Adjudication of the Ofcom Content Sanctions Committee - Playboy TV UK/Benelux Limited

Published date02 April 2009
IssuerOffice of Communications
Ofcom Content Sanctions Committee
It is Ofcom policy to state the language used on air by broadcasters who are the
subject of a sanction adjudicated on by the Content Sanctions Committee where it is
relevant to the case. Some of the language used in this decision may therefore cause
Consideration of sanction
against: Playboy TV UK/Benelux Limited (“Playboy TV”
or “The Licensee” in respect of its service
Playboy One (“Playboy One” or “the Channel”),
TLCS 767.
For: Breaches of Ofcom’s Broadcasting Code (“the
Code”) in respect of:
Rule 1.24: “Premium subscription services and
pay per view/night services may broadcast
‘adult-sex’ material between 2200 and 0530
provided that [in addition to other protections]:
there is a mandatory PIN protected
encryption system, or other eq uivalent
protection, that seeks satisfactorily to
restrict access solely to those authorised
to view; and
there are measures in place that ensure
that the subscriber is an adult;”
Rule 2.1: “Generally accepted standards must
be applied to the content of television and radio
services so as to provide adequate protection
for members of the public from the inclusion in
such services of harmful and/or offensive
material;” and
Rule 2.3: “In applying generally accepted
standards broadcasters must ensure that
material which may cause offence is justified by
the context […]. Appropriate information should
also be broadcast where it would assist in
avoiding or minimising offence.”
On: 26 September 2007, 27 September 2007, 29
November 2007, 30 November 2007 and 9
December 2007.
Decision: To impose a financial penalty (payable to HM
Paymaster General) of £22,500.
1. Summary
1.1 For the reasons set out in section 8, under powers delegated from the Ofcom
Board to Ofcom’s Content Sanctions Committee (“the Committee”), the
Committee has decided to impose a statutory sanction on Playboy TV. This
is in light of the serious and repeated breaches of the Code because of the
Licensee’s failure to ensure compliance in the broadcast of various
programmes as discussed at paragraphs 1.3-1.10 below.
1.2 Playboy One was the only entirely free-to-air and unencrypted adult (as
opposed to ‘adult sex chat’) channel situated in the ‘adult’ section of the Sky
EPG (Channel 911)
. The Channel provided adult entertainment in the form
of long and short form dramas with sexual themes and content, and sex-
related reality TV programmes and documentaries.
1.3 Ofcom received five complaints between September 2007 and January 2008
that material broadcast free-to-air and un-encrypted on Playboy One
featured explicit sexual content that was inappropriate on a free-to-air
service. Ofcom investigated material transmitted on Playboy One in seven
programmes (collectively known as the “broadcasts”):
Jenna’s American Sex Star (26 September 2007, 23:35);
Adult Stars Close-up (27 September 2007, 00:35);
Blue Collar Babes (27 September 2007, 01:05);
Sexy Girls Next Door (27 September 2007, 02:00);
Sexy Urban Legends (29 November 2007, 23:00);
Sex House (30 November 2007, 00:35); and
Sex Guides (9 December 2007, 03:30).
1.4 The broadcasts investigated included sequences depicting masturbation,
oral sex (both between women and between men and women), clear labial
detail, sexual intercourse, and full nudity. Some also included strong
language, such as “fuck” and its derivatives and “cunt”, in an overtly sexual
1.5 Ofcom assessed the material broadcast between 23:00 and 03:30 on the
dates in question. It concluded that – depending on the individual breach -
the explicitness, strength and/or sustained nature of the sexual content and
language was unacceptable for broadcast on a free-to-air channel. The
primary purpose of this material was sexual stimulation. None had a
sufficient and clear editorial context to justify its broadcast. It was considered
to be ‘adult-sex’ material under Rule 1.24 and so should have been
broadcast under encryption and in line with the other requirements of Rule
1.24. In addition the Licensee had failed to provide adequate protection for
viewers from potentially harmful or offensive material which was not justified
by the context as required in accordance with Rules 2.1 and 2.3.
1.6 Ofcom found the broadcasts in breach of Rule 1.24, 2.1 and 2.3 of the Code.
1.7 Due to the seriousness of the breaches when the broadcasts were taken
together, and their repeated nature, the case was referred to the Committee
This service used to broadcast free-to-air until 24 September 2008 under the name Playboy One.

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