ATVOD Watchdog Shows Teeth
Posted: February 17, 2012
In early February, the UK’s video on-demand watchdog Authority for Television On Demand, better known as ATVOD – which took over VOD regulation from Ofcom last year – responded to a complaint and ruled against online VoD service Bootybox.tv. ATVOD said Bootybox.tv was in breach of statutory rules requiring video on demand providers to ensure that under 18s cannot access hardcore pornographic content through their site.
ATVOD rules require material that ‘might seriously impair under 18s’ can only be made generally available through a site, mobile platform or other online delivery system if, in order to protect them, access is blocked to children. According to the regulator, the content shown by Bootybox was equivalent to R18-level, which if distributed on DVD could only be sold in licensed sex shops.
It was in response to a concerned father who’d discovered his son had visited the Bootybox.tv site that ATVOD, which is increasingly active as a regulator, took his June 2011 complaint forward and investigated the website, along with three others that were shown to fall outside of their control. ATVOD report the Bootybox.tv site was found to offer unrestricted access to R18-level hardcore videos and used payment methods, including debit cards and prepaid vouchers, which could be used by under 18s. The watchdog found video of “real sex in explicit detail”, along with “a large still image of explicit sex on the homepage”.
An Enforcement Notification was issued by ATVOD as a part of its ruling against Paul Carder, MD of Bootybox.tv, requiring him as provider to either remove all hardcore content from the service, or else more effectively screen it from underage users by placing all R18-type content – including trailers – beyond an effective access control.
Rather than implementing the potentially costly changes to comply with ATVOD’s ruling and the Enforcement Notification, the Bootybox.tv service has opted to cease operating. The firm’s twitter feed @Bootybox appears to have deleted all tweets too.
Speaking at a House of Lords conference on child and consumer protection, ATVOD’s chief executive Pete Johnson commented, “UK providers of hardcore pornography on demand must take effective steps to ensure that such material is not accessible to under-18s. Asking visitors to a website to click an ‘I am 18’ button or enter a date of birth or use a debit card is not sufficient – if they are going to offer explicit sex material they must know that their customers are 18, just as they would in the ‘offline’ world.”