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Communications Act 2003

Section 232: Meaning of “television licensable content service”

523.A “television licensable content service” is defined in this section as any service (i) which is provided (whether in digital or analogue form) as a service to be made available for reception by members of the public (as defined in section 361) by being broadcast from a satellite, or distributed by an electronic communications network, and (ii) which consists of television programmes or electronic programme guides (or both). The service covered by a single licence will comprise not only what subsection (3) calls a “main service” (which could consist either of television programmes or of an electronic programme guide, or both) but also such of the ancillary services and facilities provided with it as are “relevant ancillary services” and are not “two-way services”. “Two way services” are defined in subsection (5) and encompass services such as video conferencing. The term “relevant ancillary services” encompasses both services that are actually provided by the provider of the “main service” and those facilities which are no more than links to services provided by others. It is not intended to encompass any apparatus (such as a television set, a PC, or a set-top box).

524.A licensee is not held to be providing services which may be accessed from the “main service”, unless he has general control over them (subsection (4)).

525.Ancillary services that are not “relevant” ones are not to be covered by the licence for the main service (although some might be licensable in their own right, e.g. if they constitute a television licensable content service provided by someone other than the provider of the main service). To give some examples, say you are watching a wildlife programme on the “main service” i.e. a television channel in the conventional sense, albeit that it includes all the enhanced features to be expected from digital services. A menu might offer access to different camera angles: these would constitute “relevant ancillary services” which would be part of the licensed service. The menu might also give you access to additional factual information (provided within the broadcast stream) about the animals you are watching. That is expected to be within the scope of the licence too. But there might be a link (a “facility”) which might take you to a website. The fact that the link is provided would be within the licence (and so OFCOM might require it to be removed if it led directly to unsuitable material), but the website at the end of the link would neither be regulated nor within the licence of the “main service” as it would not be a service made “available for reception by members of the public”. Also outside the scope of the licence would be content that could be accessed from the “main service” but which is not under the general control of the provider of the “main service”, such as a television service provided by someone else showing similar wildlife programmes. Other services, such as being able to order takeaway food, or engage in on-line banking, or participate in an on-line chatroom, would not be within the licence either. These are just examples, and the question of whether particular services fall within the scope of a person’s television licensable content service licence would depend on the exact nature of the services and facilities offered and the circumstances in which they were offered.

  • *an electronic  programme guide is defined in subsection (6) as a service which lists and/or promotes television programmes, including programmes of providers other than the provider of the guide.  The service must also allow the user to access programmes contained in the guide.

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