TVX fined for ‘R18’ broadcast

Posted: July 23, 2008

Ofcom has fined Portland Enterprises £25,000 for breaches of Ofcom’s Broadcasting Code in respect of its service Television X – The Fantasy Channel.

Portland Enterprises was fined for transmitting – under encryption – material that Ofcom judged to be the equivalent of R18 – ie highly explicit sex material – which is prohibited under the Code; and for transmitting – free-to-air – explicit sexual content, which Ofcom considered to be ‘adult-sex’ material.

Ofcom received complaints about the over explicit sexual nature of output broadcast on TVX during both encrypted and free-to-air elements on 8th June 2007 from 22:00. This was during a live ‘babe’ programme. The complaints, from competitor broadcasters, suggested some of the encrypted output was equivalent to material that would be classified as R18 by the BBFC.

The material transmitted under PIN encryption featured two naked female presenters engaging in very explicit sexual acts. This included: frequent and prolonged masturbation, shown in close-up; explicit scenes of oral sex; and explicitly depicted scenes of vaginal penetration by fingers and dildos.

The ten minute free-to-air trailer transmitted immediately prior to the encrypted output on the same night featured the same presenters. During this section one of the ‘babes’ removed her knickers and was then depicted in relative close up touching and being touched between her legs. Labial detail was apparent. Throughout, the ‘babes’ invited viewers to subscribe to the encrypted service using explicit language.

Ofcom decided that the case was sufficiently serious to be considered for a statutory sanction. Portland made both written and oral representations, all of which the Committee took into account. In mitigation the broadcaster said that it had launched an immediate inquiry as soon as the complaints came to light, dismissed the production team responsible and subsequently terminated the employment of the Licensee’s Director of Programming who was in charge at the time of the broadcast, demonstrating the seriousness in which the matter was viewed.

After considering all the evidence and all the representations made to it, Ofcom decided that the breaches of the Code by TVX were sufficiently serious to attract a financial penalty of £25,000.

The full Adjudication can be seen at: http://www.ofcom.org.uk/tv/obb/ocsc_adjud/portland.pdf

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