Playboy Channel hops into Chile

Debate stirs over liberal ideas and programs

SANTIAGO, Chile — When Playboy Channel television arrived in Chile this week, religious groups predicted the locals would multiply like bunnies.

A conservative Catholic group known as “El Porvenir de Chile” argued in a press campaign that the arrival of Playboy television will lead to a “higher sexual activity level” and more unwanted pregnancies.

After years of censoring hundreds of movies and ideas that military and religious chiefs deemed “inconvenient” for the proper development of Chileans, technology has finally forced the door open for liberal ideas and programs.

Viewer discretion

The decision by Chile’s leading cable TV operator, VTR Cableexpress, to begin what the company delicately called “this type of programming” from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. was laden with promises that porn was being purchased, not delivered. A VTR executive explained that VTR “doesn’t bring (Playboy) into the living room; that’s done by the clients.”

“This is extraordinary,” said congressman Antonio Leal, who celebrated not the arrival of Playboy but the victory of free expression. Until just several years ago, the Catholic Church confiscated and then supervised private burnings of Playboy magazines taken on the docks of the main port, Valparaiso.

“We still have conservative sectors that think they have to decide for you,” said Leal, who has been leading the anti-censorship movement in Congress for several years. “It is time for Chile to remove these cultural blocks.” Leal was referring to the extreme social conservatism that still fails to legalize divorce, abortion or even condom ads on television.

Legislating ideas

In the Chilean congress, there is now talk of passing legislation to penalize socially unacceptable ideas –specifically overt eroticism and mass violence on television.

Congress members from a broad spectrum of political parties have designed legislation to categorize and ban certain types of movies.

In order to limit viewership of the movies that are not banned, the proposed legislation states, “Movies categorized as inconvenient for pornography or violence reasons” can be broadcast only at certain adult hours and with an extra access fee.

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