Playboy TV wins ATVOD appeal – but no money back

Posted: September 27, 2013

OFCOM has today upheld an appeal by Playboy TV UK / Benelux Limited in relation to two decisions by the Authority for Television On Demand (ATVOD) – which is responsible for regulating the editorial content of certain on-demand programmes services.

The argument was over where control of Playboy TV and Demand Adult was held in September last year, when their VOD services were under ATVOD scrutiny. Fresh evidence was provided to OFCOM, proving significant parts of the operation are now run from Canada. Since ATVOD only have control over UK businesses offering ‘on demand’ video services, the successful appeal means Playboy TV and Demand Adult can continue to supply their service to UK consumers via Playboy Plus Entertainment as it’s based overseas.

At the time of the original finding against Playboy, this hadn’t been made clear, as explained by ATVOD: “Those representations had come shortly after ATVOD found Playboy TV UK / Benelux Ltd to be in breach of ATVOD rules which require UK porn-on-demand websites to keep hardcore porn behind effective access controls which ensure that under 18s cannot normally see it. The UK company was later fined £100,000 in relation to those breaches.”

The OFCOM appeal decision notes that, a limited number of individuals within the UK business continue actively to be involved in the provision of the service[s], but accepts that, there was a genuine reallocation of responsibility within the corporate group.

Commenting on the appeal, ATVOD CE Pete Johnson said: “This is a complex area and the appeal system  is a vital part of  the process, giving service providers, in particular, greater clarity over issues such as where regulatory responsibility lies when two or more parties are involved. In this case, it is unfortunate that ATVOD was not provided with all relevant information at the appropriate time – doing so ensures that unnecessary regulatory costs are avoided.”

Added as a footnote to ATVOD’s announcement, it concludes: “Note: The [£100,000] fines imposed on Playboy TV UK / Benelux Ltd in January 2013 still stand as the UK company was the provider of the relevant services at the time the breach occurred.”

The full finding can be read here.