U.K. TV Networks Push to Make Shows With Adult Themes, Swearing Available All Day

BSkyB Satellite - Sign - 2010
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An association that represents BSkyB, MTV and others proposes pin number access for primetime shows during daytime schedules.

LONDON - Britain's Commercial Broadcasters' Association (COBA), which represents such TV network operators as BSkyB, UKTV and MTV, has asked the U.K. government to change rules to allow programs with adult content or swearing to be available on cable and satellite channels at all times - with safeguards that would keep such content from children.

The industry body wants an already existing pin code system available at all times across all programming. Under the system, adults type in code numbers via the remote control to confirm they are old enough to watch a show featuring adult content.

The U.K. has what is known as the 9pm watershed in place for all broadcasters – the time after which adult TV content is allowed. This restricts the kind of content that can be offered in day-time slots.

The industry lobbying group has asked the U.K. government's department of culture, media and sport to consider expanding the pin number system to cover all shows on cable and satellite channels throughout the day. The new system would see audiences enter a pin number every time they wanted to watch an adult show before the watershed to address parents' concerns about language and decency.

The proposed overhaul would not cover adult channels.

The system would work on a voluntary basis. COBA believes it "will provide more choice for audiences, while offering secure and established protection processes," the organization said. A comparable system is already in place for online TV program catch-up services.

CoBA executive director Adam Minns said: “The system of pin protection is well established in the U.K. It has proven to be effective technically and is something with which audiences are familiar – it is now used on a range of services. At the same time, it provides consumer protection that is arguably more effective than the watershed regime. Extending such a regime to other services could potentially encourage innovative new forms of content delivery."