Good summary and points by Munch1917, howver ATVOD decisions can be appealed to Ofcom, who do sometimes overturn them.
A strength of the system is that appeals are not heard by the same crowd that made the orginal decision.
However above that the only route is appeal in the Administrative Section of the High Court, a slow and expensive process not realistically available to anyone other that the largest businesses.
It is that appeals process that outgoing Chief Exec Ed Richards wants removed because he thinks it is "too easy" for boardcasters to tie Ofcom up in appeals. OK, that was in relation to international mega corporations like Sky disputing whether they have to allow Virgin and BT to broadcast Sky sports, but the principle is the same. This contempt for legal process shows the man is unfit to hold a senior position in any public sector organisation, hopefully he will not get an honour when Parliament dissoves.
However there is very limited scope to appeal an Ofcom decision about a real TV show. Here (partly for my own reference) is a condensed summary of new regulations with paragraph numbers from Appendix 2 of the 2011 consultation. As far as I can see there is no provision anywhere in the process for appeal. Two sets of representions to the same person yes, appeal no.
1.9 complainants should follow the broadcaster’s own complaints procedure before making a complaint to Ofcom ... Complaints can also be made directly to Ofcom in the first instance
1.18 Ofcom will first consider whether,... a complaint(s) raises potentially substantive issues ... which warrant investigation by Ofcom
1.19 If Ofcom considers that it should assess the matter further, it may ask the broadcaster for a copy of the relevant programme ...
1.20 Based on an initial assessment ... and a review of the relevant broadcast, Ofcom will consider whether there may have been a breach ... which ... requires a response from the broadcaster
1.22 Ofcom will summarise the ... complaint(s) ... and invite the broadcaster to make representations
1.25 On receipt of the broadcaster’s representations, Ofcom will ... prepare its preliminary view on ... the complaint(s). This preliminary view is only provisional and may be subject to change in the light of subsequent representations / material provided by the broadcaster ... Members of Ofcom's Content Board will be provided with all preliminary views before they are provided to the broadcaster
Note: In most cases this "preliminary" view is exactly the same as the final one. It is formed by a single salaried employee, not the Content Committee, who are merely informed of the view.
1.27 When Ofcom has prepared its preliminary view, Ofcom will provide it to the broadcaster ... and request representations
1.28 Once Ofcom has received and considered the broadcaster’s representations ... on its preliminary view, it will reach its final decision and inform the broadcaster
all parties are subject to the requirement of non disclosure in relation to all other material submitted and communications/correspondence entered into in relation to that complaint or case. Moreover, once a complaint has been made or Ofcom has started investigating a case, no party should take any steps which could – whether intentionally or not – compromise, or risk compromising, a fair decision on the matter by Ofcom or otherwise constitute, in Ofcom’s opinion, an abuse of process.
It is unclear how, say, the broadcaster publicising a complaint could affect decisions made by their own staff and/or Content Board. Are they scared of publicity?
1.33 Where Ofcom determines a complaint(s) ... by deciding that there has been a breach (or breaches) ... Ofcom may consider that it justifies consideration of a statutory sanction against the broadcaster
Ofcom has confirmed that "may consider sanctions" means it WILL impose sanctions, but has not decided what sanctions. The level of sanction is decided under a separate process by a Content Board member advised by the salaried officer who made the original decision - someone took this process to the High Court, claiming lack of independence, but Ofcom won. Its as if a TV licence inspector was sat on the magistrates bench whispering into the magistrates ear, instead of being confined to the witness stand.
Consultation 17/12/2010 - Review of procedures for handling broadcasting complaints, investigations and sanctions