UK viewers could soon watch post-watershed programmes before 9pm under proposals being put forward by a lobbying group for cable and satellite broadcasters.
Peak-time shows are currently not allowed to be shown before the watershed, unless they are cut to remove swearing, violence and sex. However, pay-per-view programmes and content on premium film subscription channels are allowed before the watershed because viewers have to key in a pin code before they can watch them.
The Commercial Broadcasters’ Association (Coba), which represents broadcasters including Sky, UKTV and MTV, has asked the Department for Culture, Media and Sport for regulations to be changed to extend this pin protection system to cover all other shows on cable and satellite channels.
Audiences would have to enter the pin every time they wanted to watch a peak-time show before the watershed, allaying parents’ fears that such a move could mean a relaxing of the 9pm boundary on language, taste and decency.
The system would be on a voluntary basis and Coba believes it “will provide more choice for audiences, while offering secure and established protection processes”.
Coba has put the plan in its submission to the DCMS for the communications review taking place ahead of a new communications bill, saying: “To open up new potential ways of making content available, regulations should allow broadcasters on a voluntary basis to choose to make other appropriate forms of linear content available via pin protection.”