Initial Response to ATVOD

To ATVOD on 4 July 2013 – Not Protectively Marked

On 6 June you wrote to Itziar Urrutia requesting either a declaration or notification concerning’s compliance with the Communications Act 2003 (‘CA’) and in particular potential breaches of Rules 1, 4 and 11 of the Authority for Television On Demand (‘ATVOD’).

The Urban Chick Supremacy Cell (‘UCSC’) would first like to thank ATVOD for deciding that our art project ‘could have a clear impact on a significant proportion of the general public’ and is ‘in competition with television broadcasting’.

This is the by far the most flattering compliment we have ever received in our short history, and we are most grateful for such a ringing endorsement.

Indeed we are considering including such a wonderful enconium on the UCSC site.

As we are sure you will recognise, the quotes above come from the EU Directive 2010/13/EU of 10 March 2010 aka the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (‘AMSD’) from which stems the Audiovisual Media Services Regulations 2009 as amended by The Audiovisual Media Services Regulations 2010 that inserted into the CA – apparently with little if any debate in Parliament – Part 4A of that Act, and thence in turn via delegated powers from Ofcom to ATVOD, a statutory regime for the regulation of an On Demand Programme Service (‘ODPS’).

Until your letter arrived, our embryonic art project had been working on the basis that it was not providing an ODPS and that for regulatory purposes it operated within the CPS guidelines on the OPA where any content raised that issue.

In this OPA respect we are fortunate in being advised pro bono by Myles Jackman of Hodge Jones Allen (‘HJA’) aka @obscenitylawyer whose firm secured Not Guilty verdicts in the recent obscenity and censorship cases against Michael Peacock and City of London Magistrate, Alderman & Boris Johnson aide Simon Walsh (see Guardian & ).

Indeed our knowledge of and susceptiblity to the OPA is such that HJA have suggested we consider joining a Judicial Review application against the DPP concerning the CPS’ OPA guidelines, to which we are giving serious consideration.

UCSC had hoped to be able to submit a definitive declaration concerning ODPS to ATVOD via this email (with hard copy to follow as requested), but unfortunately there is an issue which ATVOD’s guidelines apparently do not address and about which we have been advised to request clarification from you first.

As Ofcom agrees, the CA must be interpreted in light of the AMSD, from a recital in which our opening quote about ‘significant proportion’ was taken. For some incomprehensible reason we have been unable to find any clarification or quantification of what constitutes a significant proportion in either your Guidance on who needs to notify – Application and Scope of the Regulations for Video On Demand (VOD) services (edition 3.3) or Statutory Rules and Non-Binding Guidance for Providers (edition 2.0) or elsewhere on your website, so are unable to determine if UCSC even qualifies to be considered as falling within the scope of ATVOD’s regulation, never mind the subsequent principal purpose or tv comparability tests.

Put another way, is ATVOD seriously claiming with a straight face that little UCSC, with annual ‘revenues’ in three figures and a few hundred loyal free of charge visitors from this community of interest, is the kind of disruptive force causing established television companies to quake in their boots at the competitive threat, such that they require the protection of the mighty EU’s directive? If so we salute your sense of humour.

We feel sure such a professional Regulator as ATVOD must have addressed this issue, hence our request for clarification.

Incidentally we should also perhaps mention that apparently there has as yet been no application for Judicial Review on any of your or Ofcom’s rulings, which is surprising given the novel and contentious nature of the ODPS regime.

We admit a reading of our site might give rise to a view that UCSC is belligerent and confrontational, with captions such as ‘Hunting down all City Boys and other capitalist sexist male scum vermin’, ‘Botched toenail varnishing job by a useless male specimen’, ‘Spread your legs for the Femdom Revolution male scum, the Revolution will enter you now’, ‘Stalking those capitalist, patriarchal, suburban smugs and City boys in the false safety of their own gardens and swimming pools’, ‘A Femme Supremacist and Femdom Militant trains with her boxing gloves. Tied up to the ceiling, a male scum is her punchbag of choice’, ‘Re-education of the male, a City boy is made to eat his grubby money by a booted, angry, Feral Femme Commando’ or ‘The UCSC is recruiting fearless, thrill seeking, patriarchy-crushing dominant women into their ranks for total emasculation of the male and surrender of its capitalist, woman-objectifying regime’.

However this belligerence is (well, to some extent) part of our artistic dimension, and we are in reality perfectly prepared to be rational, and not unduly litigious for the sake of publicity, in pursuit of our objectives.

In the event we do not eventually need to describe our CA/ODPS analysis in detail, we believe we can at least reassure ATVOD on one of of its concerns, Rule 11.

Along with ATVOD, UCSC accepts – though admittedly without the fervour exhibited by your CEO Pete ‘four out of five adults’ Johnson, to the extent ‘think of the children’ might be felt to have become ATVOD’s main raison d’etre (and we entirely agree that is a very effective dog whistle & triggering soundbite) – material which might seriously impair the physical, mental or moral development of persons under the age of eighteen must be made available in a manner which secures that such persons will not normally see or hear it.

Putting aside our belief that exposure to our material might actually improve rather than impair perceptions in a patriarchal hegemony, and exactly how abnormal it would be to locate & purchase any of our material, we selected a card processor who clearly states that credit cards are required (see attachment) which we understood met applicable requirements. There are times when a concession to the prevailing orthodoxy is pragmatic.

As you can probably discern, subject to whatever amplification you can supply to our request for clarification about ‘significant proportion’ above, we were also operating on the basis that we were not an ODPS because of the principal purpose and tv comparability tests, though we are quite tempted to avail ourselves of the Commercial Micro-scale Concessionary Rate of £137 for the sake of ATVOD endorsement.

Mind you we would accept the term commercial is a bit of a misnomer in our case, as UCSC is undisputedly uncommercial in the ordinary sense of that word because the revenue – well below 4 figures never mind 50k – only makes a derisory contribution to costs. You can see why we so appreciate the fantastic recognition from ATVOD.

UCSC is primarily an art project. Like Velazquez’s Rokeby Venus, or Duchamp’s ‘Urinal’, works of art now recognized as pathbreaking and mainstream were once considered beyond the pale and often pushed against prevailing sexual mores.

Likewise UCSC is pushing current boundaries. But from the home/landing page – a parody of the Sun’s page 3, although more pointed in message – through the images of a man dressed as a maid serving cucumber sandwiches to a reclining lady reading Chomsky, or the artwork proclaiming The Strapon is mightier than the Gun, to a dominatrix exalting Valerie Solanas (author of the SCUM Manifesto, a classic in feminist writing), whilst interspersed with more conventional though still unconventional & parodic – not to say satiric – adult imagery and idiom, UCSC is clearly not a conventional adult site.

Our website, The UCSC Project, has been exhibited in public galleries, for example at MUSAC, Museum of Contemporary Art of Castille and Leon in Leon, Spain (which included open access to those under 18; luckily not all cultures are as buttock clenching as the unfortunate cold and wet British) and have been well received in North America.

This might be an opportune moment to explain that although UCSC is a collective with an egalitarian structure, your addressing Ms Urrutia is probably the best formal option for editorial control, as – since she had relevant previous experience when doing her Masters – she instigated UCSC.

We can confirm Ms Urrutia is a Madam (strictly – very strictly – in the gender sense) and she will accept service of documents on our behalf, at least in the immediate future. She may relinquish this role before long if the demands of her forthcoming doctorate consume too much energy, though the site forms an integral part of her field of research.

UCSC stand ready to respond by return, once our query about ATVODís discourse on their quantified yardstick for distinguishing those within or without the AMVS is answered, with either a UCSC declaration or notification.

We look forward eagerly, with bated breath even, to hearing from you.

Thank you for your cooperation.

The UCSC Project
Defeating Patriarchy at their own game since 2010