U.K. Hotels May Violate Law With Porn

LONDON — Hardcore pornography in the United Kingdom can only be purchased at licensed sex shops or watched in strictly-regulated cinemas, but a loophole in British law has allowed hundreds of hotels to show hardcore films, despite the fact that they are legally considered too hot for TV.

The hotels in question include several luxury groups such as Intercontinental and De Vere, as well as two Hilton hotels known to be frequented by the prime minister and cabinet representatives.

Hardcore films in the United Kingdom normally receive an “R18” certification, similar to the U.S.’s X-rating system. The British government has always enforced a strict ban on showing R18 films on television, and a government inquiry into the loophole was announced in London Sunday night.

In an official statement Monday, representatives at the Hilton Group said they had received permission from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to show R18 films.

“We started to introduce these films in our hotels in April, which was after some of the other major chains,” reads the Hilton statement. “We took advice from leading counsel and the DCMS before we did so and we are satisfied that it is within the law.”

The statement said the Hilton had taken great steps to prevent children from accessing the content, installing electronic blocks on adult TV channels in guest rooms and posting several onscreen warnings that the viewer is about to access material unsuitable for minors.

“There is also no question of children accessing this material,” the statement said.

Sixty of the 70 Hilton hotels in the United Kingdom currently offer access to hardcore films for about $23 per 24-hour period. All 19 of the four-star and five-star hotels run by De Vere also show R18 films, as do the roughly 300 hotels run by Intercontinental.

Last year the broadcasting regulation board OFCOM had discussed the possibility of showing R18 film on satellite television, but due to concerns that the content could be accessed by children decided to continue the existing all-inclusive ban on televised hardcore pornography. The seriousness of the ban was exemplified earlier this year when Playboy TV was fined nearly $45,000 after it aired an explicit film.

Although representatives at the DCMS initially told the British press that the decision to show hardcore pornography in hotels was “ultimately for the hotel chains to decide,” a statement from the office yesterday admitted that “it may be that the present legislation creates a loophole for new technologies to provide pornographic material that was not intended under existing legislation.”