The Significance of Ofcom’s Code Violation by Amazon Prime Video in the UK

The Significance of Ofcom’s Code Violation by Amazon Prime Video in the UK

Recently, Amazon Prime Video found itself in violation of Ofcom’s code in the UK for the first time. This breach could potentially become a more common occurrence under the new Media Bill, which was passed just two weeks prior. The violation pertained to the prohibition of harmful content on what Ofcom defines as on-demand programme services (ODPS). The incident involved a 2022 Filipino movie called Pamasahe, which was made available on Prime Video several months ago.

A complaint was filed by a viewer who expressed concerns about the content of the film. The viewer specifically mentioned being troubled by the inclusion of a baby in scenes depicting sexual activity between adults. Despite reaching out to Amazon to address their concerns, the viewer did not receive a response and was unable to obtain a satisfactory resolution over the phone. Consequently, the complaint was escalated to the regulatory authority, Ofcom.

Upon receiving the complaint, Ofcom sought advice from the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC). The BBFC determined that a particular sequence in the film violated the Protection of Children Act 1978, as it showed a child in the same frame as sexual activity. Following this evaluation, the BBFC contacted Amazon, leading to the removal of the movie from Prime Video in the UK.

In response to the incident, Amazon asserted that its measures for detecting prohibited material were comprehensive and effective. The company pointed out that it had a track record of over a decade of content distribution under the supervision of Ofcom without any prior formal investigations. Amazon acknowledged the nuanced nature of content policies and expressed a willingness to continuously evaluate and improve its practices.

This incident serves as a potential indicator of the changing regulatory landscape for streaming services. With the passage of the Media Bill, Ofcom now has enhanced authority to ensure compliance with regulations governing harmful content and impartiality. The Media Bill aims to bring streamers like Amazon and Netflix in line with broadcasters in terms of regulatory oversight.

Netflix’s policy chief has cautioned that increased regulatory scrutiny could pose challenges and potentially stifle creativity in content creation. The looming prospect of stricter regulations from Ofcom has prompted concerns about the feasibility and impact of such measures on the streaming industry.

Ofcom has outlined a timeline for the gradual integration of streamers into the regulatory framework over the next two years. This transition signifies a broader trend towards establishing a more rigorous regulatory environment for streaming platforms in the UK.

The Ofcom code violation by Amazon Prime Video underscores the evolving regulatory landscape for streaming services and the imperative of maintaining compliance with content standards to ensure the protection of viewers, especially vulnerable audiences like children. As the regulatory framework continues to evolve, streaming platforms must adapt and enhance their content monitoring measures to align with the changing expectations and requirements of regulatory authorities.


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