After getting in trouble for not following ATVOD's overly restrictive and unviable child protection rules, Playboy TV decided to move the Playboy
TV website (and Demand Adult website) offshore to Canada.
However ATVOD would not accept that Playboy had actually moved the editorial control of the website to Canada and felt that it should there continue to be subject to ATVOD rules.
ATVOD's reasons cited for their refusal to accept the move seem particularly spurious. From the Ofcom adjudication:
In particular, ATVOD noted the following features of the website as evidence that the Service remained within UK jurisdiction:
a. The contact information (as at 14 September 2012) on the Service was for the UK address of the company Playboy TV UK / Benelux Ltd .
b. Terms and Conditions on the Service refer to being governed by English Law .
c. Domain registration data suggested that the Service is not registered in Canada, but in America.
d. The overall design and layout of the Service had not changed since the apparent transfer to Canada.
ATVOD also noted an email of 10 September 2012, provided by the Service Provider, from the Head of Digital and New Media at Playboy TV UK / Benelux Limited to the Canadian Product Manager. ATVOD argued this email suggested that the
UK Service Provider retained editorial responsibility for the Service.
Playboy decided to appeal to Ofcom about ATVOD's claim. Playboy responded to ATVOD's points:
In particular, Playboy noted that:
a. The fact that the Services' Terms and Conditions referred to are bound by UK Law and payments taken by a UK company had no bearing on editorial control .
b. The Services' American Domain registration, again, had no bearing on editorial control .
c. The Montreal-based company had decided the current design of the Service was sufficient and the redesign of a website is a lengthy process.
In relation to the email of 10 September 2012 cited by ATVOD, the Appellant stated that ATVOD had misrepresented its position and that, in fact, it uploaded videos to the Service as they become available and, as such, no editorial decisions
are taken in the UK.
Ofcom made a few enquiries about staff responsibilities and accepted that editorial responsibility had been transferred to Canada:
In relation to the points cited by ATVOD, Ofcom broadly accepts the Appellant's explanations for the features noted by ATVOD. In particular, although the features noted could be indicative, cumulatively, of a service editorial responsibility for which
has not changed, it is not determinative and evidence that there had been a genuine reorganisation including redundancies in the UK and the taking on of responsibilities by staff in Montreal is persuasive.
Ofcom upholds the Playboy's appeal and substitutes ATVOD's decision with Ofcom's Decision, that the Playboy TV did not fulfil the criterion in section 368A(1)(c) of the Act as at 24 July 2012 and therefore was not the provider of an online video service
subject to ATVOD regulation.
The success of their appeal means that they [Playboy TV] can continue providing hard-core internet porn to UK consumers beyond the reach of British regulation.
Farrah Abraham is apparently setting records with Farrah Superstar: Backdoor Teen Mom . The former reality star's sex tape was released on Vivid's website smashing records set by Kim Kardashian and Ray J's sex tape.
TMZ is reporting that there was so much interest in the tape it crashed Vivid's site for nine minutes. The video reportedly attracted more than 2 million visitors in the first 12 hours of its release.
ATVOD publishes determination that three adult video on demand services had breached ATVOD rules requiring video on demand
providers to ensure that under 18s cannot normally access hardcore pornographic content
ATVOD's findings - against the providers of online video on demand services Studio66 TV , G Spot Productions and Abused Piggy -- brings to 17 the number of adult suffocated by the VOD censor over the last 18 months. All of them were
operating in breach of an ATVOD rule which requires that R18 hardcore material can only be made available if access is blocked to children. The latest three services -- which operated through a total of 11 websites - offered users access to explicit
hard-core porn videos which could be viewed on-demand.
ATVOD found that the G Spot Productions service broke the statutory rules in two ways. Firstly, it allowed any visitor free, unrestricted access to hard-core pornographic video promos/trailers and still images featuring real sex in explicit
detail. Secondly, access to the full videos was open to any visitor who paid a fee. As the service accepted payment methods such as the most widely used payment by debit cards. ATVOD ruled that the service had also failed to put in place effective access
controls in relation to the full videos. As a result of ATVOD's action, the service provider removed all explicit hard-core material from the free-to-view sections of the service, and restricted access to such material to persons able to provide evidence
that they are over 18, for example by presenting a valid credit card.
The Studio66 TV service was found to have committed one breach of the statutory rules. The service did not offer free, unrestricted access to hard-core pornographic material, but did provide such material to any visitor who paid a fee. As the
service accepted payment methods such as debit cards, ATVOD ruled that the service had failed to put in place effective access controls in relation to the explicit pornographic material. As a result of ATVOD's action, the service provider restricted
access to explicit hard-core material to persons able to provide evidence that they are over 18, for example by presenting a valid credit card.
The Abused Piggy service was also found to have committed one breach of the statutory rules. Although the full catalogue of material could only be viewed by adults, the service also offered unrestricted, free-to-view access to a sample video
featuring real sex in explicit detail, and to still images featuring real sex in explicit detail and strong fetish material. As a result of ATVOD's action, the service closed.
So one service closed and the others severely restricted to customers with credit cards; who are willing to pay before they see what they would be getting; and who get to notice a site that has got nothing but a few softcore pictures to trying and
attract surfers passing briefly by.
On 12th February 2013, the government minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, Ed Vaizey, appeared before the House of Lords Communications Select Committee
to give his opinions about media convergence.
One interesting point was that the government intends to extend internet censorship in the upcoming Communications white paper.
The government looks set to extend the onerous TV censorship regime administered by Ofcom to all channels appearing on a TV's Electronic Programme Guide. At the moment, internet TV channels are not subject to Ofcom's suffocating TV censorship.
Vaizey feels that 'viewers expect' anything that looks like a TV channel which presents itself for channel hopping in the EPG to be subject to the same strict censorship as broadcast TV.
However channels presenting themselves via an app interface, seem likely to be let off the hook and censored according to the less strict censorship of the Video on Demand censor, ATVOD.
So anything featuring biased news such as Fox News, or else hardcore porn will have to stay off the EPG, and stick with being available only as an app. Vaizey's thinking is that viewers will not expect the same strict censorship for a channel
that is more obviously internet based.
Self important ATVOD think that banks should enforce an UK ban on payments to international porn websites
28th January 2013
Presumably ATVOD are feeling a bit bad that they are totally suffocating British companies. Maybe they feel that they could level up the playing fields a little by applying their empoverishing ideas to the rest of the world.
The Authority for Television On Demand (ATVOD) has written to Culture Secretary Maria Miller proposing that banks should withhold payment processing to international porn sites that don't implement its ludicrously impractical age verification
ATVOD urged the Government to target banks and payment processors which facilitate the provision to UK consumers of hardcore pornography without age verification.
It claims that blocking payments, estimated to total about £ 180million a year from British customers, would be a significant step towards child internet safety.
Under the proposal, banks and other payment processors would receive a blacklist of all companies making pornography available without extreme age verification. The banks would then be responsible for ensuring that no British customer could make a
payment to any of those companies.
Peter Johnson, of ATVOD, also claimed that overseas companies are potentially in breach of the Obscene Publications Act. He admitted that the most popular porn sites often offer free hardcore pornographic images and video clips. He added:
Banks will deploy lots of arguments as to why they shouldn't be the gatekeepers for this. 'But following the money and making it difficult for these sites to earn it would be a powerful step towards reducing children's exposure to hardcore pornography.
The Government's Mary Whitehouse, Claire Perry welcomed the proposal. She said:
Recruiting the financial services into the attempt to try and make websites more responsible is a very, very good idea. There is a collective responsibility here.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport said the report will be considered carefully as part of a recent communications review.
Ofcom has fined Playboy £ 100,000 for failing to protect children from supposedly seriously harmful
Two websites owned by Playboy (Playboy TV and Demand Adult) allowed users to access hardcore videos and images without having the required controls in place to check that users were aged 18 or over.
Unlike other pornographic websites, Video on Demand websites are regulated by Ofcom and the Authority for Video On Demand (ATVOD).
Ofcom concluded that Playboy's failure to protect children from potentially accessing these sites was serious, repeated and reckless.
There are a number of controls that websites can use to verify the age of users. This includes asking for credit card details before any adult content is made accessible. Credit cards, unlike debit cards, are not available to under 18s.
Unfortunately for UK business, a large proportion of potential customers do not hold credit cards. And of those that do, few are willing to type in the onerous details required just to take a look round the site to see if they are interested in
subscribing. Some don't want the hassle, and some don't trust porn websites enough to hand out credit card details to sites they have not even been able to have a look round yet.
Surely it would at least be possible for debit cards to introduce a flag to indicate that the holder is known by the bank to be over 18.
Playboy TV and Demand Adult had breached UK rules by having by only have a warning and a self declaration of age in place. Both sites had hardcore imagery available before subscribing and both sites accepted debit cards for full access to video on
Ofcom claimed that due to the serious nature of these breaches, the following financial penalties have been imposed on Playboy:
Demand Adult: £ 65,000
Playboy TV: £ 35,000
Thankfully there are plenty of foreign businesses to support that are able to provide customers with what they are seeking.