Satellite porn ban to be challenged in Europe

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The Independent Online
TORY MPs warned last night that pornographic programmes could be broadcast by satellite into Britain as a result of a legal challenge by the European Commission.

The National Heritage Department yesterday confirmed that it had been notified by the Commission that Britain was being taken to court over its interpretation of rules on jurisdiction over satellite broadcasts.

The challenge, which threatens to revive the row over the influence of adult films on children, could remove Britain's right to stop Continental satellite companies broadcasting here.

Britain is already facing a challenge in the European Court by the company which broadcasts Red Hot Dutch, a European porn satellite station, following a ban on the promotion and sale of equipment for viewers in Britain.

The Commission challenge would have a wider impact. It insists that Britain should have no jurisdiction to prevent satellite companies from broadcasting in Britain.

But Britain believes the Commission is wrong and is ready to fight the case. It says its jurisdiction will apply if European satellite broadcasters attempt to station satellite dishes in this country. Tory MPs, who are incensed at the Commission's challenge, said at stake was Britain's right to stop pornographic material being broadcast.

David Alton, the Liberal Democrat MP who successfully forced a tightening in the laws against video nasties, said it should be made an issue in the forthcoming European elections.

'It is totally unacceptable interference in what is a domestic issue,' he said.

Tory MPs are also threatening to seek the sacking of James Ferman as director of the British Board of Film Classification, in the wake of the video nasties row, for failing to be tough enough.

Hamish McRae, page 19

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