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Thursday, April 29, 1999 Published at 00:40 GMT 01:40 UK


Channel 5 rapped over sex series

Channel 5's late night series has been judged too steamy

Channel 5 has been rapped by a television watchdog over a controversial series on the sex industry.

The Broadcasting Standards Commission (BSC) ruled on Thursday that the series Sex And Shopping included explicit scenes which were "unacceptable for broadcast at any time".

It upheld complaints about six programmes in the series, saying they went "beyond acceptable boundaries".

But four editions of the late-night documentary series were cleared, and complaints about the sexual language featured were also dismissed.

Coincidentally, Channel 5 announced on Wednesday that is is aiming to commission a second series of Sex And Shopping, as well as showing repeats of the original shows with cuts.

[ image: BSC: 'Beyond acceptable boundaries']
BSC: 'Beyond acceptable boundaries'
Members of the BSC looked at each of the series' 10 episodes after receiving 19 complaints from viewers about explicitness and language in the series.

The editions about which complaints were upheld included one dealing with pornography which would not be acceptable in the UK, one about male pornography stars, and another about lesbian pornography.

Channel 5 said the purpose of the series had been to explore the differences between material legally available in the UK and elsewhere.

It said it had also called into question the effectiveness of domestic laws.

The series had included brief, censored examples of the type of material being discussed, but a warning about the footage and language had preceded each programme, it said.

'Overly graphic and explicit'

The BSC said it was concerned that at times "the duration and explicitness of what was shown had out-weighed the journalistic purpose.

"Despite pixellation, some programmes had revealed the female sexual organs in detail; the reality of what was taking place, including sexual intercourse, had been clear and was unacceptable for broadcast at any time."

The six shows about which complaints were upheld "had all gone beyond acceptable boundaries because of the inclusion of overly graphic and explicit material".

The Independent Television Commission had already criticised the Sex And Shopping Series, saying some of the shows were "unacceptably explicit for transmission at any time".

Channel 5 was condemned by the BSC earlier this year for the sexual content of its output. The BSC was particularly unhappy with the screening of erotic films in a regular Friday evening slot.

A spokesman for Channel 5 said: "Only three of the shows were highlighted as being of concern to the ITC, which had no problem with the other three."

He said Channel 5 had worked to the ITC's guidelines in making the shows and the station was not obliged to follow BSC guidelines. When the shows were repeated, the three of concern to the ITC would be edited.

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