Ofcom has upheld an appeal by Playboy TV UK that it was no longer the operator of online video on-demand services Playboy TV and Demand Adult.
In a blow to co-regulator ATVOD, the decision turned on whether Playboy TV UK / Benelux Ltd still exercised “general control” over the selection and organisation of the programmes comprising the relevant video on demand services.
The operator produced evidence that it was now being run by a Canadian company, Playboy Plus Entertainment, meaning that it could continue to offer hard-core internet porn to UK consumers beyond the reach of British regulation.
Commenting on the decision, ATVOD Chief Executive 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.”
ATVOD had determined that as at September 14, 2012 it remained the provider of the two channels. ATVOD had found Playboy TV UK / Benelux Ltd to be in breach of ATVOD rules that 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’s appeal decisions note that “a limited number of individuals within the UK business continue actively to be involved in the provision of the service[s]” but accept that “there was a genuine reallocation of responsibility within the corporate group.”