Posts Tagged ‘VOD Censor’

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Ofcom logoOn 1 January 2016, Video on Demand censor ATVOD was sacked and Ofcom became the sole regulator for on-demand programme services ( ODPS ) under Part 4A of the Communications Act 2003 (the Act ).In this document, we are consulting on a new regulatory fees regime under section 368NA of the Act, to apply from the 2017/18 financial year onwards. Our preferred proposal is to adopt a fees structure that shares the costs of regulating ODPS only between the largest providers.

We have also provided an estimate of the 2017/18 fee that would be sufficient to meet, but not exceed, the likely cost of Ofcom carrying out the relevant functions in the financial year 2017/18.

Ofcom sets out what VoD companies had to pay under the year of ATVOD:

  • (a) ATVOD’s estimated costs for the year were just over £487,000 and the fees collected were just over £488,000.
  • (b) The 40 largest ODPS providers each paid over £5,000 and accounted for over 93% of fees.
  • (c) ATVOD differentiated between those in the largest group, with the largest Super A providers paying £10,893 each for single outlet services and £14,135 for multiple outlet services (with a group cap available where there were multiple providers in one corporate group). A Rate providers paid £5,010 for single outlet services and £6,502 for multiple outlet services.
  • (d) None of the remaining 77 providers (the long tail ) paid more than £815, and 40 of these paid £204 or less. These providers accounted, in total, for under 7% of fees.

By contrast, Ofcom’s estimate of estimated costs is £114,000 and this will be raised from Video on Demand companies as follows:

  • Companies with total turnover greater than 50 million: £4146
  • Companies with total turnover 10 to 50 million: £2073
  • Companies with total turnover less than 10 million: no charge

Ofcom noted that a proportionally smaller charge for the small companies may not be cost effective to collect and may discourage companies from registering for censorship either by illegal avoidance or by moving offshore.

A consultation on this preferred option and several others is open until 29th March 2017.

Read more ATVOD Watch at MelonFarmers.co.uk

daisy rock ATVOD, the UK Video on Demand censor, has published the result of an appeal to Ofcom which resulted in the confirmation that the Daisy Rock UK website is subject to suffocating censorship by ATVOD.An appeal by the service operator against an ATVOD determination in November 2014 that the website was an on-demand programme service and therefore subject to regulation by ATVOD was rejected by Ofcom.

The ruling means that the Daisy Rock UK website — which provided access to a range of explicit sex videos – must comply with an ATVOD Rule which requires services to keep explicit sex videos behind onerous and unviable access controls which ensure that children do not normally see them. The website operator had been found in breach of that rule in November 2014 and had brought the service into compliance pending the outcome of the appeal.

In order to fall within the scope of the regulations overseen by ATVOD, a service must satisfy a number of statutory criteria, as set out in section 368A of the Communications Act 2003. One of these is that the principal purpose of the service is the provision of programmes the form and content of which are comparable to the form and content of programmes normally included in television programme services. The provider of the Daisy Rock UK service had argued that the principal purpose of the website was to operate as a fan club for an adult porn performer and that the video content was not comparable to TV programmes. The Ofcom decision supported ATVOD’s original ruling that the principal purpose of the website was to provide TV-like programmes, noting that the provision of audiovisual material was the main offering of the service and that the videos themselves were comparable to the type of adult sex material included in certain premium subscription and pay per view television channels — even though the content was stronger than that allowed on UK TV.

The UK rules overseen by ATVOD implement an EU Directive which makes clear that the rules are intended to apply to services which are mass media and which compete with television broadcasts services. The provider of the Daisy Rock UK service had also argued that the low turnover of the service meant it was neither mass-media nor in competition with television services and therefore placed it outside the scope of the Directive. In upholding the original ATVOD decision, Ofcom also rejected this argument.

ATVOD Chief Executive Pete Johnson commented:

The decision to uphold the ATVOD ruling makes clear once again that hardcore porn videos on adult websites may be subject to the ATVOD rules even if they are too explicit to be broadcast on UK television channels. It also makes clear that services with low turnover fall may within our remit.

Read more ATVOD Watch at MelonFarmers.co.uk

ATVOD with award for service to foreign industry Adult entertainment industry representatives met at a roundtable meeting with the UK VoD censors ofATVOD for a discussion over age-verification compliance.The discussion, instigated by ATVOD, IFFOR, ICM Registry and the Adult Provider Network, also took an inward look at how the adult entertainment industry, domestically in the U.K. and worldwide, could evolve and adapt with onerous new rules put in place and ones that could be on the way.

A central question was, Can the adult industry coalesce and work with the authorities over existing and proposed new rules?

Steve Winyard of ICM Registry, which operates the registry for .xxx, .porn, .adult and the upcoming .sex top-level domain sites, said that the real question is:

How far are people willing to be compliant when the hammer comes down?

Most of the big companies [in the online adult entertainment industry] control 80-90% of adult content across the world,. If they come to the table, the rest of the operators would have to follow.

The thinking is that in a world of ID theft, few customers will be willing to trust small websites with extensive personal details or else their credit card details. And even if they trust them, even fewer will want to make the effort of typing in such details just to browse a website to see what is on offer.

The natural final solution is that customers will only use, big, well known companies that  can be trusted with personal details, and that can offer a massive enough choice of porn such that customers don’t have to keep entering ID details for different websites.

And of course the end game will then be a US mega mall monopoly for porn along the lines of Amazon, eBay, iTunes and Play. And no doubt it will charge adult content providers the going rate of about 30%.

At the meeting, ATVOD’s Cathy Taylor fielded queries for 20 minutes on the new AVMS rules and the government statement over site blocking domestic and foreign adult websites. Taylor was joined by ATVOD chief censors, Ruth Evans and Pete Johnson, at the roundtable meeting.

Winyard of ICM Registry spent another 20 minutes on how the adult business worldwide is reacting to the AVMS directive and whether the industry can work with the British government on proposed new regs.

Chris Ratcliff of Portland TV (Television X) and the Adult Provider Network spent 10 minutes on what role should the adult trade play in the debate and whether age-verification is in the future for all adult sites.

The meeting was also attended by Sex & Censorship’s Jerry Barnett, obscenity lawyer Myles Jackman, Vince Charlton from the US trade group ASACP and IFFOR’s Sharon Girling.

Read more ATVOD Watch at MelonFarmers.co.uk

shebang tv logo ATVOD has identified two further adult services that breached its censorship rules requiring unviably onerous age verification.

The findings by the Authority for Television On Demand (ATVOD) – which came on Safer Internet Day – bring to more than 170 the number of porn websites against which the censor has acted over the past three years.

The two online video on demand services, Daisy Rock UK and She Bang TV, were held to be in breach of a ATVOD rule 11 which requires that material which ATVOD considers might seriously impair under 18’s can only be made available if access is blocked to children.

The services each broke the statutory rules in two ways. Firstly, they allowed any visitor free, unrestricted access to hardcore pornographic video promos/trailers or still images featuring real sex in explicit detail. Secondly, access to the full videos was open to any visitor who paid a fee via the most popular payment method of debit cards, which may be held by under 18s.

It would be interesting to know if any under 18s have ever actually paid for porn with debit cards.

Following enforcement action by ATVOD, the operator of Daisy Rock UK acted to implement the business killing rules and also lodged an appeal with Ofcom against a separate ATVOD ruling that the service falls within what ATVOD claims to be TV-like.

The operator of She Bang TV failed to become fully compliant in accordance with a timetable set by ATVOD. The service provider has therefore been referred to Ofcom for consideration of a sanction.

Read more ATVOD Watch at MelonFarmers.co.uk

ATVOD with award for service to foreign industry The UK government has just passed worrying new rules about requiring internet porn films to adhere withBBFCguidelines and for websites to impose impractical age verification requirements.The internet video censor, ATVOD, is now consulting on a new set of censorship rules to reflect the new law. However ATVOD has also dreamt up a few new censorship rules of its own, seemingly way beyond the law changes about hardcore porn videos.

ATVOD has defined a new rule 14 which lets the organisation act as a new BBFC for internet video material not actually seen by the BBFC. This is not backed up by any change to law that I have spotted.

ATVOD has cut and pasted a whole load of BBFC statement about banning things for made up reasons such moral harm. Now when these statements appear on the BBFC websites, then it is rhetoric to keep moralist campaigners and MPs happy. Knowing what the BBFC actually bans and censors, generally means that we trust the BBFC not to abuse the open censorship enabling rules.

However there is zero trust for ATVOD which seems to glory in its crucifixion of the adult internet industry with unnecessarily onerous age verification requirements.

Anyway ATVOD introduces the consultation as follows:

Consultation on Proposed New Rules and Guidance Proposal to adopt new Rules and Guidance in light of amendments made to the Communications Act 2003 by the Audiovisual Media Services Regulations 2014 This consultation opened on 1st December 2014 This consultation will close at 5pm on 2nd March 2015

This is a consultation by the Authority for Television On Demand ( ATVOD ), the body that Ofcom designated on 18 March 2010 as the co-regulator for VOD editorial content. The purpose of this consultation is to consult on a proposal to adopt an amended Rules and Guidance document.

We expect to publish a statement on the Proposed Rules and Guidance in spring 2015.

And the new Rule 14 reads:

Rule 14: Harmful Material: Prohibited material

An on-demand programme service must not contain any prohibited material. Prohibited material means

  • (a) a video work which the video works authority has determined for the purposes of the 1984 Act38 not to be suitable for a classification certificate to be issued in respect of it, or

  • (b) material whose nature is such that it is reasonable to expect that, if the material were contained in a video work submitted to the video works authority for a classification certificate, the video works authority would determine for those purposes that the video work was not suitable for a classification certificate to be issued in respect of it.

In determining whether any material falls within (b), regard must be had to any guidelines issued by the video works authority as to its policy in relation to the issue of classification certificates.

Guidance

Content whose broadcast complies with the Ofcom Broadcasting Code, or that has been classified by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) in any category, including R18 , would not be considered prohibited material .

Video works which have been refused a classification by the BBFC, and material which if included in a video work would be refused a classification by the BBFC, is prohibited material and cannot be included on an on demand programme service in any circumstances. All material on the service, including still images and other non-video content is subject to this requirement.

There is no requirement for material being provided on an on demand programme service to be classified by the BBFC, but where material has not been classified, ATVOD is required to have regard to the BBFC Classification Guidelines when determining whether it is reasonable to expect that such material when included in an on demand programme service is material which, if contained in a video work submitted to the BBFC, would be refused a classification.

The guidance below sets out the type of material which may be refused a classification by the BBFC. For further information on the guidelines issued by the video work authority see the BBFC’s website at http://www.bbfc.co.uk/what-classification/guidelines. Having regard to the current BBFC Classification Guidelines, the following is a non-exhaustive list of the types of material which may constitute prohibited material:

  • Material in breach of the criminal law (including material judged to be obscene under the current interpretation39 of the Obscene Publications Act 1959) or that has been created through the commission of a criminal offence

  • Material which risks harm to individuals or, through their behaviour, to society. For example:

  • Material which may promote criminal activity

  • Portrayals of children in a sexualised or abusive context

  • Detailed portrayals of violent or dangerous acts, or of illegal drug use, which may cause harm to public health or morals.

  • Material which makes sexual or sadistic violence look normal, appealing, or arousing

  • Graphic images of real injury, violence or death presented in a salacious or sensationalist manner which risks harm by encouraging callous or sadistic attitudes

  • Material which reinforces the suggestion that victims enjoy sexual violence

  • Material which invites viewer complicity in sexual violence or other harmful violent activities

  • Material which is so demeaning or degrading to human dignity (for example, it consists of strong abuse, torture or death without any mitigating factors) that it may pose a harm risk.

  • Material in pornographic works which:

  • Is likely to encourage an interest in sexually abusive activity which may include adults role-playing as non-adults

  • Portrays sexual activity which involves real or apparent lack of consent. Any form of physical restraint which prevents participants from indicating a withdrawal of consent

  • Involves the infliction of pain or acts which may cause lasting physical harm, whether real or (in a sexual context) simulated. Some allowance may be made for moderate, non-abusive consensual activity o Involves penetration by any object associated with violence or likely to cause physical harm

  • Involves sexual threats, humiliation or abuse which do not form part of a clearly consenting role-playing game. Strong physical or verbal abuse, even if consensual, is unlikely to be acceptable

ATVOD Recommends that British porn sites relocate to the Netherlands…Annual Report published for 2013-14

Read more ATVOD Watch at MelonFarmers.co.uk

atvod annual report 2014 ATVOD’s press release reads

The Authority for Television On Demand, co-regulator of editorial content in UK video on demand services, has published its annual report detailing steps taken by ATVOD in the year to 31 March 2014 to protect children from hardcore porn on regulated video on demand ( VOD ) services.

This included action against a service run by JP Media which resulted in the first ever use of powers to suspend the right to provide a VOD service. The porn video site operated by JP Media had failed to ensure that under 18s could not access hardcore porn content on the UK operated websites.  The JP Media service was among 16 services, operating across 20 websites – found to be in breach of the statutory rules in 2013-14 because they featured hardcore porn material which could be accessed by under 18’s.

Of the 16 services, 14 acted to make changes to bring the service into compliance or closed. The remaining two were transferred to the control of a company based in The Netherlands. Although regulated under the same EU Directive, the Dutch regulatory authority does not share ATVOD’s view that hardcore pornography might seriously impair under 18s and so on-demand services provided from that jurisdiction are not required to have in place the sort of age verification and access control systems required by ATVOD in the UK.

ATVOD Chief Executive Pete Johnson said :

We have made good progress in ensuring that UK operators of regulated VOD services comply with rules designed to protect children from harmful content, but we are not complacent and will continue to monitor relevant services and act as required.

Our enforcement activity has sent a clear message that UK providers of hardcore pornography on demand must take effective steps to ensure that such material is not accessible to under-18’s. Asking visitors to a website to click an ‘I am 18’ button or enter a date of birth or use a debit card is not sufficient, if they are going to offer explicit sex material they must know that their customers are 18, just as they would in the ‘offline’ world.

[However the ATVOD mandated child protection measures as so onerous that it is almost impossible for businesses to survive after implementing them. An interesting statistic in the report rather illustrates this. In a survey of internet access ATVOD found that only 1 of 1266 adult sites visited by members of a 45,000 strong survey was a British site working within ATVOD censorship rules].

ATVOD Chair Ruth Evans said:

ATVOD will continue to discuss with policy makers further options for reducing the exposure of children to pornography and other potentially harmful VOD material on websites based outside the UK . We strongly support initiatives designed to improve the take up of parental control software and have worked with the Department for Culture Media and Sport on the drafting of legislation which will prohibit on UK based VOD services any material which would not be classified for sale on a DVD.

In addition to the 16 breaches relating to the provision of hardcore pornography, the authority also details in its Annual Report a further 56 breaches of the statutory rules, giving a total of 72 breaches during 2013-14, an increase of 200% on the previous year.

Another interesting statistic that ATVOD failed to mention was that ATVOD spent £510,900 in the report period so each of the 72 breaches of the code cost on average, £7095 to process.

Surely this money would be better spent commissioning a practical national ID scheme administered by trusted parties rather than handing over highly personal ID date to dodgy porn sites with easy potential for identity theft. This would then allow British websites to compete whilst children would be better protected by a scheme that was acceptable and practical for everybody.

Read more ATVOD Watch at MelonFarmers.co.uk

ukcolumn video An internet news website theUKColumn have pulled all their news videosrather than submit to censorship and fee extortion fromATVOD.Brian Gerrish and Mike Robinson discuss the attempted ATVOD regulation/censorship of the UK Column in a non-television-like way.

The video is available for download here . Please feel free to distribute as far and wide as you can, including your own Youtube channels.

See video from YouTube

See ATVOD determination [pdf] from atvod.co.uk