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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 August, 2003, 11:51 GMT 12:51 UK
Nude scenes rise after watershed
Couple in bed
People are more comfortable with sex on TV
Scenes including nudity and sexual activity on terrestrial television have increased during the past four years, according to research by TV watchdogs.

Sex scenes have more than doubled from 6% to 14% since 1999, says the survey by the Broadcasting Standards Commission (BSC), the Independent Television Commission (ITC) and the BBC.

But broadcasters continue to respect the watershed, with little change in the amount of sex and nudity shown on TV before 9pm.

Nearly half (48%) of respondents thought that the amount of coverage about sex was "about right", while 44% thought there was too much and 5% said there was too little.


Paul Bolt, director of the BSC, said: "The latest research has shown that the use of the watershed remains an effective way of ensuring that viewers can feel confident that pre-watershed programming does not contain material unsuitable for family viewing."

The survey said there was a decrease in nudity before 9pm.

The increase in sex scenes, all occurring post-watershed, was boosted by a small number of programmes that had sex as one of their main themes.

Five factual shows accounted for nearly 39% of all sex scenes.

Two of those broadcast were on Channel 4 (Sex on TV and The Real Linda Lovelace) and two on Five (formerly Channel 5), Real Sex and G String Divas.


The fifth was BBC Two's Reading the Decades, which examined the best selling books in post-war Britain, including two novels with sexual themes.

One in five programmes depicted some form of sexual activity, but 60% of those only included kissing and most scenes took place within established relationships.

In total, they accounted for only 0.4% of the total broadcast time sampled.

A third of sexual scenes shown were central or relevant to the story, with a further third providing information about the characters involved.

Female nudity increased to eight in 10 (81%) of depictions in 2002.

Mr Bolt said the survey also showed that attitudes have changed over the years.

"People are now more comfortable with programming that contains sexual material as long as they are made aware of the material to be broadcast and that it is used within context," he said.

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