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16. 4. 98

Official Journal of the European Communities

C 117/169

(98/C 117/231)


by David Hallam (PSE) to the Commission

(13 October 1997)

Subject: Transfrontier transmission of hard-core pornographic material across the European Union

In his response to my Written Question P-2792/96 ( 1 ), the Commissioner stated that the Commission will be asking the United Kingdom to confirm the basis on which it considers that the ‘Adult Channel’, ‘Fantasy Channel’ and ‘Playboy Channel’, (which have been qualified by the UK authorities as ‘soft pornography’) do not infringe Article 22 of Directive 89/552/EEC ( 2 ).

Has the Commission had any response from the UK, and if so, is it satisfied with the basis they put forward for claiming compliance by the aforementioned channels to Article 22?

( 1 ) ( 2 )

OJ C 83, 14.3.1997, p. 68. OJ L 298, 17.10.1989, p. 23.

Answer given by Mr Oreja on behalf of the Commission

(6 November 1997)

The Commission did indeed contact the United Kingdom authorities on the matter raised by the Honourable Member. They explained that, unlike the non-British licensed channels (such as TV Erotica, Rendez-vous) against which proscription orders were made in accordance with the procedures set out in Article 2(2) of Directive 89/552/EEC, the programme content of the three British licensed channels mentioned is considered acceptable. Article 22 of the Directive bans the transmission of programmes ‘likely to impair the physical, mental or moral development of minors’, except where it is ensured, ‘by selecting the time of the broadcast or by any technical measure, that minors in the area of transmission will not normally hear or see such broadcasts’. All three British channels are subscription channels, encrypted and broadcast late at night. They rarely contain explicit sexual or gratuitously violent material, and in respect of sexual acts in particular depict them quite differently from the treatment given to them in hard-core films shown on the proscribed channels.

Nevertheless the British authorities have assured the Commission that the Independent television commission is sensitive to the problematic nature of these channels, and regularly monitors them to ensure compliance with its programme code, conformity with which is a licence condition. The British authorities informed the Commission that there were only 11 complaints from viewers over the previous 12 months, usually when a cable company had experienced technical problems and one of these channels had broadcast accidentally ‘in the clear’. All such complaints were immediately dealt with, and the technical fault rectified.

The Commission is therefore satisfied that the British licensed channels are carefully monitored, that their content does not include material which might ‘seriously impair the physical, mental or moral development of minors’, which is not permitted under the Directive, and that the technical measures and broadcast time are sufficient to ensure their general unavailability to minors.

(98/C 117/232)


by Florus Wijsenbeek (ELDR) to the Commission

(20 October 1997)

Subject: Need for a European School in The Hague

Is the Commission aware that staff of the European Patents Office in Rijswijk have no access to a European School facility, whereas the Patents Head Office in Munich does?