Red Hot Dutch started broadcasting in July of 1992. Within months it had achieved a semi-mythical status with a brand image that would be the envy of adult broadcasters for years to come.
It became a talking point at home, at the office, in the newspapers, on TV and of course in Parliament. The British Government set their best lawyers off to find a way of dealing with this foreign channel that was supposedly depraving the UK
audience. By March of 1993 the Government had dreamt up the idea of a proscription order. It was served in May and proved effective in taking down Red Hot Dutch.
A trend had been set for hardcore broadcasting. The cycle of selling a hardcore service to a small market of satellite enthusiasts only to be put out of business by a proscription order would be repeated several times over the next 8 years.
Red Hot Dutch were broadcasting full on hardcore. There were no compromises to any softcore preferences of any European regulators and the standard of programming would compare favourably with many of the channels broadcasting today.
It was claimed that the channel peaked at about 40,000 subscribers. The market for hardcore on British satellite is generally constrained by the fact that it is not allowed on the main platforms, ie on Sky. Most channels suffered from the
requirements for a bigger dish trained at a different satellite and being encoded in a different encryption to that used by Sky. The channel also had to contend with legal problems and were forced to move their uplink from the Netherlands to Denmark.
This was reflected in a name change to Red Hot Television. Of course the company was basically British and it was run from Manchester until forced overseas by the proscription order.
The proscription order was a lengthy process started off by the ITC, the British satellite TV regulator. Having found a service unacceptable they also had to satisfy themselves that trade for the service existed within Britain and that an order would
prevent such trade. The Secretary of State must believe that the order would be in the public interest and that it is compatible with the United Kingdom's international obligations.
The British Government claimed that Article 22 of the EC Broadcasting Directive allows the banning of programmes which might seriously impair the physical, mental or moral development of minors. In addition the broadcaster must have breached the
article at least twice in the previous 12 months. The complaining state must inform the European Commission and the broadcaster of its intention to take measures should such an infringement occur again. The Commission and broadcaster have 15 days to
produce an amicable settlement.
The effect of the order is to make it a criminal offence to supply any equipment for use in connection with the operation of the service; to supply programme material or arrange for its supply; to place advertisements in the service; to publish any
programme details of the service; and to supply or offer to supply any decoding equipment enabling the programmes to be received.
The next channel to get the treatment was TV Erotica. They put together a very high quality selection of material but capitulated very quickly when Virginia Bottomley issued a proscription order in 1995. The effectiveness of the Government's actions
proved to be a double whammy. The failure of these channels along with a few short lived launches such as Channel Bizarre instilled doubt in customers as to whether they would get the full year's subscription that they had paid for.
In the meantime satellite porn was becoming well established on the European mainland. Here the various TV regulators were a little more tolerant allowing hardcore to become a much more of a stable and commercial proposition. Rather than opting for
dedicated porn channels, the foreign broadcasters simply allowed hardcore films to be shown on the main movie channels.
There were sufficient films to encourage additional subscriptions but there were few enough films such that the budget wasn't stretched and the films shown could be of high quality. In particular the introduction of hardcore onto the Scandinavian
service TV1000 saved the channel when it was losing in a competition battle with its rival FilmNet. Analogue piracy was pretty rife at the time and the Scandinavian services of TV1000 and FilmNet proved massively popular in the UK. Canal+ in France
was also notable for showing explicit films but they only broadcast one film a month.
Back in Britain the next generation of channels were showing a little more resolve and longevity. Rendez-Vous, a French channel featuring lots of amateur porn was proscribed in 1996. However the channel was not solely reliant on British subscribers
and it was able to continue on. An important lesson was also learnt when Rendez-Vous merged with the struggling Eurotica. Eurotica were originally untroubled by the British Government as they targeted only subscribers on mainland Europe. However
their programming policy of only showing US movies didn't prove so popular with their audience.
The two channels merged to form Eurotica Rendez-Vouz and it was interesting to note that the long process of issuing a proscription order had to be restarted. It took until 1998 before the authorities caught up and issued another order. By this time
Labour had taken over but Chris Smith seemed just as keen to censor as his Conservative predecessors. The channel had picked up on the idea name changing and led the Government a merry dance as they quickly mutated through the guises of Torrid TV and
Adult+. Each name change meant that the Government had to restart the proscription process.
In the end, their effort fizzled out. However, the next new kid on the block persisted through the inevitable proscription and are happily still with us today. The Italian channel, Satisfaction Club Television were originally proscribed in 1997. They
then changed their name to Satisfaction TV. The proscription process started again but it happily stalled and the channel has been broadcasting unhindered ever since, much to the annoyance of Mary Whitehouses's National Viewers and Listeners
Association, now Mediawatch-UK.
By the year 2000 things were moving rapidly in favour of porno-diversity. The move to digital allowed many new services to be set up with a much reduced transponder cost base. More importantly for the UK, the censor had lost a key court case and
hardcore had effectively become legalised.
It is now perfectly acceptable to buy, sell, own, import or advertise viewing cards for foreign hardcore services. However we still can't view similar material on British channels. Surely it can only be a short time before this anomaly is rectified.
There was a time a couple of years ago with the help of a pirate card that one could select from 30 hardcore channels. There are probably even more now but it is a little unlikely that one would want to subscribe to 30 channels simultaneously. There
are now so many out there that it would be a full time job to review them all but here is a flavour of most of the channels that are available to UK subscribers:
Ultra Blue, 8pm to 2am. Hotbird 11.623H 27500 3/4, Viaccess/Irdeto.
Broadcasts around 6 titles per night, from a European and US film library, including Ben Dover, Wicked, Concord and Seventeen. The last time I subscribed the channel had negotiated some sort of cheap deal such that they skipped video titles leaving a
rather chaotic feel.
Don't Panic TV, 24 hours. Hotbird 12.092H 27500 3/4. Viaccess/Irdeto.
Cheap but competent programming. I subscribed to this service via a Blue Ice CAM that did not provide the promised 6 months of viewing
Spice Platinum 24 hours.Hotbird 11.096H, 27500, 3/4 Irdeto and just recently Viaccess
Currently my favourite with a good mix of US//British/European/Bizarre/Amateur etc
Sex View, 24 hours Hotbird 12.092H 27500, 3/4, Viaccess/Irdeto.
Sex View Plus, 24 hours Hotbird 12.092H 27500, 3/4, Viaccess/Irdeto.
When I last watched the channel the had some very high quality strong European material but had a lot of American padding
Satisfaction TV, 24 hours Hotbird 12.092H 27500, 3/4, Viaccess/Irdeto.
Includes regular gay films shown under the label RCT. A long established Italian channel featuring a mixture of good quality and cheap programming
Gay TV & Sex TV, Hotbird 12.092H, 27500 3/4, Viaccess/Irdeto.
2 channels on one card
Free-X TV, 24 hours Hotbird 12663H, 22000, 5/6, proprietary CAM
Sold on the basis of a lifetime subscription. The programming is cheap but competent.
Extasi TV Hotbird 12.092H 27500, 3/4, Viaccess/Irdeto.
Advertises as the hardest and most extreme channel available
247 Sex TV, 24 hours Hotbird 12.092H,S/Rate 27500, FEC 3/4, Viaccess/Irdeto
X-4-U 24 hours Hotbird 12.207H,S/Rate 27500, FEC 3/4, Irdeto
Available on the In-X-World TV card
Back Room 24 hours Hotbird 12.207H,S/Rate 27500, FEC 3/4, Irdeto
Gay channel available on the In-X-World TV card
AB Sat, From 10pm. 111.681H, S/Rate 27500, FEC 3/4, Viaccess or Seca
High quality films but frequently repeated
Full X 1 ZetaCAM
Full X 2