back to article Top Gear isn't TV, not when it's on YouTube

Ofcom has overruled its appointed VOD regulator in deciding that chunks of Top Gear and BBC Food channel programmes found on YouTube don't constitute TV-like services and thus fall outside regulation. ATVOD, Ofcom-appointed regulator of UK video-on-demand, decided that clips circulated by BBC Worldwide constitute TV content …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Ralph B

    Thinking of the Children

    All well and good, but I am not sure that I don't think Clarkson a more morally corrupting influence on my kids than Playboy.

    1. David Webb

      Re: Thinking of the Children

      Then you haven't watched enough Top Gear! Indeed, after one episode with the "I was searching the internet, and I found....." segment, I found myself trawling the internet to find what Clarkson found, no idea what it was he was looking at in the first place so figured porn was a safe bet. I am now so morally depleted that I could marry an MP and stick my porn bills onto an expense account!

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

      Re: Thinking of the Children

      You mean you don't wear a high viz and two safety hard hats when in the outside world?

  2. IglooDude

    Wait, didn't I just read an article where Playboy's internet presence fell under TV rules? Playboy on the internet falls under those regulations, but Top Gear doesn't?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      re: @VIglooDude

      To be fair, top gear only has 2 1/2 tits

    2. Grease Monkey

      Top Gear on You Tube is just a series of clips, not whole programmes. Playboy's net presence is (I understand) something totally different.

  3. Another User

    Red tape at its best

    as if my trusted telly would perform an age check. That used to be part of my responsibility as a parent.

  4. Andrew Moore Silver badge
    Thumb Down


    Ofcom spun off a job it should have been doing itself, and that spin-off gets to demand money from companies already signed up to Ofcom?

    Talk about scam and crony-ism.

    1. Britt Johnston

      Re: So...

      Alternatively, if Ofcom charged the same fees, and spent it on solving problems, then there would be less worry about whether a problem should be outsourced or not.

  5. mark l 2 Silver badge

    regulators like ATVOD are all well and good but if the media outlet doesn't have a UK presence and is publishing programs on Youtube without ATVOD giving the go ahead there is little ATVOD can do about it.

  6. Robert E A Harvey


    I shall file this to show the TV licencing hitmen

    1. Grease Monkey

      Re: handy

      Why? This is nothing to do with TV licencing. All they are saying is that clips do not constitute a television service.

      If you watch live TV over the internet you still need a licence. ATM if you watch catch up services on the internet you don't need a licence (the key phrase being "as it is broadcast") however the word is that the next time the licence terms are updated it will include catch up services. Another loophole closed.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Regulation crazy

    Why does Britain have to regulate everything?

    The country would be a lot more entrepreneurial if most of those regs by self important regulators just went away.

    Would little Johnny perhaps see a bit of naughty?...Possibly, but the companies accepting regulation usually don't put any out, and even if they did, the kids probably would think it tame, since they can access real porn when their parents aren't looking!

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Regulation crazy

      Kids shouldn't have easy access to porn on the internet, they should have to go find it under railway arches like we did at that age.

      (I have no idea why there's always porn under railway bridges, but my friends and I found some under a bridge on a disused branch line in the middle of the countryside, miles from anywhere, so clearly there's some mechanism at work I don't understand.)

    2. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Regulation crazy

      "Why does Britain have to regulate everything?"

      What, like, um, food?

      Our "self important regulators" were so underfunded applied such a "light touch" that we had to rely on the Irish to spot people horsing around with our burgers.

      Paris, because I'd like to apply a light touch to her.

      1. Britt Johnston

        Re: Regulation crazy

        new regulations, and their fees, are a major source of GDP growth in an imploding financial services economy like GB.

  8. Stevie Silver badge


    And on that bombshell ...

    1. Adam 1 Silver badge

      Re: Hmm.

      Ironically, if they broadcasted that bit then they would roll the credits and this judgement may have gone the other way.

  9. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Biassed BBC

      so you don’t boycott it then.

    2. Naughtyhorse

      Re: Biassed BBC

      some say he's more of a twat than matt bryant...

      some say he's exactly who godwin had in mind....

      we just know hes called eadon

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Biassed BBC

        "some say he's more of a twat than matt bryant...

        some say he's exactly who godwin had in mind....

        we just know hes called eadon"


        1. Naughtyhorse

          Re: Biassed BBC


          i was quite please with it.

          'ave a poke at 3 fuckwits for the price of one

      2. Vic

        Re: Biassed BBC

        > we just know hes called eadon

        I thought you were talking about Clarkson...


      3. Naughtyhorse

        Re: Biassed BBC



        i wonder who???

        clearly it's godwin and clarkson

    3. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Re: Biassed BBC

      I'm sure BBC has more than a few arses.

      But if they're short, perhaps you could apply.

    4. Steen Hive

      Re: Biassed BBC

      If the BBC is biassed, would that make FOX news polyassed? or just a bunch of tits?

  10. Will Godfrey Silver badge


    What is this TV you speak of?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    TV as we know it now, delivered on a schedule through a broadcast "channel", is doomed anyway.

    I predict in 10 years time, the traditional cable or terrestrial channel will be largely dead. All content consumption will be on demand via the Internet.

    At present, I can hardly justify the cost of cable broadcast television. I get most of my entertainment on demand via the Internet.

    This is exactly why SmartTVs are so popular and it is how it will end up.

    Yay: the end of the sh*t daytime TV!

  12. GrahamsTenPenneth

    TV's crap anyway

    I have a TV, but it's connected to a laptop so I can watch stuff I've downloaded.

    I can't remember the last time I actually watched something which came via the aerial.

    There just doesn't seem to be any point in watching some dripfeed dribble the broadcaster happens to have aired at the time I'm actually seated infront of the box.

    I'm going to get a big monitor or projector which I will pay for in saved licence fee.

    British Broadcaster of Crap.

    Your foster parents are dead

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You really can't do anything without paying an army of state clipboard fondlers some kind of licensing fee. It's no wonder the country's broke.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      But really... can't do anything without paying an army of 'private' sector meddlers funded by the taxpayer. Why risk an investment in actually making things that people might not buy when you can be the next A4e?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Have they ever heard of lawsuits?

    They are about to get a lesson in law.

  15. The Axe

    "PlayBoy's video-on-demand service - which last week copped an ATVOD fine of £100,000 for failing to check the age of viewers"

    No it's not because it failed to check the age of viewers, more that it's checks didn't match up the regulations. Regulations that are absolutely pointless and easy to avoid. So it's all paper work rather than real harm.

    Just like the case of HSBC who got fined for handling drug money when in fact it was all to do with not doing all the regulatory paperwork that would prove that they didn't knowingly handle drug money. Again regulations that are absolutely pointless and easy to avoid.

  16. mego

    "But both cases are symptomatic of the difficulties in controlling media in an internet age. We (almost) all agree that some level of regulation is required to control content, ensuring the protection of children and editorial independence, but the practicalities of doing that are still a work in progress"

    The responsibility for controlling what our children do on the internet is solely that of the parent. Government and regulators interfering with how these systems work is simply a means of grabbing money.

    Parents that complain about internet porn, or easy availability of guns, or weapons.. sicken me. They're your f-ing kids. Take responsibility for a change.

    1. david 63
      Thumb Up

      Posted Friday 18th January 2013 22:42 GMT mego


      What he said...

    2. veti Silver badge

      Spoken like a confirmed non-parent. Has it occurred to you that 'making a safer environment' is part of 'taking responsibility' for your kids?

      You do your best. You put child locks on the drawer with the sharp knives, and most of the others as well if you've got any sense. You buy a car with a decent secondary safety rating, you fit smoke alarms, you make sure that the climbable furniture isn't sitting directly beside the openable window....

      The TV is part of their environment. Once they're old enough to know how to turn it on for themselves, how exactly do you propose we keep them away from it? Throw it out? - then they'll go around their friends' house, where they'll spend every minute glued to it because it's forbidden at home.

      If you don't have kids, which I'm currently willing to bet a months' salary you don't, then you have absolutely not the first beginnings of a notion of a clue of a breath of an idea what "taking responsibility" means. So, while I respect your right to watch whatever you want on your TV/interwebs/whatever in the privacy of your own home - please respect my right to express my opinion as to how those things can be more helpfully controlled.

      Thank you.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @ Veti

        I don't have kids and have no desire to accept any of the responsibility for yours. You may wish to control what your kids are exposed to but that does not give you any right to censor what I and other adults watch.

        Your kids are soley your responsibility. If the controls you put in place in your home mean they just go to their friend's houses then either yours are too draconian or you need to speak with the parents. Either way, it's not our problem.

      2. Keep Refrigerated

        Ahh the old, "you don't have kids" argument from authority fallacy...

        If you don't have kids, which I'm currently willing to bet a months' salary you don't, then you have absolutely not the first beginnings of a notion of a clue of a breath of an idea what "taking responsibility" means.

        I have yet to see a parent produce a license, an exam certificate, a government mandate or other type of document asserting their qualification to raise children.

        Indeed the only skill needed seems to be getting it in the right hole and waiting around for 9 months or so.

        Of course, I'm not disparaging all the hard work that decent people put in to being a parent - but I've seen enough of examples of the other kind that lead me to conclude that if there were a license for parenting, that it should be revoked.

        So wind your neck in, and accept that plenty of childless yet responsible people interact with your darling offspring every day and manage not to strangle it, push it under a bus or cause it any amount of unnecessary pain. In return all they ask is that you do your part in raising a decent human being to join the rest of us and not expect them to rearrange their lifestyles around you and yours.

        1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

          Re: Ahh the old, "you don't have kids" argument from authority fallacy...

          @Keep Refrigerated

          Indeed the only skill needed seems to be getting it in the right hole and waiting around for 9 months or so.

          You do develop a few other skills once littluns born of course. For some, it's the art of making a child understand what is and isn't OK. For others, it's the 'skill' of whinging that it's too hard and can't the government do it.

          Without going off on my usual rant, to me it's pretty simple:

          How many parents-to-be read a book on pregnancy and the early years? I'd say quite a percentage probably do (I didn't, but the missus did)

          So why is it too much to ask that they read a book on the t'interwebs and how to effectively enable filters etc?

          In return all they ask is that you do your part in raising a decent human being to join the rest of us and not expect them to rearrange their lifestyles around you and yours.

          I'd like to think I'm doing my bit to work towards that. Come near littlun in the wrong way and you'll suffer the consequences, but it's my job as a parent to spot you and to teach littlun what is and isn't OK.

        2. veti Silver badge

          Re: Ahh the old, "you don't have kids" argument from authority fallacy...

          So wind your neck in, and accept that plenty of childless yet responsible people interact with your darling offspring every day and manage not to strangle it, push it under a bus or cause it any amount of unnecessary pain. In return all they ask is that you do your part in raising a decent human being to join the rest of us and not expect them to rearrange their lifestyles around you and yours.

          While it's true that many childless people do manage not to murder or torment kids on a daily basis... I think you're missing my point.

          When you say "don't expect them to rearrange their lifestyles" - I don't think you've fully though through what you're saying. We all rearrange our lifestyles around each other, every day. When you drive, you take care to avoid other cars and pedestrians, observe signs and signals and so forth. You refrain from playing your stereo at full volume at 3 a.m. And so forth. (I'm assuming you're a reasonable, civilised person here - if any of this doesn't apply to you, then I think others have reasonable grounds for asking you do rearrange your lifestyle.) So the question isn't "Don't tell me how to live my life!" - that ship has sailed, centuries ago, unless you live in the middle of a hundred square miles of isolation in Montana or somewhere. The question is "What level of interference are we all willing to settle for?"

          Someone mentioned the 'watershed' on TV. I happen to live in a country that doesn't observe that convention, but it's worth mentioning as a good example of compromise - an example of how people do rearrange their lifestyles around each other, and most of them are willing to accept it.

          What set me off was the rant They're your f-ing kids. Take responsibility for a change.. That could only have been written by someone who, as I said before, has never given a nanosecond's thought to what the hell they're talking about, and I'm fed up with reading it, or variants thereon, time and again in every single thread that touches on this topic.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I have kids...


        I have kids, and I agree totally that the parents should accept responsibility for them (and for protecting them) WHERE THEY CAN. Your example of not letting kids watch TV - are we talking after the watershed or before? I protect mine by not letting them watch TV after the watershed unless it's a kids channel. The adult-ish TV channels on freeview are pin-locked. Before they were 13 they did not have a TV in their bedroom that had an aerial (they could only watch DVDs). I use OpenDNS for the whole house (including web access from mobile phones as I have locked out GPRS/3g surfing) - adult sites are blocked in OpenDNS. My eldest kids use facebook and twitter and I have access to their accounts (I have the reset e-mail address), I have visibility of what they say and do on those sites (I also configured the 'privacy' settings on those sites for them). If need be I can lock out those sites after certain times of the day.

        100% safe - not by any means, but nothing will be.

        The issue is not that parents shouldn't be responsible, but that most parents do not have the first idea in HOW to be responsible when it comes to 'technology' or the internet. I am lucky enough to know what to do. So whilst I agree to some extent that 'society' needs to protect kids I can also see the other commentards view - why should they be censored because of parents' IT ignorance.

        Tough one to call, but remember that some people do 'have the first beginnings of a notion of a clue of a breath of an idea what "taking responsibility" means' and may still agree with (or at least appreciate) the comments you criticised.

  17. Alien8n Silver badge

    Corrupting kids?

    I don't want TV or the Internet corrupting my kids. That's my job.

    That said, I swear my daughter is now a corrupting influence on me...

  18. Jay Holmes

    So correct me if I am wrong ATVOD are a regulator, that charges obligatory fees to companies that these companies have to pay!!!

    Why dont they tell them to fuck off, who appointed these regulators in the first place and gave them this power. Surely if you have to pay to be regulated then it is not a government obligation, it is some kind of perceived notion that you have to be regulated so therefore you must pay.

    I need to set up a regulation business with a snappy acronym pretty damn quick

    1. graeme leggett

      The registration fees are to fund the regulation? or part fund it, rather than all the money for ATVOD coming from central government.

      Does OFCOM take licensing fees off broadcasters? I suspect so.

      1. Grease Monkey

        Yup. Any broadcaster (or other body regulated by Ofcom) has to pay a licence fee. Guess who gets a chunk of that money.

    2. The FunkeyGibbon

      Nope you are right, they are a regulator that companies that produce qualifying material *have* to pay. What I don't understand is your outrage. The payments are there to pay for the the regulation, the regulation in theory being something desirable to prevent undesirable outcomes.

      You are subject to a number of non-option, paid regulations. For example if you have a car and it's over 3 years old you must have an MOT. This is regulation and the inspection is conducted by a devolved 3rd party, your local garage.

      Simply not being directly run by the government isn't a good enough reason to "Tell them to fuck off" because they are there to enforce rules or laws laid down by government. The ASA, FSA and OFT are also independent bodies (as are Offcom too) and actually this independence is desirable as it means they are capable of enforcing law without political interference.

      If you want to setup a regulator good luck, it's not a get rich-quick-scheme but a lot of hard, thankless work for minimal money in a complicated area of law. But I'm sure you knew that already.

      1. Jay Holmes

        No you missed the point completely. OFCOM is a government mandated regulator as such it gets money from the government as far as I am aware it doesnt receive money directly from the companies it is regulating as this would create a conflict of interest (imho). I had never heard of ATVOD before, so the questions are following

        1. Are they a government mandated regulator? Apparently they are a sub contractor of OFCOM

        2. Where do they get all their funding from? Answer their fees

        3. If the answer to the above is question 1 = No and question 2 = The companies they regulate. Then question 3 should be why pay them in the first place??

        Hopefully that makes more sense, the only part of your post that was understandable was the fail icon as I obviously failed in conveying my meaning. Must type more clearly for the hard of understanding!!!

        1. Bill Ray (Written by Reg staff)

          ATVOD is appointed by Ofcom, at the request of parliament, and companies providing video-on-demand services are legally required to register with ATVOD and pay the fee.

          ATVOD regularly gets into disputes with companies who claim they aren't providing VOD services, and Ofcom has the power to arbitrate in such instances, but if Ofcom says you're providing VOD then you have to pay ATVOD.

          Local TV companies particularly hate ATVOD, as they're borderline viable anyway, and ARVOD's sliding scale of pricing was only introduced when loads of people complained (to Ofcom) that they were stifling innovation.

          Hope that provides some clarity - it's a strange situation, and something we'll be watching closely.


  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ATVOD = death sentence for UK Porn producers

    When ATVOD arrived on the scene, they immediately went after the UK porn producers.

    Some moved themselves offshore** , others have closed down rather than pay their extortionate fees.

    The remaining sites are left working under draconian rules designed to prevent children seeing stuff they shouldn't.

    *mostly to the Netherlands, which means that their content is made here in the UK and then shipped to their Dutch "editing facility" for upload. Ridiculous.

    1. graeme leggett

      Re: ATVOD = death sentence for UK Porn producers

      Are the fees extortionate? Is it more likely the move is to avoid the added burden of compliance than just the cost of the licence, or are margins that small?

      £10,000 for companies worth more than £26 milllion it says in the article. the cost of regulation is £1 per £2,600 which doesn't look much at first glance. Providing extra services cost the company more.

      The AVTOD cost for a sub £6.5 million company is £771

      In either case, maximum licensing cost for a company is limited to £25,000

      Non-profits and tiny commercial operations only have to pay £100 to £200.

      On one hand, the rules seem to have been worked out to avoid splitting up providers into smaller, but linked units, to get lower fees and on the other to allow providers to group together to limit the overall cost.


  20. tarner

    just seems like another rip off to me,

    why does it seem so similar to parking tickets?

    go out n get as many as you can - make out-rageous threats and appeal denials - then anyone with sense take it to arbitration and get the claim quashed in 2 minuites.

    Why do we need these muppets again?

    if its not made by a TV channel then why are we regulating it like it is?

    Just seems another reason not to base any buisness in this stupid country

  21. The FunkeyGibbon

    It appears that there are a lot of people who don't know what regulation is for.

    Why is it so many people see regulation as a scam? Many times regulators do a lot to protect the consumer from the excesses of content providers. Could you imagine the adverts that would run if there was no ASA? The crap that sneaks through at the moment from the likes of BT and Virgin are bad enough, but with no rules they'd run riot. The same applies to TV and VoD.

    Regulation isn't perfect, I give you the absolute shambles that is the Press Complaints Commission, but the alternative is to have nothing and endure the US model which gives us FOX "News" which is nothing more than right wing propaganda or the National Enquirer, which is pretty much liable disguised as insanity printed on paper.

    I'd also ask you to consider this; what if because we didn't regulate and it was decided that the internet was going to be regulated for us by another body in a foreign land? It's not beyond the US to try impose it's own will on the internet, so by having a framework of rules in place already it limits that possibility and at the very least ensures that we are asserting our sovereignty and making a case for having a place in any future discussions on regulation of the internet and/or the content delivered over it.

    1. 100113.1537

      Re: It appears that there are a lot of people who don't know what regulation is for.

      Why is it that so many people think that Fox "News" would not be allowed in a country with "regulations"?

      Apart from the fact that Fox News survives because people watch it (hence advertising revenue) as opposed to paid for by government subsidy (PBS in the US which very few people watch), the US is actually a very heavily regulated broadcasting environment. You only have to go back to the "wardrobe malfunction" during the Superbowl where hundreds (possibly thousands) of local NBC affiliates (broadcasting stations - the US doesn't have "national" broadcasters as such) were fined $25,000 EACH by the FCC because of one complaint.

      For those who have not lived in the US, they have a different model of regulation from Europe, but un-regulated it is not. Using Fox News as the bogey-man for what a un-regulated UK broadcast market would look like just shows your own predjudices, I am afraid. It might be junk (well, OK, it IS junk), but it follows the same rules as all of the other junk out there.

    2. Grease Monkey

      Re: It appears that there are a lot of people who don't know what regulation is for.

      Regarding the PCC, there are very simple reasons why it's a shambles; firstly it has no teeth; and secondly it is the perfect example of why self regulation doesn't work. Imagine what would happen if the ASA was run entirely by advertising agencies...

  22. Why Not?

    Not original

    I like the phrase 'Quagmire of Quango's'

    seems apt

  23. wiltshirejohn
    Thumb Down

    But Top Gear doesn't really qualify as TV - it's just a series of brainfarts from a bunch of untalented dickheads.

    1. Armando 123


      Beats 99.9% of what's out there.

      In truth, Top Gear isn't about cars, it's about cars and how ridiculous car people can be. Each presenter represents one stereotype of gearhead: Clarkson is the power-obsessed yob, Hamster is the eight-year-old-turned-adult, May is the "no, I don't think so, actually" prissy snob (more or less). So they shouldn't offend you, they should make you laugh at people you know who are like that.

      In my opinion.

      Besides, the Prius is a sh*t car and should be called the Prompous, based on the four Prius owners I know.

      Mine's the one with the Duesenburg keys in the pocket.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019