibility for regulation lie? Are there areas of the web that need greater regulation? Are there areas that are over regulated? How prevalent is illegal content online? What impact does inappropriate, illegal or ‘extreme' content have on consumers, citizens and business?

    Tim Toulmin, Director, Press Complaints Commission
    Peter Robbins, Chief Executive, Internet Watch Foundation
    Richard Mollett, Director of Public Affairs, BPI
    Will Gardner, Deputy CEO, Childnet International
    Camille de Stempel, Director of Policy, AOL UK
  • Online Protection

    Derek Wyatt MP, Co-Chair, All Party Parliamentary Communications Group
  • Online content regulation

    Jeremy Olivier, Head of Multimedia, Ofcom
  • Options for regulation

    How can online content be regulated? Should illegal activities such as intellectual property, copyright infringement and inappropriate images be regulated equally? Who should regulate, and what should be the extent of their powers? Could Australian and Chinese style filtering be used in the UK? How would increasing regulation affect creativity and entrepreneurship? What impact will regulation have on web 2.0 environment and sites containing user-generated content? Who should be responsible for content? What could be the unintended consequences?

    Peter Johnson, Head of Policy and Business Development, BBFC
    Christopher Stokes, Chief Executive, NetResult
    Annie Mullins, Head of Content Standards, Vodafone
    Ben Allgrove, Senior Associate, Baker & McKenzie
    Sonia Livingstone, Professor of Social Psychology, Director of Graduate Studies, London School of Economics and Political Science
    Senior representative, Open rights


11th January

 Offsite: Rated as Inept...

Andy Burnham takes a pounding on fellow MP's website

See article from


5th January

 Offsite: Virtually impossible...

The Guardian comments on Burnham's bollox internet censorship idea

See article from


2nd January

 Offsite: Pipedreams...

Government pipedreams on internet ratings doomed to fail

See article from


21st October

 Offsite: Government Internet No Go Gone...

UK government says: Regulate the internet

See article from


16th October

Update: Bad Omens...

TV censor looks to becoming internet censor

Outgoing Ofcom chairman David Currie has said that his successor should expect the communications censor to have an expanded remit with responsibility for stricter control over internet content.

Currie, making what will be his final annual lecture for Ofcom before leaving at Easter next year, said there was an appetite among legislators for putting a tighter rein on the net now the medium had moved beyond its formative stages.

Echoing comments last month by culture secretary Andy Burnham, who argued that it was time for a different approach to tightening up taste and decency online, Currie said Ofcom was likely to find its remit expanded, following his departure, to encompass digital media.

Ask most legislators today, and, where they think about it, they will say that period [of forbearance] is coming to an end. To say this is not Ofcom going looking for trouble ... but a marker for my successor that Ofcom is likely to find its remit being stretched, he added.

Currie made it clear that any scenario that saw an expanded Ofcom remit would not simply import old broadcasting-style regulation to the internet.


4th October

 Offsite: Burnham Bollox...

Hobbling the internet to keep television safe is a bad idea

See article from


3rd October

 Offsite: Nasty Censorship Culture...

UK minister looks for delete key on user generated content

See article from


1st October

Update: Minister of Nasty Cultures...

Andy Burnham picks up the job of UK government internet censor

Video-sharing websites - such as YouTube - could be forced to carry cinema-style guidance ratings, it has emerged.

Ministers are planning to introduce tough new rules to make websites carry age certificates and warning signs on films featuring sex, violence or strong language.

Minister of Nasty Cultures, Andy Burnham, said that tougher content guidance would help parents monitor their children's internet use.

Burnham said he wanted online content to meet the same standards required for television and the cinema. At the moment, there is no overall regulation of the internet. He said video clips may soon have to carry ratings such as the 'U', 'PG', '12' and '18' ones used by cinemas.

Burnham pointed to the example of the BBC iplayer which carries content warnings on programmes screened after the 9pm watershed and allows parents to turn on a parental guidance lock to stop youngsters accessing inappropriate material.

He said: With the 9pm watershed, parents had complete clarity about the content. But with the internet, parents are ensure about what is appropriate and what isn't. We have to start talking more seriously about standards and regulation on the internet.

I don't think it is impossible that before you download something there is a symbol or wording which tells you what's in that content. If you have a clip that is downloaded a million times then that is akin to broadcasting.

It doesn't seem over-burdensome for these to be regulated.

His comments were backed by the Home Secretary Jacqui Smith who said she had been 'shocked' at some of the material viewed by her sons. She added: I do think it's important that parents of young children are clear, just as they are when going to see a film at the cinema, about what's appropriate and what isn't appropriate.


27th September

Nasty Cultures...

Labour nutter plans internet censorship just to even things up for TV companies

The culture secretary, Andy Burnham, said that the government plans to crack down on the internet to even up the regulatory imbalance with television.

Burnham, in a keynote speech at the Royal Television Society conference in London, said that a fear of the internet had caused a loss of confidence that had robbed the TV industry of innovation, risk-taking and talent sourcing in programming.

Following the speech Burnham fielded questions from the floor, including one asking him to expand on the topic of the internet and the TV industry.

The time has come for perhaps a different approach to the internet. I want to even up that see-saw, even up the regulation [imbalance] between the old and the new.

He said that perhaps the wider industry, and government, had accepted the idea that the internet was beyond legal reach and was a space where governments can't go.

Burnham said that he would like to tighten up online content and services and lighten up some regulatory burdens around the TV industry.

Burnham added that the government had highlighted the way forward with its cross-industry and cross-departmental strategy , to tackle music piracy involving self-regulation: It is a new sign of our approach. It is not just about copyright or intellectual property but [things like] taste and decency in the online world. The time will come to say what are the direct interventions [needed, if any].

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