Ofcom lodges porn TV complaint with Dutch regulator

08/03/12

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Ofcom has lodged a complaint with the Dutch media regulator about adult chat channels which are licensed in the Netherlands but broadcast in the UK.

The broadcasting watchdog says channels such as Babestation and Smile TV are accessible by children on Freeview.

Ofcom thinks they may also be in breach of regulations regarding the promotion of website content to under-18s.

"Ofcom takes the protection of UK viewers, especially children, extremely seriously," a statement said.

"We have now begun special European co-operation procedures with the Dutch TV regulator, which is responsible for the channels, to help us to secure further measures to protect UK audiences.

"These procedures enable regulators to swiftly raise concerns about broadcast content from other countries."

Hardcore pornography

Ofcom is unable to act because channels like Babestation are licensed in the Netherlands, not in the UK, meaning they are regulated by Dutch authorities.

That means the media watchdog Ofcom does not have the power to ban them or even block them in the UK.

We have begun special European co-operation procedures with the Dutch TV regulator, which is responsible for the channels, to help us to secure further measures to protect UK audiences
Ofcom statement

The regulator says it is in "active discussions" with its Dutch equivalent to ask that the channels involved comply voluntarily with UK rules.

Ofcom has the power to act against UK-based broadcasters that offer R18 content, or hardcore pornography.

According to broadcasting rules, channels are not permitted to promote adult chat services during the daytime either and the material must be suitable for a pre-watershed audience.

The Ofcom complaint comes after the publication of a report put together by broadcaster Six TV.

It found that children with Freeview available in their bedrooms were being exposed to adult content banned under UK law.

It is complaining because viewers have to flick through adult chat broadcasts to get to their channel.

Adult chat channels make money by getting men to ring premium phone lines.

Four pay TV channels - Tease Me, Tease Me TV, and Tease Me 2 and Tease Me 3 - were taken off air in 2010 after "serious and repeated" breaches of Ofcom's broadcasting code.

They were found to have broadcast inappropriate material during pre-watershed hours (between 6am and 10pm).

Its owners Bang Channels Limited and Bang Media Limited were also fined more than £150,000.