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THE ITC have announced the publishing of their ‘Guidance To Broadcasters on Interactive Television Services’.
The ITC said the “regulation of interactive services will be as simple and light touch as possible. Viewers come first and must be allowed to benefit from an innovative, emerging market.”
The separation of advertising from editorial content and the protection of children are among the most important safeguards from current programmes standards included in the guidance report.
The ITC intend to monitor the interactive market as it develops and stay in close touch with licensees and their experience in applying this guidance. They also plan to undertake research into viewer’s experiences and concerns over the coming year.
The ITC’s approach states viewers should be clear about the material they are selecting; they should know when it is supporting the programme and when it is a selling opportunity. Also television programmes should remain free of all commercial interference. This applies to all programmes but special safeguards apply to news, current affairs, consumer advice and children’s programmes. Interactivity must not blur the fundamental separation of programmes and advertising.
Stephen Locke, ITC Director of Advertising and Sponsorship, said: “We believe that this practical guidance for our licensees will give viewers the best possible opportunity to benefit from a flourishing market in interactive television services, whilst safeguarding the protection they expect when they watch TV in their living rooms. But we also recognise the need for the ITC to continue to learn from this important new market as it develops, and we will keep an open mind on how the interests of viewers can best be reflected in future.”
The ITC’s regulatory approach is broken down into two main categories of interactive services: dedicated services (shopping malls, betting and gaming services), and enhanced programming (editorial and advertisement enhancements to programmes and advertisements).
With regard to dedicated services the ITC have made it clear that their regulatory role in this area will be limited. They do not propose to regulate the content of such services beyond tat provided by the broadcasters themselves. The ITC’s only other requirement is that viewers should not be mislead about which content is subject to ITC rules and which is not.
The ITC recognise that the financing of enhanced programme services is likely to depend in large measure on use of the commercial opportunities the new technology provides. Their prime concern has been to ensure that these opportunities do not lead to any confusion amongst viewers about when they are being sold to, and that programme content remains effectively safeguarded from commercial influences.
A set of simplified rules has been developed setting out a range of general requirements, coupled with a more specific safeguards for news and current affairs, consumer advice ad children’s programmes.
These rules are set out in further detail on the ITC website at (CMcL)
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