ATVOD Introduces Rule 14 for ‘Prohibited’ Content

LONDON — U.K. video-on-demand regulator ATVOD today disclosed new proposed rules in response to legislative changes, including the new Rule 14 that outlaws VOD websites from containing “prohibited material,” content that would be denied a British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) certificate.

ATVOD also disclosed that it plans to expand Rule 11 rules and make mobile phones an acceptable technical tool for effective age verification when there is proof of possession of the phone.

Rule 11 historically has required an effective system such as credit cards that verifies that the online viewer of porn is 18 or over at the point of registration.

Another proposed regulation change would amend wording in Rule 11 that more specifically requires restricted access to R18 or R18-equivalent material rather than requiring restricted access to “material which might seriously impair the physical, mental or moral development of persons under the age of 18.”

“The associated guidance therefore directs [on-demand] service providers towards the BBFC’s published information on content likely to be awarded an R18 classification,” ATVOD said in a consultation memo made available today.

ATVOD said in the memo that legislation this past December — Audiovisual Media Services Regulations 2014 — necessitates changes to ATVOD’s rules and guidance and that it worked with the BBFC and U.K. communications regulator Ofcom to ensure that common standards on what is “R18 equivalent” and what is “unclassifiable” will be applied.

The Audiovisual Media Services Regulations 2014, which is planned to be incorporated into Rule 14, focuses on adult entertainment content that has been “refused a classification certificate by the BBFC or which it would be reasonable to expect would be refused a classification certificate.”

ATVOD is inviting written views and comments on the planned rule changes. It is taking submission until 5 p.m. on March 2. Submissions can be emailed to contact@atvod.co.uk.

In related news, ATVOD is proposing a slight increase in fees for providers of VOD services for the 2015-16 fiscal year.

“The proposed increase reflects both changes in market conditions and the new statutory duties being undertaken by ATVOD since the Audiovisual Media Services Regulations 2014 came into force late last year,” ATVOD officials said in relation to the proposed Rule 14.

View proposal on fee increases

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