UK TV and Radio News

 2003

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16th September   

Naked Figures...

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Melon Farmers logoScenes including nudity and sexual activity on terrestrial television have increased during the past four years, according to research by TV watchdogs. Sex scenes have more than doubled from 6% to 14% since 1999, says the survey by the Broadcasting Standards Commission (BSC), the Independent Television Commission (ITC) and the BBC.

But broadcasters continue to respect the watershed, with little change in the amount of sex and nudity shown on TV before 9pm. Nearly half (48%) of respondents thought that the amount of coverage about sex was "about right", while 44% thought there was too much and 5% said there was too little. 

Paul Bolt, director of the BSC, said: The latest research has shown that the use of the watershed remains an effective way of ensuring that viewers can feel confident that pre-watershed programming does not contain material unsuitable for family viewing.

The increase in sex scenes, all occurring post-watershed, was boosted by a small number of programmes that had sex as one of their main themes. Five factual shows accounted for nearly 39% of all sex scenes. Two of those broadcast were on Channel 4 ( Sex on TV and The Real Linda Lovelace ) and two on Five, Real Sex and G String Divas . The fifth was BBC Two's Reading the Decades , which examined the best selling books in post-war Britain, including two novels with sexual themes.

One in five programmes depicted some form of sexual activity, but 60% of those only included kissing and most scenes took place within established relationships. A third of sexual scenes shown were central or relevant to the story, with a further third providing information about the characters involved.

Bolt said the survey also showed that attitudes have changed over the years. People are now more comfortable with programming that contains sexual material as long as they are made aware of the material to be broadcast and that it is used within context.

 

14th September   

Channel 4 Alias Censor...

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Well I watched tonight's airing of "Alias" Episode 1 on C4, and I can now offer you the following details of what was cut!

In total, there were approximately 5m 35s of cuts! Of these, the longest was about 1m 49s, and the shortest was just 3s. In total, some 14 separate edits were made to this one episode!

The cuts were, as follows:

1- After opening credits scene, we go straight into the opening shot of Sydney being tortured. Whole sequence was removed by C4. (1m 01s)

2- About 20m into the episode, after Syd tells Danny in the shower who she works for, a long-shot of rear-only nudity (male and female) is removed, along with the ensuing argument, and details showing that Danny hits Syd around the face, who then proceeds to cry. Plus, more torture scene removal. (1m 49s)

3- The discovery of Danny's body in the bath has been cut, to remove bloody shots, and to edit all sight of Sydney screaming horrendously. (21s)

4- More torture scene removal, including scenes of side-effects of the drugs Syd has been given to quell her pain. Also removal of her fake confessional to the torturer. (1m 47s)

5- In the car-park, Sydney is attacked by a gunman. Excessive shots of gunfire against Sydney and various cars have been removed. (9s)

6- When Sydney attacks the gunman, she doesn't just knock him out. A long scene of fighting has been removed, including repeated blows to the head, face, upper body, legs, and headbutts. (37s)

7- More torture scene removal. (50s)

8- The break-in has been edited. When Sydney is knocked unconcious, after picking the lock and breaking her lock-picks, more footage has been removed to edit out all scenes of her being knocked out by a Taiwanese soldier, and her capture/torture. (13s)

9- During the torture scene, Sydney headbutts him, and then crushes him under the chair. She crushes his body brutally, in the uncut scene. (6s)

10- Sydney then handcuffs him to the chair, but proceeds to torture him, and has a fight with the guards. More edits for fighting. (Head blows, karate chops, etc, etc.) (33s)

11- Sydney escapes with the gadget from the laboratory. Excessive gunfire and the resulting gas-main explosion was edited out. (13s)

As you can see once again, C4 have edited an adult show for the kiddies, and have made it worse for adult viewers. The only bonus to watching this show on C4, is the fact they are airing it in Widescreen. Other than that, a big 1 out of 10 for effort. This may actually be worse than the "Angel" Season 1 fiasco!!

Lots of letters and phone calls to the ITC please!!!

 

1st September   

The Piano Teacher on Channel 4...

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Channel 4 logoChannel 4 will not be showing The Piano Teacher uncut next week. The hardcore porn shown during the sex shop scene has been removed (not sure whether by cuts, optical reframing or blurring). There is actually a brief mention of this in the Radio Times listing ("edited for sexual content"). This is exactly the same situation as with The Idiots and (more recently) Whatever (L'Extension du Domaine de la Lutte) . Like The Piano Teacher , both of those films were transmitted uncut on Film Four but received cuts for hardcore footage and erections when transmitted on terrestrial television.

Although the ITC are prepared to accept hardcore scenes (provided they have been approved at '18' by the BBFC) on subscription TV, they are still not prepared to allow such material on terrestrial television.  It was  quite easy to edit the hardcore out of these three films without significantly damaging the plot but this is not true of other films. Romance   and Ai No Corrida have never appeared on Channel 4 (despite the fact that they would desperately like to show them). It would simply require too many cuts and would completely ruin the films.

Perhaps this will change in the future but don't hold your breath! In the ITC's view there is a fundamental difference between films shown on a minority channel which you have to actively subscribe to and free to air channels beamed into everybody's house.

As for Baise -Moi   on Sky, I can confirm that they are planning to transmit the BBFC video edit without further cuts (i.e. two cuts, totalling 12 seconds).

 

7th May   

Baby Censors...

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Melon Farmers logoThe ITC said recently that it had upheld a complaint against Desmond's Television X, describing the issue as a "serious matter". A baby featured in a home-made sex video submitted by a viewer which featured three women. The baby's kicking legs, in a baby chair, were caught, for a couple of seconds, on camera, the ITC said in its report. The baby was later heard, out of shot, gurgling and crying. It stressed that the baby was not involved in the sex scene and appeared too young to comprehend what was going on.

Television X admitted that the shot was "extremely distasteful", and that it had only crept into the footage as the result of an accident during editing.

 

1st January   

Sci-Fi Channel...

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An oversight that resulted in the Sci-Fi Channel screening a '15'-rated film uncut at 2pm in the afternoon led to the channel getting into hot water with the Independent Television Commission, it was revealed today.

One viewer complained that the film, which depicted life "propogating on another planet with the help of robots", as the ITC puts it, was too violent for a daytime transmission. The film apparently also included some nudity.

The channel apologised for the oversight, and said that although a cut version had been prepared for transmission, their checking procedures weren't working and allowed the uncut version to go to air. The ITC concluded that the screening of the film was in breach of its Programme Code, but no further action was taken because of Sci-Fi's generally good compliance record and its promise to review its checking procedures.

 

1st January   

Granada Plus...

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I have just received a reply from the satellite TV channel Granada Plus regarded my complaint to them about their censorship of the puppet satire show Spitting Image , which they are repeating on Sunday nights.

They're repeating the early episodes from 1984, when the show was still genuinely groundbreaking and funny, but I wanted to know why they had removed all references to Princess Diana (including the shot of her holding the baby Prince William in the title sequence), and their response was that they had to do it to comply with ITC regulations.

This sounded a little odd, so I called the ITC and was told that there is *no* specific regulation relating to Diana. The only possible explanation is that Granada Plus thinks that the kind of people who will have an active interest in watching 17-year-old episodes of a puppet satire programme will be offended by jokes about Princess Diana, when IMHO exactly the opposite will be true.

And if that wasn't enough, as a "mark of respect" they even chopped the Mary Whitehouse puppet out of a "Video Nicies" sketch on yesterday's (16/12/01) show - never mind that the censorship rendered the remains of the sketch pointless! Again, I feel strongly that anyone who actually wanted to watch archive episodes of Spitting Image wouldn't be in the least offended by an appearance by MW's puppet - after all, when it was on ITV and watched by millions more people than will ever see it on Granada Plus, Spitting Image never shied away from making jokes about recently-deceased public figures.

 

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