Porn Profits: Corporate America's Secret

Pornography has grown into a $10 billion business — bigger than the NFL, the NBA and Major League Baseball combined — and some of the nation's best-known corporations are quietly sharing the profits.

Companies like General Motors, AOL Time Warner and Marriott earn revenue by piping adult movies into Americans' homes and hotel rooms, but you won't see anything about it in their company reports.

And you won't hear them talking about the production companies that actually make the films — or the performers the producers hire, men and women as young as 18, for sex that is often unprotected.

"We have an industry that is making billions of dollars a year, is spreading to cable television and to the Internet, and yet their employees are considered to be throwaway people," said former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop.

Only a handful of "high end" production companies require condoms, leaving the majority of performers vulnerable to AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. While some companies require performers to take HIV tests, there is no government regulation mandating tests across the industry.

Koop — noting that performers' sexual activity off the set, with spouses or lovers, can spread disease beyond the industry — says America's big corporations are complicit in a public health hazard: They want the profits from pornography but "they don't want to get involved."

Nor do the fans, according to Koop. "Even the people who enjoy looking at pornography really despise the people they're watching, and they have no sense of protection for them," he said.

Bringing It Into Homes and Hotels

According to Adult Video News, an estimated 11,000 hard-core porn movies are produced in the United States annually, many of them in California's San Fernando Valley, where modern porn was born.

The production companies market them over the Internet and to distributors who feed them to video stores — the industry claims that more than 30 percent of all video rentals on the East and West coasts are sex films — and to giant cable and satellite companies.

General Motors, through its subsidiary DirecTV, delivers hard- and soft-core porn to homes via satellite. Communications giant Comcast supplies various kinds of porn to homes via pay-per-view. And AOL Time Warner owns a cable company that offers erotic programming from Playboy and other outlets, including hard-core.

It is hard to estimate how much money these corporations derive from porn because they do not publicize it in their portfolios or anywhere else. Their financial statements do not mention profits from adult movies. However, one industry analyst estimated that the combination of cable and satellite outlets makes about $1 billion a year from the adult-movie market.

Many of the major hotel chains, including Marriott, Hilton and Westin, also derive revenue from adult films without mentioning it in their company reports. Adult titles are available as in-room movies in around 40 percent of all hotel rooms in the United States. The hotels share the revenue with the in-room entertainment companies that provide the TVs and the content.

Nothing on the Record

ABCNEWS asked the companies to discuss the revenue they derive from adult films and whether they have any responsibility for the welfare of the performers.

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