UK TV censor Ofcom has complained to the Dutch media regulator about the content of adult chat channels Babestation and Smile TV, which are licensed in the Netherlands but broadcast to millions of Freeview households in the UK .
The UK TV cenosr said that this is an important issue, and active discussions are under way with Commissariaat voor de Media (Dutch media authority), the country’s content licensing body, to see how British audiences can be protected from scenes of near naked women massaging each other’s breasts, masturbating and faking orgasms.
Babestation and Smile TV broadcast free to air on digital terrestrial TV service Freeview between 10pm and 6am.
Ofcom has previously revoked the broadcast licences of UK adult TV channels that are anywhere near sexy. However, as Babestation and Smile TV are licensed by the Dutch media authority, rather than Ofcom, the UK regulator has no power to block or ban them.
The TV censor added that it has no tally of the number of complaints received from British viewers about the channels, adding that it advises those offended to approach the Dutch regulator.
Caroline Dinenage, Conservative MP for Gosport and member of the parliamentary inquiry into online child protection, said there was an urgent need to address inappropriate television content:
Some of the images on Freeview may be contravening UK regulation. This is terrestrial TV, free to everyone, including children and teenagers.
We need to ensure that Freeview operators who sell capacity to non-UK porn channels behave responsibly, and respect UK regulations. There may be a compelling case for Ofcom to withdraw licences from companies selling spectrum to porn channels, without putting in place age restrictive access control.
The channels could be in breach of puritanical UK censorship rules by promoting websites offering R18 hardcore pornography content or equivalent.
An Ofcom spokesprude said If they don’t do what we ask them we can go to the European Commission.
A Freeview spokesperson said as an open platform it is required to broadcast licensed channels that apply for distribution, including Babestation and Smile TV. The channels use DTT spectrum owned by Arqiva to broadcast on Freeview. Each multiplex owner is responsible for a bundle of spectrum via which a number of channels are broadcast. Any spectrum not used for their own channels is leased to other broadcasters.
A spokesman for Dmol, a company owned by the operators of the six Freeview multiplexes — the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Arqiva said that the current arrangement was not ideal, with the Dutch-licensed adult chat channels accessible to 90% of about 10.6m UK homes that use Freeview:
We are conscious of the need to move quickly. We are encouraged by news of Ofcom’s active discussions.