The photonic efficiencies of films of Evonik (formerly Degussa) P25 TiO2 and carbon-modified TiO2 Kronos VLP 7000 samples are reported as a function of excitation wavelength (300–430 nm; FWHM ∼ 7.5 nm), i.e. the action spectra, for the degradation of stearic acid, a model organic for the photocatalytic destruction of solid surface organic pollutants. For each of these semiconductor photocatalysts, at 365 nm (FWHM = 18 nm), the dependence of the rate of degradation of stearic acid, upon the irradiance, I, is determined and the rate is found to be proportional to I0.65 and I0.82 for P25 and Kronos titania, respectively. Assuming this relationship holds at all wavelengths, the action spectra for two different semiconductor photocatalysts is modified by plotting, (RSA (rate of stearic acid destruction, units: molecules cm−2 s−1)/Iθ) vs. wavelength of excitation (λexcit), and both differ noticeably from those of the original (unmodified) action spectra, which are plots of (RSA/I = photonic efficiency, ξ) vs. λexcit. The shape of the modified action spectrum for P25 TiO2 is consistent with that reported by others for other organic mineralisation reactions and correlates well with diffuse reflectance data for P25 TiO2 (Kubelka–Munk plot), although there is some evidence that the active phase, in the photodegradation of stearic acid, is the anatase form present in P25. The unmodified and modified action spectra of the beige Kronos VLP 7000 TiO2 compound exhibits little or no activity in the visible i.e. (λexcit > 400 nm) and a peak at 350 nm. The Kronos powder contains a yellow/brown conjugated, extractable, organic sensitiser which has been identified by others as the species responsible for its reported photocatalytic visible light activity. But, irradiation of the Kronos powder film, with and without a stearic acid coating, in air, using UVA or visible light, bleaches rapidly (<60 min) most, if not all, of the little colour exhibited by the original Kronos powder. The photobleached form of the Kronos has a similar action spectrum to that of the unbleached form, which, in turn, appears very similar to that of P25 titania, at wavelengths >350 nm. It is proposed that the difference between the Kronos and P25 powder films at wavelengths <350 nm is due to a photodegradation-resistant, previously unidentified (but extractable using MeCN) UV-absorbing organic species in the former which screens the titania particles at these lower wavelengths. The implications of these observations are discussed briefly.