Spice turns up porn heat with Hot outlet

NEW YORK — The Spice Network — facing big revenue losses because of a federal law that in effect blocks out adult channels on cable systems from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. — has created an even more explicit channel called Spice Hot.

Sources said Spice has decided to push the boundaries from the hard-R content of the rigorously edited porn movies now running on the original Spice channel to the much more lightly edited, soft-X style of Spice Hot’s pictures for at least two reasons:

A test in Columbus, Ohio, showed buy rates for the channel increased dramatically when scenes depicting sexual penetration were included.

By restricting Playboy, Spice and similar channels from providing network service between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. (unless the cable system employs blocking equipment that scrambles the picture and the soundtrack), Congress, through Section 505 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, has by default created a safe harbor for cable porn, a sort all-night sex party between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Section 505 took effect May 18.

One executive from a cable competitor of Spice, who requested anonymity, said Spice’s new channel is “asking for trouble.” A local district attorney up for re-election, the executive said, might decide to grab a few headlines by hauling Spice Hot into court on obscenity charges.

Spice Hot, which comes online Oct. 1, is the most aggressive action Spice has taken to counter Section 505. Earlier, Spice set up an alternate audio feed featuring innocuous music so cable operators could cover the moans and groans on the original soundtrack. Spice also offers an inoffensive mainstream network for scheduling between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. called the Williams Infomercial Service, of which Spice owns a piece.

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