Australia’s TV censor has thrown out complaints made against Channel Nine for broadcasting live phone sex content on its infomercial channel.
BabeTV Live went out on Extra in Queensland and regional NSW after 10pm on 8 October, with some viewers complaining that the exploitative and degrading content should have come with a (softcore) R18+ adult rating.
BabeTV Live features two scantily clad female presenters who encourage viewers to call in at a cost of $4.75 per minute, using provocative language and suggestive actions. Before it begins, the message the following program is for ADULTS ONLY appears on screen.
In its findings on its website, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) ruled that BabeTV Live is advertising, since the presenters continually refer to the phone number displayed on the screen, including direct verbal requests to the camera to phone in, using phrases such as ‘call me’. Even though BabeTV Live aired for four hours and 43 minutes, ACMA maintained that the content was advertising.
This is considerably longer than the usual duration of a televised advertisement. However, the Act does not specify the minimum or maximum duration of content to qualify as advertising or sponsorship material.
To the point of Nine airing explicit content on Extra, one complaint read:
I would have thought it breaches the general licence conditions that state ‘licensees will not transmit datacasting content that has been classified as RC or X18+ by the Classification Board, and that R 18+ must be modified or subject to a restricted access system’. This program is clearly in the 18+ category supported by the fact that you need to be 18+ to participate!
The broadcaster said that BabeLive TV had not been classified because it was live-to-air content — so the Classification Board could not have seen it before it went to air.
Nine said that BabeLive TV followed MA 15+ guidelines, and had taken steps to ensure this sort of content did not get any racier than material suitable for viewers above the age of 15.
Nine stated its rules for presenters of this sort of content to ACMA:
- They must be wearing no less than bra and panties/swimwear/etc. and no see-through underwear or nipple covers.
- Breast cleavage may be visible but not the whole breast, no nipples and no nipple shadow.
- No pubic hair or nude genital area.
- No nude rear.
- No actual or implied sexual activity between the Presenters.
- May include sexually suggestive touching or position but cannot include the handling, kissing, licking or sucking or sex toys or phallic-like objects.
Nine also said that it had introduced new, stricter rules for presenters, as follows:
- The Presenters must not touch each other at any time, including kissing.
- The Presenters must not mention, talk about or refer to any sexual acts or sexually [suggestive] acts.
- The Presenters must not consume any drink or food on camera.
Even though Nine did not breach any of ACMA’s rules, the broadcaster has since stopped airing BabeTV Live.