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Society applauds TelstraClear Axing of Sky TV Porn

P.O. Box 13-683 Johnsonville www.spcs.org.nz

Media Release 19 July 2005

Society applauds TelstraClear Axing of Sky TV Porn

The Society applauds the decision of TelestraClear’s new chief executive, Dr Allan Freeth, to pull the plug on its “three adult hardcore [porn] Chilli channels from its pay-TV business Saturn TV”. Spokesman Mathew Bolland says the decision to drop the pay-per-view channels came following a review of the entire content broadcast on Saturn. "The view is that adult content is inconsistent with the company's values and standards. It's not something we'll be broadcasting," he said. Saturn won't be broadcasting Sky's adult channels - Playboy and Spice 1 and 2 - and won't be including adult content when it moves from analogue to digital transmission on the hybrid fibre coax cable network. Customers have been notified of the change by letter. As the Dominion Post (11 July) reports: ‘The decision reflects a new style and direction under Dr Freeth, who took the reins [of TelstraClear] in late April…’ Dr Freeth is reported to have said: ‘It’s a leadership decision… If you say an organisation is about integrity, about trust and about respect for people, it’s about doing the right thing by the community, then you have to have some boundaries, I think, about the activities and bahaviours you’re involved in.’

The Society agrees with Dr Freeth that he promotion and broadcast of porn demeans the integrity of any organisation as it demonstrates lack of respect for community values. “It is not surprising,” says Society president Mr Petrus, “that the National Business Review, which has attacked the Society over its efforts to have film festival films containing gratuitous sexual violence, necrophilia, graphic violence, hard-core porn and other objectionable content reviewed; appears to have taken strong exception to Dr Freeth’s decision. The NBR has sought to belittle the Society over its watchdog role censorship issues and now appears to be vilifying an industry leader under the guise of concern for shareholders’ slice of company profits.

The NBR argues that Dr Freeth’s decision will harm TelstraClear’s shareholders because the axing of the porn channels will lower profits. It accuses him of “making a censorship standard based on his personal attitude to pornography” and asks the question” “Will shareholders approve?” Kate McLaughlan of the NBR claims that Dr Freeth’s decision “raises big questions about his business acumen”. She quotes an anonymous “analyst” as saying: “This self appointed censor is costing his shareholders money”. She asks, “what right does Dr Freeth have to censor content?” and provides the answer by quoting an “astounded Shareholders Association chairman, Bruce Sheppard,” who responds emphatically: “None”. Sheppard adds: “I can’t see anything wrong with selling porn as long as you don’t label it as something else – maybe TelstraClear should just call the channel the ‘rough bondage and discipline channel’. But there’s no place in capitalism for anything other than maximising profits”.

Society president, Mike Petrus, says “Sheppard’s reasoning provides an ethically bankrupt basis on which to try and justify the screening of hard core porn and smut. One of the Society’s objects is to focus public attention on ‘the harmful nature of obscenity, pornography and violence’ and the axing of these porn channels will be applauded by the vast majority of New Zealanders”.

The Dominion Post reports that the Chilli adult channel had about 3000 subscribers and Dr Freeth says “the revenue was small beer” in Teltstraclear’s $700 million turnover.

“The continuing availability of three porn channels to Sky TV subscribers continues to be of concern,” says Society president Mike Petrus. “We intend to call SkyTV management to account for its promotion of pornography and ask it to follow Dr Freeth’s leadership example and axe this objectionable content,” he said.


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