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Thursday, September 10, 1998 Published at 18:18 GMT 19:18 UK


European porn channel banned in UK

Channel is delivered by satellite for 129 per year

The UK Culture Secretary, Chris Smith, has tried to stop a European television company broadcasting what he describes as "hard-core pornography" into the UK via satellite.

An order outlawing the "Eurotica Rendez-Vous" channel comes into force on Friday.

From then it will be a criminal offence in the UK to supply "smart cards" designed to encode Eurotica broadcasts and programme material.

Advertising for or on the channel will carry similar penalties.

Mr Smith said: "Televised hard-core pornography is not acceptable in this country.

"We must guard against the possibility that children could be exposed to sexually explicit material of this kind."

Smith's legal gamble

Mr Smith acted after a High Court judge took a decision allowing the company to challenge the legality of a ban imposed on it in July.

The channel is jointly owned by companies from Luxembourg and Denmark, although it is based in France.

The owners say the transmission mode is encrypted so that it can only be viewed by adults who own an individual smart card late at night.

The court decision allows them a judicial review of Mr Smith's ban, known as a proscription order under the terms of the UK's 1990 Broadcasting Act.

[ image: Chris Smith: Children must be protected]
Chris Smith: Children must be protected
It means Mr Smith is taking a gamble since the government could face a damages claim if the courts eventually find it has acted unlawfully.

The risk is a calculated one since the judge said he had allowed the judicial review because he considered the company had "very modest prospects of eventual success".

Mr Smith insisted the proscription order was "in the public interest", and considered the service to have infringed the EC Broadcasting Directive's provisions on the protection of children.

Mr Smith said: "We are determined to protect children from satellite pornography and my message to pornographers is clear.

"We will not tolerate material such as this on our television sets, and the government will not hesitate to take this action again in future."

Children more likely to view

Eurotica Rendez-Vous is the fourth channel the UK Government has taken action against after similar orders against Red Hot Television, TV Erotica, and Satisfaction Club TV.

It has been available to UK viewers for 129 a year since August 1997.

But channel head Roger Kinsbourg warned children were now more likely to see it.

Banning it, he warned, would encourage piracy.

"This will expose minors even more because broadcasts are not being controlled," he said.

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