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Rogers Cable Nixes Porn Preview

Toronto — Rogers Cable has cancelled its free weekend-long preview of three adult-oriented channels and doesn’t expect to offer similar viewings in the future.

“We get requests from broadcasters all the time and we generally comply but [president and chief executive officer Edward Rogers] felt . . . it was not something he wanted to facilitate going forward,” said company spokeswoman Taanta Gupta.

Yesterday, The Globe and Mail ran a story on the pending 54-hour preview that included objections from lobby groups that feared children could wind up watching the material, despite numerous measures taken by Rogers to prevent underage viewing. Ms. Gupta said Canada’s largest cable company offered similar viewings in recent years and didn’t receive any complaints.

Back story: If you are an Ontario Rogers Cable subscriber with a digital set-top box and your kids know the PIN number, watch out: They could be clicking their way to free porn all weekend long.

The cable giant is offering customers free previews of three hard-core adult channels — a movie channel, an XXX “action clips” channel and a gay-oriented channel called Maleflixxx — from tomorrow at 8 p.m. to Monday at 2 a.m. in an effort to boost subscribers to those channels, which normally cost $19.95 each a month.

Rogers Cable spokeswoman Taanta Gupta said that the company has offered free viewings of adult channels a few times over the past four years and “have not had any issues.”

She explained that unlike free viewings of Fox News Channel, Bloomberg News and MTV Canada — which can be watched simply by tuning into the channel — customers have to confirm that they want to watch this weekend’s offerings by entering a personal identification number.

Each digital box comes with a preassigned PIN of 0-0-0-0. However, Ms. Gupta said, “We strongly encourage people to put in their own PINs.”

PIN numbers must be entered on digital boxes to order pay-per-view events such as professional wrestling, new-release movies and adult flicks. Parents can also use the PIN system to block channels they don’t want children to watch.

“That’s what PIN numbers are for,” Ms. Gupta said.

What’s more, Rogers is putting a warning on Channel 85 reminding parents to block the adult-themed programming this weekend.

Despite the protective measures, the programming decision is raising objections.

“Quite frankly, I’m shocked they’re [Rogers] going this route,” said Susan Shetler, the founder of the Oshawa, Ont., chapter of lobby group Canadians Addressing Sexual Exploitation.

“I don’t know what the purpose of this is. If people want that kind of entertainment they know where to get it. . . . I don’t think we need it for free viewing.”

She later added, “Pictures are worth a thousand words, images like that can stay in a child’s mind.”

Ottawa-based watchdog Friends of Canadian Broadcasting wouldn’t comment on the merits of the preview. However, spokesman Jim Thompson called the move “consistent with Rogers values.

“They’re in the business of making money and they’re going to make money on whatever programming they think will sell, including this kind of programming,” he said.

“It’s a long-standing approach of that company.”

The Canadian adult video market is estimated to generate more than $500-million in annual sales.

More than $4-billion (U.S.) is reportedly spent each year on adult video sales and rentals, which includes television-based purchases.

Rogers is the largest cable operator in Canada, feeding TVsignals into more than two million homes across Ontario, Newfoundland and New Brunswick, 800,000 of which are digital cable subscribers.

 

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