• New AVMS Regulations further amend Communications Act 2003
• Come into force on 1 December 2014
• New Regulations clarify ATVOD’s ‘Rule 11’ and introduce a new rule on ‘prohibited material’.
• ODPS providers have to comply with the statutory requirements laid out in the Communications Act 2003
• ATVOD’s ‘Rules and Guidance’ sets out these requirements as a set of ‘Rules’ with accompanying non-binding ‘Guidance’
• ATVOD’s Rule 11 states that ‘if an on-demand programme service contains material which might seriously impair the physical, mental or moral development of persons under the age of eighteen, the material must be made available in a manner which secures that such persons will not normally see or hear it’
• ATVOD’s interpretation has been that ‘material which might seriously impair’ includes hardcore (R18 equivalent) pornography
Background to change:
• DCMS writes to Ofcom raising concerns as to whether the provision on ‘material which might seriously impair’ will in practice provide sufficient safeguards to protect children from sexually explicit material
• Ofcom publishes its report on ‘Sexually Explicit Material and Video On Demand Services’
• Government responds:
• Intends to address this issue comprehensively in its Communications Review
• Existing Regulations require a precautionary approach
• Could bring forward further Regulations if necessary, to support this approach
• DCMS strategy paper ‘Connectivity, Content and Consumers’ states intention to regulate to:
• ensure R18 content put behind access controls
• ban outright content on regulated services that is illegal even in licensed sex shops
• ATVOD works with DCMS on drafting of secondary legislation designed to put beyond any doubt the need for UK VOD providers to keep hardcore pornography out of reach of children.
Draft 2014 Regulations bring about two key changes in relation to ODPS:
• Clarification of the nature of material which should not be accessible to children: ‘Specially restricted material’ is ‘R18’, ‘R18 equivalent’ or other material likely to impair the development of children.
• Prohibition of material which on DVD has been or would be refused a classification by the BBFC (‘prohibited material’)
Consultation on revised ‘Rules & Guidance’
• ATVOD to launch consultation with service providers on consequent changes to its ‘Rules & Guidance’
• Revised ‘Rules & Guidance’ to be published in spring 2015