Apple is facing criticism of the way it vets the podcasts it makes available freely through iTunes.

A report on the Wall Street Journal this morning reveals that a small minority of the podcasts Apple offers access to contain "raunchy sex banter, erotic storytelling sessions and reviews of pornographic sites".

The report adds that Apple has refused to reveal if any iTunes users have complained about such content, but the company did say it could pull access to transmissions it finds to be "too explicit".

Self-regulation

Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris 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.

Apple does try to review podcasts before adding them in order to find such content, and listeners have an easy, single-click complaints system they can employ if they come across such content.

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

Sex sells

The report points to two podcasts - both made by sexually-liberated women - as sources of explicit sex talk: Open Source Sex and the MXL (Maximum Libido) Podcast, and The Dawn and Drew Show.

The audience is clearly keen: Open Source Sex is the 21st most popular of the 6,000 podcasts in Apple's directory, according to the report.

Podcasters whose shows are described as "explicit" argue that because they admit to such content, they should not be censored - with 6,000 available channels, there is no reason anyone should be forced to listen to something they don't want to hear.