They still recommend that films banned by the BBFC should be prohibited along with R18 material. On a positive note they at least
present the option of allowing R18s. Also on a very brief reading I didn't spot anything about only allowing the BBFC video version.
I urge all Melon Farmers to respond to the consultation. We need to convince that there is little support for
their assumption of censorship and their potential denial of our human rights.
In addition some of their points are puerile. Their suggestion that censorship may assist commercial interests of current broadcasters who have stockpiled a whole load
of softcore material that no-one will want takes the mick. They have acknowledged in this reasoning that hardcore is massively what people want yet they recommend illegal censorship for the sake of commercial interests.
See www.ofwatch.org.uk. for details on how to make your views felt
Ofcom are considering two possibilities concerning R18 content on subscription services:
Option one - continue the prohibition on R18s, and R18 standard material and maintain 'adult' material restrictions
Ofcom could continue the stance taken by previous regulators with a prohibition on the transmission of R18s and maintain the restrictions regarding the transmission of 'adult' sex material.
Option two - if appropriate safeguards
are in place - remove or change the rules regarding R18s and R18 standard material and 'adult' material
Under section 6 of the Act, Ofcom has a duty to ensure that it does not impose or maintain unnecessary regulatory burdens. It
may now be the case that the technology exists to protect the under eighteens from R18s, R18 standard material and 'adult' sex material (before 2200) and also protect those adults who do not want to see such material by mistake while allowing adults who
have made a deliberate decision to view it.
The status quo will prevail regarding a prohibition on R18s, and R18 standard material and also on a 2200 start for 'adult' sex material plus the
other protections currently in place regarding 'adult' sex material. It will only change if it can be established that there are sufficient safeguards (technical and otherwise) to protect persons under eighteen, and ensure that adults who do not wish to
see such material are adequately protected from harm and offence.
More From http://www.ofcom.org.uk/consultations/current/broadcasting_code/?a=87101
3. Whether the transmission of R18s and R18 standard
material is compatible with the requirements of the Act and TWF Directive relating to the protection of minors
Whether such material should be prohibited or allowed on certain services
If it is allowed,
whether those under eighteen, and adults who do not wish to view this material, can be adequately protected (by technical or other devices)
Whether the restrictions regarding 'adult' television services should be changed and if so
with what protections
39. This consultation seeks responses regarding the present prohibition on transmitting R18s and, consequently, R18 standard material. Should the prohibition be lifted or
maintained? If it is not to be maintained then Ofcom seeks information on what technical protections or other protections are available which could ensure the protection of people under eighteen (and others who do not wish to access the material).
Further, if the prohibition is lifted, on which services should it be lifted?
40. The R18 category is a special and legally restricted BBFC classification for explicit videos of consenting sex between adults. (The BBFC guidelines
regarding R18s can be found on the BBFC website at www.bbfc.co.uk) The BBFC are currently classifying some 1400 videos in the R18 category a year. Such material may presently be supplied to adults only, over the counter, in licensed sex shops.
41. The content guidelines for R18s were significantly revised by the BBFC in 2000. Only material distributed in a form that attracts classification under the VRA - essentially videos and DVDs - is required to observe the VRA's
restrictions. (The VRA does not prohibit the transmission of R18s on television.)
42. R18 standard material refers to material which has not been offered to the BBFC for classification, e.g. live sex shows or amateur videos, but
if it were to be classified would be of R18 standard. This also covers foreign material which does not go through the BBFC system.
43. Section 1.4 of the ITC Programme Code stated that "No R18 film should be transmitted at
any time". R18 standard material is also effectively prohibited.
44. The UK government can, and has, on the regulator's recommendation, proscribed services which are licensed abroad but which transmit R18 standard material
into the UK. It has previously proscribed five services.
45. In order to recommend such a proscription to the Secretary of State the ITC had to be satisfied that the trade for the service existed in the UK. These proscriptions
could in themselves be seen as evidence that some broadcasters wish to provide such services and that there are viewers who wish to receive them.
46. Ofcom is required to set standards which maintain generally accepted standards
as required under section 319(2)(f) of the Act. The public must be adequately protected from the inclusion of offensive and harmful material in programmes as judged against generally accepted standards. Ofcom is also required to set standards to protect
people under eighteen. The TWF Directive also requires that nothing is included in television broadcasts which might seriously impair the physical, mental or moral development of minors.
47. In a survey of public opinion of 1200
adults commissioned by the BSC and ITC (The Public's View 2002) it was found that 76% agreed that people should be allowed to pay extra to view particularly sexually explicit programmes on subscription services. The survey did not distinguish between
R18s and R18 standard material and more commonly available 'adult' material.
48. The government has found no compelling evidence of harm to adults as R18s were made legally available in 2000. However the regulatory impact analysis
of a government consultation paper on the regulation of R18 videos, published in 2000, explains the precautionary approach regarding children and R18s: "There is always a risk of age-restricted material, such as tobacco or alcohol, falling into the
hands of, and being misused by, children. Unlike tobacco and alcohol, which are widely available, there is no known and substantiated health or other risk associated with watching a video which has been given an R18 classification. However, there is
widespread public concern about the possibility of children viewing sexually explicit material which is clearly unsuitable for them and the Government takes the common sense view that exposure to such material at an early age may be harmful to children.
There is, therefore, a need to ensure that controls on the distribution and viewing of these videos is as stringent as possible."
49. Ofcom also seeks responses as to whether the restrictions currently in place regarding
transmitting 'adult' sex material on certain premium subscription services and on Pay Per View (PPV) and Pay Per Night (PPN) services should be changed and if so on what services and with what protections.
50. The ITC
Programme Code does allow latitude for certain premium subscription services available to adults who have specifically chosen them in section 1.4(i). They must comply with measures that ensure the subscriber is an adult and may transmit such material
only between 2200 and 0530.
51. Separately in the ITC Programme Code watershed rules may be waived for pay-per-view services "where security mechanisms, such as a PIN system or equivalent, satisfactorily restrict access to
films or programmes solely to those authorised to view. The mandatory security mechanism and the safeguards that it provides for children must be clearly explained to all subscribers. It should normally be supported by a detailed billing system that
enables subscribers to check all viewing and, in particular, out-of-watershed viewing. In addition operators are expected to implement a suitable film classification system, or equivalent, and to provide any additional information about programme content
and reasons for any restrictions that might assist parents and other adults to judge the suitability of material for children. However such services must still "exercise cautionls in daytime and in 'adult' sex material" must still comply with
the 2200 to 0530 transmission rule.
52. Some argue that the restrictions in place regarding R18s, R18 standard material and 'adult' material are unnecessary regulation and a restriction on freedom of expression and choice. But
other stakeholder groups regard such material as so innately offensive and potentially harmful to adults as well as under eighteens that they consider a prohibition on R18 and R18 standard material an absolute necessity. Some want 'adult' sex material
prohibited as well.
53. To remove or change the rules which prohibit R18s and R18 standard material and to waive the 2200 rule and/or associated rules regarding 'adult' sex material would be an important change affecting
broadcasters and consumers with significant commercial impact.
54. Option one - continue the prohibition on R18s, and R18 standard material and maintain 'adult' material restrictions Ofcom could continue the stance taken by
previous regulators with a prohibition on the transmission of R18s and maintain the restrictions regarding the transmission of 'adult' sex material as described above.
55. Option two - if appropriate safeguards are in place -
remove or change the rules regarding R18s and R18 standard material and 'adult' material
Under section 6 of the Act, Ofcom has a duty to ensure that it does not impose or maintain unnecessary regulatory burdens. It may now be the
case that the technology exists to protect the under eighteens from R18s, R18 standard material and 'adult' sex material (before 2200) and also protect those adults who do not want to see such material by mistake while allowing adults who have made a
deliberate decision to view it.
56. Option one would continue to protect the under eighteens and also be based on the assumption that such material is so potentially offensive to society that its
transmission would be a breach of generally accepted standards.
57. The basis for retaining the restrictions on 'adult' sex material on certain premium subscription services would be that the restrictions are necessary to prevent
those under the age of eighteen accessing this material and so the restrictions protect under eighteens. Also it prevents offence to adults who do not wish to see such material.
58. The benefit of option two would be that it would
give viewers greater choice. Many of the member states of Europe allow the broadcast transmission of R18s. This would bring the UK into line with Europe. There would be new channels offering such material and other channels would be able to schedule more
freely, potentially bringing in new subscribers thereby increasing the revenues that such channels receive.
59. The disadvantages of option one would be that it may be out of line with public
opinion, limit choice for adults and inhibit the commercial development of existing and potential services.
60. The disadvantages of option two are that under eighteens may not be sufficiently protected and adults may be exposed
to potential offence.
Furthermore Ofcom would have to employ a person or persons to view and regulate such material. That might lead to an increase in regulatory costs to broadcasters.
61. There may also be
an adverse economic impact on television services presently supplying 'adult' sex material via premium subscription services or via PPV or PPN. These services have built up a stock of material permitted by the ITC and may find themselves at a
disadvantage. They risk losing viewers and may have to acquire fresh stock making old stock redundant.
62. The status quo will prevail regarding a prohibition on R18s, and R18 standard
material and also on a 2200 start for 'adult' sex material plus the other protections currently in place regarding 'adult' sex material. It will only change if it can be established that there are sufficient safeguards (technical and otherwise) to
protect persons under eighteen, and ensure that adults who do not wish to see such material are adequately protected from harm and offence.
See http://www.ofcom.org.uk/consultations/current/broadcasting_code/?a=87101 for complete paper