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16 Info. & Comm. Tech. L. 1 (2007)

handle is hein.journals/infctel16 and id is 1 raw text is: Information & Communications Technology Law,                                Routledge
Vol. 16, No. 1, March 2007                                              RTayor&FrncisGroup
Television on the Internet: Regulating New Ways
of Viewing
CHRISTINE COOPER
Pupil Barrister, Field Court Chambers
ABSTRACT Television has become ingrained in our modern way of life. Governments
across the world have recognised this and sought to control what may be broadcast and
what different audiences may watch. These regulatory regimes have been focused on the
traditional television set. However, the Internet has begun to threaten this established
order as new ways of viewing audio-visual content have become available and legal
systems have not easily accommodated these new developments. Government policy in the
United Kingdom is not to regulate Internet content in order to encourage the development
of compelling new content services. However, the drafting of the legislative measures
intended to give effect to that policy are potentially flawed. They appear to bring some
television content on the Internet within the scope of broadcast regulation, but without
any means for the content service provider to acquire the appropriate licence. TV
Licensing has recently brought the issue to the fore by declaring that a licence is required
to watch television on the Internet. If a television licence is required to watch a particular
programme on the Internet, then surely a licence was required to broadcast that
programme? In this article, it is argued that the Communications Act must be interpreted
such that no Internet content is subject to its provisions. The Communications (Television
Licensing) Regulations must also be interpreted so that a viewer only requires a licence
where the broadcast signal has been captured and converted. Finally, while it is difficult to
support a position that subjects two organisations showing the same programme content
to different requirements solely as a result of the transmission technology used, the
European Commission's proposals to unify the regulatory field are unlikely to achieve
what they set out to do.
I believe that what is going on here is not a revolution as some had
predicted, but it is a gentle, gradual, evolving, historic act of liberation.
The liberty of consumers, viewers, listeners, to determine their own
viewing, their own listening, their own schedule, their own compilations,
their own content, and even their own services. (Richards, 2005)
Introduction
Over the last fifty or so years, television has become ingrained in our modem way
of life. It provides many people with their primary, if not sole, source of news and
information about current affairs. This medium has the power to convey messages
in ways that touch people and change their lives. Not surprisingly, governments

ISSN 1360-0834 print/ISSN 1469-8404 online/ 07/ 010001-15 © Taylor & Francis
DOI: 10.1080/13600830701194497

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