Telstra has bowed to pressure from anti-pornography campaigners and removed salacious content, previously available to stream and/or download for a fee, from its BigPond service.
In a newsletter issued to staff on April 11, Telstra chief David Thodey wrote he had recently received emails from customers who ''thought we shouldn't promote adult-orientated movies or videos that objectify women.
''I have to agree. We have therefore decided that we will no longer promote access to adult-orientated content through our websites.''
Mr Thodey went on to put the decision ''in context'', by pointing out that the content - which included titles such as Dirty Housewives and Hot Asians Get Wet - was ''mild compared to what's available on the internet''.
Telstra has told Fairfax none of this content was rated above MA15+.
It was, however, available via a web page that also pointed to children's content, with links to Playboy sitting on the same menu line as those to Go Diego Go. Mr Thodey informed his staff Telstra had decided to remove such content because ''we cannot support anything that is sexist or that is inconsistent with our values''.
Telstra said soft-porn content had been available for streaming and/or download via BigPond (for $10 per month or $3 per ad-hoc viewing) for at least a decade.
The issue came to light when ''concerned citizen'' Ruth Limkin - an occasional columnist with Brisbane's Courier-Mail - was prompted by a media report to write directly to Mr Thodey. On March 6, Collective Shout, the activist group that campaigns against pornography and the sexualisation of children, added its voice.
Telstra's decision was first revealed to Limkin in a letter from Mr Thodey. On April 23, she published the text of his letter to staff on her blog breadandjustice.com, and praised the decision.
Telstra has confirmed the positive feedback to date has significantly outweighed the negative feedback that prompted the move.