U.K. Regulators Fine Adult Companies Over Content, Age Verification

May 18, 2009 12:30 PM PST
LONDON — Regulators on Monday lowered the boom on two adult entertainment companies owned by British media mogul Richard Desmond, fining them about $80,000 over the lack of age-verification labels on websites and airing content that was too explicit for television.

Ofcom, which regulates online and broadcast content in the U.K., said Desmond-owned Portland Enterprises Limited was fined after a “Bathroom Bitches” was shown on Television X2 last September during the day hours.

Ofcom officials said an episode of “Bathroom Bitches” included scenes of a woman masturbating, earning the company a $42,000 fine. Television X2 includes primarily amateur content, including the “girl-next-door, U.K. housewives and suburban couples.

In the U.K., adult content operators can show encrypted programming only during the hours of 10 p.m.-5:30 a.m.

Another of Desmond’s properties, RHF Productions Limited, was fined more than $38,000 after its Red Hot services promoted websites without any age verification.

RHF Productions broadcast trailers over Red Hot TV, which included references to RHF's website address and a Portland Enterprises web address.

The websites featured content equivalent to R18-rated material, which could be viewed without registration, Ofcom said.

Ofcom also received complaints about explicit sexual content being shown during the daytime in promotional graphics on the Red Hot Channels.

The still pictures did not show any explicit content but did refer to URLs that led to websites containing explicit sexual material equivalent to R18-rated material, which could be seen by individuals under the age of 18.

"Licensees must ensure that they do not broadcast references to websites which give access to R18-rated equivalent material without appropriate protection," Ofcom said in a release.

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