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Update: Defenders of the Faith Offer Their Views in Aussie Softcore Porn Debate

from www.theage.com.au – THE publishers of so-called lad mags and their more explicit adult counterparts have hit back at claims the easy availability of the magazines is exposing young children to harmful material.

A coalition of child experts has written to censorship ministers around the country calling for tighter restrictions on the display of the lads mags and a ban on the sale of more explicit magazines in places such as newsagents and milkbars that can be accessed by children.

But ACP Magazines, which publishes titles in both categories, said the current restrictions that force explicit titles to be put in plastic covers and limit sales to those over 18 were adequate to protect children but acknowledged there might be a need for tighter enforcement of existing rules.

”We have no issue with a stricter approach to enforcement, but we see no need for the bans being proposed,” said Scott Briggs, manager of regulatory affairs at PBL Media, the company that owns ACP.

ACP publishes lad mags Ralph, FHM and Zoo, and also the more explicit titles The Picture and People.

Any change to the classification rules would require the support of state and territory censorship ministers, who meet regularly at the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General. Victorian Attorney-General Rob Hulls said he did not want to pre-empt discussion among ministers on the issue, but said it was up to police to enforce the guidelines for displaying publications.

On the lad mags, which are targeted at men under 25, Mr Briggs said there was no need for restrictions on the way they were displayed because they were not pornographic and did not feature nudity on their covers.

As for the more explicit titles, he said restriction on sales to those 18 and over meant ”the notion that kids are getting access to what’s in those magazines” was false.

He denied ACP titles had been more frequently using younger-looking models or anyone presented as under-age, one of the criticisms made of the industry by the child experts.

”Our readers are all adults and they prefer adults,” he said. ”There’s no sense that we aim for younger-looking models even if they are over 18.”

He said the continual focus on the availability of adult print publications was ignoring that far more explicit content was available in abundance on the internet.

”You don’t have to go too hard to find it on the internet, and to regulate one aspect of the media without any plans for the other is just a bit naive [if we] think that’s going to make any impact on people’s access to pornography.”

Stephen Brandon, advertising manager at Australian Penthouse, whose unrestricted and more explicit plastic-covered versions can be sold in newsagents, blamed the ”religious right” for the push towards restrictions, despite the broad group including progressive activist Tim Costello, actor Noni Hazlehurst and author Steve Biddulph.

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