Publishers hit out at top shelf move for lads' mags

LONDON - The Periodical Publisher's Association is urging MPs not to back moves forcing newsagents to banish lads mags to the top shelf.

The magazine publishers' body has written to MPs, who have expressed support for a bill laid down in Parliament by Labour MP Claire Curtis-Thomas that calls for legally binding measures to keep the magazines out of the sight of children.

However, the PPA argues that a voluntary code, which urges newsagents not to display lad's mags at children's eye level or next to children's comics, introduced with industry and Home Office support earlier this year is enough.

The letter says that the code's "voluntary nature is far more effective and flexible than any statutory regulation, given that standards of taste and decency are constantly changing". It goes on to say that the top shelf is an inappropriate home for magazines such as Zoo, Nuts and FHM because they "do not contain pornographic material".

In a Parliamentary debate on her bill Curtis-Thomas's told the House of Commons that lad's mags were "degrading to women" and contained sexually explicit descriptions that were "repulsive".

The bill specifically calls for the establishment of an independent regulator to look at restricting the sale of the magazines, but although it has cross-party support it is unlikely to become law due to lack of available Parliamentary time.

Writing in The Independent today, Curtis-Thomas added: "I am quite happy for adults who want access to Zoo or Nuts to continue doing so, but I am outraged that anyone should continue to defend their availability to children: it's not free speech they are advocating, merely the freedom to profit."

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