Counterpoint: Video Pirates

Counterpoint: Video Pirates

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Production 24/02/1983


22min 59sec







Digitised as part of the UTV Archive Partnership Project (ITV, Northern Ireland Screen and PRONI)


Department for Communities, ITV, Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, UTV Archive

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History tells us that as new industries arise, new opportunities also come into play for those who wish to exploit or bend the law. In the early 1980s, the UK enjoyed the sudden explosion of movie choice in home entertainment brought about by the advent of video rental libraries for VHS and Betamax players. However, a boom in video piracy went hand in hand. This also coincided with fears over the corrupting influence of certain types of movies on young people with campaigners and the press concocting the “Video Nasty” term.

This edition of Counterpoint examines both the illegal pirating of big movies and the moral question of what we should be watching. People working in the rental industry are interviewed, with one owner of a shop perhaps unwisely admitting that he has dealt in pirated material, while also singing a folk song he has composed on the subject.

Before the 1984 Video Recordings Act there was no legal requirement to put age certificates on videos and we hear from young people talking about the types of material they watch and how easy it is to obtain them. Meanwhile, veteran campaigner Mary Whitehouse, a familiar face from the 1980s with her protests against what she deemed to be immorality on television, is also interviewed in Belfast. 


An Ulster Television Production.

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