The Sex Business: Pain for Pleasure, Channel 5 10 December 2018, 22:00 The Sex Business: Trans On Demand, Channel 5, 11 December 2018, 22:00 The Sex Business: Orgasms for Sale, Channel 5, 12 December 2018, 22:00
Business was an observational documentary series on Channel 5 investigating the lives of sex workers in Britain.
Ofcom received 36 complaints about the three episodes of The Sex Business titled: Pain for Pleasure (Episode 1) 9
complaints; Trans On Demand (Episode 2) 23 complaints; and Orgasms for Sale (Episode 3) 4 complaints.
The programmes included interviews with sex workers and images of real sexual activity between the sex workers and their
clients. In summary, the complainants considered that the sexual activity shown in these episodes was unsuitable for broadcast on Channel 5 from 22:00.
Ofcom gave plentiful examples of the content that offended including:
a long-shot of a dominatrix stapling a client's genitals and describing it as a chastity device;
three dominatrixes engaged in a sadomasochistic session with a client, who was tied and
masked and had his testicles restrained in a device which was pulled upwards by a lever;
a dominatrix describing her work including how she introduces anal play and how she takes one of her clients to a point where
he doesn't want it and that is like a rape but completely consensual;
a mid-shot, which was partially masked, of the same dominatrix anally fisting the masked client whose legs were suspended over a wooden frame and
his wrists restrained by handcuffs (the point of insertion was not shown);
a mid-shot of another dominatrix anally penetrating the same client with a prosthetic strap-on penis from behind the wooden frame (the point
of insertion was not shown);
mid-shots filmed to the side of two oral sex acts (anal and vaginal);
a mid-shot showing the same sex worker urinating onto a client and asking the
client if he wants to take the piss in his mouth or on his body;
a mid-shot showing a male sex worker massaging and penetrating a female client with his fingers and masturbating her (the shot was filmed from behind
the client so her genitals and the point of insertion were not visible) as she groans and breathes heavily;
Rule 2.3: In applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context;
Rule 1.19: Broadcasters must ensure that
material broadcast after the watershed ... which contains images and/or language of a strong or explicit sexual nature, but is not 'adult sex material' [as defined in Rule 1.183206], is justified by the context.
Ofcom considered that the content detailed in the Introduction was of a strong and explicit sexual nature. Channel 5 also accepted the sexual acts featured in the series were extreme and the
programmes contained challenging material. The programmes featured real (not simulated) and extreme sexual activity, including penetration of the vagina and anus by body parts (such as toes, fists and fingers) and sex toys (prosthetic penises) as well as
strong fetish and sadomasochistic sex acts (such as the nailing and stapling of a client's genitals, electrical charges applied to a client's genitals, caning and whipping of buttocks and forceful kicking of testicles). Ofcom considered that this was
strong and graphic sexual content that had the clear potential to cause offence.
It is Ofcom's view that the majority of strong sexual images and language broadcast in this series were not sufficiently blurred and/or masked. In
some cases, no masking or blurring was applied at all to close up images of sex acts (such as oral sex), including extreme sex acts (such as the caning and whipping of clients' buttocks causing open wounds and applying electrical charges to testicles).
In the example of the urination scene, Channel 5 said that it was zoomed considerably to limit offence. However, in Ofcom's view the zooming of the camera was not sufficient to limit offence in this case. The scene also included the sex worker asking the
client if he wanted to take the piss in his mouth or on his body, accompanied by unmasked footage of the urine being sprayed onto the client's naked body. Ofcom considered this resulted in a very strong sexualised image of degradation with the potential
to cause considerable offence.
In Ofcom's view the sexual images and language in this documentary were of a strong sexual nature. The insufficient masking of the majority of images and the inclusion of close-up and mid-range shots
resulted in this strong sexual content being graphic and explicit. Some of these extreme images were also repeated within each episode. Although the serious documentary genre provided editorial justification for the broadcast of sexual material, this was
the strongest and explicit sexual material, broadcast on a public service channel without mandatory restricted access. Ofcom therefore concluded that these episodes were likely to have exceeded the expectations of the audience, even for an observational
documentary dealing with sexual themes with a serious and observational editorial purpose, at this time. Therefore, viewers would have considered that this stronger sexual material required the strongest contextual justification and broadcasting the
series later in the schedule after 23:00 may have helped provide such justification.
it is Ofcom's view that the strong sexual content in this series far exceeded the level of explicitness that viewers were likely to have expected
to see in a programme broadcast from 22:00 on a freely available public service channel. Our Decision is therefore that the potentially offensive content in these programmes exceeded generally accepted standards, in breach of Rule 2.3.
it was Ofcom's view that scheduling this series of programmes at 22:00 did not limit the likelihood of children viewing strong sexual content. However, by scheduling the content at 23:00, Channel 5 may have been better able to ensure
that the series was sufficiently contextually justified. For the reasons above, it is therefore Ofcom's Decision that the content also breached Rule 1.19.
Ofcom has published a wide ranging report about internet usage in Britain. Of course Ofcom takes teh opportunity to bolster the UK government's push to censor the internet. Ofcom writes:
When prompted, 83% of adults expressed
concern about harms to children on the internet. The greatest concern was bullying, abusive behaviour or threats (55%) and there were also high levels of concern about children's exposure to inappropriate content including pornography (49%), violent /
disturbing content (46%) and content promoting self-harm (42%). Four in ten adults (39%) were concerned about children spending too much time on the internet.
Many 12 to 15-year-olds said they have experienced potentially harmful
conduct from others on the internet. More than a quarter (28%) said they had had unwelcome friend or follow requests or unwelcome contact, 23% had experienced bullying, abusive behaviour or threats, 20% had been trolled'4 and 19% had experienced someone
pretending to be another person. Fifteen per cent said they had viewed violent or disturbing content.
Social media sites, and Facebook in particular, are the most commonly-cited source of online harm for most of the types of
potential harm we asked about. For example, 69% of adults who said they had come across fake news said they had seen it on Facebook. Among 12 to 15-year-olds, Facebook was the most commonly-mentioned source of most of the potentially harmful experiences.
Most adults say they would support more regulation of social media sites (70%), video sharing sites (64%) and instant messenger services (61%). Compared to our 2018 research, support for more online regulation appears to have
strengthened. However, just under half (47%) of adult internet users recognised that websites and social media sites have a careful balance to maintain in terms of supporting free speech, even where some users might find the content offensive
Ofcom has imposed a £75,000 fine on City News Network for failing to provide adequate protection for viewers.
The service Channel 44 -- an Urdu-language news and current affairs channel -- broadcast hate speech and material
containing abusive treatment of the Ahmadiyya community.
Under the Broadcasting Code, licensees must not broadcast material which contains uncontextualised hate speech and abusive treatment of groups, religions or communities.
After an investigation, Ofcom concluded that the serious nature of the breaches of the Broadcasting Code warranted the imposition of statutory sanctions. These include a financial penalty and a direction to the broadcaster to
broadcast a statement of Ofcom's findings on a date and in a form to be determined by Ofcom.
The fine of £75,000 will be paid by City News Network to HM Paymaster General.