Content originally taken from @babes_tv and the Tumblr blog, check out what they had to say! – Bang Babes – a show wiped out by regulator Ofcom, ironically, mere weeks after the babe channels were legitimised as a TV broadcast. The images were selected on aesthetic grounds, to represent the general aura of the channel’s visual output, which for the most part was no more likely to offend than any other babeshow in the pre-Teleshopping era…
For as long as the UK TV babeshows have existed, regulatory action has been a concern. At one stage it looked most unlikely that the babe channels would ever find legitimacy on British television. Before September 2010, sexually-themed live babeshows had no basis to operate in Britain, and much of what they were doing broke existing rules. But the clearest technical breaches back in the late noughties were not matters of nudity or suggestive mime – they were matters of advertising. The BCAP Advertising Standards Code prohibited the babe channel night shows from advertising their own service of adult phone chat on any unencrypted TV channel, and in 2008, Ofcom clearly stressed that enough was enough. If the night time babeshows did not encrypt their output, they would be taken off air for breach of the BCAP code. Check out encrypted content by becoming a Babestation VIP member!
At that time, the idea of categorising babeshows as Teleshopping was put forward by Ofcom, as a potential means for the programmes to stay on air. However, in 2008 this only applied to shows with non-sexual phonesex lines, and there was no question of adult babeshows avoiding forced encryption. Those who remember the Freeview night shows of the late noughties will recall that they implemented a dubious workaround for the above rulings, whereby they promoted their sex chat service without actually telling viewers what it was.
Direct or explicit promotional language such as “dirty” and “sex”, was replaced with euphemisms, such as the memorable C-word: “cheeky”. It was obviously much more difficult to sell an cheap phone sex service without ever explicitly telling viewers what it was, but at least the workaround allowed the channels to trade for the time it took Ofcom to scratch their heads and come to a decision on whether or not the workaround was acceptable.
Fortunately for the babe channels, Ofcom had continued to survey public opinion in the interim. The results, surprisingly for some, showed that actually, there was no significant public opposition to the advertising of adult chat on TV, provided it was properly designated and not accessible to minors. This changed the regulator’s intentions regarding forced encryption for adult babeshows, and it was decided that both day shows and night shows could be legitimised by way of reclassification. Hence, in September 2010, the babeshows were given the green light to move into the broadcasting category of Teleshopping.
The negative side of the Teleshopping categorisation was that Ofcom could now apply official guidelines to the babe channels, essentially telling them what was or wasn’t allowed. But the overwhelming positive was that the babeshows were now an accepted broadcasting type. Provided they followed the guidelines, the constant worry about being taken off air was over.
ARE THE BABE CHANNELS OVER-REGULATED?
Since the reclassification, visual content on the babeshows has changed significantly. Bikinis and underwear sets on the day shows have been replaced by more substantial clothing, and virtually all physical contact has been filtered out of all shows – day or night. ‘Hand-thongs’ have become a thing of the past, and a wide array of suggestive mimes have disappeared, etc, etc…
Whilst most of the above was considered questionable and liable to cause offence all along by Ofcom, the difference since 2010 has been that with the babeshows finally recognised as a programming type, the regulator has been able to officially document its stance in a set of specific guidelines. Naturally, the channels will adhere to official guidelines a lot more rigidly than they’ll police their content ‘by conscience’, so it appears that the rules have tightened dramatically since 2010. But in fact, the basic rules have been the same throughout the life of the babeshows, and they’re pretty simple…
THE ACTUAL RULES
A lot of people think sex and explicit nudity is banned on television. It isn’t. What’s banned is offensive and potentially harmful/corruptive content. So if sex is presented in a context which the general public is deemed to accept as inoffensive and harmless, it can be screened, and indeed there’s nothing Ofcom can do to stop it being screened. If, however, it’s presented in a context which is deemed likely to offend, harm or corrupt, then it can’t be screened. This is why highly explicit sexual imagery is deemed permissable within, say, a serious educational programme, but not within anything which can fairly be categorised purely as ‘perv fodder’. The former is considered inoffensive and beneficial; the latter is considered potentially offensive or corruptive. That’s the difference.
The easiest way for a TV channel to render sexual content inoffensive, is to mitigate it with a worthy context. Mainstream channels do this by default. Even programmes about sex on the mainstream channels have justified fairly graphic sequences with context, and got away with it. Sexcetera, for example, presented itself as a documentary about the sex industry. At least one mitigating factor was therefore an educational context.
But the babe channels like babestation, studio 66, xpanded and red light central have virtually never tried to present their adult material as anything other than unmitigated ‘perv fodder’, and this has been a huge handicap for them when it comes to defending their output against complaints. Where other channels can say: “Ah, but that was an informative documentary, and the graphic scenes were vital in the audience’s full understanding of the subject”, the babe channels can only really say: “Yep, it’s a fair cop. We were trying to encourage more blokes to behave like pervs”. It’s not bias on the part of the regulator. It’s a lack of any viable defence on the part of the babeshows.
SHOULD THE CHANNELS FIGHT OFCOM?
Obviously, if a decision made by a regulator is based on a misconception (the accusation is inaccurate, for example), then a channel would be wise to at least appeal it, and this has been done successfully in the past. But when a channel is found clearly in breach of the regulations and the only thing in dispute is the regulations themselves, then it would be most unwise for the channel to try and take Ofcom to court. It would cost a lot of money, the channel would almost certainly lose the case, and court actions require A LOT of information to be divulged, usually under scrutiny of the media. Would the average premium rate adult service want to be asked a series of tough questions about the full detail of its operations, under the scrutiny of the media? I’m guessing not.
DO THEY EVEN NEED TO FIGHT OFCOM?
The short answer to this is no. Babestation have stated on forums in the past that they have no need to challenge the regulators, and whilst some of their programming is licenced overseas and thus able to evade Ofcom’s more ‘nitpicky’ stipulations, other Babestation output is UK licenced, and subject to the same level of policing as every other TV babe channel. But a debate about licences really misses the point. The babeshows don’t need to challenge Ofcom because they’re able to make money as things stand. They have full legitimacy as advertisers of adult services, and there are plenty of ways to market those services without the use of hand-thongs or girl-on-girl groping.
As babe channel fans, of course we love the most powerful visual content, but the shows can advertise effectively without it, and therefore any cries of “Take Ofcom to court!” are futile. Indeed, the current broadcasting regulations are tailor-made for babe channels. If Ofcom permitted unrestricted sexual content on TV, the babeshows would almost inevitably have a lot more competition from alternative adult programming, of a type which just couldn’t exist within the current rules. Ofcom allows just enough adult content for the babeshows to drive and sell their services, but not so much that other parties can set up porn channels like sexstation and take all that business away.