Porn web links lead to TV fine

Monday, May 18 2009, 14:44 BST

Ofcom has fined Red Hot TV for promoting websites containing adult material equivalent in explicitness to the BBFC's R18 rating.

The media regulator said it received a complaint in August 2008 that Red Hot was, during daytime, promoting website URLs that led to "extremely explicit sexual material" behind a warning on the front pages. It noted that in July 2008, it had published a breach finding against the broadcaster for verbal and on-screen references to such sites; at that time, Portland Compliance, which handles regulatory compliance for Red Hot, pledged to ensure that the sites would be changed so that users had to go through an age-verification process before seeing the explicit content, action that was not implemented.

"The breaches were serious... because they involved explicit R18-rated equivalent material," said Ofcom. It added that the content sanctions committee "was concerned that the seriousness of the breaches was compounded by the fact that they occurred following previous and recent instances of Ofcom regulatory intervention and guidance", and that the breaches "showed evidence of weak compliance processes".

Portland said that the website changes had not been implemented because of "various administrative and personnel reasons" and that the website URLs were removed as soon as Ofcom contacted them about the latest complaint in August.

Ofcom decided to fine Red Hot £25,000 and record breaches of rules 1.2 (protection of people under 18), 1.3 (children must be protected by appropriate scheduling), 2.1 (generally accepted standards) and 2.3 (contextual justification).