Ofcom TV Censors
Ofcom have revealed some of their TV censorship rules banning hardcore on UK TV even in encrypted adult paid for services. Ofcom have decided that sex is R18 (hardcore) material if it is obviously real from the physics of the interaction, even if the
insertion details are obscured.
Ofcom found scenes on Climax 3-3 to be R18 material because: viewers would have reasonably believed that penetration was taking place despite there being no explicit shots of point of insertion.
Perhaps someone from Playboy should ask the BBFC to comment on this assertion. In reality it is pretty easy to distinguish simulated in intercourse from real intercourse 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.
1 July 2010, 22:15 to 22:45
Climax 3-3 was a channel broadcast under a licence held by Playboy TV. The channel was subject to mandatory restricted access with measures in place to ensure the subscriber is an adult. The channel however included some freeview sections
broadcast without mandatory restricted access in order to promote the channel and encourage viewers to subscribe.
On 1 July 2010 between 22:15 and 22:45, the service showed prolonged 3 scenes of sexual activity.
The first scene showed two actresses' in a bar setting. This scene included the depiction of the insertion of a bottle, a straw, a dildo and a hand-held soft drink dispenser gun. The second scene showed what appeared to be a lone woman urinating in a
barn. The third scene showed three actresses' in a barn who appeared to be inserting fingers and dildos into themselves and each other.
The sexual activity in all three scenes included depictions of: insertion of dildos, fingers and other objects either by one female on another or one female on herself; oral sex; and masturbation; 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.
On 2 July 2010 Playboy informed Ofcom that there had been a scheduling error by the company that organised the listing of its broadcasts and that this material had been played out by mistake without any protections.
Some time later Ofcom [conveniently] received a complaint from a viewer who said that broadcasts in the freeview section of Climax 3-3 on 1 July 2010 included some strong material that should have been subject to
mandatory restricted access.
Rule 1.17 Material equivalent to the British board of Film Classification (BBFC) R18-rating must not be broadcast at any time .
Playboy confirmed that the material had been broadcast without mandatory restricted access and in error and had now put in place stringent new checking processes to ensure this would not happen again.
Regarding the explicitness of the material and whether this was of R18 equivalent rating, Playboy said that there were a limited number of borderline shots of angles where there could be some debate over whether the object or finger penetration was
simulated. It said that when deciding whether to edit out certain shots from its material it always sought advice from the BBFC. It said that it went by the rule that if it cannot be argued that penetration is not occurring, then it must be cut .
For example fingers may be bent at the knuckle rather than penetrating, objects may go underneath or behind an orifice, and if objects are filmed from behind there could potentially be a gap between the orifice and the object. With regard to what
appeared to be urination by one of the actresses, Playboy argued that it always ensured that the point of exit was obscured so that it could be argued that the act was simulated, for example, by using a water bottle hidden by a leg.
Playboy argued that there was nothing broadcast which could be construed as unarguably R18 or equivalent i.e. full-on penetration . It did accept that there was a very fine line between simulated and non-simulated activity.
Ofcom Decision: In breach of rule 1.17
In considering the content of this programme Ofcom asked itself first whether the content of the programme was equivalent to that in a BBFC R18-rated film or video.
Ofcom first examined a scene during this broadcast which included what appeared to be a lone actress urinating. Ofcom considered that this scene had a clear focus on the act of urination and that, as with other material in this programme, was broadcast
for the primary purpose of sexual arousal. In the circumstances, Ofcom considered that this particular content was of an equivalent standard to R18-rated material and its broadcast was therefore a breach of Rule 1.17.
Ofcom next examined other scenes in the programme which appeared to show either vaginal or anal penetration by various objects, including dildos, fingers and a bottle. Ofcom recognised that these scenes were less clear. However, viewers would have
reasonably believed that penetration was taking place despite there being no explicit shots of point of insertion. In particular, Ofcom considered that despite the partially obscured nature of the images, viewers would have been left with the clear
impression that penetration by the bottle had occurred in the first scene and that penetration by dildos had occurred in the third scene.
In any event, this material clearly constituted at the very least adult sex material -- i.e. images of a strong sexual nature that were broadcast for the primary purpose of sexual arousal and should not therefore have been broadcast without
mandatory restricted access. Ofcom welcomes the proactive stance of Playboy with regard to this matter.
However, 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.
Breach of Rule 1.17