A couple of year’s ago Ofcom delegated the role of Video on Demand censor to ATVOD.
Ofcom recently announced the required progress review of ATVOD’s work and have now announced the result that ATVOD will continue to be the delegated VOD censor. In fact Ofcom changed the rules a bit to allow ATVOD to make some decisions without referring back to Ofcom for confirmation.
On the subject of R18s on VOD the review comments on ATVOD’s decision against Bootybox.t:
Bootybox.TV was a website providing adult on-demand programmes. A complaint was received on 26 June 2011 that the service had ….no parental control on…. , and that the content was ….far too strong to be allowed even under UK law…. ATVOD conducted a full investigation of the service and established that the principal purpose of the service was to provide content that was R18 or stronger. In its view, the content met the statutory test of material which might seriously impair a minor and that accordingly an effective Content Access Control System was essential.
How can the depiction of sex, something that is so central to human life, and experienced by nearly everyone, many from the age of 16, be somehow ‘seriously’ impairing. The kids know all about it, as sex education is mandatory in schools. Not to mention that it is one of the major topics of conversation for teenagers. It is understandable that parents would prefer their kids not see it, but that is not the same as claims of ‘serious’ impairment.
ATVOD also got in a whinge about foreign tube sites:
ATVOD explored the concern over the ease with which children can access harmful material especially through a small number of so- called ‘Tube’ sites operating from the USA, and therefore outside ATVOD’s jurisdiction . ATVOD has said that it will take a precautionary approach to implementing the Rule about material harmful to under eighteens when it is within its jurisdiction. Hence, it has made clear that ….material which might seriously impair the physical, mental or moral development of minorswhen provided as part of an on-demand programme service may include content that has been classified R18 by the British Board of Film Classification, or material equivalent to content classified in that category.
Ofcom allude to further Government thoughts on the matter in the next round of TV legislation:
Ofcom notes the views expressed by ATVOD and other stakeholders about the growing concerns around the availability of content that might seriously impair the physical, mental or moral development of under-eighteens, and expects to explore these issues further. Ofcom addressed this issue in its report on report on Sexually Explicit Material and Video-On-Demand Services39 . In its response40 to the report, the Government stated that it intended to address this issue comprehensively in its review of the current regulatory framework for the communications sector. Ofcom will take account of any conclusions reached.