ATVOD Says Porn Enforcement on Rise

Jul 16, 2015 10:38 AM PST

LONDON — ATVOD said in its annual report released today that the British video-on-demand regulator saw a spike in the number of porn websites it took action against in the past year.

Pete Johnson, the CEO of ATVOD, told XBIZ that the number of porn websites it has taken action against has “risen sharply,” a figure that is fivefold — 137 websites in 2014-15 compared to 27 sites in 2013-14.

In the report, ATVOD said that of the 137 sites involving 12 companies found to be in breach of statutory rules in the past 12 months, eight companies acted to make changes to bring the service into compliance or closed, and two were the subject of continuing ongoing enforcement activity. The remaining two companies were transferred to the control of a person or company established outside the U.K.

ATVOD’s main enforcement weapons include Rule 11, a U.K. statute that requires operators to make sure those under 18 can't access hardcore porn, and Rule 14, which outlaws VOD websites from containing "prohibited material" — content that would be denied a British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) certificate.

That prohibited material includes the distribution of content that includes acts of female ejaculation, spanking, fisting, water sports, full bondage and other types of strong explicit content.

ATVOD also enforces regulations over U.K.-based sites that fail to register with the VOD co-regulator.

Johnson, in a release earlier this morning, hinted that ATVOD plans increased enforcement with Rules 11 and 14 going forward.

“Looking forward, we note with interest the Conservative Party manifesto commitment to require age verification for access to all websites containing pornographic material,” Johnson said in a press release. “We have made good progress in ensuring that U.K. operators of regulated VOD services comply with rules designed to protect children from harmful content, but we are not complacent and will continue to monitor relevant services and act as required.”

The annual report also revealed that ATVOD Chairwoman Ruth Evans, who yesterday announced that she was tapped to lead the British government’s Payments Strategy Forum, will be leaving ATVOD in December after six years with the agency.

A new ATVOD chair has not yet been chosen to replace Evans.

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