The Association for Television on Demand

130511 Playboy TV Appeals

News article: 13 May 2011



Rulings mean Demand Adult and Climax 3 video-on-demand websites must comply with ATVOD enforced rules designed to protect children from video material which might cause them serious harm


Appeals by Playboy TV that two ‘adult’ websites, found by The Authority for Television On Demand (“ATVOD”) , the regulator for video on demand services, to fall within the scope of regulation, have today not been upheld by Ofcom.


The two ‘hardcore’ adult video-on-demand websites operated by Playboy TV UK Ltd are therefore subject to new statutory rules enforced by ATVOD for ‘on demand programme services’ and the explicit sex videos available on the websites must be kept behind access controls which ensure that children do not normally see them.


The new rules do not apply if videos are not ‘TV-like’. Playboy TV had argued that because the video content on Demand Adult and Climax 3 features fully explicit sexual images, and was therefore too explicit to be broadcast on UK television, it was not TV-like and was not therefore subject to the new ATVOD rules designed to protect children from video-on-demand content which might cause them serious harm.  


The appeals rested on whether the form and content of the ‘hardcore’ sex videos made available on the websites should be considered “comparable to the form and content of programmes normally included in television programme services”, a key test under the new statutory regime. Playboy TV argued, in essence, that the videos were too explicit to be regulated.


In  determinations made on 24 Sept 2010 (Demand Adult) and 21 Dec 2010 (Climax 3), ATVOD had ruled that, while more explicit than adult programmes shown on UK TV services, the videos were nevertheless comparable to such programmes and were essentially the same as ‘adult’ programmes which are frequently broadcast on linear TV channels in other EU jurisdictions, and were therefore subject to rules designed to protect children.


Playboy TV appealed against the ATVOD determinations, but the appeals have today been rejected by Ofcom.


Commenting on the decision, ATVOD Chair Ruth Evans said:


“The idea that a video on demand service should escape regulation on the grounds that its content was too extreme would make a mockery of the whole purpose of regulation in this area which, in large part, is designed to protect children from exposure to video content which poses a risk of serious harm.”

ATVOD Chief Executive Pete Johnson added:


“These are the first appeals heard by Ofcom under the new arrangements for the regulation of video-on-demand services in the UK and the decisions establish an important point of principle. UK websites offering ‘hardcore’ adult video-on-demand content cannot sidestep the new statutory rules by claiming that the content is, in effect, too explicit to be regulated. Instead they must ensure that such content is provided in a manner which ensures that children do not normally see or hear it. ”


The full text of the Ofcom appeal decisions can be found at:


The original ATVOD determinations can be found at: