Myth: Hard-core pornography is now available in the UK thanks to an EC directive which enables it to be watched in thousands of British homes. In effect, the Government has signed away its right to censor satellite and cable TV programmes shown in the UK, and is now subject to the obscenities that the more permissive laws on the continent permit.
Response: by Mr. Joao de Deus Pinheiro, Commissioner responsible for Audiovisual Affairs.
“Article 22 of the Directive provides for the protection of minors. Member States are required to take appropriate measures to ensure that broadcasts do not include programmes which might seriously impair the physical, mental or moral development of minors, in particular those that involve pornography or gratuitous violence. Such programmes are thus in principle not allowed. Nonetheless, the Directive, in accordance with the subsidiarity principle, is only applicable through Member State legislation. The Member States retain the capacity to determine the means whereby this principle is to be respected, and have the responsibility in particular of defining the terms “pornography” and “might harm the development of minors”, in accordance with their national moral standards.
Having established this priciple, the next step is to determine under which Member State’s jurisdiction any broadcaster which may be infringing Article 22 comes.
In the event that such a broadcaster comes under the judisdiction of the Member State which objects to the reception of such programmes on its territory, then that Member State clearly has, under the terms of the Directive, the possibility of acting against the broadcaster in question.
In the case that the programmes are being transmitted by a broadcastercoming under another Member State’s jurisdiction then the Directive expressly provides for a procedure whereby the Member State of reception can exceptionally, under specific conditions monitored by the Commission, suspend such retransmission of the incriminated broadcasts on its territory.