Young Graeme -- young, newly ennobled News Editor Graeme, who we can't call Scoop any more -- went along last night to the ISPA Forum on Content Regulation at Westminster. Ofcom has been making some worrying noises that its fat finger might be heading pieward to take on the mighty task of keeping Internet content from the eyes of impressionable kiddies. Which might mean terrifying ideas like blocking video streaming before watersheds, preventing certain classes of video being available at all, and so on.
The ISPs are not liking the sound of this at all, considering as they do that they've managed to self-regulate quite well over really nasty stuff such as kiddy porn. As for stuff being available on demand without watershed limits -- so far, world not ended, sky not fallen, streets not filled with rutting teenagers clutching chainsaws. Apart from Saffron Walden, of course.
To demonstrate that there really wasn't a problem begging to be solved, Richard Ayres of Tiscali asked for a hands-up of who's on the Internet at home while giving a speech at said Forum. The audience was composed of the usual suspects from the DTI, journos, Home Office and so on, and all the hands went up.
"Keep your hands up if you watch video over the Internet" commanded Ayres.
Most stayed aloft, but there was a faint blush of red faces here and there. We know what they were thinking. You're thinking it too.
"And who pays for video?" he continued.
Three hands left, amid much giggling.
"There!" said Ayres. "Online video isn't that important -- it's really just a toy." "The only people using it are City bankers…" he paused. "And that's not meant to be rhyming slang."
And all this at half past six in the evening -- well before the watershed. They should be careful.