Adelphia Halts Adult Content Offer Amid Criticism

Jeff Berg
GREENWOOD VILLAGE, Colo. — Less than a month after it was crowned one of the leading providers of adult content in the United States, Adelphia Communications Corp. has rescinded its offering of XXX-rated content amid a flurry of criticism from conservative Christian groups.

Adelphia, once thought of as the most conservative cable providers for its refusal to carry the Spice channel, announced on Feb. 2 that it would be offering the new content, provided by Playboy Enterprises Inc., in Southern California and would be slowly rolling it out to areas across the country.

“Some concern has been expressed over this type of adult programming,” Adelphia Vice President of Corporate Communications Paul Jacobson said in a written statement. “Adelphia will remove it from all of its systems.”

Currently in bankruptcy protection, the channel first began offering adult content in 2003 with the introduction of “x” and “double-x” rated films, which featured nudity and simulated sex, and actual intercourse and oral sex, respectively.

Adelphia’s new addition would have provided customers with the ability to watch graphic, detailed intercourse and oral sex, as well as “other practices.”

“This programming is widely distributed through satellite and other cable providers,” Jacobson said. “There is readily available technology to block it.”

Adelphia, in fact, had already promised that all of the content would be provided with a block feature design to keep children from being exposed to adult content.

Adult content offers an attractive incentive to cable and satellite providers, who often have very low profit margins on normal plans, but keep a profit of 80 to 90 percent on adult content, experts say.

“When cable [operators] offer XXX content as opposed to X content, we see 50 to 100 percent more business,” said Ken Boenish, president of New Frontier’s Erotic Networks unit. “We also see a difference of $1 to $2 in retail rate.”

Adelphia was hesitant to name the exact cause of its reversal, but did tell XBiz that there had been a reevaluation about a week after the operator’s new content caught media attention in early February.

Speculation is that a large amount of the criticism that Adelphia cites in its statement was provided by conservative Christian groups that expressed outrage at the possibility of another cable provider offering adult content.

“Profitability and popularity are terrible criteria for evaluating worth, especially related to moral issues such as pornography,” said Rick Schatz, president of the National Coalition for the Protection of Children and Families. “Until this trend is realized and reversed, companies like Adelphia will shirk their individual responsibility and replace it with their seemingly benign policy of providing what the public wants – regardless of the harm to individuals, families and the community as a whole.”

Schatz and his group openly advocated sending complaints to the United States Department of Justice and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales in opposition to Adelphia’s plan shortly after the story initially made headlines.

Adelphia will continue to provide customers with X and XX rated content.