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Friday, 16 August, 2002, 15:25 GMT 16:25 UK
France considers TV porn ban
Canal Plus
Canal Plus shows pornography late at night

"I'm known as John B Root, as a pornographer. My real name is Jean Guillore..."


If porn is banned from TV, the situation will become worse - the quality of the films will decrease

John B Root
He may have two names but there's only way of describing what John B Root does.

The former children's author is now France's best known hard core pornographer.

His films are shown late at night on the mainstream private channel, Canal Plus, and he is a staunch defender of his chosen genre.

"Porno has really important things to say about the way we live, about society, about people. So it's stupid to say that porn is dangerous - it is not dangerous," he says.

Children attacked

But that's not a view shared by the French parliament, where moves are afoot to ban all hardcore porn films from television.

Christine Boutin
Boutin: Porn shown in all hotels
MPs believe they're part of the reason for a recent spate of sex attacks by schoolchildren on other schoolchildren.

Christine Boutin, a centre-right MP who stood as a family values candidate in this year's presidential election, is one of those leading the campaign to clean up television.

"If you arrive at any hotel in France late in the evening with your young children and switch on the television set, what do you see? Porn films without any attempt to scramble the signal - we have to put a stop to that."


It's true that you see plenty of sexy girls on the TV

Dominique Baudis, TV regulator
But, as he sat editing his latest epic, John B Root said that banning his films would not protect the nation's morals, and would in fact harm its artistic heritage.

"If porn is banned from TV, the situation will become worse. The quality of the films will decrease, there will be more and more cheap and dirty videos.

"It's absolutely stupid because there will be as many consumers for porn movies as there are now, but the porn films will be cheaper - it will be a disaster for everybody and a cultural disaster."

Hypocrisy claim

He adds that whatever one's critical perspective on his work, removing it from the screens here would be hypocritical.

Dominique Baudis
Baudis: Children watch late-night films in secret
"About sexuality, we are very a schizophrenic country. You see sex everywhere: in mainstream films, in magazines - every TV show is sexual.

"It is very easy to accuse the porn industry of sexualising the society - this is absolutely not true."

And in a recent opinion poll, 80% of French people said that blue movies - even very dark blue ones - didn't offend them.

But Dominic Baudis, head of the body which regulates television in France, the Superior Audio Visual Council, does not believe that blue is the colour.

"It's true that you see plenty of sexy girls on the TV," he told me.

"But that's life and they're in early evening shows which kids watch with their parents. If things get too bad, the parents can always change channels.

"With porn films, it's completely different - they're on late at night, so the children have to watch them in secret."

So parliament must decide whether porn is one of France's cultural assets - or a menace to French society.

See also:

30 Jul 02 | Entertainment
25 Apr 02 | Review
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