The reception may be a little murky, but the launch in Britain of the Red Hot Dutch channel confirms the fears of the anti-porn lobby that the deregulation of European broadcasting renders the British government almost powerless to prevent such material reaching its airwaves.
The European Directive on trans-frontier broadcasting, accepted by Britain last year, says that television stations may only be regulated in their country of origin, even if their programmes are aimed at an international audience. Red Hot Dutch is broadcast from the Netherlands, where pornography is tolerated.
Red Hot Dutch, which has 18,000 subscribers in the Netherlands, is marketed in Britain by Continental Television, based in Manchester. The company says that after only two weeks of advertising, 3,000 British viewers have signed up.
The service is being beamed to Britain on the Eutelsat II-F1 satellite. Most British dishes are set up to receive broadcasts from the Astra satellite, but they can receive tolerable pictures from Eutelsat by the addition of a low noise blocker (LNB), which costs pounds 98 plus an installation charge. After that a subscription to the porn channel, including a decoder, costs pounds 47.25 a quarter.
Programmes will be broadcast from 11pm on Saturday to 4am on Sunday. Subscribers will have a personal identification number to prevent children from watching.
The Department of National Heritage said yesterday that the Government had a right of redress under the directive, but the process was cumbersome. The Adult Channel, on Astra, broadcasts moderately steamy material to satellite viewers, but it is based in Britain and regulated. Mark Garner, a consultant to Continental, said Red Hot Dutch would 'make Astra adult-type TV shows look like the BBC's Children's Hour'.