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Satellite X

Columns from What Satellite magazine: 1999

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Sex and Channel Hopping...

The 1st Satellite X column for What Satellite magazine

Link Here1st November 1999

What Satellite logoWhat have pornography, politics and religion all got in common? They provide fascinating topics of conversation. Passions can be easily aroused in support of radically opposing views, yet there is rarely any real aftermath from such inflamed debate. However hard you argue, you know that you can never expect to change the views of your opponent and vice versa.

Politicians and other representatives of the state hold equally passionate views on the subject of porn. Unfortunately they are often in more of a position to do something more about it than talk. It seems be an unwritten British law that those of a pro-censorship disposition will inevitably try and impose their will on others. Hence we in Britain have to endure ludicrously tight censorship of what we see and do particularly in the area of TV and video. The police raid; Customs seize; regulators regulate and the film censors have been hand picked for the religious fervour they bring to their job.

Beaming in porn from foreign satellite channels seems the ideal solution. The viewer can privately and legally view according to his or her own wishes and neither the state nor neighbours need ever be aware. If necessary, subscriptions can be sold from abroad leaving police nothing to raid and customs nothing to seize. The politicians will be happy in the knowledge that they are doing their utmost to maintain the prohibition of porn and yet the viewers will still be happy watching whatever they want.

All the viewers need is knowledge and information. That is where this column comes in.

Most European satellite packages, equivalent to our own Sky, carry hardcore programming, eg Cine Cinemas, Canal+ France, TV1000 and several variants of Canal+ from Belgium, Netherlands & Scandanavia. I shall be surveying these along with the dedicated hardcore channels, XXL, Amore, Satisfaction Channel, AdultX & Tequila to provide accurate and impartial reviews of:
- Programme quality
- Suppliers used for programming eg Vivid, Magma, Seventeen, Private
- Balance of US vs European material
- Policies on original language/subtitles/dubbing
- Specialist programming, eg gay, amateur, extreme
- Amount of advertising
- Broadcasting times
- Frequency of repeats

That's an easy task compared with trying to unravel the hardware requirements for a reasonable selection of programming options, but I will have a try anyway.

There will also be tales aplenty regarding the goings on at the various British regulatory bodies. This month I have been following an interesting debate involving the video censors, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), and the TV & satellite regulators, the Independent Television Commission (ITC).

There currently is an ITC requirement for UK satellite broadcasters, Playboy TV, The Adult Channel and Television X to only broadcast sex material to the standard of the BBFC 18 certificate. However, most of the programming that these channels buy in does not have a BBFC certificate and so they have to reduce it down to ITC/BBFC standards by themselves. (Most of the editing has already been implemented by the American producers who sell a cut down or 'cable version' of the film). The ITC guidelines for this censorship task are reasonably straightforward. Basically there should remain no indication that there is any 'real sex' going on. In general, the guidelines are strictly adhered to by the satellite companies who clearly do not want to jeopardise their broadcast licenses.

However the BBFC are not content with the mere elimination of explicit detail, they have two further requirements for cuts:
- That sex scenes should not be 'too' long (I don't know how long is 'too' long though).
- That sex scenes should never show more than two people involved in the action.

The BBFC have recently been examining broadcast films on satellite and have realised that these do not always adhere to the additional requirements. The BBFC therefore set up a meeting with the ITC to try and put across the message that sex scenes shouldn't be 'too' long. Of course this particular rule leaves the ITC flummoxed, the satellite companies irritated, and any other sane persons in a total state of puzzlement.

Over the coming months I hope to provide a lot of information about what is going on in the sex & satellite world. However, in a world where knowledge is power, it is important to keep abreast of breaking news on a more regular basis. I will therefore be generating a comprehensive set of internet links on the subjects of equipment retailers, programmes, channels, schedules etc. In the meantime you can't go too far wrong with the excellent (of course modesty prohibits further praise).

Keep informed!



What to Expect on Satellite X...

Satellite X column for What Satellite magazine

Link Here1st December 1999

What Satellite logoA recent headline in the Yorkshire Post caught my eye:'Porn videos jury fails to agree a verdict'. The article went on to describe an excellent little dilemma that nicely sums up the British problem with porn. Ten out of the eleven jurors were split down the middle when it came to deciding whether the material was likely to 'deprave and corrupt'. The eleventh was discharged for failing to pay sufficient attention to the videos anyway. The authorities had spent a fortune on bringing the case to trial, and best of all, they are now unsure of what to do next.

During the case, the perceptive defence barrister argued: 'although the videos were pornographic they were not sufficient to deprave and corrupt'. This seems an ideal starting point to try and subtly describe what's available on satellite and to summarise some of the legal perspectives that may be of concern to viewers and potential viewers.

First of all it must be made clear that all of the widely advertised foreign services show explicit details of adult consensual sex. The viewer upgrading from British services will find that the plant pots that used to irritatingly obscure the view of erections and penetration have vanished and that the cameraman now obligingly pans down from the top of the girls head to reveal the full glory of a blowjob. Perhaps slightly more shockingly, the British viewer will suddenly realise that the porn industry, has become obsessed with anal sex. XXL, Amore, Satisfaction Channel, AdultX, Tequila, Cine Cinemas, TV1000, Canal+ from France, Belgium, Netherlands & Scandinavia all feature this explicit material. The discriminators between them are not so much in the level of detail but more to do with the quality, quantity and variety of the programming.

Actually, the gulf between adult material from Britain and Europe is at it's greatest on satellite. Those that prefer the printed form will surely have noticed that hardcore British versions of continental magazines are now available in sex shops. They actually now feature explicit hardcore, albeit with a couple of typically British compromises; the anal sex has been removed and the cum shots are notable by their absence. This compromise may only be a temporary position. Some shops have already started selling 'imported original versions'.

Even topshelf magazines have been edging towards hardcore. This momentum has been led by some newly liberalised editions of US magazines such as Hustler finding their way onto British newsagent's shelves.

Clearly there is some rather intricate arguing going on as to why hardcore imagery is acceptable in its static form yet may deprave and corrupt when it becomes animated. Luckily very little of this argument effects the satellite customer.

British law on the subject of pornography evolved at a time when it was relatively easy to maintain controls on the supply side of the business. Eg laws were defined to regulate what cinemas could show and this achieved the required control without needing to resort to the criminalisation of the cinema patrons. Similarly all of the laws used to ban or proscribe foreign satellite channels are aimed at the broadcasters and their commercial connections rather than the viewers. Therefore it now appears that it is perfectly legal to subscribe to satellite porn channels and to record their programmes for personal use.

There are however a couple of caveats. The authorities have tended to try and use the word 'supply' not so much in its intended commercial sense but in a more general application. It therefore seems dangerous to lend, swap or even to give tapes to friends lest this be interpreted as 'supply'. Possession of porn with 'intent to supply' also carries a bit of a sting. Under this charge, the onus of proof of intention seems to placed on the owner of a 'large' collection rather than on the police or prosecutors. Finally, the possession of imported porn may be cause for concern. Customs maintain that this can be seized at any time, well after the original importation occurred. On the positive side, Customs do not consider that bits and bytes floating through the satellite ether constitute an import, they prefer something a little more physical before they pay any attention.

So there you have it, foreign satellite porn channels deliver the goods and it is perfectly legal to subscribe. Have fun but think carefully before passing your tapes onto your mates. In the meantime I am still wondering what the authorities will do next! Perhaps the next stage of the case in the Yorkshire Post will reveal some answers.

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