Elite TV, 10 July 2009, 11:30
Elite Days is a daytime chat programme broadcast without access restrictions. It is located in the adult section of the Sky EPG on the service Elite TV. Viewers can call a premium rate telephone number and talk to an onscreen female presenter. Viewers see the female presenters engaged in conversation but cannot hear what is being said as music is played over the images. At certain intervals the presenters switch on a microphone and speak directly to viewers to encourage them to call into the premium rate telephony service (PRS) number.
Ofcom received a complaint that the programme featured a promotional reference to the website, www.elitetvonline.com, and that this website included strong sexual material which was available without any protections. Ofcom accessed the website after the complaint was made and noted that it contained some strong sexual images equivalent to BBFC R18-rated material (R18-rated equivalent material). This material could be easily accessed by simply clicking to confirm that the user was over 18.
Although this R18-rated equivalent material was not broadcast on-air, Ofcom was concerned that it appeared on a website being promoted during a daytime interactive chat programme.
- Rule 1.2 – In the provision of services, broadcasters must take all reasonable steps to protect people under eighteen.
- Rule 1.3 – Children must also be protected by appropriate scheduling from material that is unsuitable for them.
- Rule 2.1 – Generally accepted standards must be applied to the contents of television and radio services so as to provide adequate protection for members of the public from the inclusion in such services of harmful and/or offensive material.
- Rule 2.3 – In applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context.
The broadcaster informed Ofcom that it has decided to remove any adult material from the unregistered area of its website.
Ofcom Decision: Breach of Rules 1.2, 1.3, 2.1 and 2.3
While the content of websites is not in itself broadcast material, and therefore not subject to the requirements of the Code, any on-air promotional references to websites are broadcast content. Such references must therefore comply with the Code. In this case Elite TV broadcast during the late morning a promotional reference to its website, http://www.elitetvonline.com, that contained strong sexual images that Ofcom considered to be equivalent to R18-rated material. There were no protections on the website – for example prior registration before being able to view – and therefore this material could have been accessed easily by under-eighteens.
The promotion on television of this website was therefore of concern to Ofcom. Rules 1.2 and 1.3 require broadcasters to take reasonable steps to protect people under eighteen and ensure that children must be protected by appropriate scheduling from unsuitable material. Rules 2.1 and 2.3 require broadcasters to comply with generally accepted standards so as to provide adequate protection for members of the public from offensive material.
It is Ofcom’s view that websites that contain unprotected R18-rated equivalent material must not be promoted on an Ofcom licensed service. This is to ensure adequate protection for the under-eighteens and compliance with generally accepted standards.
Appropriate protection on a website would be, for example, the need to purchase access to the R18 material by using a credit card or similar means that allows an age check to be done. In this case no such protections were present on the website and therefore Rules 1.2 and 1.3, and 2.1 and 2.3 were contravened.