British broadcasting regulator Ofcom has taken it upon itself to extend its watchdog remit to internet TV shows, in a move that will come as a blow to Jeremy Clarkson's hopes for freedom for his new Amazon series.
The broadcasting regulator is taking over internet-watch duties of online video content from the little-known quango Authority for Television On Demand (ATVOD) following an internal review.
It comes just weeks after former Top Gear presenter Clarkson said he was looking forward to freedom from 'finger wagging'.
Following filming of the new Amazon Prime motoring show, Clarkson wrote in his Sunday Times car review section that he was 'in the free world,' where 'you can say what you want.'
But it has now emerged that the programme, which has a budget of $368million, will be overseen by the TV regulator.
The broadcasting watchdog said the move was made last week when regulation of 'video-on-demand' programme services was brought under its scrutiny.
Ofcom, which previously censured Clarkson for using the word 'slope' to refer to an Asian man, said it was undertaken following a review.
It means that it will now oversee catch-up TV and on-demand services on the TV and the internet, as opposed to the ATVOD, which it had designated to take the lead in 2010.
Programmes on Amazon Prime, Channel 4’s All4, Sky’s Now TV, the ITV Player and BBC iPlayer will all be regulated by the broadcasting watchdog.
However, Netflix will still escape regulation as, unlike its rival Amazon Prime, it does not have a UK subsidiary.
The news comes just weeks after Clarkson wrote on October 11: 'in the dizzying world of modern narrowcasting…you can say what you want.'
He added: 'Out there, in the free world, there’s no [Ofcom]. There’s no finger wagging.'
The regulator said that the new arrangements would create 'operational efficiencies and allow editorial content on video-on-demand to sit alongside Ofcom's existing regulation of broadcasting.'
Clarkson, along with Richard Hammond and James May, have signed a three-year, 36-episode deal with Amazon Prime.
He recently posted a photograph of the new team behind the upcoming Amazon Prime new motoring series filming at the Algarve international circuit in Portugal.
The three presenters have been spotted racing a £866,000 McLaren P1, a Ferrari and Porsche 918 Spyder.