Amazon Found In Breach By Ofcom Over Pamasahe


Amazon has fallen foul of Ofcom‘s code in the UK for the first time.

In a move that could become a more regular occurrence under the new Media Bill, which passed two weeks ago, streamer Prime Video was found in breach of the part of the code that prohibits harmful content on what Ofcom calls on-demand programme services (ODPS).

The breach relates to a 2022 Filipino movie, Pamasahe, which was made available on Prime several months ago. The film is about a penniless mother who journeys to find her husband in Manila but has to “use her body to get to her destination,” according to the synopsis.

Ofcom received a complaint about the film, which was rated 18+ by Prime Video, from a viewer who was, amongst other things, “concerned about the inclusion of a baby in scenes depicting sexual activity between adults.” According to Ofcom, the viewer sent a letter to Amazon but received no response and couldn’t get a satisfactory response on the phone so took their complaint to the regulator.

Ofcom said it sought advice from the British Board of Film Classification, which advised that, in its view, “the sequence…contains a frame that would contravene the Protection of Children Act 1978….on the basis that it shows a child in the same frame as sexual activity.”

The BBFC contacted Amazon and the streamer has since removed the movie in the UK. Amazon said it considered its measures for detecting prohibited material to be “robust, complete and effective”, and that this was evidenced by “over a decade of content distribution under the supervision of Ofcom without any prior formal investigations from Ofcom.” However, it added that “these sorts of content policies are nuanced and we regularly evaluate where we can make improvements.”

The move could be a sign of things to come. Prime Video’s UK service provider Amazon Digital UK is already obliged to follow the rules regarding ODPS and harmful content, but these rules are set to be toughened now that the Media Bill has passed – one of the final pieces of legislation to be signed off before parliament was dissolved for the UK general election.

The Media Bill gives Ofcom the power to bring streamers such as Amazon and Netflix into line with regulation of broadcasters in areas such as impartiality and harmful content. Netflix’s policy boss has previously warned this could “prove unworkable or risk a chilling effect.” The most recent timeline from Ofcom said it would aim to regular streamers fully within the next two years.

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