Adult Industry Meets With ATVOD at Roundtable Meeting

LONDON — Adult entertainment industry stakeholders met yesterday evening in a roundtable meeting with officials from British video-on-demand regulator ATVOD for a discussion over age-verification compliance and the new AVMS regulations.

The discussion — an effort made possible 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 tough new rules put in place and ones that could be on the way.

A central question echoed by participant was, Can the adult industry coalesce and work with regulators 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,” he said “If they come to the table, the rest of the operators would have to follow.”

In April, Culture Secretary Sajid Javid said that the Conservative Party, which just scored a victory in Parliament with last week's election, would create laws that would fine ISPs if they did not cooperate and pull down noncomplying hardcore adult websites — both U.K.-based and overseas — without CAC systems requiring verification that users are 18 or over at the point of access with, typically, a credit card.

The AVMS regulations introduced in November 2014, on the other hand, require U.K. VOD online operators adhere to the same guidelines laid out for DVD sex shop-type porn by the British Board of Film Censors.

Wednesday evening, ATVOD’s Cathy Taylor, who has led the agency’s policy and investigation manager, fielded queries for 20 minutes on the new AVMS rules and Javid’s statement over site blocking domestic and foreign adult websites. Taylor was joined by ATVOD execs 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 and the Adult Provider Network spent 10 minutes on what role should the adult biz play in the debate and whether age-verification is in the future for all adult sites.

The meeting was attended by some of the top advocates of commercial erotica in the British market — including Sex & Censorship’s Jerry Barnett and obscenity attorney Myles Jackman — and the ASACP’s European outreach director, Vince Charlton, among others, who all peppered relevant questions on the roundtable speakers.

IFFOR’s Sharon Girling gave opening and closing remarks at the roundtable.