17 – 23 January 2001

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Malta's 'Playboy' decision makes foreign papers

The decision to allow Playboy to go on sale for the first time in Malta two weeks ago was not only described in some local newspapers as significant, but also made it into some of the international press.

The Sunday Times in the UK, which described Malta as a "strongly Roman Catholic country", said church officials admitted that times had changed as the soft porn magazine went on sale 47 years after it was first published.

The Observer reported the move in a similar way, but also stressed that the authorities would still be vetting each issue.

When the authorities decided to allow the December issue of Playboy into Malta, it was made clear that all forthcoming editions would still be censored on their individual content.

The current practice is for the contents of each magazine to be first inspected by the censorship section of the Customs Department, after which any objections are handed over to the Printed Matter Appeals Board which takes the ultimate decision.

The magazine has since been made available on bookshop and stationers' shelves, where sales are reported to be good, and there has also been an indication that the January issue should follow.

The decision was widely seen as an acceptance by the authorities that times had changed and censorship had to take account of developments in this way.

It was thought, however that the move might trigger a negative reaction among some considering the magazine to exploit woman.

The Curia also warned that it was important to ensure basic values continued to be respected.

Defenders of the move have, however, pointed out that other magazines, including soft porn and publications blatantly using sex as a selling tool, were widely available.

Much has also been made of the indiscriminate and wide availability of pornography on the Internet.

The Business Times, Network House, Vjal ir-Rihan San Gwann SGN 07
Tel: (356) 382741-3, 382745-6 | Fax: (356) 385075 | e-mail: editorial@networkpublications.com.mt