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'What's Not to Like about TV‐Like? Production and Distribution as Seen by Regulators'
Late in the negotiation of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive, the European Union adopted a definition (for regulatory purposes) of on-demand audiovisual media services which included a principle that the extent to which a given service was 'television-like' would affect its legal status. Although adopted in response to criticism that the EU was proposing to 'regulate the Internet', it has in practice provided national regulators with a series of difficult questions to answer. In the UK (which has the highest number of relevant services, including many services directed at other member states), it has prompted regulators to commission audience research. This paper is a critical assessment of that research, including the degree to which factors of production (duration, titles, end credits, camera quality) and distribution (platform, file format, availability) affect the decisions of regulatory bodies. It is argued that some decisions reflect a simple, idealised and dated notion of 'television' that does not acknowledge the diversity of approaches to production in the present day 9/2 industry. With the EU now having published a Green Paper on 'connected TV', the author proposes a fresh approach to regulation that is neither medium-neutral nor medium-specific, and how research can be incorporated into the next phase of EU media regulation.