Adult-Oriented Podcasts on iTunes Under Scrutiny

Along with podcasts on computers, wine and long distance running, Apple Computer is getting headlines for the addition of what some are calling "porncasts" through its links on iTunes.

A report in Fridayis Wall Street Journal reveals Apple is offering access to "raunchy sex banter, erotic storytelling sessions and reviews of pornographic sites" through podcasts links via iTunes.

"As podcasting reaches a more mainstream audience, the more risque audio shows -- and Appleis role in distributing them -- could come under greater scrutiny," wrote WSJ reporter Vauhini Vara, although she quoted no one openly criticizing Apple or complaints from religious groups.

Apple declined to say whether any of its users have complained about the adult podcasts. The company said it could potentially pull programs that it deems too explicit, but declined to say whether it has yet to do so. An Apple spokesperson said the service has no specific guidelines as to what constitutes explicit content, and asks those submitting podcasts to the company to admit to explicit content when they do.

"If for some reason we miss it, customers usually catch it," Kerris said.

The report points to two podcasts -- "Fetish Flame" and "Open Source Sex" -- as podcasts containing openly explicit sex talk. Podcasters argue that by labeling their shows as "explicit," they should be free to say whatever they want. "I donit have to censor my language or anyone elseis language," said Ms. Blue of "Open Source Sex." "Itis like the dog is off the leash."

But for Apple, one analyst cautioned the computer company should be careful. "Apple needs to be careful to protect its brand here," said Ted Schadler, an analyst at Forrester Research. "The editorial function is just getting more and more important."