UK FTA adult channels under threat

Chris Forrester


British satellite viewers have dozens of free-to-air adult channels available to them, and TV regulator Ofcom is proposing to get much tougher, clarifying the rules on what can - and cannot - be shown to viewers. The problem, at least from Ofcom's point of view, is that the channels show scantily-clad young(ish) ladies immediately after the 9pm watershed, and Ofcom is concerned over the amount of sustained sex scenes and sexual language potentially available to younger viewers. The fact that all of the channels can ‘locked out' from unwanted eyes doesn't seem to influence Ofcom, or the fact that Hollywood movies which can be both sexually as well as violently graphic are available on an 8pm watershed on Sky.

Some mainstream broadcasters (like Playboy TV) as well as minority channels (such as the many ‘Babe' channels) have been targeted by Ofcom in the past with heavy fines and penalties. Last month Richard Desmond, the somewhat notorious publisher and broadcaster, saw channels of his fined £52,500 for breaches of Ofcom's existing code. In 2007 Babeworld was hit with a £25,000 fine after a single complaint was made. Playboy TV was fined £22,500 for "serious and repeated breaches" of Ofcom's rules.

"Ofcom has foud that recent material which has been transmitted without any access restrictions has featured nudity of a strong sexual nature, and sustained sex scenes and sexual language that has not, in some cases, been justified by the context in which the material was transmitted,"says Ofcom's consultation comment.