Clarification Of Regulatory Position About Harmful Material On VOD

Author:Ms Vanessa Barnett
Profession:Charles Russell Speechlys LLP

The Audiovisual Media Services Regulations 2014 come into force on 1 December 2014 to remove any uncertainty from the existing regulatory framework and provide clarity to consumers and providers of video-on-demand (VOD) services in relation to adult content on VOD platforms.

The popularity of VOD services has increased over the last few years, and this has meant that there is a greater amount of potentially harmful content that is more accessible to the public.

The Communications Act 2003 makes Ofcom (the UK's communications regulator) responsible for considering children's vulnerability when considering its regulatory duties. The Government has therefore followed recommendations by Ofcom published in 2011 that new provisions should be enforced to better protect against minors' exposure to adult material on VOD services.

The 2014 Regulations amend section 368E of the Communications Act 2003 to ensure that:

VOD material that has been or would be rated R-18 by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), or other material that might seriously impair the physical, mental or moral development of persons under the age of 18, is put behind effective access controls to verify that the user is aged 18 or over (i.e. has been made available in a way that ensures that under 18s will not normally see or hear it, for example, "pay walls" whereby a...

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