Letter: Specious arguments in favour of broadcasting freedom

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Sir: I write in support of the remarks of Lord Rees-Mogg ('Rees-Mogg in call for closure of porn channel', 21 January) about the Red Hot Dutch satellite channel that transmits pornography to this country from Denmark.

This country should decide its own laws and regulations on pornography and obscenity, as an expression of the shared values on which we want our society to be based. It appears that the 1989 EC broadcasting directive seriously compromises this principle and gives priority instead to European commercial integration.

The directive sets minimum restrictions which seem far looser than UK laws and regulations. They cover only what is likely seriously to impair the physical, mental or moral development of minors: for anyone other than a minor, it seems anything goes which any one member state is prepared to allow to be transmitted. The laws and values of other countries are overridden. If the broadcaster chooses a time or technical measures ensuring that minors will not 'normally' hear or see the programme, that is regarded as good enough.

Commercial integration of this variety makes a mockery of subsidiarity in a highly sensitive area. Unprincipled commercialism must not be allowed to bypass the national regulatory agencies, laws and standards which define what is decent and permissible in the light of our own moral and spiritual beliefs. I call on the Government urgently to seek the renegotiation of this directive.



London, SW1

23 January

The writer is chairman of the Church of England Board for Social Responsibility.