LONDON — Michael Lombardo, HBO’s president of programming, has defended the inclusion of graphic scenes of sex and violence in “Game of Thrones.”

Lombardo told attendees at the Edinburgh Intl. Television Festival that the pay TV operator had more freedom than free-to-view broadcasters, but used that freedom responsibly, the Guardian reported.

“It is an adult service. Our subscribers pay a fee for uncensored shows,” he said. “My job is to be in business with responsible creative forces. And if I am doing that I trust their decisions about what is appropriate for the character or not. And I feel we made the right choice with Dan (Weiss) and Dave (Benioff) and they continue to try to be responsible.

“As long as I feel that (violence) isn’t the reason (people) are watching the show, that it isn’t a show trying to attract viewers with sex and violence, I am not going to play police.”

Lombardo argued that the showrunners, Dan Weiss and David Benioff, have stayed true to the original books.

“I don’t think (graphic scenes) have ever been without any purpose. Dan and Dave are two very sober, thoughtful men. They have books as a map, which involve wars, violence, sex. We have certainly not given them an edict or a note that they need to tone down the sexual content in the show,” he said.

A scene showing the character of Jaime Lannister raping his twin sister, Cersei, has sparked heated debate as some critics have argued that in George R.R. Martin’s books they have consensual sex.

Lombardo said: “I appreciate there was some controversy, and it generated a conversation about what consensual sex is and isn’t.”

He added: “People responsible for programming have two responsibilities. To be responsible, not to have sex and violence that’s gratuitous. That is certainly not who we are. At the same time we don’t want to be a censor that inhibits the authentic organic creative process by policing how many breasts should be on a show.”