Ofcom complains about Dutch sex channels
By Robert Briel
March 8, 2012 09.50 Europe/London

The UK regulator Ofcom has registered a formal complaint with its counterpart in the Netherlands about the sex channels it is allowing to target UK viewers through the Freeview platform.

The action is the result of a report, put together by UK local broadcaster Six TV. The report has found children with Freeview sets in their bedrooms are being exposed to adult sex content that is so strong it is prohibited under UK law. However, TV channels which are based in the EU are allowed to transmit under the laws of their host country and therefore escape regulation by Ofcom.

Ofcom says it has no control over five of the channels on Freeview because they are licenced in the Netherlands. All TV channels operating with a Dutch licence have to submit their content for content and age rating purposes to an organization called NICAM.

Six TV claims in a press statement: “The permissive Dutch regulator, NICAM, allows porn on terrestrial TV saying it is not “seriously harmful” to children. NICAM says it “does not pass a judgement on the content, the good-bad taste and the decency of television programmes.”

“Some of the most explicit free TV channels carry programming under the “Babestation” brand. Complaints to Ofcom about these channels result in a standard ‘computer says no’ response with concerned parents being advised to email NICAM, even though NICAM allows explicit sex on TV.

“Ofcom has confirmed it is in receipt of evidence Babaestation channels are circumventing UK rules for the protection of children. Ofcom is now appealing to the Dutch authorities to ban explicit sex channels targeting UK viewers, although it has no power to compel them to do so.

“The five Dutch porn channels on Freeview are licensed to Game Network BV, a company registered in Amsterdam. Despite holding Dutch licences, Six TV has traced the sex programmes broadcast on these channels to a studio in Milton Keynes.”

The reason why Six TV is drawing attention to these adult channels is that viewers have to zap via these so-called sex channels in order to reach a local Six TV station.

Broadcasters wishing to obtain a Dutch licence must aply for one with the regulator, the Commissariaat voor de Media. All Dutch licencees need to subnit their programming to NICAM for rating purposes.

NICAM stands for the Netherlands Institute for the Classification of Audio-visual Media. It is based upon self-regulation of the participating partners, such as broadcasters, the movie and games industry. MNore information can be found on the organisations’s website.