The European Union (EU) wants to begin regulating the Internet for the first time by introducing controversial rules to cover television online, the Times Online of London has reported
The EU in Brussels is considering regulating areas such as taste and decency, accuracy and impartiality for Internet broadcasters. More broadly, it is thinking about relaxing rules governing the frequency and amount of advertising on television.
The proposals are expected to prompt an immediate battle because Ofcom, the UK’s media regulator, believes that traditionally strict broadcast regulations should not be extended to the Internet.
Viviane Reding, the European Information Commissioner, has introduced the Internet idea as part of the biggest revision of European television regulation since 1989. She has unveiled five “issues papers,” one of which will discuss the impact of technological change since then, and conclude that “non-linear audio-visual content” — television downloads — need to be subject to regulation.
Currently, television delivered via the Internet is unregulated in the UK. There is, therefore, no entity with legal power to force an Internet broadcaster to respect rules governing accuracy and impartiality or taste and decency that apply to all other analog and digital broadcasters.
Broadcasters will have until September 5 to respond in writing to the EU. A draft directive will be produced at the end of this year. In addition to covering Internet regulation, the documents signal a liberalizing of the regulations covering the amount of advertising that a TV channel can show — an existing limit of 12 minutes an hour is likely to be scrapped.