Independent TV producer Chris Gosling has launched a new online campaign aimed at fighting for fair censorship charges for small-scale web-TV operators.
Gosling, who produces specialist TV shows about caravanning and boating for satellite platforms, is specifically concerned about the Association for Television on Demand (ATVOD), a new body established to regulate video on-demand content.
ATVOD, which took over VOD regulation duties from Ofcom in March last year, has imposed a flat-rate fee of £2,900 (rising to £3850 for 2011) on the services of all notified VOD providers in the UK, from the small to the enormous like SeeSaw and
Gosling has launched a new website, called SmallScale TV
, aimed at representing the hundreds and thousands of people in Great Britain and Europe who make online video content in a professional, responsible way [in] a recreational or small business environment .
I see a future in which small producers like me can make highly specialist programmes to play online, showing to maybe just a few hundred or a few thousand viewers every week or month - but instituting regulator fees that may be in excess of
such a programme's annual budget is going to kill small enterprises like these stone dead.
Surprise surprise, consulting the big guys results in a fee structure to stiff the small guys
Based on article
The above story about the campaign featured in the media section of well-respected TV website Digital Spy spurred an almost immediate response from ATVOD Director Peter Johnson, defending the new regime.
For the first time on record, Johnson confirmed that ATVOD is now charging a concessionary fee of £150 for the current year to a number of organisations, although we only know of one such. Our understanding is that this organisation
is a charity, which we don't believe should be charged in any event.
Johnson also said that ATVOD is fully aware of the concerns of smaller enterprises that fall within scope of the flat rate fee set for the first year of the new arrangements, claiming that this is a fee set after a public consultation held
jointly by ATVOD and Ofcom. [and no doubt all the big TV media companies contributed. They have a bit of vested interest in keeping their fees down whilst being able to use censorship to keep small competitors out of
It was certainly the case that in September 2010, when this writer had his first conversation with ATVOD's Peter Johnson, that no concessionary fee was available – or even available for discussion. During this and subsequent conversations,
Johnson said that no smaller providers had come forward at the time of the original consultation, and that if his decision was that a service fell within scope, ATVOD would take any non-payer to court to force payment. ATVOD's currently online
statement regarding concessionary fees on went online on 12th November 2010, apparently after extensive lobbying from a number of disgruntled parties.
But even the possibility of concessionary regulatory fees for small-scale video on demand doesn't hold out much hope for businesses considering developing online services.