Trade body AITA is launching a major campaign this month which it hopes will persuade councils to reduce licensing fees for sex shops and also influence other regulatory bodies into relaxing the legislation that prevents licensed stores from selling online or via mail order.
AITA says that the biggest source of complaints it now receives is members with licensed sex shops who are facing tremendously difficult trading conditions, particularly since overseas rivals can offer DVDs to UK customers via mail order – which UK companies cannot – without having to pay licence fees. Furthermore, overseas firms can sell DVDs into the UK market which have not gone through the BBFC process, making them considerably cheaper as a result.
This is on top of stores facing the new – also unregulated – competition from IT routes to market such as downloads, streaming, mobile phones, hotel TV and IPTV, the huge influx of foreign street sellers and counterfeiters and the large number of unlicensed stores which continue to trade.
Yet, it says, local authorities appear to be oblivious to these issues and have continued to increase licence fees. AITA has therefore prepared a lobbying document that will be sent out to all the relevant Local Council Leaders and their Licensing Departments. The document will be going to named officials, to prevent it being passed from department to department. Copies will also be sent to all Members of Parliament, the LGA, the DCMS, the Home Office, the ACPO, the Institute of Licensing, the BERR and the Local Government First magazine. AITA will also be issuing press releases on the subject. The AITA document highlights the problems facing UK licensed sex shops and seeks to gain support for reducing licence fees and to influence legislation for R18 via the Internet and mail order.
AITA fully acknowledges it has set itself a massive task and is asking all its members who have stores to support its efforts by also making similar representations to their local authorities themselves. It is also asking non-members with stores to support this initiative.
“We need local shops to contact their relevant authorities as well.” commented AITA committee member Stuart Inglis. “They must support it by explaining the economic situation they are in, the problems they face and stating their case for a reduction in licensing fees. These bodies all communicate with each other and we want to create talking behind the scenes.”
The full text of the document that will be issued can be found on page 38 of this issue.