Britain's extended family of censors seem to have been pretty active of late, so it is time for a round up of censorship trends
First up is the TV censor Ofcom and its increasingly aggressive attack against the babe channels. These are the free to air channels where sexy presenters try to entice viewers into premium rate phone chats.
Ofcom's recent hardening of attitude coincided with September's redefinition of babe channels as extended advertising. Previously they were regulated as per normal TV programming. In September Ofcom switched from using TV censorship rules to using
advert censorship rules.
This was always going to be problematic. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is still using its old catch phrase requiring that all ads are legal, decent, honest and truthful . Surely rules that require babe channels to be decent
aren't going to sit well with their very reason for existence.
In fact the decency part of ASA's catch phrase doesn't actually get mentioned in the detailed advertising rules. These only require just that adverts shouldn't be harmful or offensive in the context in which they appear.
This definitely means that adverts have to be decent during daytime TV. But it does allow indecent adverts in a restricted context such as an adult magazine.
Anyway Ofcom have been coming down hard on the babe channels under the new rules, especially during daytime programmes. In July 2010 Ofcom fined the Tease Me channels £157,250, and then, after repeat transgressions, Ofcom banned Tease Me
1,2 & 3 on satellite and Tease Me TV on Freeview.
Now Live XXX, Live 960, and Northern Birds have been caught repeatedly overstepping Ofcom's prudish line. They have just been given notice that Ofcom sanctions are on the way.
And there are more hassles in the pipeline. Playboy is on a final warning for perceived naughtiness on its 40 n Naughty babe channel. Playboy also have a few bad boy points on record for Top Shelf TV and the confusingly named Tease
Me TV 2 , which is separate fromthe Tease Me channels banned so far.
Swapping censorship from TV rules to advertising rules has also provided Ofcom with another little opportunity for use against the babe channels. The advertising rules are much stricter in terms of health nudges .
Young adults can be seen enjoying a drink down the Rover's Return on Coronation Street, but similar young drinkers are banned from any adverts shown during the commercial break.
LivexxxBabes was the first babe channel to fall foul of these health rules. In one episode the presenter sexily smoked a cigarette for a period of around three minutes, direct to camera and in close up.
So Ofcom pounced on advertising Rule 10.3: Advertisements must not promote smoking or the use of tobacco products .
The advertisement's focus was clearly on the act of smoking and the female presenter's evident enjoyment of it; the prolonged and drawn out nature of the sequence promoted this activity as something desirable; and, the smoking
was clearly intended to be an additional enticement to viewers to call in to this teleshopping channel. In Ofcom's opinion this promoted smoking or the use of tobacco products in breach of Rule 10.3.
Perhaps better news from the British Board of Film Classification. There has been a modest reduction in the censorship of R18 hardcore DVDs.
Over previous years the BBFC has cut a large percentage of R18s. Mostly for two reasons. Female ejaculation is routinely cut with the explanation that it is deemed obscene by the Crown Prosecution Service. Secondly rough sex is routinely cut on
the grounds that it is just not nice.
For a long time the BBFC has been cutting 25-30% of R18 mostly for the above reasons. But in the last 6 months, the average has dropped to just 15% being cut.
Are the BBFC cutting less? Or are the producers moving away from rough sex ?
The total number of R18s released during 2010 was about 850. This is significantly lower than usual, but hopefully this is more to do with declining economics rather than declining interest.
Thinking of progress at the BBFC, this month sees the anniversary of a notable censorship event. The Lover's Guide was released 20 years ago and featured the first explicit real sex seen in a BBFC approved title. Admittedly this was in the context
of sex education, but nevertheless it was quite sexy.
In celebration, Optimum are releasing a 20th Anniversary update to the Lover's Guide. And as a sign of the times, this new version will be presented in 3D.
Progress indeed, but I fear it may take another 20 years before we get to see explicit real sex on British TV.
Every two weeks Ofcom publishes its Broadcast Bulletin revealing the TV censor's adjudications of viewer complaints. These decisions are
also used to signal any changes to Ofcom's censorship policy.
And in a recent bulletin, Ofcom revealed a rather worrisome change that could signal even softer sex on Britain's subscription adult channels.
Most films shown on British adult TV are the soft version of videos originally shot in hardcore. The production company produce a soft version which eliminates the sight of the various bits and bobs involved in the real sex. This is usually achieved
via alternative camera angles with something obscuring the action, or else leaving the explicit action on the cutting room floor.
But now Ofcom seem to have decided that just obscuring the explicit detail isn't enough.
Ofcom investigated a complaint about a freeview advertising slot promoting the usually encrypted Climax 3-3 channel operated by Playboy TV.
The freeview scene was the softcore version of real girl on girl sex. This included oral sex and penetration by fingers and dildos, but with the explicit details obscured from the viewer.
Ofcom wrote: During the broadcast the camera featured close up and intimate shots of the sexual activity but some activity was partially hidden by parts of the actresses' bodies.
Playboy TV admitted that this shouldn't have been shown free to air and explained that there had been a scheduling error. Ofcom duly agreed and recorded a breach of the code for showing sex material free to air.
But this wasn't the end of the story. Ofcom went on to consider whether this should have been shown at all, even during properly encrypted portions of the Climax 3-3 programming.
Ofcom decided to test the material against its programming rule 1.17, which says: Material equivalent to the British board of Film Classification (BBFC) R18-rating must not be broadcast at any time .
Playboy TV interestingly revealed that they cut films for UK TV using the rule that if it cannot be argued that penetration is not occurring, then it must be cut . For example if it could be argued that fingers could be bent at the knuckle
rather than penetrating, then the shot can be left in, otherwise it would have to be cut. Playboy TV added that they had sought advice from the BBFC.
Playboy TV said that they accept that there was a very fine line between simulated and non-simulated activity, but argued that there was nothing in the broadcast which could be construed as unarguably R18 or equivalent.
But Ofcom decided otherwise. Ofcom said viewers would have reasonably believed that penetration was taking place despite there being no explicit shots of this.
Ofcom concluded that: this is a serious breach of the Code. Material equivalent to BBFC R18 content must not be broadcast at any time. As a result, the Licensee is put on notice that this present contravention of its licence is being considered
for the imposition of a statutory sanction .
In reality it is pretty easy to distinguish simulated intercourse from real, even when blocked by the usual softcore techniques. A hard real connection between the performers is easily deduced from the movement of the bits and bobs left unobscured.
In fact if Ofcom push the logic, then pretty much all current softcore material can be deduced as real. If this were to be banned then only obviously simulated sex could be shown. Playboy TV would be reduced to showing nothing stronger than Confessions
of a Window Cleaner.
There is of course one last possibility that could put a spanner in the works of the Ofcom reasoning. Playboy TV could simply ask the BBFC to rate the film in question and see whether the film was awarded a softcore 18 or a hardcore R18. Surely
this must be a cost effective solution, especially if Ofcom are considering large fines.
Ofcom's argument is very weak. As mentioned earlier, real sex can be easily deduced from basic physics in most cut down hardcore material. The fact that there are thousands of such films awarded an 18 certificate by the BBFC means that deduced
real sex is acceptable to the BBFC for a softcore 18. Hence the Ofcom assertion that deduced real sex is R18 is simply not the case.
Meanwhile over in the more liberated Netherlands there is a new TV channel that features porn for women. Dusk claims to be the first channel in Europe that provides 24/7 real sex pornography and erotica targeted at a female audience.
We call it porna, to give the idea that it's porn made for women, something different from traditional porno , said Martijn Broersma, the man behind Dusk.
I wonder what Broersma would make of Britain's supposedly adult TV that can't even show softcore?
Red Hot Dutch started satellite broadcasts in July of 1992. They didn't mess about, they broadcast full on hardcore.
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.
It was all too much for the government and they set their best lawyers off to find a way of dealing with this foreign menace that was supposedly depraving the UK audience.
But attitudes were changing in Britain. Hardcore had been finding an eager audience ever since the video recorder hit the home market in the early 1980s. There was a good supply of classic material from the Golden Age of porn. Deep Throat and
Debbie Does Dallas had become conversation pieces and the dirty macs had been left in the 70s. The authorities were already struggling to get juries to convict hardcore in obscenity cases.
But none of this did anything to deter the government censors. They dreamt up the idea of a proscription order. It was served in May, and proved effective in taking down Red Hot Dutch. The channel used non-standard hardware and so a sales ban
proved an effective restriction.
But Red Hot Dutch had left a legacy. It had normalised hardcore satellite porn into something that was seen to be more naughty than bad. The authorities struggled hard to keep hardcore illegal, but just seven years after the demise of Red Hot
Dutch, home video hardcore was legalised by the British courts..
A lack of Good Sense
Actually there was another little censorship folly that was going on at the same time as the Red Hot Dutch affair. There was also a bit of a to do about the censorship of mainstream films on Sky's movie channels.
But first a little bit of background history. In the early 1980's there had been a massive moral panic about video nasties, The advent of the video recorder had enabled cheap foreign horror videos to find a popular video market. At the time there
was no mechanism for censorship beyond existing obscenity law.
After numerous obscenity trials and a cacophony of phoney outrage from the British press, the politicians stepped in and enacted the Video Recordings Act of 1984. This gave the cinema censors of the BBFC the extra task of pre-vetting videos sold
in Britain. In the following years, the censors were very strict, no doubt trying to reassure politicians and newspapers that the problem of violent videos had been solved ..
It was in these sensitive times that Sky started up and introduced its subscription movie service.
Erring on the side of caution, it was decided that in terms of censorship, Satellite TV should lie somewhere between highly censored broadcast TV and moderately censored video.
And who better to decide where in between than the BBFC?. And so for the period 1991 until 1993, Sky forwarded their movies to the censors who duly cut just a little bit extra for Sky broadcasts than they cut for home video.
But after a while, somebody must have realised that this extra censorship wasn't actually achieving anything for anyone. Sky were trying to get viewers to pay good money to subscribe, whilst offering an inferior product to the home video competition.
Not to mention that paying the BBFC to censor movies does not come cheap. And to cap it all, the extra censorship didn't actually please anyone. People pushing for more film censorship were hardly likely to be the movie buffs subscribing.
The censorship scheme was quietly dropped in 1993 and Sky sensibly opted to broadcast the home video versions of films.
A Lack of FourSight
Home video took a knock when Child's Play 3 was somehow blamed for the 1993 Jamie Bulger murder. This resulted in further censorial tinkering by politicians. Tiered censorship was introduced for home video and cinema. Home video versions were
to be more censored on the fears that home viewers may further revel in the violence using slow motion and pause buttons. The TV censors decreed that only the more censored video versions could be shown on TV, cable and satellite..
FilmFour started life as a subscription film channel differentiating itself from Sky Movies by being distinctly more art house oriented. Their little folly was to launch with massively advertised claims that they would show films uncut.
What they really meant, was that they would show the cut video versions without further cuts for TV (at least a little better than viewers would expect to see on the likes of the BBC).
But of course this sleight of tongue didn't cut it with many of the movie buffs likely to subscribe. They know when uncut actually means uncut.
The debate continued for sometime with FilmFour promising to take it up with the TV censors to get the rules changed to allow them to show uncut cinema versions. They never achieved this, and to this day, TV is still required to show video versions
over cinema versions.
But thankfully this is no longer an issue as the BBFC rarely now make any cuts in any version of movies shown on film channels.
And of course the underlying folly of censorship is that for all of the above debate, does any reader actually believe that life in Britain would be any worse or better if people had been allowed to subscribe to Red Hot Dutch; watch video versions
on Sky Movies; or watch cinema versions on FilmFour?...Of course not!
So who has the strictest film censorship, the UK or the US?
The question is inspired by an American director who praised the British film censors for granting an uncut 18 certificate to his slasher movie Hatchet II, In an interview with dreadcentral.com, director Adam Green said:
See how simple that was? No police in theatres. No shutdowns. No silly controversy. Just pay for your ticket and see a movie about a swamp monster with a wireless belt sander. We sure could take a page from our friends across
Who'd have ever thought that British film censors could ever get one over the Land of the Free .
As you might have guessed, Hatchet II had a tough time getting shown in US cinemas.
The director was very keen that his movie should be shown uncut, but American cinemas weren't so keen. In fact the American censors of the MPAA are not the villains of the piece, they would have happily given the movie an adults only NC-17 rating.
However American cinemas like to think of themselves as family friendly and generally refuse to show adults only films. This is just moralising on their behalf, there are no film censorship laws in the US that back up such a policy.
The highest film rating that they will generally show is an R rating. This means that under 18's are allowed, but only if they are accompanied by their parents or guardians.
The US R rating covers most UK 15 or 18 rated films, but the US censors don't allow much in the way of sex scenes into the R Rating. They also make nominal trims to any violence. But saying that, R rated films can still be very violent, UK cinema
versions of the Saw and Hostel films were all R rated.
But US film distributors have another option, they can offer an unrated release. This simply means that the film is not submitted to the film censor at all. 'Unrated' is often thought to be synonymous with 'uncut', which is often the case, but
not always. Totally innocuous films are commonly put out unrated for small scale releases where the returns don't justify the cost of the submission to the film censor. So vintage or art house films are often distributed unrated. This ambiguity is
enough to keep 'family friendly' cinemas from totally refusing to show unrated films.
In fact Adam Green had persuaded one cinema chain to show his Hatchet II with an 'unrated' tag. However showing an obviously 18+ film unrated hasn't been done for years in the US, and the resulting controversy proved too much. The cinema chain
pulled out of the deal after just a couple of days on screen. Perhaps due to the controversy, and perhaps due to disappointing takings, making it not worth the risk of bad publicity.
Anyway the director was not best pleased by the last minute ban and hence his praise of the no nonsense 18 rating received in the UK.
But when it comes to video and DVD, it is Britain who suffers the problems of censorship.
Cannibal Holocaust is a rather effective jungle adventure by Ruggero Deodato. It was filmed as a fake TV documentary and follows a film crew getting into ever deeper difficulties with cannibal tribes.
It was one of the more notable films caught up in the 1980's video nasties panic, and was promptly banned on pain of obscenity prosecution.
The film was given a slight reprieve in 2001 when the British film censors at the BBFC awarded it an 18 rating, but only after making nearly 6 minutes of cuts. In fact the cuts were for two reasons, sexual violence and animal cruelty.
But by 2011 the censors have lightened up somewhat. It is reported that a release later this year on the Shameless label will only need to be cut by 14s of animal cruelty.
The BBFC now feels that all previous cuts to the scenes of sexual violence can now be waived, They argue that the scenes in question are horrifying and repugnant, and clearly not designed to eroticise or promote sexual violence. The majority of
the previous animal cruelty cuts will also be waived on the grounds of being quick, clean and humane.
So 32 years after the movie was made, Brits will be able to see it with just one 14s scene missing due to animal cruelty.
Of course in America the film has been available uncut ever since it was first released. It has of course been released 'unrated', and has not been submitted to the MPAA.
There is a big difference between US DVD retail and cinema showings. The 'family friendly' brigade have not got such a stranglehold on the retail market, and so unrated films are widely available. There are still a few retailers that refuse to
sell adults only films, most notably Blockbuster, but most retailers are perfectly happy to sell unrated DVDs and videos.
So recalling the earlier question: who has the strictest film censorship? ... The answer is the US for cinema films, and the UK for home video.
What's in a name?. As of 1st May 2011, the Hotbird hardcore service, RedHotSexTV, changed its name
to Dolly Buster.
Dolly buster is a very strong Adult DVD entertainment brand from Germany. And Dolly Buster herself is an omnipresent character featured in much of the studio's material. Dolly will be the face of the new service which will be the exclusive satellite
outlet for Dolly Buster films.
The new look Dolly Buster consists of four themed channels:
DB Media featuring hardcore and promotional material
DB Hardcore featuring hetero and gay hardcore
DB Classic with classic films, casting and MILF programming
DB 5 Star with S&M, fetish and transsexual programming
There is also a high definition channel that is a mixture of the four themed channels.
Whilst on the subject of good quality German programming, it was said to hear of the death of adult filmmaker Harry S. Morgan. He made some of the best porn around on the Videorama label. He also featured in front of the camera in his long running
series Sex & Fun Mit Harry. He appeared in these videos as a kindly bespectacled producer, gently encouraging his starlets to do the business.
His real name was Michael Schey and he was the subject of a recently published biography, entitled Harry S. Morgan - The Master of pornography.
He will be sadly missed by everyone who enjoys Euro porn.
It is good to see that sex films can still make a good impact on the box office. The Hong Kong producers of '3-D Sex and Zen: Extreme Ecstasy' must have been well pleased with their record breaking opening in Hong Kong. The success was reported throughout
the world after the film topped the list of Hong Kong box office greats.
3D Sex and Zen is a reimagining of the 1991 hit Sex and Zen which also broke records at the box office and ushered in an era of adults only erotica in the 1990s. Stephen Shiu Sr. produced and wrote the script for the 3D update. He described the film
as more graphic than 9 1/2 Weeks, but not to the level of Caligula.
Over in America it is the time of year when awards are doled out. In the genre of porn, the US X Rated Critics Organisation knows a thing or two about top quality porn.
Here is a selection of their top choices for the last 12 months which are surely worth seeking out on satellite:
Best Release: Pornstar Superheroes
Best Epic: Speed
Best Parody Comedy: The Big Lebowski: A XXX Parody
Best Parody Drama: The Sex Files 2: A Dark XXX Parody
Best Gonzo Movie: Tori Black Is Pretty Filthy 2
Best Gonzo Series: Big Wet Asses
Best Director: Brad Armstrong
Best Actress: Kimberly Kane
Best Actor: Evan Stone
Female Performer Of The Year: Tori Black
Male Performer Of The Year: Manuel Ferrara
And from a a different perspective here is a selection of award winners from The 2011 Good For Her Feminist Porn Awards
Best Bi Movie: Sex Experiments by Anna Span
Smutty Schoolteacher Award for Sex Education: Oral Sex For Couples Volumes 1-3 by Jaiya and Lawrence Lanoff
Hottest Kink Movie: Tristan Taormino's Rough Sex 2 by Tristan Taormino
Sexiest Straight Movie: An Open Invitation: A Real Swingers Party in San Francisco by Ilana Rothman
Hottest Lesbian Feature Film: Justine Joli: Lost by Kathryn Annelle
Steamiest Romantic Movie: A Little Part of Me by James Avalon
Movie of the Year: Life Love Lust by Erika Lust
With all this international acclaim it is always sad and inevitable to see that the British authorities can only see a negative side to porn.
Ofcom have been having a go at the babe channel Live 960 for the last year or so. Initially they were whingeing on the usual grounds that no sex material is allowed on free to air TV. However the final nail in the coffin seems more to do with elusive
ownership details. Ofcom revoked the licence for Live 960 for failing to provide details of directors and ownership structures.
One of Ofcom's previous TV censors recently wrote an illuminating piece in the Guardian. Kath Worrall who was on Ofcom's content board and sanctions committee revealed:
"Personally I don't think we should police what adults choose to view in privacy....BUT...I do take seriously the vulnerability of children and others whose circumstances appear to Ofcom to put them in special need of protection".
So I guess whilst us Brits are in such need of 'special protection', it will be some time yet before we get to see Dolly Buster hardcore on a UK channel.
Mediawatch-UK is the modern day incarnation of Mary Whitehouse's morality campaign. Its sound bites are often used to pep up newspaper articles in need of a little shock , horror or outrage . It was interesting to note
Mediawatch are aware that its comments may not always have the desired effect.
The campaigners blogged about being asked to comment on a call to ban the computer game, Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3:
We were called by several news outlets who wanted our view of the game. We walk a fine line when commenting on games like this because scenes are often inserted which are likely to attract protest, thus creating a media buzz and selling more
In this case, the Mediawatch-UK bloggers said they would not comment on the game, but they did anyway, and added that: the game would appear to be cynical and in poor taste .
And this was just one example from many this month, of campaigners and censors making generous contributions to the hype for new releases.
The British Board of Film Censors (BBFC) have done a fine job in recommending a new horror film from Tom Six, The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence). The BBFC banned the film and wrote in glowing terms about the film:
There is little attempt to portray any of the victims in the film as anything other than objects to be brutalised, degraded and mutilated for the amusement and arousal of the central character, as well as for the pleasure
of the audience. It is the Board's conclusion that the explicit presentation of the central character's obsessive sexually violent fantasies is in breach of its Classification Guidelines and poses a real, as opposed to a fanciful, risk that harm
is likely to be caused to potential viewers.
It is pretty near impossible to conceive examples of what harm , the BBFC is alluding to. Surely a surreal, unbelievable and uncopyable concept, of a surgically created human chain, is one of the least likely foundations for fears about
inciting real world evil acts. Perhaps the BBFC are thinking more along the lines of people suffering heart attacks induced by extreme outrage .
Whilst not exactly a Hollywood blockbuster, The Human Centipede II, is about the biggest film that the BBFC have banned in the last 10 years. Judging by the amount of internet chatter generated by the ban, the film is already assured success via
It's not as if the film will suffer an international ban, Australian films censors have already passed the film 18 uncut.
The film distributors have also extended their free newspaper publicity by promising to appeal against the BBFC ban.
Hopefully the film will live up to all this bounteous hype.
Coincidentally this month I sat down to watch a satellite showing of Matthew Vaughan's comedy super hero film, Kick-Ass. It was massively enjoyed by the whole family.
I generally shy away from films with child actors so I am very grateful to The Daily Mail's film reviewer Chris Tookey, who so highly recommended the film. He wrote:
Don't be fooled by the hype: This crime against cinema is twisted, cynical, and revels in the abuse of childhood.It deliberately sells a perniciously sexualised view of children and glorifies violence, especially knife and gun
crime, in a way that makes it one of the most deeply cynical, shamelessly irresponsible films ever.
I am not the only to find the Daily Mail's brand of outrageous censure suspiciously close to hype. The TV censor Ofcom recently commented on a Daily Mail rant against Christina Aguilera's and Rihanna's burlesque-style dancing in last December's
X Factor final.Ofcom decided that the performances were just about acceptable for pre-watershed TV, but noted that the pictures spicing up the newspaper's critical article were far more explicit than anything actually broadcast in the programme.
Music videos have also come in for a bit of stick in Reg Bailey's report on the sexualisation of children. The X Factor performances mentioned above were cited as reasons to call for more restrictions on pre-watershed TV and also for music videos
to be rated by the BBFC.
Sometimes campaigners such as Reg Bailey should be a little careful of what they wish for. The modern BBFC are very realistic about age classifications. Sexy, but fully clothed, routines with minor sex references in the lyrics are probably likely
to be rated just PG or 12. The campaigners seem to wrongly assume that such videos would be slapped with an 18 rating. Rating music videos will probably lead to more being declared as suitable for pre-watershed TV than before. It will of course also
be good news for those seeking out sexy videos. A 15 or 18 rating will be a very good recommendation for a sexy music video worth watching.
The music publishers are also very keen to recommend songs with a bit of street cred. Their trade body BPI announced that they will be adding Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics warnings to online music services such as YouTube.
One can't help but think that this will provide an excellent pointer for kids to search out what they shouldn't.
Perhaps censors and moralists would be best advised to heed Mediawatch's We walk a fine line advice and shut the f**k up. Oops, forgot the Parental Advisory notice.
Britain's internet video companies collectively drew a sharp intake
of breath this month. They have been informed just how expensive the censorship bill will be for European, supposedly light touch , Video on Demand (VOD) regulation.
And the adult section of the industry were even more shocked to find out how restrictive VOD censorship rules will be for them.
ATVOD, the Authority for Television on Demand, have been informing companies about Britain's interpretation of a recent European directive..
Ofcom, the UK TV censor, is ultimately responsible for regulating VOD, but that have delegated the task to ATVOD. The cost of this new body has to be borne by the adult companies being regulated. And censors don't come cheap. Non commercial companies
will have to pay £100 per year and very small commercial companies will have to pay £150 or £200 depending on size. Small companies will pay £800 whilst larger companies will pay £5,175 or £10,350. There are extra
charges for multiple websites belonging to a single company. The maximum fee is set at £25,000.
The definition of websites caught up in the scheme is drawn very widely indeed. Only videos that are used to illustrate editorial content escape the rules, along with YouTube style websites where video content is provide by users rather than the
The EU law underpinning the censorship requirement is supposed to be light touch . It only bans hate material; has restrictions on sponsorship or product placement; and requires child protection for material which might seriously
impair the physical, mental or moral development of persons under the age of eighteen, such material must be made available in a manner which secures that such persons will not normally see or hear it .
But of course it is this last requirement that has been used to stitch up the UK adult trade.
In a very illuminating talk to the Adult Industry Trade Association, the ATVOD head, Pete Johnson, outlined some of the extremes of child protection to be enforced by ATVOD (Johnson alluded to the overly strict interpretation of the law being
down to the British Government, rather than ATVOD).
The authorities have decided that all hardcore video content must be locked off in sections of websites where age verification is in place. Although other mechanisms may appear over the coming years, the only currently acceptable method requires
a credit card payment before allowing access.Even debit card payments are unacceptable, as such cards are sometimes held by under 18's.
No hardcore video may be made available on free preview areas of adult websites. Perhaps the only hope of convincing prospective customers that a website will deliver the goods, is that hardcore photos are not covered by this law and are therefore
allowed without age verification (assuming that they are not considered legally obscene).
And in a truely bizarre piece of reasoning, all 18 rated video, be it torture horror, or softcore porn, can be shown without such mandatory age verification. So a graphic castration is acceptable whereas as a blow job isn't.
Surely it's going to be very limiting to be able to sell only to credit card holders, and even more limiting to only be able to show promotional trailers only to people who are willing to type in the arduous details required for credit card transactions.
UK satellite channels could be particularly hard hit by these impractical restrictions on promotional material. Ofcom require that such channels are strictly softcore, but often this can be used as a taster for the real McCoy on the internet.However
after seeing the softcore on satellite, prospective customers will surely need to see proof that the internet material is actually hardcore.
Also softcore satellite channels unsurprisingly suggest that their content is a lot harder than it actually is. Having perhaps being somewhat led astray by these claims, then any attempt to encourage viewers to pay more to see more on the internet
are going to need some real proof to convince viewers that they are not going to be disappointed again.
It hardly seems a very fair trading environment for Britain when foreign competitors can incorporate free hardcore material for promotional purposes, and thereafter accept payments via any method. Suddenly the porn tube websites suddenly got a
whole lot more threatening.
ATVOD have been slow to explain exactly how hardcore porn can actually seriously impair the moral development of under 18s . Surely it is debatable that the sight of such a fundamentally normal activity of life can do so much damage.
In fact there seems to have been a change of view amongst UK censors. The BBFC wrote about this same topic in an annual report published in 2010:
The duty to enforce the new rules lies with Ofcom who, in relation to 'editorial content', intend to delegate most of those powers to the Association for Television On Demand (ATVOD). Both Ofcom and ATVOD have made clear that,
in their view, content which has been classified by the BBFC in any category, including 'R18', would not be considered likely to seriously impair those under 18, and therefore does not need to be placed behind access controls.
Perhaps ATVOD's newly censorial interpretation of the European directive may also rattle a few cages in the rest of Europe. Hardcore films are broadcast there on encrypted subscription TV as part of standard general film channels such as Canal
Plus. Indeed Netherlands TV has shown hardcore films on unencrypted broadcast TV. It would be interesting to see if these countries would appreciate being told by Britain that they are seriously impairing the moral development of their youngsters.
Last month's column reported on Britain's video on demand industry coming under the cosh from the internet censor ATVOD, (the Authority for
Television on Demand).
Well now the big guns have joined in the fray. The British government, as represented by the Under-Secretary of State, Ed Vaizey, has taken advice from the TV censor Ofcom, and has come out in favour of placing impractically restrictive controls
on adult websites that include video.
But (and its a big but) the justifications for such restrictions have revealed some fascinating conclusions that may actually undermine the entire government case for censoring Britain's adult media. Not only for internet TV, but for satellite
and cable TV too.
First of all the legal basics, which for once is is pretty straightforward.
The European Union issued a directive about the censorship of audiovisual media. This directive then had to be incorporated into national law of each member state.
The EU directive is supposed to be light touch . It only bans hate material; has restrictions on sponsorship or product placement; and requires child protection for material which might seriously impair the physical, mental or moral
development of persons under the age of eighteen, such material must be made available in a manner which secures that such persons will not normally see or hear it .
Now it is the phrase seriously impair that has caused so much soul searching amongst government ministers and assorted censors.
Is the depiction of something that is, legal anyway for 16 year olds, and well prepared for by the education system from an early age, likely to seriously impair development?
The government asked Ofcom to look into this very question. Ofcom consulted the appropriate experts who studied the available scientific research on the subject.
Ofcom responded in a report titled: Sexually Explicit Material and Video On Demand Services
The inevitable conclusion must have come as something of a shock for ministers and censors alike. The experts consulted by Ofcom wrote:
Dr Ellen Helsper:
Might R18 material [BBFC certificated hardcore] seriously impair the development of minors? From the research reviewed in this report the answer would be no. Dr Guy Cumberbatch reaches broadly similar conclusions to those of
Dr Helsper, namely:
the research reviewed in the 2010 Report does not provide conclusive evidence that sexually explicit material might seriously impair the development of minors.
The opinions are justified in further detail in the report (See http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/internet/Sexually-Explicit-Material-VOD.pdf).
Actually this conclusion had previously been published by the British film censors of the BBFC, who wrote about this same topic in an annual report published in 2010:
Both Ofcom and ATVOD have made clear that, in their view, content which has been classified by the BBFC in any category, including 'R18', would not be considered likely to seriously impair those under 18, and therefore does not
need to be placed behind access controls.
This seems to blow a big hole in ATVOD's argument that they can enforce their impractically restrictive conditions on internet video. ATVOD require sites to verify that viewers prove there age by typing in their credit card details before being
able to view any hardcore video. And in a very discriminatory coda, debit card holders are not considered worthy of being able to watch porn at all.
Of course politicians and censors can't really be expected to let it rest. They are under considerable pressure from the sexualisation lobby who seem to pin all the world's social problems on sex in the media.
The back up plan seems to be to consider that even if hardcore doesn't seriously impair development of minors, then perhaps it may still impair development of minors (but not seriously so). Even then scientific research doesn't
particularly help the censors' cause, beyond a bit of hedging and doubt. But the politicians and censors grasped at this straw of doubt to suggest that a precautionary approach is still preferable, and that hardcore should still be restricted.
But of course they are drifting away from the strict words of the law, which simply do not mandate the burdensome rules proposed by ATVOD.
In a letter to Ofcom's Ed Richards, Ed Vaizey outlined his back up plan to continue with hardcore restrictions, even if open to legal challenge. Vaizey wrote:
We remain of the view - like you - that there is a good case that the Regulations require a precautionary approach in that the test is whether material might be seriously harmful rather than that it necessarily is demonstrably
harmful. However we accept that, in the light of Ofcom's recommendation, it would be preferable to provide legal certainty to ensure that the ATVOD rules are robust, in case of future legal challenge, and the protection for children secure.
In these circumstances, and given the wider policy context, it seems to us that these issues would be best addressed comprehensively in the Communications Review. We would appreciate it if Ofcom, with ATVOD, would take any steps
necessary in the interim period to ensure that children remained adequately protected under the ATVOD rules, in the knowledge that we could bring forward Regulations in the short term if it proved necessary to support this position.
(See http://www.culture.gov.uk/images/publications/EVletter-to-ed-richards-3aug2011pdf.pdf) So it seems that ATVOD will continue to bluff their imposition of video on demand restrictions, unjustified by law, until the government can write them
into law officially.
Perhaps in the meantime, British satellite channels could use this lack of serious impairment of the development of minors to ask whether the Ofcom ban on UK TV hardcore is actually justified by law.
Perhaps one day we could yet get to see some real adult entertainment on UK satellite TV.
When it comes to cinema, especially sexy cinema, the Far East is hardly noted as being a hotbed of political correctness.
3D Sex and Zen is a big and brash 2011 Hong Kong erotic film directed by Christopher Sun.It has successfully wound up film censors the world over, including our very own British Board of Film Classification (BBFC).
The British censor objected to two scenes and cut the film by 2 minutes and 48 seconds. The first scene hit a long standing BBFC no-no about the depiction of rape. The board unsurprisingly doesn't like scenes where victims end up enjoying the
experience. So the BBFC decided that the offending scene should be forcibly consensualised .
The BBFC explained:
In the first scene, a man rapes a woman, with the woman then going on to enjoy the sex. The scene is shot in the same eroticised style as the rest of the film and creates the impression that rape can be an enjoyable and exciting
erotic experience. The scene was cut to remove the non consensual set up, leaving a purely consensual sex scene.
The second scene was cut for violent, but consensual sex. It offended because it was presented in eroticised style that the BFC believed linked arousal with violence.
The Director, Christopher Sun, seemed unphased by the BBFC cuts, and whimpered in an interview with HeyUGuys.co.uk:
It was sad, but it's an honour for us to have the film released in the UK, and we have to respect the censorship. Even when we release a film in Hong Kong, a scene or two actually gets shortened because of comments from the local
censorship board, so we get used to this censorship stuff. We know that we're pushing things to the limits, so that's life...
Surely this resignation to censorship should not be encouraged. So in the spirit of ethical correctness, the remainder of this column will be devoted to publicising up and coming films that censors would prefer people not to see.
One such film that looks increasingly unlikely to get any sort of release in Britain is The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) . The ludicrous concept of surgically stitching a chain of people together, anus to mouth, has set the BBFC
off worrying about possible obscenity.
As previously reported, the director Tom Six was very displeased about his film being banned, and so has been appealing against the decision. Unfortunately it seems that the Video Appeals Committee was no more impressed by the film than the BBFC.
It isn't confirmed yet, but Six may have to try his luck at the High Court before being able to get an official movie release in Britain.
Satellite X viewers will just have to look for a showing on foreign channels. Actually Britain is looking rather out of step with its rejection of this film, as no other western country has so far shown an interest in a ban.
Another notable classic. Cannibal Holocaust, is the most famous of all of the video nasties. It was made in Italy by Ruggero Deodato and has been terrorising censors since 1979. The film was banned from 1982 until 2001. It was then released after
6 minutes of censor cuts for violence to humans and animals. Ten years on, the film will now be released with just 15 seconds of cuts to the cruel killing of a coatimundi.
It is actually a very good film, so it will be interesting to see if it gets shown on any of the main movie channels.
Another up and coming gem is I Saw the Devil , a South Korean revenge film by Jee-woon Kim.It was cut in Korea by about a minute and a half but the BBFC was happy with this version without further cuts. There were plenty of media commentators
talking about a possible ban at the time when it first appeared, but things quietened down since it got a BBFC certificate. It is another film that is sure to make an impact when shown on satellite TV.
A Serbian Film certainly spawned plenty of column inches of outrage in the British press about a year ago. In fact, there is a second film along the same controversial lines. It is called Life and Death of a Porno Gang and was
directed by the Serb, Mladen Djordjevic. It's a transgressive film with a snuff movie theme that adds real sex to the controversial mixture. And similarly to A Serbian Film , all the nastiness can be passed off as an allegory about the Serbian
I thought it had quietly been forgotten about, but it has now resurfaced after being passed uncut by the Australian film censor. If it is destined for a worldwide release, then the tabloid newspaper writers will soon be sharpening up their pencils
for articles with the word outrage in every second sentence.
But perhaps the ultimate in controversial film making is Adam Rehmeier's The Bunny Game It is said to be an intense and disturbing film.The story line sounds familiar in that a Los Angeles junkie is abducted by a crazed trucker, dragged
out into the desert and assaulted for three days.
Here's the catch though, everything seen on the screen is said to be real. There are no special effects or stunts. Beatings and the like are said to be real.
Sometimes one has to hope that it's all just hype.
Political Correctness is a seemingly unstoppable force in governing how people interact in the modern world. It attempts
to ensure that people treat each other with civility and respect, regardless of age, gender and appearance. All laudably commendable, but does it also apply to the porn that people watch?
Researchers in Hawaii decided to find out. They compared X rated material in three different countries exhibiting a range of political correctness. Using a fabulous sounding scale called the United Nations Gender Empowerment Measure, they chose
Norway as the most PC country in the world, the United States as the 15th, and Japan as the 54th.
The researches then studied X rated images from each nation's pornographic magazines and websites. They evaluated the pictures for factors such as diversity of body shape, size and colour; whether models were natural looking; whether they were
in dominant or submissive poses; and even whether they were bound by leashes, ropes, collars or gags.
Their hypothesis was that societies with greater gender equity will consume pornography that has more representations of empowered women and less of disempowered women.
But of course the results didn't fully support the theory. The results did indeed show that Norwegian pornography offers a wider variety of body types. But the researchers also found that X-rated images in all three countries equally depicted
women in what the researchers considered demeaning positions and scenarios.
So it seems that men can enjoy the diversity and variety of the performers, but porn still has to provide the private fantasy of the viewer being in control.
Actually one hardly needs a team of researchers to come to these conclusions. Political correctness is just a glorified form of politeness. It simply does not govern what goes on inside the private world of people's heads and hormones. Especially
about sexual turn ons.
However political correctness does govern how we live in society, and there are plenty of people worldwide that want to mould PC into something that suits their own personal wishes. And when personal wishes are allowed to dictate, then things
can get very contradictory.
In the UK, Liberal Democrats are blaming all society's ills on Page 3 girls in the Sun newspaper. The recent conference passed a motion to restrict newspapers with sexualised images to the top shelf, with the stated intention of tackling
the projection of women as sex objects.
But meanwhile in the Ukraine, a feminist group called FEMEN has a totally different take on the blame for society's ills. They bared all in a topless protest against football, and in particular the Ukrainian hosting of UEFA's Euro 2012 tournament.
The girls were protesting against UEFA for its policies of corrupting the fans, and artificially cultivating fanaticism, aggression, moral and mental degradation .Their reasoning seems to be that once the fans have been morally and mentally
degraded by the football, then they will go on to treat Ukraine as a brothel.
Meanwhile the Indian film censor has decided that, as topless girls are already banned, and they are not taking part in Euro 2012, then it must be something else that is causing all society's ills. They have decided that it must be the corrupting
effect of strong language.
Indian censors have traditionally censored swear words with bleeps. But after a while they twigged that the viewers know what is being said anyway and so merely substitutes in a swear word for the bleep in their own minds.
So now the Indian censors has come up with the bright idea of replacing swear words by silence. Of course it won't take long before viewers again re-substitute a likely sounding swear word.
Whilst India and most of the world seem concerned with what people are watching on TV, Sri Lanka is more concerned with what people are not watching. The Sri Lankan Sunday Times reports that a decline in TV audiences has been caused by rubbish
With an increase of television time for teledramas; stories that are far too close to reality; amateur performances by untrained actors; and unreasonably padded episodes; the quality of teledramas has fallen into a deplorable
But rather bizarrely, the TV bosses have called for the poor programming to be sorted out by Sri Lanka's official censors. It is not clear exactly what they expect the film censors to actually do though. Perhaps bleep out the bad acting.Anyway
its good to know that whatever the problem, it can be always be sorted out by the film censors.
There are those that see the influence of TV itself as Satanic, but in Poland politicians and bishops have been wound up by a supposedly Satanic rock star appointed as a judge on a popular television talent show.
Adam (Nergal) Darski is the lead singer and guitarist of a death metal group called Behemoth. He was actually tried (and acquitted) for blasphemy after tearing up a Bible during a concert in September 2007.
Bishop Wieslaw Mering claimed that the engagement of a self-confessed Satanist on public television surpasses all limits of decency. A parliamentary commission adopted a resolution condemning the TV company for hiring a Satanist who publicly offends
But Nergal easily trumped all their nonsense with the words I don't think of myself as the messiah of death metal, who only stands for the extreme. I simply love music .As for his critics, he said: I forgive them for they know not
what they do .
Perhaps we could all adopt his philosophy, and adapt it a little:
As for the censors, we forgive them, for they know not what they do .
Riddle me this: what do the comedy classic Monty Python's Life of Brian, and the video nasty, Cannibal Holocaust, have in common?
Well they were both made in 1979; they both have been banned in the past; and in both cases, the directors have said that they could never be made again, on grounds of modern day sensitivities.
Life of Brian director, Terry Jones, recently revealed that he would shy away from making the film today, because of a resurgence in religious belief. He commented:
At the time, religion seemed to be on the back burner and it felt like kicking a dead donkey. It's come back with a vengeance and we'd think twice about making it now.
Meanwhile the hang ups about Cannibal Holocaust are not the notorious cannibalism or sexual violence, but rather the modern day sensitivities about animal cruelty.
Cannibal Holocaust director Ruggero Deodato recently commented:
If I had the chance to go back in time, I'd have avoided the animal killings. I paid a high price for that.
Whilst most films that were once banned, have been unbanned; and most films that were once cut, are now uncut; there are several examples of films that have gotten more censored as time marches by.
One example is the family classic, Ghostbusters. Way back in 1984 it was passed PG uncut for its cinema release, and has retained that certificate for numerous releases ever since...Until now that is. Ahead of the film's 2011 cinema revival, it
has just been re-rated 12A.
The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) explained their modern day thinking about scenes that haven't worried anyone for the last 27 years:
The BBFC's Guidelines at PG state there may be Mild sex references and innuendo only. The film contains a number of sex references, both verbal and visual, that exceed this allowance. Most notable is a scene in which it is implied
that a ghost is performing oral sex on a man. As the man's trousers and zip are unfastened, the camera moves to his face as he sinks back on the bed with his eyes crossed in pleasure. Later, a woman who has been possessed by a demon rolls about on
a bed with a man and tells him: I want you inside me.
The BBFC also point out the 12A rating didn't exist in 1984:
Although these references were permitted at PG in the 1980s, when there was no classification available between PG and 15, they are now more appropriately classified at 12A..
One has to wonder that if the Carry On Films ever get resubmitted to the BBFC, then they too may all get upgraded to a 12 rating.
And thinking of 12 rated films, it is interesting to see that vampire films are no longer considered to be films for grown ups. The Twilight Saga has established a solid teen market for romance with the undead. In fact so much so, that the film
distributors have had to cut the latest episode to ensure that young teens can continue to pack out the cinemas.
Breaking Dawn Part 1 was passed 12A only after cuts suggested by the BBFC. The distributors were told that to avoid a 15 rating, then the sex scene between the Edward and Bella had to be toned down. The film censors explained:
In particular the BBFC suggested that more graphic sight of Edward thrusting while he lies on top of Bella, and while her legs are wrapped around his torso, be removed . The marketing department seemed to jump at the news of the film
being too sexy for the censors. Silly stories appeared in the press suggesting that during the filming of the scene, Robert Pattinson somehow just couldn't stop thrusting.
And all in a 12 rated film. How times have changed!
Whilst reminiscing about changing times I must end with the up coming release of Alex Cox's Repo Man made in 1984. The film is glowingly described in publicity material as a genre-busting mash-up of atomic-age science fiction, post-punk anarchism,
and conspiracy paranoia, all shot through with heavy doses of deadpan humour and offbeat philosophy .
Now the 80's were censorial times for TV, and when the film was due for its BBC airing, the TV censors weren't very happy about the abundant strong language featured in the film. They asked the director to prepare a version with language more
suitable for the BBC. With tongue firmly in cheek, Cox overdubbed some of the fruity words, and in particular he replaced motherfucker with melon farmer .
Censorship indeed, but somehow Alex Cox showed that censorship could be defeated via spirit and humour. Truely inspirational. I have been writing about censorship under the tag of Melon Farmers ever since.
And as if to confirm this little milestone in history, Eureka! the distributors of the new Repo Man Blu-ray, have included that inspirational TV version as one of the Blu-ray extras. A censored version that has stood the test of time.
" The pose of the woman kneeling on the bed was overtly sexual,
as her legs were wide apart,
her back arched and one arm above her head
with the other touching her thigh".
When it comes to high street shopping, Marks and Spencer is the very epitome of good taste in clothing. Surely the shop represents the establishment itself when it defines the line where sexy elegance stays on the right side of British respectability.
Or so I thought, until I read the latest decisions bulletin from the advert censors of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). They had the social temerity to ban an M&S bus advert for the supposed crime of being overtly sexual. The advert
in question was a totally tasteful image of a woman modelling a respectable bra and knickers lingerie set. She was kneeling on a bed with her knees apart, but seen from a discreet camera angle. Her back was arched and her right hand was held aloft
and thrown back beside her head. Her left hand was resting naturally on her knee.
But the over sexualised advert censors saw it somewhat differently. They wrote:
The pose of the woman kneeling on the bed was overtly sexual, as her legs were wide apart, her back arched and one arm above her head with the other touching her thigh.
Their term overtly sexual is now their trigger for banning an advert in public where children are likely to see it.
This is not the only example. Adverts have been similarly banned for Lynx, Oh, Lola! perfume and Drop Dead Clothing.
In fact the weekly ASA decisions bulletin now seems to read a bit like those silly newspaper articles about extreme political correctness, where it is almost impossible to believe just how inane local officials can be in supporting the PC line.
So what is going on? Why is that Marks and Spencers adverts can be banned for overt sexuality ?
Well of course it is the advert censors responding to the well coordinated campaign that blames all of society's ills on the so called sexualisation of children.
Given that the prime minister himself is a keen supporter of the cause, then it is hardly surprising that the ASA are toeing the political line. The net result seems to be that society can be saved if children are brought up without seeing anything
remotely sexy. (Not meaning pornographic or sexual, just sexy).
In mid October the ASA published a statement on sexual imagery for outdoor adverts, in which they tried to define where they will draw the line on what is allowed and what is not.
The ASA defined 3 tiers of censorship:
1) Suitable for all outdoor locations.
Images that are not sexual, or no more than mildly sexual
ASA gave an example of a model who is wearing a bikini and is holding a pose which is unlikely to be considered to be sexually suggestive. Such images are likely to remain acceptable on the basis that they are no more than
2) Suitable for outdoor locations but not near schools
Images that are sexually suggestive.
ASA gave an example of a woman kneeling with her legs astride drawing attention to her groin area.Such images in ads might be acceptable in some locations but are likely to require a placement restriction, preventing them
from being placed in locations of particular relevance to children.
3) Unacceptable for outdoor advertising
Overtly sexual images
The ASA provided and example of a woman in lingerie pulling down the side of her knickers and bra strap in a seductive way.
The ASA also listed some of the characteristics that they consider may be sexually suggestive or overtly sexual:
Poses suggestive of a sexual position: the parting of the legs, accentuation of the hip etc.
Amorous or sexually passionate facial expressions
Exposure of breasts, including partial
Poses such as hands on the hips, gripping of hair in conjunction with a sexually suggestive facial expression
Images of touching oneself in a sexual manner, such as stroking the legs or holding/gripping the breasts
Suggestion in facial or bodily expression of an orgasm
Images of suggestive undressing, such as pulling down a bra strap or knickers
Ads which draw undue attention to body parts, such as breasts or buttocks, in a sexual way
Ads which show people in poses emulating a sexual position or alluding to sexual activity
Overtly sexual lingerie such as stockings, suspenders or paraphernalia such as whips and chains.
It is under these new rules that even Marks and Spencers now see their adverts getting banned.
This change of advertising rules will now doubt have a profound effect on adult satellite TV too, particularly babe channels. A couple of years ago Ofcom decided that babe channels weren't really TV programmes at all, they were just prolonged
adverts for premium rate phone services. As such Ofcom decided to censor the channels using ASA's advertising rules rather than its own TV rules.
So given that Babe channels are free to air and could be seen by kids, but this is not so likely due to timing restrictions and EPG warnings, then perhaps babe channels could be considered as similar to public advertising that is not
at locations relevant to children.
This would mean that babe channels could be sexually suggestive in that bikini clad girls could pose with their legs astride, but the girls are certainly not allowed to even tug at their bra straps, let along go topless.
The TV watershed is a nonsense. It's time for a change in the way adult broadcasting is regulated. So said Jeremy Yates, the UK managing
director of Playboy TV when speaking at an industry event.
Actually it is unsurprising that Yates is displeased with the current TV censorship implementation. Playboy TV was recently fined £110,000 by the TV censor Ofcom for airing babe channel shows that were slightly too sexy for free to air TV.
For the record, the offending material was aired by the babe channels: Red Light 1, 2 & 3 in April 2011.
Ofcom cited examples of the broadcast material that it found offensive:
* Babes spitting on their bodies to emulate ejaculate; * using a cupped hand and on one occasion a telephone to cover their genital area, resulting in clear pressure between their hand or telephone and the genital area; * pouring oil onto their
buttocks and genital area; and * wearing clothing that did not adequately cover their genital area (in one case outer labia were clearly visible).
Ofcom found that such adult sex material should not have been broadcast without mandatory restricted access .
Mandatory restricted access means there is a PIN protected system (or other equivalent protection) which cannot be removed by the user, that restricts access solely to those authorised to view.
And it is that little phrase, cannot be removed by the user , which causes so much grief to the UK adult channels.
The implementation of this phrase means that viewers have no option to turn off PIN entry checks, and so every time they want to watch a programme, then they have to enter the PIN. Even in an adult only household! And furthermore, every time they
change channel they have to type the PIN again. This rather makes channel hopping a rather tiresome pastime.
But babe channels rather rely on viewers being able to channel hop. They are all about waiting for something interesting to happen, and flicking through several channels makes this a little more likely.
So babe channels are told that if they want to show anything remotely sexy, then they should go PIN protected. But if they go PIN protected, then tiresome PIN entry requirements will put off most viewers.
Actually there is one other Ofcom rule that further undermines the usefulness of the PIN system:
Rule 1.24 states: Premium subscription film services may broadcast up to BBFC 15-rated films or their equivalent, at any time of day provided that mandatory restricted access is in place pre-2000 and post-0530 .
This implementation makes the PIN system totally useless to keep adult material away from teenagers. How does one let teenagers have the PIN to let them watch 12 and 15 rated movies as appropriate, and at the same time, rely on the same PIN to
keep adult programming safely hidden? Perhaps Ofcom expect parents to never divulge the PIN and dutifully enter the PIN for their kids on every channel change. Presumably Ofcom live on a different planet where teenage tantrums don't exist.
It is hardly surprising that Jeremy Yates has called for a change in the way that the TV watershed is regulated.In fact Yates is doubly aggrieved by Ofcom's TV rules. Not only do Ofcom regulations make it difficult for adult broadcasters to offer
viewers what they want, but the competition is given a massive advantage, simply by not being subject to these same rules.Internet viewers choosing to watch adult content are not hassled by softcore restrictions, nor by continual PIN entry nonsense.
Actually one very simple dual PIN scheme has been suggested via a prospective adult channel in South Africa.
TopTV already operate a general entertainment service along the lines of Sky. They are proposing three channels, coincidentally provided by Playboy TV, with one being a soft porn channel, and the other two having more raunchy content. It is not
clear whether that means full on hardcore or some sort of half way compromise.
TopTV further explained that the porn channels would be separate from its bouquets and would carry a strictly enforced adult restriction. They would only be accessible as a secure, encrypted and separate subscription package on the pay-TV platform.
Potential subscribers would need to provide proof that they were over the age of 18, and viewing of the adult channels would require a second PIN to that used for general entertainment.
So immediately they have solved the problem of teenagers needing their own PIN to watch teen rated films, whilst still being blocked from adult material now protected by the second PIN.
A slight extension to the idea makes for an even more flexible system. Why not have four PINs? One that would open 12 rated films, one to open 12 & 15 rated films, one for 12,15 & 18 rated films, and a master PIN that would additionally
open sex channels. Each family member would only need to remember one PIN, so it is not any more complicated for viewers.
This may even support such subtle ideas as letting Dad subscribe to Playboy without Mum being aware.
Another implementation improvement could be to allow PINs to be entered just once per night to enable channel hopping.
Best of all, why not scrap the whole idea of mandatory PIN access, and let households select how best to use the PIN to serve their families.
Echoing Jeremy Yates' sign off to his conference speech, he accepted that gaining approval for a dual PIN scheme would be hard, But he added: I'll keep banging the drum anyway .