Ofcom fines adult broadcaster Bang £157k
Thursday, July 29 2010, 15:58 BST
By Andrew Laughlin,

Ofcom has fined Bang Channels and Bang Media a total of £157,250 for "extremely serious and repeated breaches" of the Broadcasting Code.

Bang Channels and Bang Media, which are under common ownership, were found to have breached broadcasting guidelines in their "adult sex chat" and "daytime chat" promotions aired between June and November 2009.

Bang Channels operates the Tease Me bouquet of channels on the Sky platform, while Bang Media owns and operates the Tease Me TV service on Freeview.

The channels broadcast content promoting adult sex chat services, in which viewers are invited to contact on-screen female presenters via premium rate telephony services.

Ofcom ruled that the "unsuitable" adult material used to promote the services was "shown for the sole purpose of sexual stimulation". Some footage contained simulated masturbation and oral sex, including close-ups of genital and anal detail.

The media regulator said that in some cases the material transmitted should have had mandatory restrictions, such as PIN controls, while other broadcasts contained material deemed equivalent to a BBFC 18-rating, which is prohibited from broadcast.

Ofcom also found that 14 breaches had occurred due to Bang Channels and Bang Media operating a "wholly inadequate compliance system" which amounted to" manifest recklessness".

A further two breaches were found after both licensees failed to provide recordings to Ofcom after a request had been issued.

Bang Channels also continued to broadcast the offending material even after it had been found in breach of the broadcasting code and given full warning by Ofcom.

"Broadcasters who operate in this area should be aware that Ofcom treats the transmission of this sort of sexual content, without suitable protections, with the utmost seriousness and such repeated compliance failures will not be tolerated," said Ofcom.

Bang Channels will now have to pay a financial penalty to the HM Paymaster General of £147,250, with Bang Media having to pay £10,000.