Canadian cell provider reverses porn decision after Catholic protest

Archbishop Raymond Roussin
Archbishop Raymond Roussin

.- The second-largest phone company in Canada has reversed its earlier decision to begin selling pornography thought its mobile phone service after numerous customers, including the Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver, threatened to cancel their contracts.

"It was the type of feedback and the sincerity of it that caused us to reflect on the service and ultimately to withdraw it," Telus spokesman Jim Johannsson told Reuters in an interview.

The decision came after Vancouver Archbishop Raymond Roussin published an article in his Archdiocese’s paper “The B.C. Catholic” earlier this month.  The archbishop called the company’s plan to be the first North American carrier to offer pornographic downloads, “disappointing and disturbing.”

Roussin pointed out the "increasing awareness about the problem of sexual addiction to pornography through internet access, and the abuse that this perpetuates on vulnerable persons.”

According to Bloomberg, the archbishop urged his some 400,000 Catholics, along with all parishes and Catholic schools to end their contracts with Telus because of the content.

Since January, Telus subscribers had been offered the possibility of downloading pornographic images for $3 (Canadian dollars) and videos for $4.  While the Telus users can still access pornography through their phone’s internet service, the company will no longer be providing porn for a profit.

A statement from Archbishop Roussin expressed his thankfulness that the company will no longer directly profit from the sales.  "I am pleased and grateful that Telus has decided to remove itself from the business of profiting from pornography," he said in a statement posted on the Archdiocesan website.

Archdiocesan spokesman Paul Schratz told Bloomberg that in addition to the number of Catholic individuals who use the company’s communication services, Telus currently provides phones and other services for about 130 parishes and schools in the archdiocese.

"The response was still coming in steadily right up until the time Telus changed its mind," Schratz said in an interview. The decision is "positive in the sense that Telus has listened to the voices of the people."

While Toronto-based researcher SeaBoard Group has estimated that the cell-based porn market will generate $900 million worldwide by 2008, a spokesman for Telus said the decision will have "no material impact" their sales.

Since the Archdiocese and individuals began speaking up, Telus shares have seen a decline of 15 Canadian cents, to C$58.23, on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

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