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Thursday, January 28, 1999 Published at 09:47 GMT


Soft porn warning from TV watchdog

Claudia Schiffer in the controversial Citroen advert

The erotic programming on Channel 5 could lead to soft porn on mainstream channels, the Broadcasting Standards Commission is warning.

The commission has upheld four complaints against the late-night programme Compromising Situations and said viewers wanted different standards from terrestrial and subscription stations.

[ image: Channel 5: programmes vetted]
Channel 5: programmes vetted
Another complaint was upheld against the film Centrefold, shown last July, on the grounds that its scenes of non-consensual sex were "beyond acceptable boundaries".

The BSC said complaints about Compromising Situations and the US drama series Hotlines raised "significant issues for public debate".

It said: "In the commission's view, 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."

But the Independent Television Commission had found nothing objectionable in other films in the Compromising Situations strand.

It rejected complaints about four different Compromising Situations films last year.

A spokeswoman said there had been no breach of the ITC code, which says portrayal of sexual behaviour was "defensible in context and presented with tact and discretion".

In a pre-emptive letter to The Times, Mr Elstein compared Channel 5's predicament to that of Lady Chatterley's Lover in the 1960s.

"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," he said.

Explicit material

In its defence, Channel 5 said the Compromising Situations programmes had been made for television and vetted for unacceptably explicit material.

Lady Elspeth Howe debates the issue on BBC Radio 4's Today programme
BSC chairman Lady Elspeth Howe returned fire against Mr Elstein in a letter to The Times for publication on Wednesday.

"The commission works openly and independently," she said. It could find in favour of the broadcaster as well as against it and published its findings and the reasons for them.

She told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "There is a more liberal attitude to sex scenes but they need to be justified."

TV sex more accepted

A recent survey carried out by the Broadcasting Standards Commission says people are becoming more tolerant of sex on TV.

But many viewers believed that sex was used to sell products on television. Women questioned singled out the controversial advertisement for Citroen cars, in which supermodel Claudia Schiffer strips, as unacceptable and gratuitous.

In the six years since the last survey was carried out, numbers who believe there is "too much" sex have actually risen with the figure increasing from 32% to 36%.

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