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ATVOD is no more, OfCom to take over regulation duties

Authority for Television On Demand (ATVOD), the regulatory body for on demand TV platforms in the UK, like 4OD, BBC iPlayer and the ITV player, is set to close after just five years of operation. It’s regulatory responsibilities, which lately have seen the organisation go after porn site operators, will be folded into OfCom, with that regulatory body seeing its power extended to include streaming content as well as potentially “tv-like” websites too.

Originally set up in 2010, ATVOD’s purpose was supposed to be constrained to monitoring and policing on-demand content. However in the last 12 months, perhaps sensing that it wasn’t useful enough to continue independent operation, it extended its own mandate and started going after pornography producers in the UK. It made a point of championing pornography filters and shutting down dominatrix directory sites.

Its reasoning at the time was that these services were “TV-like,” though it seemed telling that it targeted small time content producers rather than services like Netflix or Amazon with its ire.

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But life under ATVOD was so happy. What happened?

Whatever function ATVOD was performing though, it was clearly decided that it wasn’t worth the money it was using – around half a million a year according to Sex and Censorship.

“Our task now is to make sure that our service to consumers and service providers remains of the highest standard during the remaining months of 2015 and to work closely with Ofcom to manage a smooth and seamless transition. We will do this with the professionalism stakeholders have come to expect of ATVOD over the past few years,” said ATVOD chair Ruth Evans.

So from 2016 onwards, OfCom will handle all on-demand streaming regulation too. The question is, will it too extend its own responsibilities and attempt to crack down on certain websites it deems immoral?

KitGuru Says: While I have more faith in OfCom than ATVOD, OfCom has a lot more financial and government backing than ATVOD ever did. If it did decide to go after websites, there could be some real trouble. 

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