Latest Antiporn Target: Hotel-Room TV ; A Campaign Urges Prosecution of Hotels under Obscenity Laws - and Directs People to Smut-Free Lodging
Matt BradleyCorrespondent of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor
It's a business that has become quietly entrenched in America's corporate culture: pay-per-view pornography in hotel rooms. Most large chains provide the service, along with standard-issue films.
The pay-per-view service has brought hotels millions of dollars a year. But these days, the US hotel business is also attracting moral outrage and vitriol - on a scale that pornography insiders say amounts to one of the largest organized assaults on the skin business in recent memory.
A consortium of 13 conservative groups has created CleanHotels.com, a website that provides listings and reservation services for US hotels where travelers can rest safe from taint or temptation. The conservative groups have also run a series of full- page ads in USA Today, urging authorities to prosecute hoteliers under federal and local obscenity statutes.
Currently, the listings on CleanHotels.com number between 13,000 and 15,000 - mostly including small chains, with a notable one being Omni Hotels. Many in the pornography industry contend the effort won't have much effect on their business, but those on the other side are equally adamant they can make a difference.
"We wanted to provide an alternative," says Phil Burress, president of Citizens for Community Values, an Ohio-based "pro- family" organization that is part of the consortium. "Not only were we disgusted with the fact that major hotels that present themselves as being family-friendly were offering hard-core pornography ... we wanted to point out the fact that there are thousands and thousands of hotels that do not offer in-room pornography."
The strategy, Mr. Burress says, is to expose hotels that offer pay-per-view porn and let the market take care of the rest.
But such an approach might not be effective, says Paul Cambria, general counsel for the Adult Freedom Foundation in Los Angeles. "The hotels understand that that's just part of the package that they offer their guests.... I don't think they will be intimidated." He adds, "Most responsible prosecutors are realizing that this is a waste of time and money to prosecute this."
While the financial extent of hotel porn is hard to estimate - hotels keep statistics to themselves or don't keep them at all - the adult pay-per-view and video-on-demand businesses, both in hotels and private residences, will bring in an estimated $1.6 billion in 2006. In 1996, that number was $593 million, according to California- based Kagan Research.
When it comes to accessing adult pay-per-view in hotel rooms, the system has safety checks. Parents can block viewing by either clicking a remote-control code or calling the front desk. …