Russia cuts back on erotic content

Pay TV operators respond to call from government

SOCHI, Russia -- Russian pay TV operators have begun to cut back on erotic content, responding to a soft warning from the government.

Comstar-Direct, a provider of IPTV and cable services, has taken the channels Free-X TV, Dorcel TV, X-Dream TV and Private Spice off its packages, replacing them with softer content channels such as Playboy TV, Adult Channel and Russian Night.

The Russian business daily Kommersant reported that other pay TV operators, such as Central Telegraph and Cosmos-TV, also may remove erotic channels from their packages or restrict their broadcasting to 1 a.m.-7 a.m.

The move comes amid initiatives by deputies of the State Duma, the lower house of Russian Parliament, to curb "erotic content in media." But, according to a Russian media report, Comstar-Direct rather responded to an unofficial warning coming from the government's top echelons. Under current Russian legislation, though, the broadcasting of channels such as Free-X TV is not illegal.

Meanwhile, according to the Finam brokerage, revenue of pay TV operators obtained from the sales of "hard" erotic packages, was up to $130 million last year, amounting to 80% of all premium package sales.