UK News Archive

 1999



20th December

  BBFC Thrown Out of Court

The BBFC's request for a judicial review of the Video Appeals Committee's decision to approve 7 R18 videos containing some hardcore material has been thrown out of court.

It isn't really surprising as there seems little doubt that the Video Appeals Committee competently followed correct procedures during the appeal. The only explanation for the BBFC's dubious course of action is as a delaying tactic. Perhaps they are  waiting for the legislation mentioned below so that JackBoots Straw can personally inpose his view of obscenity.

Unfortunately he BBFC are still pursing their dogged delaying tactics and have resubmitted their case, (which they are entitled to do). The latest hearing has nominally been set for February 10th

20th December

 A Depraved and Corrupt Government

One of the most alarming pieces of legislation has been noticed passing through Parliament recently, as found on usenet:

For proof positive that we have a tyrant at the helm look no further than the Criminal Justice (Mode Of Trial) Bill that had its 2nd reading in the Lord's recently. This bill will remove the right to a jury trial for a whole range of offences, including laws relating to obscenity. Given that most magistrates consider stuff seen in Playboy to be obscene whereas juries are quite relaxed about the portrayal of sex between consenting adults (as are 80% of the British population), this amounts to a change in the obscenity laws. Currently they are based on whether a reasonable person would be corrupted/deeply offended. If this draconian measure goes through then "obscene" would effectively be defined as "anything a frustrated, middle-class prude doesn't like the look of".

Worried? You should be. This Bill stands a very good chance of becoming law.

As quoted in the Lord's during the debate: The first object of any tyrant in Whitehall would be to make Parliament utterly subservient to his will; and the next to overthrow or diminish trial by jury, for no tyrant could afford to leave a subject's freedom in the hands of twelve of his countrymen .

Now, who might this apply to ?

11th December

 Obscene Law Fails Again

Porn videos jury fails to agree a verdict. Based on an article by Brian Dooks, Yorkshire Post.

A jury of five men, and five Women were discharged recently after failing to reach a decision on whether thousands of pornographic videos - copied in a North  Yorkshire couple's garage - contained material likely to deprave and corrupt.

Judge Jonathan Crabtree who had presided over the two week trail at York Crown Court said it was now up to the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Crown Prosecution Service to decide whether there would be a retrial. Bail was awarded  to the defendents whilst the decision is being taken.

They all denied conspiracy to distribute obscene videos and brochures between February 1998 and June 1998 when it was alleged that thousands of pornographic tapes were made from continental master copies in the blacked out garage of one of their homes. (The only conspiracy going on here is between the police and the home office to persecute innocent vitcims via an outdated and crap law)

It was claimed the four were involved in an international blue movies sales organisation masterminded by two men in Amsterdam who had never been prosecuted. During the trial, the case against another defendent on the conspiracy charge was thrown out by the judge, who said there was no evidence against him.

One juror was discharged for failing to pay attention to 12 hours of videos played on TV screens in the court, and another was not allowed to hear the case, after being  recognising one of the accused. Barristers representing the four remaining accused, told the court that the videos made at the Frances' home - for which they were paid a pound a copy, although pornographic were not sufficient to deprave and corrupt.

Charles Salter, representing Brigham, said what the films showed was no worse than any member of the jury might get up to with a partner in the privacy of their own home.

(What a waste of public money. It must have cost a fortune to persecute these people for material that should be freely available to adults).

7th December

 Whole Orange

Good news from the BBFC who have just issued the following press release: The cinema film of A Clockwork Orange has been classified by the BBFC as '18' without cuts, for adult audiences. The film was classified 'X' without cuts in December 1971 and subsequently withdrawn in 1973 by the film's Director. Despite the notoriety, the Board does not consider that concerns expressed at the time of the film's original release, about its possible influence on young people, are a serious issue now. The Board is satisfied that the scenes of violence depicted in the film are acceptable under the Board's guidelines.

I guess that now Clockwork Orange is considered something of an  academic and artistic masterpiece, that cuts were probably out of the question anyway. They wouldn't dare.

12th November

  Police not in the Business of Censorship!!

Old news maybe but I missed the shameful statement first time round.

Take to the streets, steal a car, deal some drugs, engage in prostitution and extortion - the more crimes you commit, the more points you get in a new computer game which the Government and police fear may provoke copy-cat behaviour. (Thats a bit a rich, politicans and their families are frequently caught indulging in most of that list.)

GTA2, the sequel to Grand Theft Auto, promises to be even badder: There is a whole new subtext to this version. We have brought in some criminal gangs, said Brian Baglow of the software company that has produced the game. It is more adult than the first.. The earlier, tamer version was withdrawn from sale in France and Brazil and provoked widespread condemnation in the UK. Yet it sold 2.5 million copies worldwide. A launch leaflet calls the game a 'pot-pourri of psychopathic, sociopathic, anti-social criminal behaviour... refined to a new point of slavering perversion.' (Sounds like its set in the Home Office)

Ian Westwood, deputy chairman of the Police Federation, said recently: We are not in the business of censorship. But we do have real concerns about the glamorisation of violence and crime in games. (Is this shameful or what, so all the police raids in support of censorhip must be figments of the victim's imagination then)

8th November

 A Cut Above the Eye

fightclu.jpg (12214 bytes)The cinema version of the Brad Pitt film Fight Club has been cut by the BBFC. I guess that we will have to wait until the American or European DVD release before we can see the film in it's full glory. I will keep you informed.

In the meantime the BBFC have justified their decision with the following press release. Notice the way they describe the cut version with the weasel words 'in it's classified form'. Concerns have been raised in advance of the film's public release in Britain about its violent content, the encouragement it may give to the illegal sport of bare-knuckle fighting, and what has been perceived as its generally 'antisocial' effect. The violent content of Fight Club is rather less than many other films which have passed entirely without public or media concern. In particular, the scenes of fighting occupy only a small part of overall screen time. Therefore, audiences who expect a large quantity of fist fighting and graphic violence are likely to be disappointed. Nevertheless, there are two scenes in which the Board judged that the violence was excessively sustained and in conflict with the concern expressed in the BBFC Guidelines about taking pleasure in pain or sadism. In both scenes there was an indulgence in the excitement of beating a defenceless man's face into a pulp. The Board required that cuts be made in each case. The Board has also looked very closely at other elements which might be thought to provide dangerously instructive information or to encourage anti-social behaviour. Such 'instructional detail' as there is is either misleading or unlikely to be harmful to an individual or society. The film as a whole is - quite clearly - critical and sharply parodic of the amateur fascism which in part it portrays. Its central theme of male machismo (and the anti-social behaviour that flows from it) is emphatically rejected by the central character in the concluding reels. The Board recognizes that there will be arguments on both sides about the merits or possible effects of the film, but is satisfied that, in its classified form, Fight Club will be enjoyed by a great many viewers without harm either to themselves or to anyone else.

 The Story of the Ban of the Story of O

storyofo.jpg (12024 bytes)The BBFC banned the cinema release of Just Jaeckin's film, The Story of O in 1975. This softcore film by the director of Emmanuelle offended the BBFC because it deals with willing women being humiliated in the name of love and eroticism. The censors compounded their dislike of O by banning the even milder sequel, The Story of O Part 2 on both it's cinema and video releases. It is therefore good to see that Camden council in London have finally overruled the BBFC and awarded it a local 18 certificate. It has taken the best part of 25 years though.

The film is a bit of a favourite of mine as many years ago I fell in love with the star, Corinne Clery

5th November

 Times a Change

Torrid TV (previously Rendez-Vous/Eurotica) has recently changed name again to Adult+. Canal+ then complained that the name suggested incorrectly that it was part of their stable. The plus sign was therefore hastily twisted around to become AdultX.

AdultX is a hardcore satellite service found in analog on HotBird and digital on Astra 1 at 19.2şE/ 12.012 GHz (V) (SR 27500, FEC 3/4). Subscriptions are  available throughout Europe priced at around £129. The digital service will eventually extend it's transmission hours and broadcast a different programme.

5th November

 Thieves Caught Pink Handed

According to The Pink Paper three sample gay magazines out of a consignment of 400  were recently cleared by Uxbridge Magistrates Court. The magazines en route to Clone Zone in London were seized by HM Customs & Thieves at Heathrow last October as they were  supposedly considered indecent and obscene .

Customs are quoted as saying that they will have to rethink their policy on the handling of the importation of gay erotica.

25th October

  Idiots in Ireland

The Irish film censor has banned The Idiots , by award-winning director Lars Von Trier which features a couple of sexually explicit images.

Sheamus Smith, the censor, deemed it unfit for viewing. His decision, published in the current issue of Iris Oifigiuil, said: The viewing of it would tend, by reason of the inclusion in it of obscene or indecent matter, to deprave or corrupt persons who might view it.

The movie was screened without a certificate in June at the Irish Film Centre, which has previously shown films banned by the censor. A similarly controversial and sexually explicit French film, Romance, is currently showing at the cinema.

The Idiots follows a group of intelligent people who live together in Copenhagen, bringing out the "inner idiot" in themselves. It has been described as shocking. The video will be released in Britain on November 1, uncut with an 18 certificate. The film was first shown at France's Cannes film festival in May 1998. It went on release in Britain last May uncut, with an 18 certificate.

The last film banned by Smith was From Dusk 'Til Dawn , a tale of vampires and violence written by and starring Quentin Tarantino. He also banned Natural Born Killers in 1994 and Showgirls in 1995.

Not quite UK news but as the border with Ireland is our only open border then their decisions are always of ineterest.

1st October

 Robin' the Free to Give to the Straw

Robin Duval has appointed the first PR head as part of a policy to clarify (spin!) its decisions on censorship. Sue Clark joined last week from the Royal Commission for the Reform of the House of Lords, where she headed media relations. Clark will be the only PRO working within the BBFC, and will be responsible for public affairs, and external, internal and media relations.

Clark has been handed an open brief by Robin Duval, the board's director, to create and co-ordinate a more corporate approach to its communications with the public, press and the government.

A spokesman said Clark's appointment will allow the BBFC to communicate the decisions it arrives at rather than leave them entirely open to media interpretation. He said: We need to be more proactive about presenting issues before we are put on the back foot, and move towards openness and transparency.

30th September

  Andreas Whittering Shite

The bosses at the BBFC are on a 'Mission from God' to ensure that Britain maintains its unjustifiable prohibition of adult material. Tolerance of the wishes of millions of adults are to be denied without any justification or proof of harm. There seems little chance now that a jury would consider adult consensual porn able to 'deprave and corrupt',  so it is only the fact that Whittam Smith and Duval just don't like porn that is standing in the way of liberalisation.

Anyway, the BBFC have just issed the following press release: The British Board of Film Classification is to seek a Judicial Review of the recent decision by the Video Appeals Committee in relation to seven sex videos. The BBFC is contesting the VAC judgement because in the Board's view, it is based on a definition of harm which is an incorrect interpretation of the Video Recordings Act. The VAC judgement, if allowed to stand, would have fundamental implications with regard to all the Board's decisions, including those turning upon questions of unacceptable levels of violence. Andreas Whittam Smith - President Robin Duval - Director 28th September 1999

30th September

 A Worthless Replacement

The worthless TV censors, the BSC are to get a new boss. They are to replace Lady Howe by someone equally representative of the typical British TV viewer, ie Lord Holme of Cheltenham, aged 63. He is currently the deputy chairman of the ITC.

He is nominally a Liberal Democrat peer so I hope this is a good sign but then again so is the shameful David Alton.

The BSC have just upheld complaints against the TV show, Psychos set in a Psychiatric unit on the grounds that the title is offensive. They have also upheld complaints about an attempted rape in th John Thaw drama Plastic Man which was felt to go beyond acceptable boundaries

30th September

 More Amore

Amore TV recently announced they are to extend their 16şE analogue broadcast hours from 4 hours to 5 hours per night. Amore currently begins its analogue transmission at 12am GMT from 11.178 GHz V, and plans to begin at 11pm from mid-September. This will allow the channel to show films in there entirety along with necessary advertisement breaks in-between films, it also allows Amore enough time to promote the channel in clear pal.

13th September

 More Torrid Permutations

Several months ago a hardcore porn channel, Adult+, was to launch. However, launch plans were scrapped at the last minute, as the channel's owners were deterred by the outcome of Eurotica/Rendezvouz' court hearing. However, the same company, just weeks later, began to broadcast programmes for the banned Eurotica channel, under the branding of Torrid TV -  making Eurotica effectively legal again in the UK.

They are now starting up a digital service, Adult+, which carefully avoids association with Torrid so as to hopefully stay one step ahead of the proscribers.

The new Adult+ service will broadcast in digital from Astra at 19.2şE, 12.012GHz V (SR 27500, FEC 3/4) using both Irdeto and Seca encryption methods, and will broadcast up to nine hours of hardcore programming per night. Adult+ films will be the same films shown on Torrid TV, but in different rotation, Adult+ will show Torrid's three films twice. Daytime transmissions will be made up of free-to-air softcore programming and porn advertisements. Subscriptions will shortly be available for the channel across Europe priced at around £130.

8th September

 R18 Shite from the BBFC

I have been piecing together some pretty alarming news from the BBFC about their response to the R18 judgement. In general some of my distributor contacts have an understandably pessimistic view and so I hope they have not been too alarmist.

Anyway it appears that Whittam Smith and Duval are 100% anti-porn and they do not believe that it should be available to adults at all. I am told that they are both religious fundamentalist types who have been recruited to the board with a prime objective of stopping the trend towards liberalised porn laws. (What is the chance that two supposedly representative types are both religiously opposed to porn? If 1 in 20 people fit the bill, then the chances of 2 should be about 400-1 To consider even further upwards in the BBFC hierarchy,  the 3rd and 4th bosses, Straw and Blair, put the odds up to 160,000-1). Any vestige of belief that Duval was arguing merely from concern for harm to children is clearly unfounded, it was just seen as an argument that might strike a chord with the Video Appeals Committee.

I am afraid worse is to come. The BBFC are in the processing a move to a culture of spin. To this end, the BBFC have employed a PR person who is starting work this week. A more far reaching change is that the hierarchy of examiners is being readdressed. Many of the BBFC examiners are totally decent and reasonable people who have good intentions at heart and think very carefully before suggesting cuts and bans. They are usually far more liberal than the end results suggest due to some pretty heavy handed decisions being inflicted by their lords and masters.  To try and remove this inconvenient opposition to political decision making, the examiners are being demoted to advisers and a new tier of senior examiners is being created. These hand picked few will naturally take on board the role of BBFC spokespersons and be the ones put forward for interviews etc. No doubt their elevated position will be maintained only on proviso that they say the right things. at the right time. Of course this reorganisation will be justified by on the grounds of improved career paths etc.

Back to the R18 situation. As far as I can gather, the BBFC will contest the certificates for the seven R18  videos so that the distributors will be forced to go to court, (As they did with Makin' Whoopee ). With slightly tenuous and justifiably cynical reasoning, this delay will then allow time for part B of their masterplan. I think that the BBFC are then going to use the BBFC autumn roadshows to supposedly gauge public opinion and to try argue that the public do not want any relaxation in guidelines. The whole roadshow idea is a bit of a sham in that hardly anyone turns up. As far as I know there were no reports issued with any meaningful or rigorous analysis. It would be relatively easy to spin the results in whatever manner proved acceptable to the board. Such well spun public consultation could be used to justify the dodgy BBFC stance  on the next bunch of appeals in front of the Video Appeals Committee.

In my humble opinion, the current management at the BBFC are beginning to smell distinctly pungent. They are clearly putting their own private prejudices above the law and unnecessarily depriving millions of adults of some of their sexual pleasures. I shall therefore be keeping a bit of closer eye on the BBFC...look out for a new section...BBFC Watch

31st August

  R18 Whispers

I have heard my first whispers from friends in the trade about the BBFC response to the R18 appeal. Unfortunately the news is not good. It seems likely that the BBFC will award certificates to the successful videos but will not change their guidelines for the future.

I find this a little hard to believe as the obscenity issue was not contested and the peripheral harm argument was lost. This only leaves a rather sleazy conspiracy between the Home Office and Duval to interpret the law as suits their own wishes. This is rather compounded by a police high level memo  suggesting that dodgy videos should be prosecuted under the Video Recordings Act rather than the Obscene Publications Act.  I hope I am wrong.

30th August

 A Cutting Eye for Religion

From the Telegraph

Warner Brothers has agreed to edit an orgy scene in Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut before the film's British premiere after Hindu groups protested that they found it offensive. The protest began in America, where Hindu organisations objected to the recitation of a passage from the Bhagavad Gita, their holiest book, to spice up the sexually explicit scene. Although the protest gathered momentum, with Hindu groups in Britain joining in, Warner Brothers said it felt unable to edit the completed film.

In an about-turn, the firm has decided it will, at vast cost, edit the scene before the London premiere on Sept 3, to be attended by the stars, Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise. In the film, the character played by Cruise wanders across the screen as an orgy takes place. The Bhagavad Gita is chanted in the background.

The master tape is being edited in studios in London before the change is transferred to 400 prints for distribution in Britain. "This will cost Warners an arm and a leg," commented a film industry source. Hashmukh Shah, a Bradford-based spokesman for the World Hindu Council, said: Hindus have for long been intolerably tolerant, but we are no longer willing to go about with our eyes shut wide. We are delighted the offending scene is being dropped . (Why is it that the more intolerant religions are the more they claim to be tolerant? Its a bit like I don't believe in censorship... But ...)

According to Shah, what Hindus found especially objectionable was Kubrick's choice of a shloka (mantra) close to the heart of devout Hindus: When evil descends on earth, the Lord Krishna will manifest himself in human form to destroy that evil.

30th August

 Dogmatic Censorship

Lars Von Trier has demanded that his controversial film , The Idiots , should be recalled. The BBFC and Home Office had problems with the film because of a few hardcore snippets, Von Trier has problems with the production techniques. he intended that the film should be made under the rules of Dogme 95, a strict set of rules attempting to find a new pure cinematic language. An example rule is that the film should be shot in natural light. Unfortunately the film producers played with the light levels of the film without seeking the consent of Von Trier. We can now expect a director's cut with the light levels restored.

17th August

 BBFC loses sex video standards appeal

Good news as described in a BBFC Press Release:

The Video Appeals Committee announced today the results of two appeals against the BBFC's decision to reject 7 sex videos containing sexually explicit material. The appeals, lodged by distributors Sheptonhurst Ltd., and Prime Time Promotions, have been successful.

In its decisions the Video Appeals Committee (VAC) ruled that the Board should have granted each work an 'R18' certificate as requested, allowing the companies to distribute and trade the videos through licensed sex shop premises. The ruling comes just one year after the successful appeal by Sheptonhurst against the Board's refusal to grant an 'R18' certificate to the sex video Makin' Whoopee! . The VAC found by a majority of 4 to 1 that the Board was wrong to conclude that the video works breached the provisions of the Video Recordings Act because they had the potential to cause harm to children.

The majority accepted the argument that we do not, in general, prevent adults having access to material just because it might be harmful to children if it fell into their hands. We might have taken a different view if there was evidence that the effects were affecting more than a small minority of children or were devastating if this did happen .

The minority opinion was that the general effect of all these videos is dehumanising and mechanistic and they are unacceptable within the current guidelines for a classification of 'R18'. The Board had produced expert evidence that the material could cause harm to children.

Since the 7 videos were clearly in breach of the Board's published classification guidelines for 'R18', the VAC decision also has serious implications for those guidelines.

The issue of obscenity under the Obscene Publications Act 1959 was not argued this time, since the Board accepted that the VAC had made its own view clear in that regard in 1998 when it unanimously found similar content in Makin' Whoopee! not obscene. Nevertheless, similar content continues to be seized and forfeited under Section 3 of the Obscene Publications Act. This is a matter of continuing concern to the Board.

In the light of the Video Appeals Committee's decision, the Board is considering how it should now proceed.

8th August

 Even Teletubbies is Considered Harmful

Why is it that all forms of enjoyment of life are now considered inherently harmful?

Under two years old should watch no television at all and older ones should have sets removed from their bedrooms and be limited to two strictly timed hours a day, according to new advice from paediatricians. Even programmes specially made for the very young can stunt development and intellect unless the parent sits and watches with the child, explaining what is going on.

The American Academy of Paediatrics, which has 55,000 members, spent two years examining the impact of television on children, including numerous studies linking violence on screen to aggressive behaviour . Members concluded that parents of children under two should play with them rather than allow them to watch television. While certain television programmes may be promoted to this age group, research on early brain development shows that babies and toddlers have a critical need for direct interactions with parents and other significant care givers for healthy brain growth and the development of appropriate social, emotional and cognitive skills .

While discounting the idea that older children are made violent overnight by watching violence on the screen, the academy says they are vulnerable to the insidious build-up of the wrong messages from television. Cigarettes and alcohol are shown as cool and attractive, but carry no health warning. Fighting is often used as a way to handle conflict successfully.

Parents should also make sure that there are no screens of any sort in their offsprings' bedrooms. Their bedrooms should be a sanctuary, a place where kids can reflect on what happened that day, where they can sit down and read a book ,

The academy also says parents should complete out questionnaires on their children's "media history" when they visit the doctor to help him to guide them in working out a suitable plan for viewing. (JackBoots Straw will probably pick up this and suggest it for adults too)

8th August

 The 10pm Watershed

The ITC has modified the timing restrictions on the availability of pay-per-view films with a BBFC “18” rating for an experimental period of one year. These films can be made available on pay-per-view services at any time of day, as is currently the case for “12” and “15” rated films. Access to these services is protected by mandatory PIN codes (or equivalent) and all subscribers receive itemised bills, giving details about the films ordered and the times shown. (This would make interesting reading if made generally available)

Two pay-per-view services, Sky Box Office and Front Row, have been operating for nearly two years, during which time there have been no complaints about children accessing unsuitable material. To date, these services have been permitted to show “18” rated films after 8pm, rather than after 10pm, as is the rule for other services. The ITC's timing modifications extend only to pay-per-view services with their secure PIN access, and not to specialist ‘adult' channels, where the 10pm watershed for adult material remains.

The ITC will make its final decision about the pay-per-view watersheds in one year's time. To date, the number of “18”rated films available on Sky Box Office and Front Row is low. Should any significant problems arise, the ITC will not hesitate to end the experiment before the end of the twelve-month period is complete.

1st August

 Topping Internet Censorship

According to child a child psychiatrist, internet websites and chat rooms dedicated to the subject of suicide may be creating a "group death instinct" and encouraging vulnerable young people to take their own lives.

Susan Thompson, senior house officer in child psychiatry at the Ealing, Hammersmith and Fulham Mental Health NHS Trust has given warning that some websites may have the same effect on a depressed and susceptible person as a crowd that encourages a suicidal person to leap off a building by shouting "jump!". She continued to say that young people were the group most vulnerable to the influence of Internet suicide sites. Research already indicates that individuals who access the Net are psychologically more vulnerable, with higher risk-taking behaviour, substance misuse and depression scores than most people. Most are also 18 to 24-year-olds, a group with high suicide rate and little peer support . (Well that's a statement that really encourages us to taker her seriously!)

It is impossible to say how many suicides have been influenced by the Internet, as health professionals are only just beginning to publish case studies on the subject. The amount of information relating to suicide on the Internet is enormous and varied. A search using the keyword "suicide" on any of the most popular search engines typically yields 50,000 to 100,000 sites.

Dr Thompson suggested that the Suicide Act of 1951 prohibits others from encouraging suicide, there could be legal grounds for attempting to intervene at Internet suicide sites. A spokesman for The Samaritans, which received 15,000 e-mails from people seeking help last year, said that there was a clear need for regulation of Internet sites that discussed suicide.

31st July

  Making Up for Shameful Behaviour

After sleazy Duval's shameful performance at the R18 appeal, the BBFC have announced some items of good news as some sort of recompense.

  • True Romance : The Directors Cut has been passed on video uncut
  • Kingpin: Life of Crime , a violent computer game has been passed uncut
  • Romance has been given a uncut cinema certificate complete with some hardcore imagery. The BBFC issued the following press statement:
The cinema film of Romance has been classified by the BBFC as '18' without cuts, for adult audiences. This is a French-language film with subtitles, directed by Catherine Breillat. It concerns a woman who is physically rejected by the man she loves and who looks for fulfilment elsewhere. In the process, she exchanges what has become emotional subservience for a degree of personal independence. By the end of the film, her best hope of happiness appears to be motherhood. Within this structure, the film offers insights about the female condition, about the difficulty of separating sex from love and about the ties of fidelity. No doubt there will be a range of opinion as to its depth and quality. With its overlay of philosophical commentary, it is a particularly French piece. It is also very French in the frank way it addresses sexual issues. The BBFC is in no doubt that Romance is a serious work. It contains, however, a few scenes which include quite explicit sexual imagery. The Board's relevant test of acceptability for '18' certification is set out in its published Guidelines: "Images of real sex will usually be brief and must be justified by context". In Romance , the most explicit portrayal of sexual intercourse is avoided. But there are occasional strong images of male genitalia of which the strongest is set within a 'safe sex' context. Other shots are generally brief; no content in this film is as problematic as the hard-core porn sequence in another recent French film Seul Contre Tous which the Board required be made less explicit. The BBFC was also concerned about scenes of bondage in Romance . The sequences, however, avoid any violence or non-consensual element and are notable for the sensitivity and concern of the principal male character. As with the other sexual imagery, the scenes did not breach the limits set by the Guidelines for classification for adult audiences only.
31st July

 Taquilla 24 hour Hardcore

It appears that two 24 hour hardcore channels are available on the Spanish digital package Taquilla. This is broadcast from the Astra 1 satellite and requires a Mediaguard (seca) decoder. (CAMS are available).

Torrid TV, (previously Eurotica Rendez-Vous) will move to its new analogue Hot Bird 5 transponder at 11.010 GHz H, on the 4th August .

28th July

 The R18 Appeal

Thanks to Shaun Hollingworth for sitting in and reporting on the the R18 video appea l.

The Video Appeals Committee have now heard all the evidence and will produce a written report of their verdict within the next three weeks.

The whole affair has certainly highlighted some very dubious attitudes from Robin Duval. The case seemed to confirm a general acceptance from all sides that adult consensaul porn is no longer to be considered to be obscene. Yet still Duval insists that his personal views that all porn should be set above the law, The Video Recording Act says that R18 material should only be limited by the laws of the land, notably the Obscene Publications Act. Sleaze springs to mind.

24th July

 ABsolutely Fabulous Porn

There are reports that ABsat, multi-channel digital package on Hot Bird, are distributing smartcards for the UK market.  In particular this includes the popular & high quality hardcore channel XXL. ABsat maybe looking to the UK as UK sales of hardcore porn channel subscriptions are said to be the highest in Europe probably because video outlets for hardcore are limited to the big cities.

Amore TV have appeared to have made a bit of a cock-up over their rebranding from the previously proscribed Eros TV. Mediasat have stopped issuing Amore subscriptions after it was discovered that the UK government are looking into the legalities of the channel. Amore TV was formed to continue UK sales after the government proscribed Eros TV. However, the channel still broadcasts under the branding of Eros TV, without any mention of the brand name Amore.

23rd July

 Sex Appeal

The Video Appeals Committee is meeting on 27th July to decide whether the BBFC were right to reject seven adult R18 videos after the distributors refused to apply cuts.

The meeting is open to the public and the secretary, Derek Mills (who can be contacted through the BBFC on 0207 439 7961), would welcome anyone who has strong feelings on the subject. He is extremely keen for the meeting to receive as much publicity as possible and, given that their decision is likely to have significant repercussions (especially if they find against the BBFC), this ought to get significant media coverage.

The appeal which will take place on Tuesday 27th and Wednesday 28th July at the Soho Centre for Health and Care (1 Frith Street, Soho) between 10:30 am and 5pm (possibly finishing earlier on Wednesday).

21st July

 Babylon Not So Blue

Another soft porn satellite channel, Babylon Blue, has started at 12.597GHz/Vertical in clear digital format on Hot Bird 5 at 13şE using PIDs 0161/0084.

(I am surprised there is any market in harcore cut down to ludicrous UK standards . Why do people pay to watch closeups of girls foreheads bobbing up and down? Is there anything but intense irritation in being denied the action by a strategically placed pot plant?)

20th July

 Amore Analogue Porn

Amore TV, the satellite hardcore channel, resumed their D2-Mac service recently from the W2 satellite at 16şE, 11.178 GHz Vertical. All valid Eros TV smartcards are working and  an extra three months viewing will be added to compensate for the loss of service. Amore TV have apparently made a long term booking for the transponder

17th July

 Rough Justice

A fair few videos previously branded as 'nasties' are currently passing through the BBFC with some slightly unxepected side effects. It appears that for some examples, the BBFC found no reason to demand cuts but have found themselves overruled by the DPP.

For example, Dave Gregory of the Exploited label, found that Mike Bor from the BBFC did not have a problem passing California Axe Massacre a.k.a. Axe uncut . But the DPP  said the film would still be prosecutable as obscene, therefore one nominal cut was necessary to make it legal. It seems that any video successfully prosecuted under obscenity law then maintains that obscenity tag for at least 10 years.

The initial thinking behind this stupidity is that if a court finds a video obscene then that's the end of it. However a little more thought reveals a more believable reasoning. The DPP are surely forcing the BBFC to make cuts to ensure that those unfortunate enough to have been wrongly prosecuted for California Axe Massacre cannot now declare themselves innocent and demand compensation.

Tenebrae and Zombie Flesh Eaters are other examples of videos caught up in this dodgy circle of rough justice.

17th July

 Ritual Bigotry in Manchester

The Manchester Evening News is working itself into a frenzy about a new Playstation game, Silent Hill by Konami of Japan.  It is said to be a deeply disturbing, psychological horror experience. It will have a voluntary 15-plus age rating.

Konami's press release admits the game contains scenes of child kidnap, demon personification and ritual ceremonies. The Manchester Evening News have personified the game as a social demon and entered into a ritual bigoted censorial ceremony. They found that the BBFC have not seen Silent Hill and according to the paper, a twist in the law means that video games are exempt unless they portray human sexual acts, genitalia, gross violence or criminal activity likely to encourage crime.

The body that decides whether PlayStation games need referring is the Video Standards Council set up by the games industry and operating under a voluntary code. The shameful Wythenshawe MP, Paul Goggins "deplored" the company's tactics in trying to boost sales in a morbid way. He will ask Home Secretary Jackboots Straw what action he could take to prevent or restrict sales.

David Johnston, for the Church of England in Manchester, said: It is very sad that this company is marketing its product by advertising it as depraved. If it is as bad as they say it is there should be some legal protection to stop it falling into the hands of children. There is evidence that both children and adults are badly affected by these sick products (that's right, some video games players turn out like John Beyer or JackBoots Straw). John Beyer, director of the National Viewers and Listeners Association, said parents must resist demands from their children for such games: If they are concerned about what their children are doing on computers they should be taking it up with their MPs and the game manufacturers. There is a lot of concern, but many parents are illiterate when it comes to computers, and something must be done in terms of regulations or law so that this sort of material doesn't get on the market."

16th July

 Worthless Annual Report

Complaints about sex on TV rose by 60 per cent last year according to the annual report by the worthless BSC. These complaints represent nearly a quarter of all viewers' concerns.

The first episode of Channel 4's Queer As Folk picked up the most complaints for a single programme with 110 viewers unhappy with the show. But as a series, BBC1's The Lakes attracted the most gripes with 150 objections from the public. Other individual programmes with large numbers of complaints included the Kate Winslet film Jude with 35, and a South Bank Show edition about choreographer Javier De Frutos with 32. Objections were not just about portrayals of sex in drama, but also about talk of sex in daytime confessional shows, documentaries and the news (eg Clinton & Lewinsky).

Complaints generally went up by 37 per cent in 1998-99. Bad taste still causes the most problems, representing 44 per cent of objections. The BSC acted on 693 complaints about sex in the year up to 31 March - out of 2,994 standards complaints altogether. The proportion of people complaining about bad language fell slightly - 14% to 13% - as did those for violence, from 26% to 15%.

(I think censors should be a little more honest with their reporting and their skewing of perspective. and perhaps the article ought to have read:

Complaints about sex on TV rose by 60 per cent last year possibly due to a 120% increase in the number of sex related programmes.

The first episode of Channel 4's Queer As Folk picked up the most complaints for a single programme with 110 viewers unhappy with the show compared with 1.1 million who apparently enjoyed it. As a series, BBC1's The Lakes attracted the most gripes with 150 objections from the public out of a total viewing of 15 million. Other individual programmes with large numbers of complaints included the Kate Winslet film Jude with 35 (enjoyed by 3.5 million), and a South Bank Show edition about choreographer Javier De Frutos with 32 (enjoyed by 3.2 million).

The BSC received 2,994 standards complaints altogether. A rough estimate of programmes watched without complaint in the same period is 2 per person per night = 40 billion)

13th July

 Premier Censorship

A high court ruling in the UK has made pirate cards containing Canal+ Norway illegal, the ruling also makes it illegal within the UK to supply code update information, including public domain software, or to supply PCBs or wafer cards that can be programmed with the channel. Any dealers who continue to supply unofficial Canal+ smartcards or update information within the UK, can now be charged on "conspiracy to defraud the Premier League", according to the court's ruling. Premier League bosses have been aggressively seeking a solution to stamp-out piracy of the channel's live coverage of Saturday afternoon Premier League games for over 2 years.

11th July

 Romance Vandalised

According to today's Sunday Times, the BBFC is to seek cuts in Romance . By all critical accounts, they will be vandalising a masterpiece.

The BBFC are most concerned about a violent sado-masochist scene and another episode set in a brothel, where male prostitutes have sex with women. A scene where a "stud", played by Rocco Siffredi, an Italian porn star, is seen with his penis erect has also raised the censor's eyebrows. It is expected that this scene will need some cutting. If there are cuts which change the nature of the film, we might argue says Kevin Wilkinson, of Romance's British distributors, Bluelight.

Romance, which will be shown at next month's Edinburgh Film Festival before going on release in October.

The art house hardcore problem for the BBFC has not yet run out of steam, Guillaume Depardieu and Katerina Golubeva are said to be in hardcore action in Carax's Pola X. Unfortunately, the film is said to lack sufficient artistic merit to embarass our censors into leaving it alone.

11th July

 Libellous Censorship

The ISP, Demon, have been having a bit of a hard time recently. They were the innocent victim a libel claim from the dubious Laurence Godfrey. The only link to Demon was that the supposed offence was made via Usenet which then found its way on to Demon's server. Things have got worse for Demon as they now feel that they must remove even articles that link to the supposedly offensive piece on other news servers. This has meant suspension of their own customers accounts. It doesn't say much for British justice when people are blamed for libel who have nothing to do with the writing and have  no practical control over content.

Demon made the following statement under the constraints of commenting upon an ongoing court case.

The Judgements

Dr Laurence Godfrey served a writ on Demon in January 1998; since then the case has progressed as normal. In advance of the full trial, judgements on preliminary points have been given by the Hon Mr Justice Morland. Information about recent court judgements of general public interest may be found at www.courtservice.gov.uk .

Demon's defence included the contention that they were not at common law the publishers of the Usenet posting defamatory of the Plaintiff. And that even if they were, there is material upon which they can avail themselves of the defence provided by Section 1 of the Defamation Act 1996, a modern equivalent of the common law defence of innocent dissemination .

The judge concluded that: In my judgement the defamatory posting was published by the Defendants and, as from the 17th January 1997 they knew of the defamatory content of the posting, they cannot avail themselves of the protection provided by Section 1 of the Defamation Act 1996...

The judge's conclusion means that the law at present says that once a defamatory article is known to an ISP, unless the article is removed from the ISP's servers, then the ISP becomes liable as a knowing publisher of the article. Like it or not, this is the state of the law in England & Wales at present.

On 26 March 1999 Demon issued a statement: The ruling, if not reversed on appeal, will have a widespread impact on the whole Internet industry and its users in all areas including freedom of expression and electronic trading. Complainants may be able to force ISPs to police and censor any item of information on their servers. The way is opened for scurrilous and unsubstantiated claims that would undoubtedly curb the freedom of speech by Internet users.

Recent Problems in News

In late May a small number of Demon users posted articles which contained a URL for an article stored in the US-based Deja News archive of Usenet articles. A few posted the URL directly, others managed to do so by quoting a previous article. The referenced article on Deja News quoted the text which is at the centre of the court action mounted against Demon by Dr Godfrey.

These articles came to Demon's attention. It is our legal advisors' opinion, obtained at no small expense, that a reference to defamatory material itself may in some circumstances be a form of publication.

This may appear unbelievable, but we believe our advisors and we believe it to be the case.

We have seen it suggested, by people who are apparently not experts, that because the World Wide Web contains a dense mesh of references, then almost any URL might eventually lead to something defamatory, and so (in a reducto ad absurdum argument) almost any URL must be defamatory. This misses the point. Whether a given reference was defamatory would be a matter of fact for a jury to determine. In making that determination the jury would have to consider what was in the reader's mind when they saw the reference. What a jury would make of any given reference is hard to say, but lawyers are paid to be experts on a jury's likely view.

In the context of an ongoing case Demon felt it was prudent to act swiftly and thoroughly. Following Mr Justice Morland's ruling, prudence meant, to our regret, deleting these articles from the Demon servers as and when they came to our notice.

Note that in doing this Demon makes no statement about whether the articles removed were or were not in fact defamatory.

Suspending News Posting Access

Unfortunately, in the context of the ongoing case, simply removing the articles (as regrettable as that was) might not fully cover Demon. There might be a risk of related articles being posted by the same customer.

To be entirely sure that its position was not compromised, inadvertently or otherwise, Demon decided to temporarily suspend access to News article posting for all dial-up accounts controlled by those customers whose articles we had deleted from our servers.

The final piece of the puzzle was a means for Demon to be reasonably assured that each customer would post no further articles likely to require removal. A formal undertaking was prepared and sent to the customers in question asking that they do not post any defamatory material in future. On receipt of that undertaking access to News posting would be re-enabled.

The undertaking requested that the customer confirm that they understood: the consequences of posting defamatory material; the liability they might have and the liability that Demon might have if they did so; and, finally, that should they breach this undertaking, Demon could seek to recover costs incurred following such breach.

Understanding that the affected customers were less than happy with our scrupulously cautious approach to the matter, we took steps to contact each by phone to explain the position and to express our regret at the particular circumstances of the ongoing case.

Note, again, that in doing this Demon makes no judgement about whether the original articles removed were or were not in fact defamatory.

The Current Position

Some of the customers who were asked for an undertaking, signed it and were reinstated. Others were unable to do so.

Prudence continues to dictate that Demon reasonably assures itself that the risk of further potentially problematic articles, related to the ongoing case, is minimised.

Demon deeply regrets the course recent events have taken and that any of these actions proved necessary.

The state of the law places the ISP in an invidious position of either risking liability over matters it has no interest in or understanding of, or having to err on the side of safety and remove articles which come to its notice.

The result is neither satisfactory for Demon, nor for its customers.

State of the Godfrey Case

Demon Internet continues its campaign in the interests of Internet users to ensure freedom of speech and an appropriate legal framework.

Demon has decided not to appeal Mr. Justice Morland's conclusion (paraphrasing) that whenever a subscriber accesses a defamatory statement in a newsgroup the ISP is legally a publisher of that defamatory statement.

A number of recent reports mistakenly interpreted this decision as the conclusion to the libel case brought by Laurence Godfrey against Demon. No conclusion in the case has been reached. Demon Internet continues to fight the case, and is confident of winning it.

The coming Electronic Commerce Bill and the EU Directive on Electronic Commerce will both touch on this issue. In this context, an appeal of the basis of the current law would not be useful:

  1. were the appeal to fail then:
    a. the current 'First Instance' decision, which is not binding on courts at the same level or on higher courts (leaving the way open for other Judges to take a different view in future), would be replaced by a stronger Appeal Court decision.
    b. not only would this be unhelpful generally, by discouraging Judges from examining the individual circumstances of other cases, but it could adversely affect both the Bill and the EU Directive.
  2. were the appeal to succeed, then the effect could be short lived as the precedent is overtaken by specific provisions in the Bill and the EU Directive.

Demon believes that the best way to fight the issue is not to appeal now, but to lobby for appropriate measures in the coming legislation.

It must be noted, with some regret, that the current form of the coming legislation seems to follow the position taken by Mr. Justice Morland. Demon encourages all interested parties to lobby their MPs and their MEPs to consider these issues far more deeply, and to enact a more appropriate legal framework. Indeed, with the European Elections just behind us, now might be a good time to influence your new MEP.

10th July

 ID OD

A Millwall supporter who worked himself up into a murderous frenzy while watching a violent film on football hooliganism, was jailed for life for battering to death a houseguest with a baseball bat.

Keith Hargreaves, who was found guilty of murder, calimed that the film ID so stirred his blood that it made him feel like a teenager on the terraces again. He told an Old Bailey jury that in his excitement, he pulled out a baseball bat from its hiding place in a cupboard in his daughter's home in Dulwich and began waving it around his head as he joined in a chant from the film about attacking rival fans with baseball bats. He sang the chant to the jury. Hit 'em on the head, hit 'em on the head with a baseball bat, oh yeah, oh yeah,

6th July

 A Clear View of Satellite Porn

Venus TV the porn advertising channel at 11.001 GHz vertical, Hotbird, have again been screening hardcore material in clear pal. The channel has screened hardcore material, mainly at the weekends in a deliberate attempt to boost its viewing figures, in order to increase the number of calls to its advertisers erotic phone line services, which at present are said to be extremely low. (Even I waver a bit on the merits of this tactic)

A new nightly softcore service has recently launched on the Sky Digital platform. Broadcasting three 18 rated movies per night, Midnight Blue is available on EPG 980. Subscriptions for the service are priced at £5 per month. (Why on Earth would anyone want pay even 5p for sexless 18 rated videos when there plenty of proper services on satellite).

6th July

 Censors Tighten Rules On Sex Videos

The Independent recently carried an article showing that the BBFC are goind to fight their case in the upcoming R18 appeal on the grounds of harm to children rather than obscenity.

The article is posted in the BBFC & R18 section

5th July

 Progress at the Board

Passes:

  • Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre passed uncut on video at 18
  • 3 on a MeatHook : passed 18 for video on the Exploited Label
  • The Idiots : passed 18 uncut for video complete with hardcore. I wonder if the formal certification has been delayed until after the R18 appeal

Failures:

  • Tenebrae passed 18 for video after about 5s of cuts. The DPP were consulted on this due to recent prosecutions. The DPP reckoned that there were still prosecutable scenes in the film. This is the version that will be shown on FilmFour soon.
  • Zombie Fleash Eaters was submitted in uncut format and has been passed 18 for video after 24s of cuts. The zombie eating and the famed eye-splinter scene were the casualties but they suffered slighty less than in the previous version.
  • Death Wish finally passed for video but suffered 26s of cuts

Under Consideration:

  • The Texas Chain Saw Massacre has been submitted for video by Blue Dolphin. The word is that it should go through
  • California Axe Massacre . Another nasty for review and looks certain to sustain a few minor cuts.
  • Romance : Another fine art film with hardcore material including an ejaculation, currrently the cinema version is under consideration.
  • Last House on the Left . Will be cut for a cinema 18 certificate
5th July

 Pigs Dog Dog Site

Police in the UK are claiming a major victory in their fight against Internet pornography after a judge ruled that the content of American Websites can come under British jurisdiction.

A 28-year-old businessman, Graham Waddon, pleaded guilty to running the UK's largest Internet porn operation after Judge Christopher Hardy made the landmark ruling at Southwark Crown Court.

Waddon had set up a series of Websites in the US portraying extreme pornography, with names such as Farmsex, Europerv and Schoolgirls-R'us. He ran the operation from his terraced house in Sutton, charging customers £25 a month for access to the sites. One site alone made him more than £1.5m in a year.

His defence argued that publication of the material was outside British jurisdiction. But the judge said publication took place in the UK when Waddon transmitted the material to the Websites and when police downloaded it. Waddon then admitted 11 sample counts of publishing obscene articles on the Net and one charge of possession of an obscene video featuring a dog. The case was adjourned until 30 July for pre-sentence and medical reports.

PC Neal Ysart of the Obscene Publications and Internet Unit said afterwards: This was the biggest Internet porn operation busted so far in the UK, and one of the largest in the world. Waddon deliberately set up his Website in America ... hoping that would shield him from prosecution in this country. But the judge's findings mean he and others like him who try to avoid prosecution by placing this material abroad are making a big mistake. They will be prosecuted. As far as we are concerned, this was a test case. This is a major victory. If we had failed to get the ruling that we got today it would have opened up the floodgates, not only for Internet pornography, but for anyone using the Internet for crime. It has massive implications for the fight against crime of all sorts.

Alistair Kelman, a barrister specialising in Internet law, agreed that a precedent had been set. It is of great significance in relation to the prosecution of pornographic material on the Web and I've no doubt this case will be followed in similar circumstances. I don't think it would be creating a precedent in terms of copyright infringement and also in cases where the chain of custody is essential for proof of dishonesty - that is, looking at date and time stamps to link things together.

30th June

  For UK Eyes Only

US audiences will see a censored version of Eyes Wide Shut whereas the rest of the world will see the complete version (BBFC willing). Director Stanley Kubrick edited the movie, starring Australian Nicole Kidman and her husband Tom Cruise, to get round the American censors. He digitally added figures to hide the most sexually explicit 65 seconds of the film

The late director was determined to get an R rating for his psycho-sexual thriller according to the film's producer, Jan Harlan. The restricted rating would enable it to be seen by an audience of 17 and above, and under-17s accompanied by an adult.

30th June

 Amore & Better Porn

Amore TV, the European hardcore satellite channel, have announced another date for the resumption of their D2-Mac service. They will resume in D2-Mac on the 1st July from Eros TV's former 16şE transponder at 11.178 GHz vertival. Amore have made many similar promises prior to this announcement which were not entirely accurate though. Cards for the cahannel are now on sale.

Also confirmed by Amore is its batch of new films, including titles from the Channel Bizarre library. The channel is expected to screen these films throughout the summer, back-to-back, in an attempt to diminish its present bad reputation. Amore TV's new film labels include: Channel Bizarre's Teeny Vision and Magma, plus many high-budget American labels.

The Italian hardcore satellite channel, SCT, has recently terminated its Viaccess encrypted service from Hot Bird 3 at 12.303 GHz vertical.  This is leading up to a transponder move to 12.092 GHz horizontal. In order to accommodate encryption and broadcast changes all SCT's Viaccess subscribers will have to obtain replacement cards.

27th June  Panel Games

The shameful David Alton conceived the idea of a panel of experts in children's affairs. The thinking at the time was that the panel would be on average, a pretty censorial bunch and hence push to ban and cut an awful lot more films. The idea foundered due to impracticality, but Alton lobbied Whittam Smith into setting one up anyway. No doubt their influence will be far less than originally intended by Alton but we will have to see. The BBFC issued the following press statement on the subject: ADVISORY PANEL ON CHILDREN'S VIEWING The British Board of Film Classification is pleased to announce the names of the members of this new advisory panel. Twelve panellists have been chosen from nearly 500 applicants. The purpose of the Panel is to monitor the BBFC in the important work of classifying videos (not films) with the interests of children in mind. The Panel will also be asked to advise the BBFC on any relevant matter and in particular when difficult matters of policy arise. It will have the right to make representations at any time. It will meet three times a year. The first meeting of the Panel will take place in London on 14th July 1999. The panellists have been chosen from a variety of backgrounds and are named below:- Floella Benjamin - Children's TV Presenter
Karen Johnson - Children's TV Producer (BBC)
Dr Sue Krasner - Chartered Clinical Psychologist
Winnie Lacey - Senior Social Worker
Frances Lennox - Crown Prosecutor
Alexander Paterson - Principal of a Residential School
Elsbeth Rea - Independent Social Work Trainer
John Retallack - Freelance Theatre Director
Naomi Rich - Former Primary School Teacher/Education Adviser
Lewis Rudd - Former Head of Children's Programmes (ITV)
Professor Jack Sanger - Director, Centre for Educational Policy & Leadership
David Simpson - Stipendiary Magistrate
This is a very important and interesting initiative. The British Board of Film Classification looks forward to working with the Panel and deriving substantial benefit from its advice and opinion.

26th June

 Censorship: The Scourge that Wouldn't Die

Bare Fist: The Sport that Wouldn't Die has again been rejected by the BBFC. The video had previously been rejected in 1996. The BBFC did offer a list of cuts but the distributors chose not to take up the offer.

So as we approach the middle of the year, the dishonestly self-styled 'classifiers' have banned 9 videos.

The BBFC issued the following justification for their ban. The main consideration for the Board was the question of harm. In short, does the work have the potential for anti- social influence? The video is concerned with the illegal sport of bare-knuckle fighting. To the extent that it sets out to make a reasoned case for legalising the sport, the Board has in principle no basis for concern. However, the video also includes a number of lengthy sequences of illegal fighting as well as instruction in achieving lethal effects (notably how to lace bandaged fists with glass fragments and other sharp material). These have the effect of promoting gross violence and selling its pleasures. The extent of the use of the illegal fighting sequences also far outstrips any reasonable justification based on the need to make a case for legalisation. Over a period of time, the Board has made a number of recommendations to the video's producer. These have been designed to allow the work to make a legitimate argument on behalf of bare-knuckle fighting, while reducing (and in extreme cases, removing) those elements which are directly promotional of illegal or harmful activity. The producer has been unable to accept the Board's proposals. The video, in its present form, is therefore not suitable for classification.

23rd June

 Chucking Up in Leeds

Verbal diarrhoea captured  in a Yorkshire Post  article by Tony Earnshaw.

The American horror movie Bride of Chucky will be vetted tomorrow at a private screening in Leeds by councillors who fear its content may not be appropriate for local audiences. It is the fourth in the Child's Play series, which hit the headlines after the murder of Merseyside toddler James Bulger in 1993.

Experts have discounted the theory that the killing was inspired by events in Child's Play 3, which features a demonic doll named Chucky, but Leeds licensing committee chairman, the shameful Lorna Cohen, felt councillors should vet the film themselves, even though it had been given an 18 certificate by the BBFC. The film, which should have received a nationwide release on Friday, was subsequently pulled from the schedules of some Leeds cinemas until the committee could see it and clear it for public viewing in the city.

London-based distributor Metrodome greeted the move with disbelief. It said it had researched the Bulger issue fully and found no link between the previous film and the murder. Managing director Rupert Preston said the film was merely a good comedy horror which major cinema circuits had had no problems with showing. Last night Cohen defended her decision to reconsider Bride of Chucky and said it was unlikely, given the council's record - it has only banned one movie, The Life of Brian , in the past 20 years - that the film would be prevented from being screened.

But while local authorities had the powers to ban films from being shown Leeds would exercise its right to act as a moral watchdog, she said. What I don't like about this Chucky business is that they are using a toy and turning it into a little monster. I find the whole thing very depressing, The real question is why these type of films have to be made. Have they got no morals, or is making money the only thing they are interested in? Distributors are "exploitative, They deliberately create a market. I don't believe that people are so sick in their minds that there is a market. I think somebody has to make a stand and say 'What do you think you are doing?' Cohen said she could not understand why people made movies like Bride of Chucky or how they attracted audiences. Instead she cited Schindler's List as an example of a "good" film and said movies should contain a good story, social message and should contribute to society "in a meaningful way". Although she had not yet seen the film, she dismissed Bride of Chucky , which stars Oscar nominee Jennifer Tilly, as "crap". What does this kind of film prove? We have created a sick society and we are just pandering to that sick society, she added. She denied that she and members of her committee were interfering in people's freedom of choice and said that just because the BBFC had cleared the movie it would not necessarily be seen in Leeds.

22nd June

 Coming Together

Playboy TV and The Adult Channel have announced that their services will be merged from 1st July. The Adult Channel will take upon a new image, combining content from both Playboy TV and The Adult Channel.  Playboy TV in it's current format will cease and subscriptions will be transfered to The Adult Channel

Playboy TV has announced a new movie service, to take-over the cable exclusive Home Video Channel (HVC) - which will also cease transmissions at the end of June 1999. The new cable channel from Playboy will broadcast from 8pm until midnight.

20th June

 Orange Free State No More

From the Sunday Times

A Clockwork Orange is set for a return to British cinemas 27 years after it was removed amid claims that the rapes and violence it depicted were prompting copycat attacks. Warner Brothers is planning a national cinema release next spring, following the death earlier this year of its director, Stanley Kubrick, who effectively banned his own movie.

Executives at Warners have recently discussed the commercial and ethical issues surrounding the re-release. The film's notoriety is likely to guarantee box-office success and there are signs that representatives of Kubrick's estate are willing to reopen the issue. The company is, however, eager to avoid a public controversy which might detract from the release this summer of Kubrick's final film, Eyes Wide Shut, starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. This weekend Warners declined to comment.

The film was given an X certificate on its original release and would be almost certain to receive an 18 certificate, from the BBFC if it were distributed again. A Clockwork Orange has been unobtainable in Britain since 1973, when Kubrick ordered Warner Brothers to remove it from cinemas after a run of 61 weeks. He never explained his reasons, but it remains available in Europe and America.

18th June

 Shagged Out

Odeon and ABC cinemas have decided to censor the title of Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. Instead they will advertise it outside their cinemas as Austin Powers 2.

14th June

 Hardcore Justice

A judge told three dealers in pornographic films yesterday that he had seen far worse sexual exhibitionism on television.

Judge Richard Benson, 55, said: I have to ask myself, having looked at that video, if this is the best you can do . He said he had been more distressed after seeing Channel 5's late-night programme A Thong for Europe. Judge Benson, who watched a compilation of scenes from the tapes, said they did not contain acts involving children, sadism or animals. He said: In terms of obscenity this is only a tiny bit obscene. Maybe in another time or another place - and that time would be some years ago - this material would have been regarded as obscene within the legal meaning of the word. But in recent times the boundaries of what is publicly acceptable have been pushed back.

He gave 18-month conditional discharges to the defendants who admitted publishing obscene material. They were arrested when police raided a house in Sneinton, Nottingham, last December and seized hundreds of videos,

John Beyer, director of the National Viewers' and Listeners' Association, said: Cases like this establish new boundaries of acceptability that have national repercussions. (For once I agree!!!) The police and the Crown Prosecution Service must have spent a lot of time preparing this case and taking it to court because they felt the material was obscene. If a judge then says this material is no worse that what is seen on television then clearly we need to clean up television.

(Good timing this story. It should provide some evidence that adult consensual hardcore is no longer considered obscene in law. Perhaps it will help in next month's R18 appeal).

3rd June

 Straw Dogs Banned

Straw Dogs was effectively killed off a while back but a second distributor, VCI,  was given the option of accepting an emasculating list of cuts. VCI have refused the cuts and so the video is banned. The BBFC have issued a press release to justify their position: Straw Dogs : The BBFC has refused a certificate for a video version of this 1971 film. As the authority designated by Parliament with the responsibility for classifying videos under the Video Recordings Act 1984, the Board must determine whether or not a video is suitable for a classification certificate to be issued to it, having special regard to the likelihood of video works being viewed in the home. In making this decision, the Board must also have special regard, amongst other relevant factors, to any harm that may be caused to potential viewers or, through their behaviour, to society because of the manner in which the work deals with criminal behaviour, illegal drugs, violence, horror or sex. The Board has carefully reconsidered the recently submitted video version of Straw Dogs in the light of the legal tests. It has over the years in this context expressed concern about images which bring sex and violence together. The BBFC Guidelines for Classifying Films and Videos (recently republished in the Board's Annual Report for 1998) identify sexually violent material as potentially harmful. The Guidelines explain that the Board is stricter with scenes of sexual violence on video than film, because of their potential to be played over and over at home. Sexual violence may only be shown providing the scenes do not offer sexual thrills. These considerations are particularly relevant to the sequences in Straw Dogs in which the character Amy is raped by her ex-lover, Charlie and subsequently by his friend. There are a number of difficulties here. The first is the fact that the rapes are clearly effected by violence and the threat of violence. The second is the extent of the erotic content, notably Amy's forcible stripping and nudity. The third element of concern is the clear indication that Amy comes to enjoy being raped. It is Board policy not to condone material which endorses the well-known male rape myth that 'women like it really'. The Board concluded that the video was potentially harmful because of the influence it may have on the attitudes and behaviour of a significant proportion of its likely viewers. It recognised that, unlike many films of a similar age whose power has diminished with the years, the rape scene in Straw Dogs retains most if not all of its power today. The issue of sexual violence in the meantime has become one, if anything, of greater concern for the Board than 20 or 30 years ago. The Board considered the possibility of cuts as a reasonable remedy. The distributor of Straw Dogs, Video Collection International, was offered the option of making substantial cuts to the rape sequences (principally to remove the forcible nudity and the indications of pleasure at being raped) to permit an '18' certificate. It has chosen not to take up this option. The video, in its present form, is therefore not suitable for classification.

It strikes me that the underlying dishonest wording of such press releases is so distracting that I found I couldn't even be bothered to listen to what they were trying to say. Substitution of 'not suitable for classification' for 'banned' and 'classifying' for 'censoring' makes the authors sound like politicians trying to justify the poll tax... and their message gets about equal respect.

I cannot believe that the BBFC (or more likely, its political wing) could think that a mere video could influence the attitudes and behaviour of a significant proportion of its likely viewers. They must have a pretty low respect for the responsibility of the British people.

Straw Dogs is widely available throughout the civilised world. The best bet at the moment is the US unrated version available on video and DVD (as opposed to the toned-down R rated version that was submitted to the BBFC)

31st May

  A New Era of Liberalism or Just a Romantic Notion?

Based on an article by Neil Mackay from the Sunday Herald

The release of the first hardcore porn movie into mainstream British cinemas is heralding a new era of liberalism within the traditionally conservative BBFC. Director Robin Duval said that Romance , an explicit arthouse movie by cult French director Catherine Breillat, would be the first ever to go on release in British cinema's with the little-used R18 certificate - a classification only reserved for hardcore porn movies. Duval also said that Britain was moving towards a more European acceptance of movie sex and violence, and Britain's chief censor added that he would ideally prefer to see no censorship of films in the UK. (This must be surely the most shameful of statements for a while: I dont believe in censorship but... I have banned, A Cat in the Brain , Banned from Television, The Classic Films of Irving Klaw: Vol 1, Miss Nude International, Nympho Nurse Nancy, Straw Dogs, TV Sex, and Wet Nurses 2 so far this year and cut dozens of others)

The film Romance contains scenes of sexual penetration, oral sex, ejaculation and bondage. Universally recognised as the most sexually explicit film ever made, one of the lead characters in Romance is the Italian porn star Rocco Siffredi who has appeared in more than 100 porn films. Duval claimed that some movies, dealing with sex and violence, could be released into arthouse cinemas uncut because they appeal to a minority audience, perhaps just catering to fans of French film. One such decision involved Seul Contre Tous ( but it was cut ) , another French movie containing pornography, violence and racism. If the same content was in a film which had a broad appeal like Star Wars, then it would have to be heavily censored Duval added. This is not elitist, or about it being okay for the intelligentsia to watch sex and violence but prohibiting it for the ordinary man in the street. It is a question of knowing that a particular audience will watch the film and not be offended. (So why is Duval contesting the hardcore R18 video releases? A customer in a sex shop is hardly likely to be offended).

Plans to release Romance , now being viewed by BBFC classifiers, as a certificate R18 come amidst a massive sea-change in the
attitudes of the Board. The new era of liberalism is being attributed to the appointment of Duval as the new BBFC director.

(I can only reckon that the 'new era of liberalism' is being attributed to their new found fondness for PR. I find it hard to believe that the BBFC could sanction hardcore in this film without shooting themselves in the foot over their continued contesting of the R18 video appeals.

By all accounts, Romance is a masterpiece and it would be someone with a callous appreciation of art that would inflict cuts).

27th May

 UK will be Granted Human Rights Next Century

JackBoots Straw has announced that the Human Rights Act will be brought fully into force on Monday 2 October 2000.

From that date people who believe their human rights have been violated by public authorities (which they most certainly have) will be able to have their case judged in UK courts rather than facing the cost and delay of taking their case to Strasbourg.

The Act meets the Government's manifesto commitment to incorporate rights and freedoms guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) into United Kingdom law. (Unfortunately what this Government giveth, they taketh away in abundance)

Straw said: These are new rights for the new millennium. The Human Rights Act is a cornerstone of our work to modernise the constitution. It is one of the most important pieces of constitutional legislation the UK has seen. Preparations for implementation of the Act are well underway but considerable work is needed before we can bring the main provisions of the Act into force. We have now concluded that we will be ready to implement the Act in October 2000. But "Human Rights Day" - 2 October 2000 -should not be seen as a field day for lawyers. It will mark instead, a major step-change in the creation of a culture of rights and responsibilities in our society. The Human Rights Act is a two way street. Rights flow from duties - not the other way round. One person's freedom is another person's responsibility. And the Convention - and the Act - contains many rights which have carefully to be balanced, one with another. (A classic I believe in freedom but unfortunately you are not responsible enough to have any)

(Strange that the last 3 countries to incorporate the 1951 treaty into domestic law are Norway, Ireland and the UK. The only 3 European countries that try to ban their citizens from watching porn).

16th May

 I Spy a D-Notice

The recent internet exposure of the list of MI6 agents must have set a few people thinking. The old censorship system of controlling the press via D-Notices   used to work well. There were relatively few players and each could be held to account. It is not so easy with the internet. I spotted the following D Notice on usenet and somehow I can't really see that it would have much controlling influence and indeed this proved the case.

Given the potentially serious consequences of the exposure of the names, it will be interesting (and a little worrying) to see what the Government can come up with to prevent future reoccurrence.

FOR THE ATTENTION OF ALL EDITORS FROM SECRETARY DEFENCE, PRESS & BROADCASTING ADVISORY COMMITTEE I understand that a US-based website has today published on the internet a list which identifies a large number of SIS (MI6) officers. Defence Advisory Notice No 6 asks editors and programme makers to seek advice before publishing such details unless they have been widely disclosed or discussed as such action could put lives at risk. Departmental officers are examining how the damage of this disclosure can be minimised. While this is in progress, I would ask that editors do not interpret the information in the website as being widely disclosed and do not, therefore, publish the address or the content of the website without first contacting the D Notice Secretary, Rear Admiral David Pulvertaft

15th May

 Appealing Against Obscenity

For some time now JackBoots Straw has forced the BBFC into colluding with a corruption of British law. It now seems very improbable that adult consensual porn can be considered as likely to deprave and corrupt and its continued prohibition is surely illegal under the European Convention on Human Rights. Yet our repressive authorities continue to try and enforce the  personal views of Jackboots Straw, a misuse of power or what?

Anyway, a very important appeal is set for the 27th & 28th July. The Video Appeals Committee will hear the appeal of seven R18 submissions containing some hardcore material. Two companies, Sheptonhurst & Prime Time Promotions will put their case to the committee that has ultimate power over the BBFC.

I have posted further details from an excellent article in The Times .

14th May  Justifiable Violence

A study, entitled Defining Violence: The Search for Understanding summarised that viewers do not mind violence on TV as long as it is justified under the circumstances and that humour can play a large part in deciding whether violence is acceptable.

The study interviewed 96 people to analytically gauge levels of violence. It was commissioned by ITV, the BBC, BSkyB, Channel 5, the ITC and the BSC.

Scenes in which violence looked staged and unreal were rated as "violence with a little 'v'. A violent scene from Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction , in which a hitman played by John Travolta accidentally shoots and kills a man sitting in the back seat of a car, was ranked as "violence with a big V". Although they did not mind the killing in Pulp Fiction , some respondents did object to the swearing in the film. Researcher David Morrison, from the University of Leeds, said: The sense of humour de-centres it. Had it been shown without that humour, then it would be seen as being very violent.

The film which provoked the strongest reaction among most of the participants was a wife-beating scene in Ken Loach's drama Ladybird, Ladybird . It was ranked as "violence with a hyper V" - the strongest category of screen violence. The clip from Ladybird, Ladybird was judged shocking because it dealt with an important real-life subject. But despite this most viewers felt it was acceptable to be shown on television.

Phil Harding, the BBC's controller of editorial policy, said: This is actually useful research. For the first time it tells us in some detail how the viewers watch the programmes. It will enable us to make better informed decisions in the future about what we show, or what we don't show.

Sarah Thane, director of programmes at the ITC said: I don't think this in any way gives broadcasters carte blanche for increasing the overall amounts of violence.

13th May

 ITC Fail to See Sense

Bad news for FilmFour and TV viewers in general. The ITC's director of programmes, Sarah Thane, made it clear that the ITC was not ready to allow the film channel to have special permission to show films in their cinema versions rather than more censored video versions.

An ITC report on viewing habits also summarised the publics response to advertising. Only 12 per cent said they had ever been offended by an advert, even though offending adverts generate the most complaints to the ITC - 4,279 in the past year. As reported earlier, the Levi's jeans advert showing the death of a hamster brought the most complaints and was withdrawn.

A general feeling of excessive advertising will surely set back advertisers' campaigns to have the amount of advertising on terrestrial channels increased from seven minutes an hour to the satellite and cable level of nine minutes an hour.

On the subject of taste and decency, the ITC revealed that people are less offended by bad language, violence and sex on television than they used to be; 31% of respondents had been offended by something they saw, against 43% in 1996 and 37% last year. 41% of women claimed to have been offended, but only 21% of men.

The decline seemed to be mainly due to "better warnings" about potentially offensive material, says the ITC. It also praised the television companies for including less police, crime-oriented series and less overt violence in peak-time schedules, saying the view was based on impression rather than empirical evidence.

The report may also sound the death knell for campaigners for the "v-chip" installation into televisions. Of all parents aware of a similar "PIN-blocking" control on their televisions, only 20 per cent used it.

12th May

 Licence to Censor

I have heard rumours that JackBoots Straw is now taking on the entire licenced sex trade.

It seems that just over a year ago, Westminster council offered up 9 new sex shop licences. These were all applied for. However, 12 months later no one has heard back from the council regarding their applications, nor have any hearing dates been set. This appears to be due to the direct influence of Straw.

Overheard off-the-record comments from the Home Office suggest that: Straw regards licenced sex shops as a bad experiment that has failed and does not wish to see any more such licences issued. In the future Straw feels it would be better if sex shops licences were not renewed and the whole concept allowed to wither

If true this will have a pretty rapid effect as sex shops have to renew their licence yearly.

8th May

 Ranting Tabloids Inspired Student Killers

A judge said yesterday that two students who killed and dismembered their best friend had been so 'desensitised' by horror videos they no longer understood the enormity of killing another person .  As he passed sentence, the judge said he was unable to identify any motive for the 'barbaric' murder, although he suggested that rivalries within the so-called Brotherhood a militaristic survival gang the friends had formed may have led to it. The judge also highlighted the significance of violent, albeit mainstream videos found in the boys' rooms. Films like Scream and The Evil Dead fuelled their fantasies . Videos not recognisably extreme and designed to be seen for entertainment have, I have very little doubt from the synopses, served to fuel your fantasies and isolated you from conventional counter-balancing. They carried a potency that could not be readily predicted, and served to desensitise you and remove you from the enormity of killing another person by stabbing them.

The murder had echoes of certain of the videos. Scream depicts two high school students stabbing classmates. Children of the Corn opens with adults in a small-town cafe hacked to death by children. Shallow Grave depicts a dismemberment, while in The Evil Dead teenagers chop a zombie to pieces with an axe, carry it in a sheet and bury it in the woods. Charles Miskin, prosecuting, said: ' Everybody who has heard the evidence in this case would recognise the similarities between the mode of disposal of the body here and that description. ' (Talk of clutching at straws, you wouldn't have to watch many films to learn all the basic ways of killing and body disposal)

Detective Chief Inspector Dave Stevens, who led the investigation, said that although the videos were no different from dozens in high street shops, they had influenced Sayers and Wallis. The videos were pretty innocuous in one sense . They were not banned, they could be purchased in shops. But I suppose it was the context in which they were watched, what they did to the minds of the defendants. I think the judge summed it up extremely well: I think in the minds of these two boys, the videos and the power struggle within that group took on huge proportions, unrealistic proportions, and it ended up in this tragedy.

(Oh no not this bollox again!)

8th May

  Maybe Amore Analogue Porn

Amore TV (Previously Eros) have returned in analogue with a nightly test transmission from Sirius 2 at 11.725Ghz/H. This transponder is home to the transponder booking company, Teracom, so it looks as though Amore TV have made a booking with Teracom to provide their analogue test transmissions. Whether or not Amore TV plan to resume their D2-Mac service from this transponder is currently unknown.

4th May  Straw Dogs Defanged

A Sunday Times article by Richards Brooks was spotted enfusing at the release of Straw Dogs . Don't forget that the heavily cut R rated version was submitted in the first place. If you want to watch the film there is a much better unrated version available from the US on video and DVD.

It's been a video nasty for years. But now, I gather, Sam Peckinpah's Straw Dogs is set to go legit. The BBFC has agreed that the 1971 movie, which starred Dustin Hoffman and Susan George, can be sold and rented in video shops. There are strings, though. Three minutes of the infamous rape scene must come out.

The ball is now in the court of the distribution company, VCI. It can have its video certificate, but only if it agrees to the cut. After years of obfuscation, the BBFC is now taking sensible decisions, and explaining them, too. Its new president, Andreas Whittam Smith, is a breath of fresh air compared with his predecessor, Lord Harewood. And its even newer director, Robin Duval, who joined three months ago from the ITC, has none of the secretive nature of James Ferman, who ran the censor's office like a control freak.

Whittam Smith tells me that while he accepts Straw Dogs is violent, it deserves a video certificate. Yet the rape scene has to be cut because George's Amy Sumner gives the impression at the end of the assault that she has enjoyed it. The BBFC's new president has decided he will see at least one film a week. He will also be involved in all judgements about particularly sensitive movies and videos, such as the decision last month to give a video certificate to Driller Killer . He was extremely surprised (and rather gratified) that Todd Solondz's Happiness has not caused the fuss he and his BBFC colleagues expected. Here, after all, is a movie about abuse and incest. Unusual scenes, too, such as sperm flying around a room and landing on the floor, before being licked up by the family dog, which, in turn, goes and kisses mom.

Whittam Smith thought the Daily Mail would be horrified. In fact, the paper actually gave Happiness a rave review. Coming soon on the moral guardian's agenda (and the BBFC's) will be the controversial French sex porn film Romance , which has caused so much fuss over the Channel.

4th May

 Zombie Flesh Eaters at the BBFC

An interesting report knocking around on usenet:

In Manchester University yesterday we had a really good talk from a representative of the BBFC in which he said quite a few things of relevance.

Firstly he said that small cuts on video's (small nips from Face/Off and The Rock and so on) will probably end now James Ferman has gone (unless the studio specifically wants a lower rating). James Ferman leaving means that most video nasties that are vaguely justifiable will be classified (he classified something along the lines of Zombie Flesh Eaters on Monday).

While talking about porn he said that once Britain signed up to the EU's human rights bill he thought a porn distributor would claim it was against that bill to stop people selling porn. He also said he thought the porn company would win, and porn would be legalised.

Finally he said that the reason for some DVD's being cut is that studios have to use the video version on DVD, and pay to get extra's and so on reclassified. This costs money so occasionally it isn't done. He reckoned that when DVD becomes really mainstream (mid next year was his guess) then DVD's will be rethought and classified separately to video releases.

His final comment was that the BBFC has had official complaints from France and Germany over some region 2 releases over there being cut BBFC versions (another reason why he thought they'd have to start dealing with DVD's separately).

4th May

 Torrid Digital Stimulation

The satellite porn channel Torrid TV has been spotted in digital format on Thor at 0.8 degrees west. Transponder 12.456 Ghz vertical (V-PID 518, A-PID 664).

There was also talk of Amore TV returning in analogue on Sirius but this hasn't come to pass

3rd May

 The BBFC In-Tray

  • Cannibal Ferox : Prior to the VRA, the BBFC unofficially approved a cut 18 video version. This never became an official post VRA  certificate as both this and the uncut version were prosecuted during the video nasties era. The cut 18 version has now been resubmitted to the BBFC
  • The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre has been submitted (aka TCM 4 & TCM: The Next Generation)
  • Zombie Flesh Eaters was recently submitted in its uncut format. This appears to have been passed but I don't know if it suffered cuts
  • The Idiots has been submitted for a video certificate
  • Seul Contre Tous is in for a video certificate
  • Death Wish has been submitted by CIC and is currently undergoing a good hacking to the central rape scene. Indications are that it may not suffer quite so much as the version shown on Sky.
  • Shogun Assassin , another from the video nasties list has been submitted in an uncut version.

The pending-tray

  • Romance has been taken for video distribution by Blue Light. It is another arthouse movie with penetration and erections so it should be interesting when it gets submitted later on this month.

The limbo-tray

  • I Spit On Your Grave. The distributors IMC tentatively suggested this one to the censors but Duval told them not to waste their money.
  • Ai No Corrida. Noveaux Pictures were informally advised that it is not worth pushing this one until the R18 appeals have been sorted (provisionally 27th July)
3rd May

 Inciting Political Censorship

The ITC has served a notice revoking the licence of the Kurdish satellite TV channel Med TV. Med TV was fined by the ITC at the beginning of last year for three breaches of the Commission's impartiality requirements, and in November the broadcaster was warned that its licence might be revoked.

Broadcasts by the channel, which included inflammatory statements encouraging acts of violence in Turkey and elsewhere, led to the suspension of Med TV on 22 March by the ITC. Following the Channel's repeated failure to comply with the requirements of its licence, the ITC decided that the broadcasts were likely to encourage or incite to crime or lead to disorder , which is against UK law. The revocation notice will take effect within 28 days.

2nd May

 Piling Obscenity Upon Obscenity

The shameful Earl Of Halsbury has been busy reading the dictionary in his quest to define modern life as obscene. He has been considering amendments to his House of Lords Obscenity Bill ready for the committee stage on May 10th. Instead of addressing the problem that the bill criminalises practically all of the media industry, he has been trawling the dictionary for more inane terminology to add to the list. He has therefore come up with "Satyriasis" (the male version of nymphomania). The current list of things that media will not even be allowed to pertain to is now below. I wonder if it will be an offense to describe this bill as bollocks.

Anal fisting.
Analingus.
Anal sadism.
Auto-erotism.
Bestiality.
Bisexuality.
Bondage, or other acts of force or restraint associated with such activity.
Buggery.
Cunnilingus.
Coitus.
Coprolagnia.
Coprophilia.
Display of human genital organs.
Ejaculation.
Erection.
Exhibitionism.
Fellatio.
Flagellation.
Gynaecomastia.
Hermaphroditism.
Human urinary or excretory functions.
Interlingual kissing.
Masochism.
Masturbation.
Mutilation, torture or other acts of gross violence towards humans or animals, whether real or simulated.
Necrophilia.
Nymphomania.
Paedophilia.
Sadism.
Sado-masochism.
Satyriasis
Scopophilia.
Sodomy.
Trans-sexualism.
Troilism
Urolagnia.
Urophilia.
Vaginal fisting.
Voyeurism.

8th April

  Satellite Porn Again & Again & Again & Again

4 launches in one week!

The new hardcore porn channel Amore TV has announced it will launch today. The digital-only channel will be available on Hot Bird 3 at 13*E at 12.379GHz/V using symbol rate 27500, FEC 3/4 and Viaccess conditional access. It takes over from the proscribed channel Eros TV. Annual subscriptions cost £135 and more details are available on 0171 5371010.

Two new pay-per-view soft porn services began transmissions on Wednesday. Sky Digital launched a second version of its 18 Plus Movies service on channel number 752 showing 18-rated films at £2.99 each. The Adult Channel also started its pay-per-night service on Sky Digital channel 981 in Sky. It charges £4.99/night.

Babylon Blue UK has also been spotted in digital on Hotbird 4, 10.722 GHz (SR 27500, FEC 2/3, V-PID 1001, A-PID 1201)

5th April

 Human Rights Delayed in Britain

From today's Telegraph

The introduction of the European Convention on Human Rights into British law could be delayed as Whitehall struggles to come to terms with the huge implications of the measure. (Such as the fact that the OPA will be illegal)

Although the Human Rights Act cleared Parliament in 1998, ministers are questioning if it will come into force next year. Lord Williams, a Home Office minister, said: We have not yet reached a final view on when to bring the Human Rights Act into full effect . The delay in implementing the Act, which incorporates the convention into law - effectively giving Britain its own Bill of Rights - has been caused by the need for public authorities to prepare for legal challenges and for re-training the judiciary.

More than £4 million has been set aside to train 35,000 judges, magistrates and court legal advisers. But it is the impact of the Act on public authorities which prompts concern. All Whitehall departments have been told to review their legislation to look for areas of possible challenge. They are not due to report until this summer.

Home Office officials admit that they are expecting a large number of "duff challenges"as civil rights campaigners and pressure groups try to use the convention to change British law, (Well that's rich coming from those that deny us our basic human rights) . Possible areas for challenge include the state's refusal to countenance homosexual "marriages", compulsory purchase orders and exclusions from schools. Such cases would begin with judicial review but could go all the way to the House of Lords.

5th April

 Digital Stimulation

The UK licensed Adult Channel looks set to launch in Sky's digital package during April, The soft porn channel generally shows horribly cut down versions of US hardcore. There will also be a pay-per-night service at an expected price of £4.99 per night.

4th April

 A Russian Lesson

R ussia's Boris Yeltsin took a stand against censorship last Wednesday, Yeltsin vetoed legislation that would have permitted banning morally offensive television and radio content. Yeltsin said the legislation was: inconsistent with the fundamentals of constitutional order of the Russian Federation and an array of federal laws.

The legislation, which had been approved by both houses of Russia's Parliament, would have given lawmakers the authority to ban both Russian television and radio content considered to be "morally impure." A council of lawmakers would have been established to monitor television and radio materials for the protection of morals in Russian TV and radio broadcasts .

Since the end of strict media censorship in 1991, the type of material being broadcast has unsurprisingly become a little bolder and spicier. This trend has reportedly dismayed The Russian parliament.

(...Er which is the free country now,  Britain or Russia?)

3rd April

 Amour Porn But No More Eros

After 3 months of being without an analogue transponder, Eros TV have finally decided to call it a day. The former hardcore porn channel, has sold it's digital capacity and programming to a new Italian based porn channel, Amour TV This is due to start on the 6th April using digital only transmissions encrypted in Viaccess. The likely annual subscription is to be about £130.

Frequencies for the daily porn channel are to be 12.379 Ghz V (SR 27500, FEC 3/4) at 13 degrees east, 11.245 Ghz V (SR27500, FEC 7/4) at 5.2 degrees east. Daytime and evening broadcasts will be in MPEG-2 clear. Amore TV will broadcast from 2300 until 0400 (UK Time).

The failure of Eros TV can be chalked up to the UK Government who proscribed the channel. This caused BT to deny them their analogue transponder and a replacement unfortunately couldn't be secured.

2nd April

 Appealing Bans

Catching up a bit here but the BBFC have recently rejected the following videos:

  • Boys Just Wanna have Fun
  • Sex Frenzy
  • Hot House

They were originally submitted for an R18 certificate. These titles don't yet appear on the BBFC database , I presume this is because the distributors are appealing the decision.

29th March

  Nasty But Nice

Some good news from the BBFC:

  • Dead and Buried , a one time video nasty has been given an uncut 18 video certificate. 30s of cuts have been restored.
  • Funny Games caused a little grief to the censors when receiving a cinema certificate. They have now awarded it an uncut 18 certificate on video too.

Some slightly good news from the BBFC:

  • Evilspeak , another one time video nasty has been approved in a less heavily cut version. The black magic scenes have been reinstated.

And there is more interesting news to come:

  • The Last House on the Left has been submitted to the BBFC for a cinema certificate and is currently under review.
  • Tenebrae is  in for a video certificate.
  • Zombie Fleash Eaters has been resubmitted in the uncut form.
  • Cannibal Ferox is also at the Board.

And further ahead, another decision for JackBoots Straw:

  • Ai No Corrida (In the Realm of the Senses) is currently being prepared for video submission
26th March

 Driller Killer Missing a Bit Plus a Bit

The BBFC are currently sweeping out a lot of old censorship cobwebs. The latest fascinating news is that they have finally passed Driller Killer . It is not totally good news though, as they have insisted on 54.5 seconds of cuts. However I certainly see it as brave due to the iconic nature of the film. I can see the Daily Mail headlines already! I have the video clip of the infamous   drill scene, do I feel brave? shall I add it to the Gallery? um ... maybe.

It appears that the 54s were pre-cut by the distributor after having taken advice from James Ferman last year. The main cuts were to the head drilling scene but two earlier drill killings also suffered. 46seconds of footage has been added to smooth over some of the gaps.

Sticking with the good news the BBFC have also passed Jodorowski's The Holy Mountain without cuts! These were both submitted by the ditsrubutors, Visual.

25th March

 Blood Sisters Sadistically Cut

I see the BBFC have just granted a certificate to the S&M documentary Blood Sisters. Of course they felt they had to sadistically lay into it with 2:27s worth of cuts. The decisions are certainly flowing freely at the moment. To the best of my knowledge, Blood Sisters has been languishing at the censor's office for at least a year.

After some positive moves last year in the area of alternative lifestyle the BBFC seem to have clammed up again. Last year, after a bit of scare, they let Nick Broomfield's Fetishes through unscathed. However the brownie points are probably better attributed to Channel 4 who originally broadcast it with just minor cuts.

Recently the BBFC banned The Classic Films of Irving Klaw Volume 1 featuring Betty Page and material from the 1940's to 60's on the grounds that the Board's guidelines state that mild fetishism may be represented, but scenes of women trussed, bound, gagged, spanked, shackled, handcuffed, slapped, tethered and suspended are unacceptable. The distributors have decided to re-edit the two Irving Klaw films so that they will not breach BBFC guidelines.

And finally a note about the banning of Straw Dogs , the BBFC offered a list of cuts to the video's distributor but because their period of rights had elapsed, they were unable to consider making the requested cuts. The video rights to Straw Dogs have now reverted to the previous distributor who have also submitted the video. The BBFC feel that it would be unfair to release a press statement on the video until they have considered this new submission.

23rd March

 To ITC No Incitement

A Kurdish satellite TV station was ordered off the air by the ITC for broadcasting calls to carry out acts of violence in Turkey. British-based Med TV has transmitted entertainment and information services for ethnic Kurdish communities across Europe since 1995.

In the first action of its kind, the ITC suspended its licence for 21 days with immediate effect for carrying programmes likely to encourage or to incite crime or to lead to disorder .

The station has already been fined £90,000 and received two formal warnings for breaching impartiality and incitement sections of the programme code. Last November it was given six months to ensure its service met legal requirements. The ITC decided Med TV had continued to broadcast inflammatory material, especially after the arrest of the Kurdish separatist leader Abdullah Ocalan earlier this year.

16th March

 Straw Dogs Massacred

I have heard that Straw Dogs has today been rejected by the BBFC. The 1971 UK film by Sam Peckinpah has been delayed by the BBFC for over a year (maybe two) and they have finally banned it. Apparently they had provided the distributors with a list of cuts but these proved unacceptable so the video was rejected.

The video submitted to the BBFC was the version with 5 minutes cut to achieve an R rating in the US. The UK cinema release and the pre-Video Recordings Act video both sustained the same cuts which effected the rape scene. This R rated cut has become notorious as it ended up making the first 'rape' scene look worse than it originally did. The uncut version makes it as clear as you can get without going  hardcore that rear entry vaginal sex is involved, while the R rated  version looks more like enforced sodomy. The second rape has almost entirely been excised, only the opening with Susan George screaming remains.

The cause of the problems for the BBFC is that the first rape scene has Susan George's character initially being forcibly assaulted but then she seemingly starts to enjoy it.

Anyway the BBFC have messed everyone around for so long that the US R rated version has now been superceded by the uncut and unrated version. This is readily available from the US on video (Anchor Bay SV10383), laserdisc and DVD. It has a cinema certificate so Customs cannot really claim that it is obscene, so why not get on the web and order a copy.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre has received an uncut cinema certificate. The BBFC   justified their decision with the following note: The notoriety of the film may owe a lot to its original rejection by the BBFC in 1975. It was passed for viewing in Europe, the USA, Australia and other countries. It received a GLC licence in the 1970s and was most recently shown in central London in 1998 under a licence from Camden Council. There is, so far as the Board is aware, no evidence that harm has ever arisen as a consequence of viewing the film. For modern young adults, accustomed to the macabre shocks of horror films through the 1980s and 1990s, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is unlikely to be particularly challenging. Unlike more recent examples of the genre, violence in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is throughout implied rather than explicit. By today's standards, its visual effects may seem relatively unconvincing. Possibly the most notorious feature is the relentless pursuit of the 'Final Girl' throughout the last half hour or so of the film. The heroine in peril is a staple of the cinema since the earliest days. It is nonetheless legitimate to question the unusual emphasis The Texas Chain Saw Massacre places on the pursuit of a defenceless and screaming female over such an extended period. The Board's conclusion, after careful consideration, was that any possible harm that might arise in terms of the effect upon a modern audience would be more than sufficiently countered by the unrealistic, even absurd, nature of the action itself. It is worth emphasising that there is no explicit sexual element in the film, and relatively little visible violence.

16th March

  The Home Office

Home OfficeA fellow Melon Farmer contacted the Home Office to enquire about the Earl of Halsbury's noxious Bill to amend the Obscene Publications Act. The response was illuminating so I have posted it"

Firstly, the Home Office spokesman said they all believed that the bill had no chance of becoming law, as it contravened too many EU human rights regulations regarding free expression, and was fundamentally flawed. Their legal advisors had been consulted already on the matter.

The spokesman was then asked about other general censorship issues. He said that the Obscene Publications Act didn't need amending, because it should be flexible enough to accommodate just about everything which was legal in Europe, and in time there would be a degree of liberalisation. We are simply behind, he said. He continued to say that Customs, and Excise are no longer prosecuting or seizing explicit imported non violent adult material and that they were only concerned with bestiality, very violent porn, and child pornography being imported, and they were coming down heavily especially on the latter. (Alas this statement has not proven to be the case, Customs are still thieving adult consensual porn).

It was also stated that the police are no longer prosecuting adult porn dealers in London, but they sometimes do elsewhere, but rarely get convictions in jury trials.  He said that it is a common misconception that the Home Office nor any other government department set such guidelines for the purposes of determining obscenity.

He was asked if one would get into trouble by ordering an explicit adult DVD from Europe and he said that it would be very unlikely as customs were not seizing them anymore. Suspecting that Customs are not quite so liberal as suggested he was then asked if adult porn were to be seized, could Customs be taken to court on the grounds of a breach in Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights (Restriction is only justified in proportion to the likely harm caused). He replied that indeed they could, and that unless liberalisation occurred quickly they were expecting test cases along these lines.

Other News

A few further snippets on the subject of direct intervention from the Home Office in the area of film censorship. (We'd hate to think we had state film censorship now wouldn't we?)

  • A conversation with the BBFC press office, has revealed that the BBFC are under firm instruction from the Home Office, that the successful appeal of Makin' Whoopee! is not to be used as precedent for relaxation of their 'guidelines' for R18 releases.
  • James Ferman in a talk at the ICA stated that Jack Straw was the most interventionist state censor since Margaret Thatcher
  • A documentary on Channel 4's recent censorship weekend pointed out that the BBFC sought Home Office authority before issuing a cinema certificate to The Idiots (a film with a couple of seconds of explicit sex)

 

14th March

 Eros Back Soon

The hardcore porn channel Eros TV has announced news of an analogue return. The channel is hopefully to return in D2-Mac by the end of March 1999. The current delay in returning is due to difficulties in securing a transponder. All existing subscribers to Eros TV will receive a 4 month extention in compensation of lost service.

11th March

 Torrid TV

A 'new' hardcore porn channel under the brand name of Torrid TV has begun broadcasting from 13 degree's east, replacing Eurotica/Rendez Vous at 11.283 V in D2-Mac/Eurocrypt. The channel is also broadcasting from Intelsat 707 in digital at 11.592 H (17496 SR and 3/4), using Conax encryption.

However, the channel is still promoted as Eurotica/Rendez Vous from 11.10PM-11.31PM GMT, after which Torrid TV is announced, and begins broadcasting in D2-Mac. Although Torrid TV is a new channel, owned by a new media company, it is merely providing the hardcore programming for the UK banned Eurotica. But because Torrid TV is, on paper, a new channel, it will be totally legal within the UK to promote and sell subscriptions to the service.

Torrid TV is based in Paris and uplinked from Copenhagen in Denmark. UK satellite viewers will need an 80cm dish pointed at the Hot Bird at 13 degree's east, a D2-Mac decoder and a smartcard to view the service. However, if you already have a valid Eurotica smartcard, you will still be able to view Torrid TV, until your Eurotica subscription expires.

The Department for Culture, Media & Sport have confirmed that Torrid TV, at present, is legally entitled to sell subscriptions within the UK. The reason given for this is because the channel is a new channel, under a new ownership. However, the government will no doubt be monitoring Torrid TV

9th March

 Importing Some Good Sense

I have reported several times that there is an ongoing and lively discussion about the future of explicit porn in the UK. One of the main drivers is that of freedom of expression as outlined in article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights. It clearly states that the right of the state to restrict expression must be proportional to the potential harm caused by allowing freedom of expression. Most research into the subject of porn has failed to identify that harm so the state has therefore no right to censor it.

The Obscene Publications Act must be under particular threat. The authorities have difficulty prosecuting under section 2, where a jury is asked to decide, because juries generally don't support the notion that porn depraves. Section 3, whereby material is seized on the say so of police and magistrates, is verging on a corruption of justice, and is certainly wide open to challenge under the European Convention. Magistrates can no longer just say its obscene just because they don't like it, they must prove harm.

Anyway the upshot of this debate is that things seem to be changing. I have heard one of the most unlikely reports that I could ever imagine, yet I believe there may be some truth in it. It appears that Customs have toned down their zeal in confiscating explicit adult consensual porn. I can confirm that at least one reader has received a package of adult DVDs from America which were opened by Customs. The only suffering he received from the ordeal was a bill for import duty and VAT!

Anyway please inform me of either seizures or material let through and I will try to get to the bottom of this. In the meantime NOW is an excellent time to get in a bit of campaigning. Let the authorities know what you think, I know that the NVLA and the like are lobbying hard at the moment so a few counter-arguments wouldn't go amiss. And next time you are harangued by the police or customs on the subject of porn, remember, it is they that will be breaking the law. (A little idealistic I fear but still). If on the other hand, police and customs are now tolerating porn... The Melon Farmers salute their good sense. (Who'd a thought it)

9th March

 Page of Rejection

A truely awesome decision from the BBFC. They have decided to reject the video: The Classic Films of Irving Klaw: Vol 1 . This was directed by Thomas Blackstone and features films and pictures from the collection of Irving Klaw dating back to before the first world war. In the late 50's and early 60's, Klaw was subjected to government prosecution. His conviction, later overturned, led to Klaw destroying most of his pictures and negatives. This rare film is one of two that features the remarkable Betty Page.

(I would be interested if anyone has any inkling as to why such a film could possibly be banned).

8th March

 Mass Rejection of the BBFC

The BBFC have certainly got into a bit of a pickle over R18 of late. It seems that the BBFC have been blowing hot and cold over the subject with a few more hardcore snippets being passed in December. Now they are on a ban everything crusade and have issued a whole heap of rejection notices. The first four are from Sheptonhurst who will be appealing.

  • Horny Catbabe
  • Nympho Nurse Nancy
  • TV Sex
  • Office Tart

(Duval must has now issued more rejections in 3 months than Ferman managed in 2 years. I wonder if he is still calling himself a classifier rather than a censor. Given that juries no longer consider consensual adult porn obscene and that European Law require that censors justify any bans that they care to make, it strikes me that the above bans are illegal and that the BBFC should be put in prison).

3rd March
 A More Adult Approach

It was reported that the prospective satellite porn channel Adult Plus had cancelled launch plans after the disappointing court decision concerning Eurotica. However, it now appears that Adult Plus are back on track and will be launch in early April. They are planning to broadcast in D2-Max/Eurocrypt from Hot Bird and a yearly subscription will cost about £120.

Also have a listen out for changes of attitude towards porn in the UK in general. Police, Customs, the Home Office and the BBFC have all at least been discussing the possibility of some liberalisation in this area from some time now.

2nd March

 Bloody Good Sense

The BBFC have finally passed the red blooded version of Carmageddon 2: Carpocalypse Now. It has been given an uncut 18 certificate.

The BBFC also note that the game contains a parental lock.

(Perhaps Carmageddon 3 will contain recognisable pedestrians and perhaps the ability to customise those available for carnage).

28th February

  Piling Obscenity Upon Obscenity

The Earl of Halsbury has submitted a House of Lords amendment to the Obscene Publications Act. It is the most extreme piece of legislation I have ever had the horror to look upon. It clearly has absolutely no chance of ever getting anywhere because it would inevitably lead to the imprisonment of practically every person in the country. For example, anyone knowingly transporting an article relating to voyeurism is liable to six months behind bars.

It shall be interesting in the coming months to see what politicians could possibly consider supporting this pile of shit. Are there people out there that hate porn so much that they are willing to surrender both justice and civilisation in the pursuit of their aims?

21st February

 Welcome Back Eros

Eros TV, the pan-European porn channel have resumed their digital (Viacess) transmissions from Hot Bird 3. Their D2-Mac/Eurocrypt transmissions, however, have yet to return. Eros say they are currently seeking a transponder at 13 degree's east and hope to return in analogue shortly. Euronews and Vox are shortly ceasing transmission so maybe there will soon be spare transponders. If and when Eros do resume their encrypted analogue transmissions,  they say that all subscribers will receive an extra 3 months viewing on top of their current subscription to compensate for the loss of service.

20th February

 Channel 4 Protests

Pro-censorship campaigners have been protesting outside of the Channel 4 building in opposition to the Censored theme of this weekend's films. News reports identify the National Viewers and Listeners Association but there are several others. Estimates of numbers vary from 20 to 40.

The stupid thing is that the films being shown have been  censored. They are all showing in cut video versions and surely that is exactly what these so-called morality campaigners want. They should be celebrating that their noxious lack of tolerance for their fellow men is entrenched in the establishment of this repressive country.

17th February

 Idiots at the Home Office

Good news from the BBFC. The Idiots , a Danish comedy by Lars Von Triers, has made a rapid and unscathed journey through the BBFC to achieve an 18 cinema certificate. This is notable  as the film contains 4 short hardcore shots. A group sex scene features two shots of penetration and another showing an erection. A further erection is observed in a shower scene at a swimming pool.

The film's distributor, Metro Tartan, submitted The Idiots for classification at the beginning of December. Its swift passage hopefully shows that the new director, Robin Duval, will be a  bit bolder in his approach to censorship decisions.

The BBFC justified their decision in the following press release: This challenging art film, in Danish, concerns a group of young people who have formed a commune founded on 'anti-middle class ideology'. As part of that philosophy, they pretend to be 'idiots' (i.e. people with learning difficulties) and behave accordingly in public places. The BBFC considered the possible offensiveness of this behaviour to members of the public who are disabled, and to those who are concerned with them. The view of the film, taken as a whole, is however a positive and sensitive one - particularly when real disabled characters are involved. The 'idiot' behaviour is most specifically a means for the young people of taking refuge from society and a token of their abdication from it. The BBFC also considered the public acceptability of a very short but explicit shot of sexual behaviour. The BBFC's draft classification guidelines, published in July last year, permit images of real sex in '18' rated films or videos providing they are brief and justified by context. There are precedents for content of this kind (notably the widely shown Japanese film AI NO CORRIDA / IN THE REALM OF THE SENSES), but it requires the clearest justification. The particular scene in THE IDIOTS represents the critical point at which the commune oversteps its own boundaries of behaviour and begins to fall apart. Given the brevity of the image, and its importance within the narrative structure of the film, the BBFC concluded that sufficient justification existed to satisfy the standard set by the guidelines.

The Channel 4 documentary Last Days of the Board , revealed that this decision had been subject to interference from the Home Office. James Ferman had apparently phoned through hi initial decision (uncut 18) but had to phone back to say that he couldn't confirm the decision because of Home Office Involvement. Theoretically Home Office Guidelines state that they have no role in censorship but that's never stopped JackBoots Straw in the past, so why should it now?

It has also been pointed out that for all the fuss in the UK, the film has a 12 certificate in France.

17th February  Divas at the BBFC

After having praised the BBFC for a rapid decision over The Idiots it seems relevant to remind everyone that there are still some mega delays at the board. Straw Dogs for instance was submitted years ago and I still haven't heard of a formal decision.

Also Redemption's site states that they have been waiting so long for a decision on Michael Ninn's Diva 1: Caught in the Act that they have cancelled the release. I have no idea why this 1997 girl/girl sex video has been singled out for such hassle. Surely it makes very little difference as the end result of BBFC interference is a product totally devoid of sex, appeal or point.

16th February

 Digital Delay Plus Go Ahead

Eros TV were due to start digital transmissions on The 15th of February but they did not make it. Eros say they were experiencing minor technical difficulties and should be back on the air before Wednesday 17th February.

Adult Plus, the proposed new hardcore porn channel, are still going ahead with an early March launch, despite Eurotica's failure to overturn their UK ban. When Adult Plus is up & running it will be the only legally available analogue, hardcore porn service in the UK. The UK has proved to be the highest source of revenue for all the previous hardcore porn channels, so it is expected that Adult Plus will make a substantial profit from UK sales. However, the UK government have banned all the former hardcore porn channels within 12 months of broadcasting and it's expected that Adult Plus will be no exception.

Smart-cards for the new service will be available shortly, and will cost around £120.00 for a 12 month subscription. Adult Plus plans to broadcast from Hot Bird 5 at 13 degree's east.

15th February

 Gay Sex is Still Illegal in the UK

The Court of Appeal has reduced the sentences of five men (from the Bolton 7) who were convicted of taking part in gay sex parties captured on home video. The group were convicted a year ago, were all given probation or community service for serious sexual offences. (ie a seriously offensive law)

All seven took part willingly but gay sex is lawful only if no more than two men take part or are present and video tapes seized by the police showed at least three men taking part. (Is gay sex still illegal anywhere else in the civilised world?)

The appeals were based on the claim that the European Convention on Human Rights left the trial judge with no alternative but to make orders of absolute or conditional discharge. Counsel also argued that, current sentencing practice in the courts of England and Wales in relation to such offences suggested that community service sentences imposed were wrong in principle or manifestly excessive. (Does this mean that others are regularly persecuted by this law?)

The court said the sentences could not successfully be challenged by reference to the convention. None of the legal authorities compelled the trial judge to take the convention into account when exercising his discretion, or to give it overriding effect. The court said it was a matter for him to decide whether to take it into account and, if he did, how much weight to give it.

But, Mr Justice Maurice Kay, who heard the appeal with Mrs Justice Bracewell, said they had concluded that the community sentences were too onerous as none of the five had previous convictions for sexual offences. Probation orders of 12 months were substituted for those who had been given combination orders of 12 months probation and 100 hours community service. Two years probation was reduced to 12 months and 150 hours community service was replaced with a one-year conditional discharge. (Judge Kay also showed some pretty bad attitude at last week's Eurotica case. Never has contempt of court been so well deserved and justified).

15th February

 Review of the Internet Watch Foundation

The DTI and Home Office have published a report on the Internet Watch Foundation written by independent consultants. Findings show a steady increase in the number of reports of potentially illegal material received and processed by the IWF, mainly from outside the UK. Other key points include:

  • there were 453 actionable reports of illegal material on the Internet from December 1996 until end of August 1998
  • the IWF has made an important contribution in tackling child pornography, which accounts for almost 90 per cent of material that is assessed by the Foundation as illegal
  • the IWF has played a leading role in developing content rating and filtering systems for Internet content that is legal, but that may be harmful or offensive
  • low public and industry awareness of the IWF (particularly among non-users of the Internet).

The report puts forward a series of recommendations, including:

  • raising awareness of the IWF through a publicity campaign, to include: printed and electronic material for current and new users; web pages with hot links to the IWF site; mailings and promotional material with CD Roms
  • further work on developing rating systems and filtering technologies and deciding how to tackle real time Internet chat services which could pose a danger to children
  • drawing in UK Internet Service Providers not tied in to IWF
  • improving police/IWF communication; for example through developing working procedures and regular formal feedback
  • further work on potentially illegal adult pornography (Typical bad attitude. Whilst concentrating on child porn, the IWF will certainly get general public cooperation, as soon as they target adult consensual porn they will deserve nothing but derision. Surely it is those people that are surfing for adult porn that are most likely to stumble on child porn and therefore report it. They will certainly be less likely to report it  if the consequence is that adult porn sites will be removed too).
  • better co-operation with watchdogs responsible for illegal material other than child pornography: for example, financial scams, copyright infringement and racism
  • improved management structure and funding, including a higher representation of public bodies and charities on the Policy Board.

DTI Minister Michael Wills said: This report demonstrates the IWF's success to date in dealing with complaints about child pornography on-line and in developing content rating and filtering systems which will enable people to filter out legal, but offensive material from their PCs. But the Report also shows that a good deal more work needs to be   done. I welcome the report's recommendations for the future development of the IWF and encourage the Internet Industry and the IWF to consider them carefully as a basis for developing the IWF's work in future.

Home Office Minister Kate Hoey said: The Government is committed to taking effective action to tackle child pornography. The report shows that the IWF has made an important contribution responding to real and major public concerns about this abuse of the Internet and I welcome its continued efforts with the support of the police, service providers and the public in removing this vile material. I encourage service providers to respond positively to the recommendations in the report to ensure that progress continues to be made

14th February

 Calling for Sense

Prostitutes advertising in telephone boxes could soon be liable for prosecution under new proposals being drawn up by the government. The proposals will be published shortly. If passed, advertising prostitution in this way will become a criminal offence enforceable by local authorities.

The accumulation of prostitutes' cards in inner city callboxes is found unsightly and threatening by many residents and local businesses. In most cases, the phone company employs cleaners to get rid of the cards each morning. But they are fighting a losing battle against the 13m cards that are left each year.

At present, councils can only use bylaws or take civil actions against those paid by massage parlours to leave the cards while British Telecom has cut off incoming calls to persistent advertisers.  But this has not really dealt with the problem.

However, Cindy, who advertises in boxes in Brighton, says she has no choice. She says local papers stopped taking adverts forcing the women to use phone boxes.  If that is stopped the consequences could be worse than the original problem by creating a red light district in the town. Cindy's views are echoed by the English Collective of Prostitutes which says that anything that makes women work longer hours or forces them on to the streets increases the danger to them.

But Brighton and Hove Council says it receives complaints about the explicit nature of the cards and wants them stopped. The authority does accept that there is a risk women might use the streets to contact clients instead. Lord Steve Bassam heads the council and said: There are no easy answers. What we want to get rid of is the most obvious and blatant abuses. "They are very offensive, young people use telephone boxes and we don't want to discourage a very vibrant and busy conference and tourism trade.

(Simple problem, legalise prostitution and allow discrete advertising in the Yellow Pages. In the meantime, the politicians who obnoxiously continue to harass people over the side effects caused by their own repressive laws deserve all the derision that they will undoubtedly get).

14th February

 Rendez-Vous with Defeat

Eurotica/Rendez-Vous have lost their case against the case against the Government. Newspaper reports did not really address the claim that the Government did not follow correct procedure to implement the ban. Instead they just reiterated that the shameful Chris Smith was entitled to proscribe the channel according to UK and European law. The judge Maurice Kay said he was properly satisfied that the channel's "explicit and relentless" sex scenes posed a danger to the "physical, moral and mental" development of children. (Usual bollocks spouted verging on lies, if the Government only wanted to protect children, porn would be legal in adults-only cinemas. Why don't these people at least speak honestly and argue that they feel it right to tell adults what to watch).

Roger Kinsbourg, President of Rendez-Vous Television, said afterwards: The nanny state has struck again. This is rampant censorship by the government. They are using the alibi of the protection of minors to enforce their views on what is acceptable pornography."

But a spokesman for the Culture Secretary welcomed the court's decision. He said the Secretary of State was determined to take effective action in similar circumstances in future . (Hopefully not so effective, one only has to tune in at the start of transmissions at 23:15ish when they broadcast subscription details in the clear. They provide an English speaking call centre and emphasise that the proscription order does not make it illegal to subscribe).

Meanwhile at least some promising news from Eros TV. It appears that they have been harangued by BT the owner of the transponder that they were using. BT were rumoured to have refused to offer Eros TV a transponder due to the proscription order.

Apparently Eros TV  will resume digital transmissions on the 15th February on Hot Bird 5, using Viacess encryption at 12.379 V. Eros TV say they will definitely return in D2-Mac, but have yet to secure a transponder. The channel hopes to secure an analogue transponder and resume D2-Mac transmissions before the end of March.

11th February

 The BBFC Giveth and Taketh Away

It has become a bit of trend that every time that the BBFC feel that they must accompany each good decision with a couple of bans. The press release for the granting of The Exorcist certificate was accompanied by one giving details of a bans to A Cat in the Brain and Banned from Television . They did exactly the same thing when Lolita was given a certificate. I guess that they think that liberals will forgive them the bans because at least we got The Exorcist and Daily Mail readers will forgive them the certificate because they at least got some bans to enjoy. Of course the BBFC have never generated a press release for a mid term ban just those that offset the liberal decisions.

The following is extracted from the BBFC press release. Banned from Television The main consideration for the Board was the question of harm referred to above. In short, does the work have the potential for anti- social influence? In the Board's view it does. It is a compilation of scenes of extremely violent death, injury and mutilation, many of which are repeated in slow-motion. The commentary draws attention to the grislier aspects and in effect invites enjoyment at human suffering. The inclusion also of sex scenes reinforces the impression that the purpose of the video is to provide entertainment. There is no attempt to justify the images by placing the incidents in any other journalistic or educational context. Whatever current relevance the images might have had when they were originally photographed has been lost in the general compilation of horrors. The Board is conscious that a particular genre that has always been identified as entirely unacceptable is that of so-called 'snuff movies'. Their main identifying feature is that at least one of the participants is actually killed. Banned from Television is only different in that, instead of a death being created for the work, actual death and injury is collated from a wide range of pre-existing sources to create the work. The Board has concluded that the video is potentially harmful because of the influence it may have on the attitudes and behaviour of a significant proportion of likely viewers. The instinct of concern and compassion for the suffering of others is a basic social necessity. So is respect for the dignity of real human life. By presenting actual human death and mutilation as entertainment, the work, in the Board's view, has the potential to erode these instincts. There is a danger of it falling into the hands of young and impressionable persons (whatever its classification) and of some significant brutalising effect on their attitude to human life and pain. The Board has considered the possibility of cuts as a remedy for these difficulties. It has concluded, however, that they would be unlikely to modify the tone and effect of the work acceptably. A Cat in the Brain The Board carefully considered this low-budget Italian horror video in the light of the usual tests. It has over the years, in this context, expressed concern about images which bring sex and violence together. The BBFC Draft Guidelines for Classifying Films and Videos (published in July 1998 in the BBFC's last Annual Report) identify sexually violent material as potentially harmful. The Guidelines explain that the Board is stricter with scenes of sexual violence on video than film, because of their potential to be played over and over at home. Sexual violence may only be shown providing the scenes do not offer sexual thrills. A Cat in the Brain contains many sequences involving gross violence committed against women, often in a context with clear sexual overtones. It invites the viewer to relish the detail of the violence and killings. Women are even presented as enjoying the violence visited on them. The work switches between the three levels of "actual" film-making, the "Director's" own nightmares and the murderous attacks of the villain. However, the Board found that the main effect of this device was to enable the frequent portrayal of brutal and detailed violence, particularly towards women. The Board concluded that the video was potentially harmful because of the influence it may have on the attitudes and behaviour of a significant proportion of its likely viewers, whatever classification it was given. The Board considered the possibility of cuts as an acceptable remedy. It concluded, however, that the sheer quantity of the violence rendered such an approach ultimately fruitless since it would be unlikely to change the general tone or approach of the work.

A Cat in the Brain is a 1990 Italian horror film by Lucio Fulci with the original title Un Gatto nel cervello. It can also be found under the title Nightmare Concert . It has been shown uncut at various horror film festivals and is currently available on video in Holland and on laserdisc in the US.

10th February

 Original Sins Approved by the BBFC

The BBFC are on a bit of a post-Ferman roll and have finally issued a video certificate to Original Sins , a 1995 US film by Matthew Howe & Howard Berger. Described as a catalogue of depravity encompassing sex, gore blood drinking, sacrifice cannibalism, iconic rape, pastoral buggery, anal rape, incest, necrophilia and a rape/suicide that climaxes with the rapist cutting his throat at the point of orgasm.

I reported  last July that the video has been through the BBFC process suffering from the usual delaying tactics. Cuts were required but Screen Edge wanted to implement them by superimposing black bars across the offending material. The BBFC did not like this approach, presumably because the viewer is made aware of the censorship and the release was held up until now.

I shall try and find out what the resolution of the dispute was and how the cuts were finally implemented.

9th February

 Ban Finally Exorcised

Good news from the BBFC. They today announced that they have finally passed the video of The Exorcist uncut with an 18 certificate. It has now been scheduled for an April release. The BBFC issued the following press release to explain their change of heart. The film version was originally given an 'X' certificate in 1974 and has been widely shown since then. In the 1970s, however, incidents of hysteria involving young women led to some concern that the film might cause severe emotional problems particularly among those who believed in the reality of demonic possession. It was with this concern in mind that the BBFC in the 1980s and early 1990s concluded that a video classification - even with an '18' rating (which could not entirely exclude the possibility of the work being seen by younger and susceptible viewers) - was inappropriate. It must be acknowledged, however, that there is little if any hard evidence known to the BBFC that The Exorcist has, in its video form, caused actual harm to its viewers. The video version was in fact widely available for many years before the Video Recordings Act 1984 introduced the requirement of BBFC classification. The recent re-release of the film version by Warner Brothers has, moreover, been accompanied by none of the hysteria or audience disturbance which occurred in the mid-1970s. The Exorcist has been available on video uncut for many years in other European countries, notably Germany (rated for 16 year olds) and Sweden (rated for 14 year olds) where the protection of the young is considered particularly important. The Video Recordings Act places on the BBFC a duty to have special regard (among other relevant factors) to any harm that may be caused to potential viewers or, through their behaviour, to society by the manner in which the work deals with, for example, violent or horrific behaviour or incidents or human sexual activity. The Board must consider as a potential viewer any person (including a child or young person) who is likely to view the video. The BBFC must also apply the requirements of Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights, now accepted as British law. Inter alia, these impose a duty to preserve freedom of expression, with the relevant restrictions being "for the prevention of disorder or crime (or) for the protection of health or morals". Alongside these, there is a duty to observe the principle of proportionality: any restriction on the basic duty of freedom of expression should have a proportional justification. The BBFC concluded that The Exorcist , while still a powerful and compelling work, no longer has the same impact as it did 25 years ago. Film technique and special effects have moved on a long way since then, and audiences - including (or especially) teenagers brought up on a range of modern multi- media output - are less likely to be affected. Correspondingly, the potential of The Exorcist to disturb a small, impressionable minority must be significantly diminished. The BBFC has also considered the likely effects of The Exorcist 's current reputation. We cannot discount the possibility that, however restrictive its classification, under-age persons may seek ways to view it. On the other hand, both the name and the nature of this film are familiar to most people: its reputation should prompt many parents and guardians to be more alert to that possibility than would normally be the case. On balance, therefore, and after careful consideration, the Board has concluded that the video version of The Exorcist should be classified - but at a level which minimises the likelihood of the work being viewed by young and impressionable persons.

8th February

 The Downs & Downs of Satellite Porn

It appears that the satellite porn channel EROS TV has folded as they have had their transmission contracted terminated by Eutelsat. Their website is no longer running and they don't answer the phone.

It has also been rumoured that BT had a hand in denying the channel a transponder.

31st January

  Casting the First Stone

Tom Spencer, a Conservative MEP was stopped by Customs with a couple of joints and a gay porn video. All hell broke on the front pages of the newspapers as if some incredible crime had been committed. Queues of fellow politicians were waiting to get him deselected, chastised and ethically cleansed. He was soon forced to resign his candidacy from the upcoming European elections.

(I wonder what private peccadilloes will eventually come to light amongst those currently throwing the stones. Surely a little bit of tolerance afforded to peoples personal pleasures would be a much more positive way to deal with this situation).

31st January

 Eurotica vs Smith

Porn channel Eurotica/Rendez-Vous will be back in court on February 9 to continue its legal fight against the UK Government and try to overturn the Proscription Order placed on it last year. The hearing could last as long as a week before a decision is made on whether the Department of Culture and Media acted correctly when banning the sale of the channel's viewing cards in the UK. A recent European Court case highlighted that the Government should have given 3 warnings over the course of a year whereas they actually gave a single 15 day warning.

Meanwhile ErosTv has gone off air again. They blame technical problems at the uplink site and reckon that it should be sorted within a few days.

31st January

 Five Replies

After the horribly out of touch slagging off from the BSC, David Elstein, Chief Executive of Channel 5 replied via a letter in The Times.

Sir, In a statement to be issued tomorrow the Broadcasting Standards Commission has chosen to condemn two series of late-night fiction on Channel 5, on the grounds that their purpose was "clearly erotic".

The series concerned - Hotline and Compromising Situations - contain nothing unusually explicit. They are broadcast long after peak time, and with clear signposts. Channel 5 does not believe that it has breached any part of the BSC's present code, nor indeed that of its prime regulator, the Independent Television Commission. A commitment to broadcasting "uncut movies", seven nights a week, was part of Channel 5's licence application.

Channel 5's offence, in the BSC's eyes, is the inclusion, for its own sake, of erotic material in a free-to-air television service . This is a novel doc- trine, which recalls the prosecution of Penguin Books in 1960 for publishing a paperback - as opposed to a hardback - version of Lady Chatterley's Lover . Would you like your wife or servants to read this book? , prosecuting counsel asked the jury.

The BSC is similarly anachronistic and patronising in seeking to challenge the right of free-to-air viewers to watch what would be perfectly acceptable on pay television, what is not in specific terms in breach of the BSC's own code, and what would probably earn a 15 certificate if submitted to the BBFC for classification.

The BSC is open to the further charge of abusing its own procedures in finding against these series, even though no scene within them is in breach of its code: it is simply seeking to assert its own aesthetic judgment over the clearly stated preferences of Channel 5 viewers.

The BSC hopes to start a public debate with tomorrow's finding. It must be wondered whether that de- bate will focus more on the BSC's precarious future - as reported in your edition of January 16 - than on the legitimacy of erotic fiction on terrestrial television.

David Elstein

BSC Replies Back:

The Commission wishes to draw attention to its consideration of complaints made against a number of programmes within Channel 5's late night erotic strands which the Commission believes raise significant issues for public debate.

The Commission had the benefit of its latest research into attitudes towards sex on television which indicates further shifts in public acceptance of sexual portrayal but underlined the importance of such content being seen to be justified within its context. In the Commission's judgement, the point of these programmes was erotic, rather than dramatic or educative.

The Commission acknowledges the arguments put forward by Channel 5 about the time of transmission of these programmes and the warnings that had been provided. Nevertheless, in the Commission's view, the inclusion of erotic material of this sort in a free to air television service is a step change in the use of sex on British television and begins to erode the difference, which research indicates that viewers themselves wish to see, between what is available on open access channels and that which is available through pay services.

The Commission also considers that their inclusion in a mainstream television service runs the risk of encouraging both the amount of such material and the erosion of standards generally. As required by the Broadcasting Act, the Commission will keep these issues under close review. But the Commission wishes to remind broadcasters that gratuitous scenes of violent or coercive sex are unacceptable.

Broadcasting Standards Commission

(It seems to me that the BSC are meeting pretty total derision on their incredibly out of touch gripe and are therefore feeling a little defensive).

30th January

 Extreme Measures in Soho

Drastic new steps are being planned to wipe out unlicensed sex shops and hostess bars from Soho and the West End - by buying out their premises using compulsory purchase orders.

If the move is agreed, it could signal the end to the string of illegal premises in the area - such as the clubs which charge extortionate prices for low-alcohol drinks and obligatory company from a hostess. There are around 14 illegal hostess bars, 30 unlicensed sex shops and a dozen or so illegal minicab firms in Soho.

A Westminster council spokesman said: We're taking a fresh look at the situation in Soho regarding minicab operators and unlicensed sex premises. We're looking at all the options for intensifying our action against illegal sex premises, illegal minicab firms and other such premises. This means considering all the possibilities, including compulsory purchase orders.

Those who live in and around Soho have welcomed the proposals - yet to be discussed at an official council committee - which they believe could give the area more of a residential atmosphere.

Council officers aim to license as many premises as possible. Licences cost around £19,750 each, but some premises slip through the net. Westminster has the power to serve enforcement notices on clubs and bars which flout their regulations, but it is a time-consuming process.

(Typical noxious reasoning from Westminster Council. The only reason that rip-off clip joints exist at all is that there are no legal outlets for a service with an incredibly high level of demand. This demand is increasing all of the time due to an acceptance within society that sexual entertainment is no longer taboo. In previous generations the demand was held in check by peer pressure rather than by law enforcement.   Without the help of the community, the authorities will have to resort to ever more extreme measures to maintain the current repressive status quo. Why can't Westminster Council just accept that life has changed and draw up a more liberal and tolerant approach to peoples sexual choices. Life would be better for it).

30th January

 Government Censorship

From Hansard

Video Classification: Appointments

Lord Islwyn asked Her Majesty's Government: When they will make changes to the authority responsible for making arrangements for the classification of video works under the Video Recordings Act 1984.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My right honourable friend the Home Secretary has today designated Lord Taylor of Warwick and Janet Lewis Jones under Section 4(4) of the Video Recordings Act 1984. Lord Taylor and Janet Lewis Jones were appointed as Vice-Presidents designate of the British Board of Film Classification on 12 November 1998, and my right honourable friend has designated them, in that capacity, to replace Monica Sims.

Given that Jack Straw can directly appoint the top three bods at the BBFC and re-jig the job descriptions to ensure that these three are the people in effective power, I wonder if anyone is now refuting that we have Government censorship in the UK.

27th January

 The Reds vs the Blues

Welcome back to EROS TV  who resumed their hardcore satellite broadcasts last night. They had been off for several weeks whilst replacing their encryption facilities.

The encryption problem occurred after they were forced to move site, they were broadcasting from a military area in Russia and were forced to move by the authorities, when moving the military confiscated their encryption hardware.

Meanwhile plans to launch Adult Plus, another hardcore porn channel, have been put on hold by its owners. The station intended to debut in late January on Hot Bird 5 at 13şE but it is understood that ongoing legal action by Eurotica/Rendez-Vous is behind the move to postpone the launch. It appears that the Government did not follow proper procedure in their proscription of the channel so if f the legal action succeeds, it may lead to previously proscribed porn channels being relaunched in the UK.

26th January

 Gay Consent

A rare acknowledgement is due to Jack Straw and the Labour Party for passing the age of consent equalisation between gay and straight sex. The age of consent will be 16 in England, Scotland and Wales and 17 in Northern Ireland.

Of all things in life, legislation is particularly inept at regulating sex between consenting people. It is an inherently private affair. If the state allows people to get jobs, and set up homes at 16 then it seems pretty sensible to allow what inevitably happens as a consequence. No point criminalising what millions of people enjoy doing in private is there? (Unless it is on TV or video of course)

26th January

 Sex is only OK if you pay for it

From the Sunday Times Sex is only Ok if you pay for itIn a far-reaching judgment Lady Howe, chairman of the BSC, will this week censure Channel 5 for broadcasting soft-porn films in its series Hot Lines and Compromising Situations . The US dramas offer minor plot lines as a prelude to a series of very softcore sexual encounters. 

Howe will say in a statement that the ruling raises "significant issues" for the future of all terrestrial channels.  The statement adds: "The inclusion, for its own sake, of erotic material in a free-to-air television service is a step change in the use of sex on British television."  It risks an erosion of standards and could encourage the more frequent use of such material, Howe's statement continues.  The BSC ruling states that erotic material should be banished to "pay television" channels (What a noxious attitude, sex is only allowed if you can afford pay TV) , but appears to give carte blanche to explicit scenes in documentaries and dramas. It says they must be justified within a "dramatic or informative context" - raising the prospect of an official "arousal" test.

(What on earth gives this old bag the right to condemn sex as entertainment. Some of the very programmes she is whinging on about are the most popular on Channel 4 & 5. They are enjoyed by millions of people).

Viewing figures week ending Jan 10th

Eurotrash Channel 4 No 6 in top 10 3.25 million
Sex and Shopping Channel 5 No 2 in top 10 1.58 million
Emmanuelle Channel 5 No 10 in top 10 1.22 million

The BSC cannot force a broadcaster to drop programmes which fall foul of its codes but, since it was established 10 years ago, none of its rulings have been disobeyed. Its recommendations are submitted to the shameful Chris Smith , the culture secretary.

The test case is likely to lead to a clash with the Independent Television Commission (ITC), which regulates commercial television, and gave approval to Channel 5 to screen erotic programmes late at night in its original franchise application. An immediate climbdown by Channel 5 is unlikely. The erotic films attracted a regular audience of 700,000 and the station is currently showing a more explicit series of documentaries, Sex and Shopping, in the same 11.30pm slot.

This series is to be censured by the ITC in an unrelated action for "unacceptably graphic" sex scenes. The ruling will irritate the government, anxious to maintain its liberal credentials on screen censorship (LIBERAL!!! I have not read so much bollocks in the press for some time) . Smith is said to be having trouble finding a suitable successor for Howe (well I can't be easy to find many out of touch people with such bad attitude) . Howe retires at the end of March, and Smith may abolish the BSC.

Broadcasters have reacted angrily. One source said: "This is taking sexual mores back to the hypocrisy of the Lady Chatterley case of the early 1960s.  It means that sex is fine if it is packaged with a spurious message, but not if it is presented honestly for what it is."

Competition for ratings has led to an unprecedented increase in programmes about sex on the BBC and commercial channels, particularly on Channel 4 and Channel 5. Several programmes on Channel 4 could fall foul of the ruling. Its magazine programme Eurotrash shows gratuitous scenes of bizarre sexual behaviour and the station is considering screening a programme on bestiality to feature a man who boasts of his relationship with a horse.

An imported drama, Sex and the City, to be broadcast this month shows young women aping macho behaviour. In America it is only shown on pay channels because its diet of nudity, voyeurism and exotic sex is deemed too strong for the free-to-air networks. Campaigners want yet stricter rules. Shameful Julian Brazier , president of the Conservative Family Campaign, said: Lady Howe's distinction between erotic and non-titillating sex may be of interest to academics, but it will do nothing to reduce the amount of salacious material being broadcast into the home.

 
24th January

 Lolita & Crash

The BBFC have just passed Lolita for an uncut 18 rated video release. I wonder what the Daily Mail will say to that.

Meanwhile on the games front, the BBFC have finally awarded an 18 certificate to the demo version of Carmageddon II: Carpocalypse Now. The game is having a torrid time getting through the BBFC who clearly don't like the idea of points being won for mowing down pedestrians. Despite public statements suggesting that Whittam Smith and co are now willing to take rapid decisions, they have been sitting on this one for months . Anyone who wants a copy of the game can buy the green blooded zombie version with an ELSPA 15 rating and download a patch to convert it to the red blooded human version.

21st January

 Bizarre Bankruptcy

It has been confirmed that the two companies selling Channel Bizarre cards have gone into liquidation.

The administrator was informing callers that these two companies have had to close because they sell Channel Bizarre cards, and the channel has been forced to close by the UK. The Department of Culture, Media, Sport & Proscription soon put him right and made it clear that the British Government had not issued a proscription order against the channel.

Paul Goodman, the man behind Channel Bizarre has now failed with two attempts, the previous being the famed Red Hot Dutch (later Red Hot Television).

In the meantime Eurotica Rendez-Vous seem to be wooing ex-Channel Bizarre customers with a recent improvement to their programming.

14th January

 Eurotica, Another Rendez-Vous with the Courts

Hardcore porn channel Eurotica/Rendez-Vous will be back in court shortly to continue its legal battle to overturn the Proscription Order placed on it by the UK Government. An appeal hearing at the European Court today (Thursday) found that the British Government was within its right to issue the Proscription Order last year. But the EU found discrepancies with the Order that may not fulfil EU Article 22.2. This states that three warnings must be made to a channel over a 12 month period before such an Order can be placed. On this basis, the channel will take the UK Government back to the High Court within a fortnight to continue its legal appeal. The channel told What Satellite TV: We don't see how we can lose.

13th January

 British Repression in the Dock

From the What Satellite Site

The UK Government may have to relax its policy on hardcore porn channels if Eurotica/Rendez-Vous wins a big European court case tomorrow (Thursday). Bosses at the channel will be at the European Court Of Justice to appeal against last August's decision by the Government to place a Proscription Order on it - making the sale of its viewing cards illegal in the UK. The channel won a temporary injunction against the Proscription Order last year and was later given the green light to take its appeal to the EU. If this week's case is successful the bans on other hardcore channels could be lifted. But if the case is lost, the Government will continue its existing policy.

I trust that Eurotica are aware that the Home Office seems to have agreed to some liberalisation of attitudes to hardcore. They may be able to use this bit of hypocrisy in their favour. Good luck to Eurotica and lets hope the British Government is humiliated.

10th January

 Adult Plus

It was previously suggested that a prospective new hardcore satellite channel was a manoeuver to circumvent the recent proscription order on Eros TV. It now is being reported that the channel is not in fact linked to Eros TV at all and is being funded by a new group of investors.

Adult Plus intends to broadcast daily from Hot Bird 5 at 13*E from later this month. Subscription charges will be around the same as those for other similar services.

The failure of Channel Bizarre appears to be permanent particularly as the supposed battle against proscription is not a valid excuse, The Government had not even started the proscription steamroller running.

Tomorrow should see Eurotica visit the European Court in their quest to get their proscription order thrown out. Here's hoping Chris Smith gets a poke in the eye. (I noticed that Tony Blair was on TV today suggesting that the public ought to concentrate on party policy rather than Robin Cook's sexual preferences. Unfortunately, whilst Government policy seems to to be set on denying the sexual pleasures of the British people, I think it is fair game that we give them stick).

10th January

 Disney Boobs

Disney have recalled 3.4 million videos of its hit kids cartoon The Rescuers - because two frames show a photo of a topless woman.

She was not spotted in the original '70s movie after being inserted by an animator as a prank because she was only a flicker on the screen not visible to the naked eye. But freezing the video shows her in a skyscraper window as the two heroes fly past on an albatross.

(This is outrageous, I think that BBFC examiners should be made to study every single frame individually, particularly in mind numbingly boring kiddies films. I may have to write to the Daily Mail and suggest it).

8th January

 Sex and Lady Howe

Attitudes towards the portrayal of sexual activity on television have become more tolerant in the last six years, according to a survey published by the Broadcasting Standards Commission (BSC).

However, although the changes which have taken place indicate a more relaxed attitude by the majority, there is also a suggestion that the number of people who think there is too much sex on television is on the increase. Trend data collected since the early 1990s had shown a steady fall in this number. This most recent survey, conducted in the late summer of 1998, suggests that trend may have changed, with the number saying there was too much sex on television increasing from 32% to 36%.

Whilst the majority (78%) believe that sexual activity should be seen if it is central to the storyline, there is also a high degree of cynicism. Almost three-quarters of respondents said that most sex on TV was used by broadcasters to boost ratings. (I am always fascinated as to why providing programmes that a lot of people like to watch is considered so immoral)

Attitudes towards the depiction of homosexual relationships have also changed considerably since 1992. Then, 46% said that it was acceptable to show gay relationships on screen; by 1998 that figure had risen to 58%.

Speaking at the launch of the report, Lady Howe, Chairman of the Commission said: Broadcasters have to understand that whilst audiences have become more relaxed about the portrayal of sexual activity there is not a universal climate of tolerance towards explicit material, particularly if it is gratuitous. If a sexual scene is essential to the storyline then it is clear that less offence will be caused. To a significant minority much offence continues to be caused by sex on television, as broadcasters strive to make their programmes more realistic. It is important that broadcasters try to balance realism against potential offence. That balance can be helped by sensible scheduling, respecting the Watershed and the provision of suitable warnings. There is also strong evidence to suggest that audience expectations of free-to-air terrestrial television are that it will be less explicit than cable or satellite pay channels .

6th January

 A+ for Good Work from Eros TV

A new hardcore porn channel called Adult Plus is to launch in late January following the UK Government's decision to proscribe Eros TV. It is understood that the new D2-Mac channel will be run by the same owners as Eros TV and that it will broadcast daily from Hot Bird 5 at 13*E. Subscription charges will be around the same as those for Eros TV.  The shameful British Culture Secretary Chris Smith last week slapped a ban on the sale and purchase of Eros TV smartcards in the UK due to its 'explicit' nature.

3rd January

 Watford Movie Mart has been FUCT

I have been asked to tell everyone that this Sunday's and all future Watford Movie Marts are now cancelled. The shameful Watford Council have pulled the plug due to police pressure after FACT visited the show and they confiscated some region 1 DVDs and a few videos. A venue at Hatfield will replace Watford, dates will be set soon.

I am appalled that Hollywood can unilaterally impose some obnoxious restrictive practices which are immediately enforced without question by the British police acting as stooges for the media barons. When was the enforcement of regional encoding agreed by Parliament? Why do so many people have to be criminalised on the whim of Hollywood? Shame on Watford Council for supporting such bad attitude and spoiling an event that used to be enjoyed by one and all.

The Movie Mart will now be moving to  Hatfield (The Forum Theatre, Lemsford Road) on Sunday 14th March 1999. Spread the word...

2nd January

 The Ups & Downs of Satellite Porn

On the 30th December the Department for Culture, Media & Sport confirmed that a proscription had indeed come into force on the satellite porn channel EROS TV.  The Government are supposed to give the industry 21 days to get their act together but for some dubious reason they chose to enact it as a fait accompli. They are supposed to have laid the order before Parliament on December 9th but there is no mention of it on Hansard nor was there a press release. So much for open Government. The official press release spouted the same load of bollocks justification from Chris Smith as previous orders so it is not really worth repeating.

The previously prescribed Eurotica/Rendez-vous are due before the European Court on the 11th January 1999, in an attempt to overturn the ban placed on them by the UK Government. The Melon Farmers wish Eurotica/Rendez-vous every success.

Meanwhile Eurotica/Rendez-vous are to launch a new digital service on Astra at 19.2 degree's. The new digital service will use both Viacess and Seca for it's encryption. Eurotica's analogue service will continue for the foreseeable future, although it will soon move from it's current transponder on Hot Bird 1, to a new transponder on Hot Bird 5.

On the down side, Channel Bizarre announced earlier this week that it was to temporarily cease transmissions. An on-screen announcement was displayed informing viewers that the reason for this decision was due to the UK Governments proposed proscription order on the channel, and that they would return with transmissions pending legal advice.

 

UK Censorship
Archive
 UK Censorship News Archive: 1998 1999
 UK Parliament Watch Archive: 1996 1997 1998 1999
 Opinion: 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005
 Legal Debate Mail order R18s, satellite proscription etc
 Proscription of Adult Satellite Channels Department for Culture, Media, Sport & Proscription
 Human Rights Abuse - Where Do You Draw The Line? by IanG
 Films On TV Red Triangle films on Channel 4 and the cutting of Thelma and Louise on the BBC
 BSC Guidelines Worthless guidelines on taste and decency from the defunct Broadcasting Standards Commission
 Obscene Interpretation of the Law A police raid on porn historian David Flint
 Obscenity Trials The only obscenity is British Justice
 The Black Market for Sex Videos The Pornographer's Best Friend
 Customs Guidelines & Seizures Up until 2000
 The People vs HM Customs Heroic battles against HM Customs
 Escalating Costs HMRC uses as much money as it takes to ensure decisions cannot be challenged in court (Oct 2000)
 Customs Poking Around in your Lap-top