According to the on-demand TV regulator, its move against Studio66 TV, G Spot Productions and Abused Piggy, operating through a total of 11 sites, brings to 17 the number of adult services it has successfully challenged in the last 18 months.
All of them were in breach of a statutory rule which requires that material which might serious impair under-18s can only be made if access is blocked to children. ATVOD’s investigations over the past 18 months have resulted in significant fines in some cases, with Playboy TV UK/Benelux Ltd, for instance, receiving one for £100,000 in January 2013 for “serious, repeated and reckless” breaches of the ATVOD rules.
Commenting on its actions, ATVOD’s chief executive Pete Johnson said:
“Public concern about the ease with which children can access hard-core pornography online is substantial and research indicates widespread support for ATVOD’s policy of ensuring UK websites provide such content only with safeguards that keep it out of reach of children.
“We have made good progress in ensuring that UK websites comply with rules designed to protect children from such harmful content, and our recent enforcement activity has sent a clear message that UK providers of hard-core 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.“But we cannot be complacent, and the views of the public can’t be ignored.”
Ruth Evans, ATVOD chair, added: “We believe government should consider whether more should be done to protect UK children from porn websites operating from other countries, which are currently unregulated.
“Given the importance the public clearly attaches to protecting children from exposure to hard-core porn material, it is surely time to think about more imaginative ways of ensuring that the standards ATVOD requires UK services to meet are replicated for hard-core porn websites accessible in the UK, but operated overseas.
For example, given that many such services appear to be operating in breach of the Obscene Publications Act, is it right that they are part-financed by payments made from UK bank accounts? ”