Hatton punished enough already, Ofcom let him off
Based on an article from Press Gazette
Sky Sports News has escaped censure from Ofcom after it broadcast strong language during a live press conference with boxers Ricky Hatton and Floyd Mayweather.
The BSkyB channel aired live coverage of the conference, which was held in Manchester in September as part of a world tour to promote last week's welterweight title fight.
During the press conference, Hatton said his American rival Mayweather had fucking no chance . He later told his opponent to: Stop touching my dick, you poof.
Ofcom received one complaint about the broadcast, which aired at 11 o'clock on a Thursday morning..
Responding to the complaint, BSkyB said previous Hatton press conferences in New York, Los Angeles and London had been broadcast without any offensive language, and the boxer had conducted 20 live interviews with the channel in the past without incident.
The transmission of live sports programming brings with it particular difficulties, Ofcom said. The broadcaster did its best to limit offence. Ofcom said it considered the complaint resolved.
Casualty criticised for pre-watershed injuries
see full article
BBC1, 8 September 2007, 20:25
Casualty is a long-running hospital drama. In this episode, a junior doctor is confronted by the effects of a bomb explosion at a coach station on his first day at work. The doctor gives medical attention to several badly injured people, including a man
whose stomach has been ripped open exposing his intestines, and another requiring an arm amputation.
Four viewers complained about the graphic and repeated imagery of the injuries sustained by the victims in view of the programme’s pre-watershed start.
Three complainants noted there was no specific warning about this content in advance of the programme.
The BBC responded that Casualty has been a staple of the BBC1 schedule for some time and has covered major incidents causing severe injuries in the past.
It considered that the pre-transmission announcement and clear build up to the scenes would have sufficiently prepared viewers for such images. In particular, it pointed out that the process of the arm amputation was explained to the junior doctor before
it began, so giving the audience an opportunity to look away if they wished.
The broadcaster argued that the storyline warranted showing these injuries, as they were repeated in a series of flashbacks illustrating how the self-belief of the junior doctor had nearly collapsed.
Rule 1.3 requires that children must be protected by appropriate scheduling from material that is unsuitable for them.
Rule 1.11 states that violence, its after-effects and descriptions of violence...must be appropriately limited in programmes before the watershed…and must also be justified by the context.
Ofcom was concerned by the graphic nature of the images broadcast of two particular injuries (the exposed intestines and arm amputation), given that children may have been watching at this time on a Saturday evening. We recognise that Casualty is a
well-established drama regularly shown before the watershed and that it often contains scenes of surgery. However, even taking into account these expectations of the audience, Ofcom considered this material to be unsuitable for children.
While appreciating the experiences of the junior doctor were integral to the storyline, Ofcom does not accept that the repeated images of injury were sufficiently brief and limited. Images were shown of the intestinal injuries of one victim in four
separate shots all within one minute, with one shot depicting the injuries in close-up. In view of the duration and graphic nature of the injuries shown, the information provided before the programme was not, in Ofcom’s opinion, adequate to warn viewers
about the images of the aftereffects of violence broadcast in the programme.
Breach of Rules 1.3 and 1.11
Softcore erotic thrillers now banned on broadcast TV
Dangerous Sex Games is a standard erotic thriller. It is strictly softcore and has a plot as well as sex scenes. It is a US film directed by Veronica Hart in 2004.
see full article
Dangerous Sex Games
Bravo, 25 August 2007, 23:00
Bravo is a channel in the entertainment sections of the Sky EPG which broadcasts content aimed at men aged between 18 and 44 years of age.
Ofcom received a complaint about explicit sex and full female nudity in Dangerous Sex Games , a film broadcast on the channel.
The broadcaster commented that they did not believe the content was equivalent to ‘adult-sex’ material. While Virgin Media TV acknowledged Dangerous Sex Games contained scenes of a sexual nature, it argued these were in the context of a plot and
such scenes were not continuous throughout the film’s hour and a half duration.
It said the material was an “erotic thriller” and Virgin Media TV believed the sex scenes did not mean the programme should have been encrypted as it judged these scenes were not explicit or sustained.
Virgin Media TV said the film had been viewed prior to transmission by an experienced compliance executive who felt that no cuts or blurring were necessary to make the content suitable for broadcast. It said that while there was “little ambiguity” as to
the adult nature of the sex scenes, the footage employed specific camera angles to avoid gratuitously explicit sexual interplay between the actors. The broadcaster therefore considered the film was not ‘hardcore’ but rather ‘erotica’, a genre it felt UK
audiences were familiar with.
The broadcaster said the channel had become sufficiently well-established for viewers to be generally aware of the adult nature of its late-evening schedule. A warning was given prior to the film which stated it contained strong scenes of a sexual nature
from the start,
Under the Code, content classified as ‘adult-sex’ material can be broadcast only under encryption (Rule 1.24) with appropriate protection mechanisms in place. Ofcom’s guidance on this Rule states that in deciding whether content is ‘adult-sex’ material
Ofcom is guided by the definitions used by the BBFC and its reference to ‘sex works’. The BBFC defines a ‘sexwork’ as works…whose primary purpose is sexual arousal or stimulation.
Taking all the relevant factors into account, Ofcom has concluded that the material complained of was ‘adult-sex’ material as defined under the Code. We noted that the total duration of Dangerous Sex Games was approximately 90 minutes, of which around 30
minutes Ofcom assessed to consist of ‘narrative’ material linked to the plot. About 60 minutes of the material was dedicated to scenes of a sexual nature. While these scenes included some dialogue, their focus was predominantly the depiction of sexual
The sexual scenes themselves showed naked actors – although genitalia were not seen – engaged in what appeared to be various sexual activities including oral sex, vaginal penetration and masturbation. The focus of the camera was on the actors’ bodies
throughout. Taking into account all the circumstances (including the style and focus of the camerawork on the actors’ bodies, the considerable duration of the sex scenes, and the clear predominance of sex scenes compared to narrative scenes), the primary
purpose of the film appeared to be the sexual arousal/stimulation of the audience. The content overall amounted in Ofcom’s view to a series of strong and prolonged sex scenes joined together by limited narrative. Material of this nature should only be
broadcast under encryption.
We also concluded that the inclusion of such material on a channel situated in the general entertainment section of the EPG went beyond the generally accepted standards required by Rules 2.1 and 2.3 to be applied to the contents of such a channel. We
recognise that Bravo is aimed at an adult male audience - and broadcasts programmes to attract that audience. Ofcom also acknowledges the film was broadcast late in the evening and preceded by an announcement which indicated the sexual content of the
broadcast. However, this material was so strong as to be ‘adult-sex’ material. As a result it cannot be justified by the context – for example by means of information about content provided to viewers. ‘Adult-sex’ material should not be broadcast unless
all the required protection mechanisms have been put in place. As Bravo is an unencrypted channel, this material should not have been broadcast at any time on the channel.
Due to the serious nature of this breach, Ofcom considered whether the matter should be referred to the Content Sanctions Committee for consideration of a statutory sanction. However, taking into account all the circumstances including the fact that this
is the first time Bravo has breached the Code for the transmission of adult content, Ofcom decided not to take further regulatory action on this occasion.
Breach of Rules 1.24, 2.1, 2.3
Ofcom fines Babeworld TV
Based on an article from the
have fined a free-to-air adult channel £25,000 for transmitting
sexually explicit material 15 minutes after the 9pm watershed.
The regulator ruled that Babeworld TV, an unencrypted channel
available in the adult section of the Sky Digital satellite service,
had committed "serious and repeated" breaches of broadcasting rules
aimed at protecting under-18s from unsuitable material.
Babeworld TV also fell foul of Ofcom's code by inviting viewers to
contact "off-screen" girls through premium-rate phone services that
strayed outside the editorial content of programming.
Describing this programme, on February 12 this year, Ofcom said:
The presenters were dressed provocatively in underwear and behaved
in an extremely sexual manner, for example thrusting their breasts
and buttocks directly at the camera and appearing to masturbate.
They encouraged viewers to call them using explicit sexual language.
Just after 10pm, Ofcom noted, the presenters removed their tops
and continued to act in a sexually explicit manner"
Ofcom said that the explicit sexual content ... both language and
visuals was in breach of rules protecting under-18s.
The content was so explicit, and in particular the language, it was
considered to be 'adult-sex' material, Ofcom said. This meant
it should have been broadcast under encryption.
In deciding on a £25,000 fine, Ofcom's content sanctions committee -
chaired by former Trinity Mirror chief executive Philip Graf - said
it had taken into account that Connection Makers had a "record of
poor compliance". Last year Ofcom twice reminded the company of its
obligations to restrict the degree of sexual content on Babeworld
and to separate advertising from programme content.
Your Choice Viewers' Wives
Police reject complaints
From the National Secular Society
National Secular Society has demanded an explanation from West
Midlands Police about why it conducted a witch hunt against the
makers of Channel 4's Dispatches programme Undercover Mosque.
But attempts by the NSS to force the W. Midlands force to explain
their actions through the Police Authority and the Independent
Police Complaints Authority have been dismissed.
The NSS has tried to discover what was behind the West Midlands (WM)
police's pursuit of the programme-makers by initiating a formal
complaint against WM Police and its Police Authority, and later
appealing to the Independent Police Complaints Authority. As we
suspected would happen, these have been ruled inadmissible – third
party compplaints will not be entertained, even when there is a
public interest at stake. We made the complaints to register our
concerns and, if they were rejected, to draw attention to the
inability in such circumstances to challenge the police.
Keith Porteous Wood, Executive Director of the NSS, said: We
welcome Ofcom's adjudication. But it raises the uncomfortable
question as to why the top echelons of West Midlands Police and
their Police Authority were prepared to go to such extraordinary
lengths to try to punish Channel 4 executives for exposing the truth
about the situation in mosques.
The supervisory bodies — The Independent Police Complaints
Commission and HM Inspector of Constabularies — although
acknowledging the seriousness of the complaints, were powerless to
investigate. The Police Reform Act should be amended to permit
consideration of third party public interest complaints in serious
cases. This is even worse than shooting the messenger. If the police
had managed to bring a prosecution or their Ofcom complaint had been
successful, it would have sent the clear signal that they had the
power to silence journalists investigating issues that were
inconvenient to them. This would have resulted in a disastrous
increase in self-censorship.
A major investigation should be launched into whether regional
police forces can be vulnerable to undue local pressure. The
Government must also take some blame for creating an environment in
which religion and race are conflated in the public sector thinking,
and for creating a climate where religion is given a privileged
position, and it seems, excused a great deal.
David Henshaw, the managing director of Hardcash Productions which
made the Dispatches film Undercover Mosque , said he was
still "very, very angry" and considering legal action
With the backing of Channel 4 he hoped to launch a libel action
against the West Midlands police and a Crown Prosecution Service
lawyer who was quoted in a joint press release accusing Hardcash
Productions of "completely distorting" what some of the preachers
were saying. The media regulator dismissed the complaint saying it
was a legitimate investigation.
Hardcash's reputation has been severely damaged and it was a good
reputation, Henshaw told the Guardian. The Ofcom judgment is
great. But damage was done that day in August, huge damage.
6th February 2008
The Dispatches programme is nominated in the best current affairs
category of the Royal Television Society Journalism Awards, to be
announced on February 20.
MPs question police motives over Undercover Mosque
Davis, the Shadow Home Secretary, said: Once they [the police]
were clear that no criminal offence had been committed, it was, in
my view, a serious misjudgment to continue to pursue the editorial
team and risked impeding freedom of speech.
“The Dispatches programme raised matters of wide public interest,
touching on security and community relations. The documentary
handled inherently sensitive issues in a responsible manner. Having
been advised by the Crown Prosecution Service that no criminal
charges should be brought, there was no cause for a police complaint
to Ofcom. That decision drew the police into scrutinising editorial
decisions of a television producer, which is not an appropriate law
enforcement function and risks deterring legitimate investigative
media spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, said: This whole case
raises serious questions about West Midlands Police and the CPS in
what appears to be an attempt to censor television, stifle
investigative journalism and inhibit open debate.
Questions must be asked in Parliament
by Melanie Phillips
must now be raised in Parliament about the behaviour of the West
Midland police. By their actions, they have made the people of
Britain signally less safe.
Dispatches programme performed a public service in exposing sources
of the kind of extremism that threatens the safety and security of
this country. For the police to turn on this programme with patently
implausible charges against it is deeply sinister and against the
public interest. As Channel Four said after the ruling, the police
action had given: legitimacy to people preaching a message of
The West Midlands police appear to have turned themselves into a
mouthpiece for Islamists trying to shut down legitimate and
necessary debate. The idea that the police should believe that
‘community cohesion’ — aka the sensitivities of the Muslim community
– should trump the need to identify those endangering not only the
cohesion but the security of the whole country suggests that the
police have totally lost the plot here.
There is also
something badly wrong with a system which is unable to act against
those identified on this programme inciting hatred in this way. Is
this because of the pusillanimity of the CPS? Is it the inadequacy
of the law? Whatever the reason, this is the way a culture offers up
its own throat to the knife.
Serious concerns about police motives
By David Henshaw, executive
producer of Undercover Mosque
years ago, a young black man walked into a pub in Bristol and
ordered a drink. Behind him, a gang of white youths started a chant:
Nig nogs on the starboard bow, starboard bow…
Straightforward, everyday racism. Only this time, it was caught on
camera and broadcast on BBC1.
Fast forward 20 years, and another young man walks into a mosque in
Birmingham, one apparently committed to interfaith dialogue. The
preacher, however, seems less than committed. Christians and Jews
are enemies to Muslims, he says. What about a gay man? Throw
him off the mountain. And women? Allah created the women
deficient. Again, all caught on film, this time broadcast on
Two clear cases of antisocial, illiberal behaviour. But here's the
difference. Twenty years ago, Avon and Somerset Police were full of
praise for our undercover exposé; at last, people could see what
they were up against, that racism wasn't the invention of an
oversensitive race relations industry. How naïve we were to imagine
that such a sensible reaction would follow the broadcast of
Dispatches: Undercover Mosque.
When the film was first shown, local politicians in the West
Midlands were understandably horrified. The police went to court to
obtain an order to go through our rushes, convinced there was enough
to investigate a possible breach of the law, including the
encouragement of terrorism.
We said they were wasting their time - what we had filmed was
offensive, but we couldn't see that it broke any laws. It was just
plain nasty, and clearly at odds with Green Lane Mosque's supposed
commitment to moderation. This was the job of investigative
journalism - to expose what was really going on, rather than what we
were being told was going on.
So it was no great surprise that we heard nothing for months. We
assumed it had all gone away. What we really didn't expect was a
press statement out of the blue from West Midlands Police and the
Crown Prosecution Service saying that not only did the featured
imams have no case to answer, but that they had turned their
attentions on us.
They had considered prosecuting us for inciting racial hatred, but
decided there wasn't quite enough evidence, so had referred the case
to Ofcom, the broadcasting regulator. A CPS lawyer, Bethan David,
made one of the most damaging allegations: The splicing together
of extracts from longer speeches, she was quoted as saying,
appears to have completely distorted what the speakers were saying.
Well, we knew all along what Ofcom has now shown to be the case,
that what was going on was the everyday television technique of
editing, reducing material to broadcast length. Distortion? At no
point in any of the diatribes we recorded, or broadcast from DVDs
and tapes, did any of the preachers renege on the offensive
statements they made in the film.
Context? No one from the West Midlands Police, the CPS or Green Lane
Mosque has yet given us the correct context for the notion that
women are born deficient, that homosexuals should be thrown off a
mountain or that young girls who refuse to wear the hijab should be
So what was the police's intervention about? Why did the police and
the CPS feel entitled to act as television critics and, in effect,
as potential censors of what we could watch? Clues to the motive, I
think, lie in the slightly sinister phrase "community cohesion".
Anil Patani, the Assistant Chief Constable who reported the
programme to Ofcom, is in charge of "cohesion" in the West Midlands
force. He said he was worried that those featured in the programme
"had been misrepresented".
His chief was worried that our alleged "distorted editing" would
create an unfair perception of sections of the Muslim community in
the West Midlands. Feelings of public reassurance and safety would
be undermined. (The feelings of gays and women, apparently, were not
so high on the agenda.)
But here's the strange thing. It emerged that, in the aftermath of
Dispatches: Undercover Mosque, the West Midlands Police
received no formal complaint about the programme. Not one.
I have now written to the DPP and the Chief Constable of the West
Midlands Police asking for an explanation for the highly damaging
allegations made in August - allegations that sought to undermine
legitimate investigative journalism and that unjustly blackened the
reputation of my company and my courageous and entirely honest team
of programme makers.
The lingering suspicion must be that here was a police force
over-anxious to placate local "community leaders" - and that those
efforts took precedence over protecting free speech.
Ofcom to clear Channel 4 over Undercover Mosque
From the Daily Mail
police have been criticised for taking action against a television
programme which exposed how some Islamic preachers use British
mosques to spread a message of hatred and segregation.
Broadcasting watchdogs have cleared Channel 4 of wrongdoing over the
controversial documentary about Muslim extremism.
The programme featured footage of preachers at a number of mosques,
including one who praised the Taliban for murdering British
West Midlands police rejected calls to take action against the
preachers for stirring up racial hatred – and turned on the
Three months ago, the police, backed by the Crown Prosecution
Service, made a formal complaint to Ofcom, alleging that the way 50
hours of videotape had been edited was 'distorted'.
But The Mail on Sunday has been told Ofcom has backed Channel 4's
claim that the film was fair and has criticised the police response.
The programme, Undercover Mosque, broadcast in January,
featured TV footage of an Islamic preacher praising the death of a
At a meeting in a Birmingham mosque, the cleric said: Do you know
what was written in a newspaper? Hero of Islam! The hero of Islam is
the one who separated his head from his shoulders!
Abu Usamah, a preacher at the Green Lane mosque in Birmingham, was
secretly filmed saying: If I were to call homosexuals perverted,
dirty, filthy, dogs who should be murdered, that is my freedom of
speech isn't it?
The film prompted the Saudi Arabian government to complain directly
to the Foreign Office. The Dispatches documentary claimed the
Saudis recruited young Muslims in the UK, trained them in Saudi
Arabia and sent them back to the West to spread a radical
ideology of intolerance and bigotry" through British mosques and
Stewart Purvis appointed as Partner for Content and Standards
From Digital Lifestyles see
Purvis has been appointment as the
new Partner for Content and Standards at Ofcom.
The Content and Standards Group oversees regulation of television and
radio quality and standards and compliance with the Broadcasting Code.
He’s a hard-bitten newsman who has a strong understanding of technology
and the changes that it is bring to the world of media.
Purvis worked for many years in the news business, rising quickly
through the ranks to the become Editor-in-Chief at ITN, and then their
Chief Executive from 1995-2003.
Following that he became the first Chair of Television Journalism at
City University, London in 2003 and News International Visiting
Professor of Broadcast Media at Oxford
University in 2005.
Tim Suter is leaving the same post at Ofcom to set up a media
consultancy with former colleague Kip Meek.
Rejecting racist and homophobic accusations against Big Brother
From The Scotsman see
4 has been cleared over this summer's Big Brother race row, in
which a contestant used the word "nigger".
The media watchdog Ofcom ruled the broadcaster was right to show student
Emily Parr using the term because the programme made clear that her
comment was offensive and unacceptable.
The regulator also rejected viewer accusations of double standards over
Channel 4's decision to evict Ms Parr while keeping in a housemate who
used "homophobic" language.
Laura Williams twice used the term 'poof' on the show - but the first
comment went unchallenged and the second earned her only a reprimand in
the Diary Room.
Ms Parr's comment and subsequent departure prompted 450 complaints to
Ofcom, while Ms Williams attracted 200.
A number of viewers complained the phrase Ms Williams used is just as
offensive to gay people as Ms Parr's remark is to black people. But in a
ruling published yesterday, Ofcom cleared the programme of
discrimination and double standards.
In our view, it is not possible to establish definitively the degree
of offence that use of the word 'poof'' can cause in all contexts,
the watchdog said. For example, it is clear that within the gay
community itself, the word can be used in a playful, affectionate or
self-deprecating way. There is insufficient or no evidence to
suggest that Laura Williams used the word complained of in a
Injuries of bomb victim too graphic for the news
From Ofcom see
Complaints Bulletin 95
News 27 July 2007, 12:00
GEO News broadcasts news from the Asian sub-continent which is of
particular relevance to an Asian audience.
A viewer complained about some of the footage shown on this edition.
The material included images of the aftermath of a bomb blast in
Pakistan. This included the repeated use of footage of a crowd
surrounding a vehicle in which a man had been killed. There were
extreme close up shots of the dead man’s face revealing in detail
the facial injuries sustained.
Ofcom queried the broadcast with regard to Rule 1.11 (violence
before the watershed) and Rule 2.3 (offensive material to be
justified by the context).
The footage complained of was particularly disturbing and graphic.
It was so strong in nature that, even in the context of a news
channel, with a largely adult audience with certain audience
expectations, Ofcom concluded that its use could not be justified.
The potential to cause offence was compounded by the fact that it
was broadcast on a number of occasions. Further, the fact that the
broadcaster repeated the image no fewer than sixteen times before
the watershed within a short news report meant that the violent
nature of the image was not appropriately limited as required by
Ofcom was particularly concerned at the broadcaster’s admission that
the repeated use of this image was due to a lack of available
footage. After the execution of Saddam Hussein, Ofcom highlighted
that broadcasters need to consider very carefully the use of strong
material as general ‘background’ imagery in news reports. Such
consideration was not evident here.
Breach of Rules 1.11 and 2.3
Wire in the Blood too menacing too close to watershed
From Ofcom see
Complaints Bulletin 95
in the Blood
ITV1, 18 July 2007, 21:00
This is the fifth series of the crime drama based on the books of
Val McDermid. In this episode, the clinical psychologist Dr Tony
Hall helps the police trace a serial killer who appears to subject
the victims to witchcraft and pagan rituals. Three viewers
complained about the violent and menacing scenes at the start of
this episode before the title credits. They were concerned that
these scenes were too close to the 21:00 watershed.
Ofcom asked ITV for comments in relation to Rules 1.3 (appropriate
scheduling) and 1.6 (the transition to more adult material must not
be unduly abrupt at the watershed).
The broadcaster explained that the opening scenes had been carefully
considered to avoid an “unduly abrupt” transition immediately after
the watershed. The scene established the hate-filled and sadistic
nature of the killer with short shots and the brief appearance of a
machete. However, it was dark and menacing rather than a graphic
portrayal of violence.
Ofcom acknowledges the steps taken to alert viewers to the content
of this episode and that regular viewers would be aware that the
series does dwell on the darker side of crime.
However, we were concerned that a threatening and violent scene was
shown immediately after the watershed before the title credits. It
opened with a brief witchcraft or voodoo ceremony and, then, almost
immediately cut to a very distressed man tied to a chair in an
abandoned warehouse. Another man entered, proceeded to dress in
chain mail and, then, took a machete out of a case. The captive was
in such fear for his life that he was shown to urinate in his
trousers. After taunting him, the attacker wielded the machete,
swinging it at the man’s head. However, the decapitation was not
seen - only the man’s screams were heard as the machete swung
towards him. The title credits immediately followed.
The Bill preceded this programme, which appeals to a wide-ranging
audience including children. It is likely that some of these
children were still watching at around 21:00. For this reason, Rule
1.6 requires that the transition at the watershed does not
immediately contain strong, adult material. Although the information
announcement would have given viewers some indication of the
content, we felt that the length of the opening sequence and its
undisputed menacing and violent tone went beyond what was acceptable
at 21:00 on a channel that provides a general range of programming.
Given the preceding programme and the likelihood that children could
still be watching, this episode was in breach of Rules 1.3 and 1.6.
Daytime TV promoting website fleetingly with hardcore video
From Ofcom see
Complaints Bulletin 95
Turn On TV, 2 July 2007
Show Off UK is broadcast pre-watershed on Turn On TV. On-screen
presenters invite viewers to chat to them via a premium rate
telephone number, and to send in pictures and messages, some of
which are then displayed on screen.
In addition, the programme has a website,
www.showoffuk.com which is promoted during the programme. The
website contains user-generated content, that is, videos posted by
members of the public, which may be viewed by anyone visiting the
Ofcom was alerted to video content available on the website, which
was entitled Anya Filthy Slut. This featured very explicit
pornography. Whilst the video clip was not broadcast on air, Ofcom
was concerned that it appeared in a website that was promoted in
pre-watershed programming. Ofcom therefore requested the
broadcaster’s comments with reference to the following rules of the
- Rule 1.2, which requires broadcasters to take all reasonable to
protect people under eighteen
- Rule 1.3, which provides that children must also be protected
by appropriate scheduling from material that is unsuitable for them
- Rule 2.1, which requires that generally accepted standards must
be applied to the contents of television and radio services so as to
provide adequate protection for members of the public from the
inclusion in such services of harmful and/or offensive material
- Rule 2.3, which requires that in applying generally accepted
standards broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause
offence is justified by the context.
Whilst the content of PRM is not itself broadcast content and therefore
not subject to the requirements of the Code, any on-air reference to PRM
is clearly broadcast content. Such reference must therefore comply with
In this particular case, the video clip was extremely explicit
(equivalent to BBFC R18- rated content) and could have been viewed by
under eighteens who had visited the website after seeing it promoted
during daytime television. This was of the utmost concern to Ofcom.
Ofcom considered that, before deciding to promote the website within the
Show Off UK programme, the broadcaster should have ensured that it had
rigorous compliance processes in place to avoid the posting of
pornographic material. As this case clearly illustrated, reviewing
website content once a day on weekdays was not adequate to protect under
eighteens and indeed other viewers of the programme who might visit the
website, having seen it promoted within the programme.
Ofcom therefore decided that, in including references within a programme
to a website that featured pornographic material, the broadcaster was in
breach of the Code.
In this case, Ofcom considers that until such time as the broadcaster
can demonstrate to us that it has sufficiently rigorous compliance
procedures in place, the programme and channel must not refer to the
Breach of Rules 1.2, 1.3, 2.1 and 2.3
Ofcom whinge at tardy apology over Iggy Pop comment
From the Times see full article
BBC presenter Jo Whiley should have made an immediate apology to viewers
after the singer Iggy Pop used the phrase “paki shop” in a live
Glastonbury Festival interview, Ofcom has said.
The regulator criticised the BBC’s response to the lapse, which occurred
in a late-night television interview with the controversial performer.
Pop told Whiley that his transparent trousers solicited admiring glances
when he walked down Camden High Street at a paki shop.
The BBC said that the veteran American punk star was probably unaware
that a term commonly used 30 years ago has now passed out of ‘polite
Ofcom said that the term “paki” was racial abuse which is generally
considered very offensive. Although the term was not intended to be
pejorative, its use was offensive.
The BBC said that the programme’s producers discussed Pop’s appearance
when the BBC Two show came off-air and concluded that the presenter
should have been told to apologise at the time. An apology was issued
later that day on the BBC News website in the light of complaints made
directly to the BBC.
Suggest that all material intended to arouse requires PIN protection
From Ofcom see
Complaints Bulletin 95
to Broadcasters re Babe Channels
In 2006, Ofcom wrote to broadcasters operating channels in the adult
section of Sky’s Electronic Programme Guide (EPG) that transmit
programmes based on viewer interaction with on-screen presenters (known
as babes). These channels, which are broadcast free-to-air without
encryption, invite viewers to contact the presenters via premium rate
telephony services (PRS). The letters were written because Ofcom had a
number of concerns about the material shown on the channels, including:
- the appropriateness of sexual content broadcast before the 21:00
watershed, including the promotion of premium rate services offering
- the explicitness of sexual content broadcast after the watershed
- the promotion of premium rate services within programmes.
As a result of these letters and Ofcom investigations in 2006,
significant improvements were made to the daytime content on the
channels. However, concerns have remained about the degree of sexual
content broadcast after the 21:00 watershed as well as continued
problems relating to the promotion, within programmes, of PRS that
appear to contribute neither to the editorial of the programme nor meet
the definition of programme-related material.
The following Findings result from recent investigations in this area.
In addition to the cases detailed below, Ofcom has a number of other
on-going investigations, some of which may result in consideration of
further regulatory action. Due to Ofcom’s serious concerns about levels
of compliance in the ‘adult’ sector, by both ‘babe-style’ channels and
free-to-air content on encrypted channels, Ofcom is considering
amendments to the Code so as to require that all material transmitted in
the adult section of the EPG is protected by a mandatory PIN. Any such
proposals would be subject to a full public consultation.
Due to the serious nature of the Code and Licence breaches recorded in
this Bulletin concerning babe channels, Ofcom considered whether some of
these matters should be referred to the Content Sanctions Committee for
consideration of a statutory sanction. However, Ofcom has monitored the
output of babe channels in recent months and noted some significant
improvements in compliance after the watershed (e.g. there was less or
no very crude or explicit language or visual content). In view of the
remedial action taken by relevant broadcasters to improve compliance, we
decided against referring these matters to the Committee. Nevertheless,
any breach of a similar nature by a broadcaster of a babe channel in
future is likely to result in further regulatory action.
All providers of babe style channels should therefore study
carefully the findings
Get Lucky TV
Grandiose Limited, 6-7 March 2007, 23:00-01:00
Ofcom found that the broadcaster failed to adequately demonstrate that
the following services contributed to the editorial of the programme or
met the definition of Programme Related Material:
- the off-screen chat service
- the private text service
- the service that allowed viewers to submit photos to the channel.
Additionally, the promotion of the services that provided viewers with
photos of presenters was unduly prominent.
Breach of Rules 10.4 and 10.9
Escape Channel Limited, 17 March 2007, 23:37 & 7 May 2007, 00:20
The recordings provided by Lucky Star, through their provider EBS, were
not adequate for Ofcom’s investigation. The condition in licences
obliging broadcasters to provide material as broadcast is a crucial one,
since Ofcom relies on it for evidence when investigating potential
breaches of the Code. The broadcaster’s failure to supply a recording of
adequate quality was a breach of its licence conditions. Breaches of
Rules 10.2, 10.3 and 10.9 Breach of Licence Condition 11
7/8 May 2007, 00:00-01:00
Ofcom judged that the promotion of the PRS within the programme was in
breach of the Code.
When judging what constitutes ‘adult-sex’ material, Ofcom guidance for
broadcasters takes account of definitions used by the BBFC for ‘sex
works at 18’. These are defined as: works… whose primary purpose is
sexual arousal or stimulation.
We consider that the actions of the presenters (e.g. masturbation) and
the explicit sexual language used demonstrated quite clearly that one of
the main aims of the programme was to arouse viewers sexually: there was
no other significant editorial context for the explicit images and
language. Such explicit material is suitable for broadcast only on
subscription/pay per view channels that have appropriate protection
mechanisms in place. The broadcast of the programme was contrary to
viewer expectations for a free-to-air unencrypted channel (albeit one
situated in the adult section of the EPG and broadcasting after the
21:00 watershed). The broadcast was inconsistent with the application of
generally accepted standards to ensure protection for viewers from
harmful and/or offence material.
Breach of Rules 1.24, 2.1, 2.3 and 10.9 Breach of Licence Condition 11
17 April 2007, 21:00-01:00 & 18 April 2007, 21:00–01:00
Ofcom was particularly concerned by the sexual language and behaviour
used shortly after the 21:00 watershed. In view of the above matters,
the programme was in breach of Rule 1.3.
The content on 17 and 18 April exceeded generally accepted standards and
there was insufficient context to justify the potential offence. It was
therefore in breach of Rules 2.1 and 2.3.
Moreover, Ofcom considered that one of the primary purposes of the
sexual content broadcast on 18 April 2007 after 22:00, which included
highly explicit sexual language and prolonged scenes of vigorous
masturbation with a dildo, was sexual arousal or stimulation. This
content therefore in Ofcom’s opinion comprised ‘adult sex’ material and
its broadcast on an unencrypted channel was in breach of Rule 1.24.
For clarity, Ofcom considers that depictions of masturbation, simulated
or otherwise, are not appropriate for unencrypted broadcast unless there
is strong editorial justification. In this case, there was not
Breach of Rules 1.3, 1.24, 2.1 and 2.3
Ofcom: practical, proportionate, balanced and bollox
From Ofcom see
The Annual Ofcom Lecture
Richards, Chief Executive, Ofcom delivered the Annual Ofcom Lecture
which included the following paragraphs on internet censorship:
"Finally, the issue of harmful content online.
This is an issue which has recently come to the forefront of public
debate, but one that we at Ofcom have been quietly thinking about for
Clearly some of the examples of harmful content on the internet we are
seeing have no place in our society.
By way of illustration, let me highlight a report shown on BBC London a
month or two ago, which examined some of the appalling content freely
In this case it included the torching of an Asian figurine in what was a
shocking and disturbing display of racism.
One of these clips, one of the worst, remained on a major video sharing
website for some six months, despite its deeply offensive content.
Even worse, despite the producers reporting the piece as offensive every
day for a week, pretending to be normal users, the piece was not taken
down until they identified themselves as BBC journalists.
This case, at the very least, demonstrates that a voluntary take down
policy was ineffective in this one instance.
Let me say that while I do not yet claim to know precisely what the
right answer is in this area, I do not regard this kind of situation as
one that can be in any way acceptable to any of us as citizens.
What we need is a policy response that is based on the data and evidence
of the prevalence of this kind of content and of the potential harm it
This will require a combined solution involving Government, industry,
consumers and, where necessary, the regulator.
We need to understand the risk of harm and then what we can practically
and proportionately do about it - balanced of course with the widely
shared desire to protect the wonderful freedoms and openness that lie at
the heart of the internet.
These freedoms and openness are well worth protecting and nurturing...BUT...
we cannot do so in a way which ignores the wider issues that are raised
by the rapid march of the internet and broadband networks into our
living rooms and into the lives of our children.
So we welcome the Byron Review and look forward to making our
contribution to that work. It is in an important area and one which is
rightly receiving attention from across the political spectrum".
No fun allowed at Ofcom
From Ofcom see
Complaints Bulletin 94
Power FM (South Hampshire), 17 April 2007, 07:40
In this programme, the presenters, Rick, Donna and Bob, asked
listeners to contact them with their stories of what had “…gone wrong
during sex”. Over the course of the programme listeners texted and
phoned in with their stories. These in turn were read out to listeners.
Contributions included such descriptions as:
- Having a ‘bit of fun’…christening all the rooms
- My skirt got stuck…my boyfriend’s parents [could see] my bum…
- …that ‘sex’ can be on your own, or with another person…
- I squeezed into really tight knickers…when the moment came to
get them off, I couldn’t…
- I [was] with my ex-boyfriend…I [was] on top, having a good
- …cries of passion…
- At it – in the throes of passion
- In the throes of passion his…pride and joy got bent in half…
- My [future] husband and I were…at it… shall we say?
- …that’s called ‘dogging’ these days…
- We were in a state of undress
- …having it away…
- My first time…in someone else’s bed…I lunged…she had to help me
detach me from the sheets…
One listener complained that this was inappropriate content for the time
Power FM said that most of the incidents read out were not in its view
offensive. Power FM believed that the discussions had centred on the
humiliating experiences in which people had found themselves, as opposed
to their sexual experiences specifically. In its view, the discussion
had been acceptable because it was sufficiently inexplicit, with scant
reference to, or any discernible acknowledgement of, any particular
Rule 1.3 states that Children must…be protected by appropriate
scheduling from material that is unsuitable for them.
much of what was transmitted fell into the realm of innuendo. It is
possible that such conversations could have passed some children by.
However, the presenters repeatedly invited listeners to tell the
programme: what’s gone wrong during sex?
The show did not contain one off comments during general banter, but was
in fact a whole section devoted to the topic. As the broadcaster
acknowledges, the overall context of the discussions and the length of
the item meant the content became inappropriate for broadcast at
breakfast time when a number of children were likely to be in the
audience. The programme was therefore not scheduled appropriately in
order to protect children from unsuitable material.
Breach of Rule 1.3
Ofcom whinge at Hindi action film
From Ofcom see
Complaints Bulletin 94
Zee TV Cinema, 27 May 2007, 12:00
Zee Cinema is a subscription movie (not pay per view) channel aimed at a
predominantly Hindi audience. Ek Ajnabee is a thriller/crime film
rated ‘18’ by the BBFC. The plot centres on a bodyguard who goes on a
quest to find his employer’s daughter, who has been kidnapped by
gangsters. In doing so he systematically searches for, tortures and
kills those he believes to be responsible for the kidnapping.
One viewer complained. She was shocked that both she and her nephews
were able to watch such a violent film during the afternoon at the
weekend. Ofcom asked Zee TV to respond with regard to Rule 1.3 of the
Code (children must be protected from unsuitable material by appropriate
Zee TV said that programme was broadcast in edited form to ensure the
content was editorially justified and suitable for broadcast
pre-watershed. As a consequence, the channel argued that the film would
not have disturbed a child viewer.
This 18-rated film as broadcast contained material of a highly adult,
and often violent nature – kidnapping, torture, shoot outs, suicide and
drugs use. Ofcom notes Zee TV’s attempts to minimise harm to children
and offence through editing.
Upon viewing the material, however, Ofcom found that in its opinion many
of the edited scenes were still too harmful to be shown before the
watershed at the time of broadcast. For example, although torture scenes
may have been edited so that violent detail of the protagonist
inflicting pain on his victims was minimised, these scenes were still
nevertheless too extreme by their very nature, including body parts such
as fingers and ears being severed, and the chief protagonist toying with
the idea of suicide, by placing a gun in his mouth.
In addition, certain sequences containing unsuitable content still
remained in the film as broadcast – for example, a brief scene of a
criminal snorting cocaine. Ofcom considers that this film was clearly
unsuitable for children and it was not appropriate to broadcast it
before the watershed.
It was therefore in breach of Rule 1.3.
Ofcom whinge at daytime swearing
From Ofcom see
Complaints Bulletin 94
Me a Cabbie
Sky Three, 16 August 2007, 07:30
Call Me a Cabbie is a factual entertainment reality series which
was repeated in morning timeslots on Sky Three. Ofcom received two
complaints that the episode broadcast on 16 August 2007 contained
several swear words including the words ‘fuck’ and ‘fucking’ at a time
when this channel, available on the Freeview platform, was accessible
for children to view.
Sky responded that the series as originally broadcast contained language
that was inappropriate for broadcast at times when children were likely
to be watching. A version with offensive language edited out was
therefore created for the repeats of this series on Sky Three in the
morning. However, as a result of human error the wrong version of the
programme was broadcast on this occasion. Sky has confirmed to us that
this was the only occasion in the series where the incorrect version was
Although this series did not attract a significant child audience, it
was broadcast at 07:30 and on a service readily available to a large
majority of households and therefore available for children to view. Our
research indicates that ‘fuck’ (or ‘fucking’) is one of the most
offensive swear words1. This programme contained four instances of these
words as well as ‘bollocks’, ‘shit’ and ‘tosser’. Furthermore, all of
this language was included in the subtitling provided for this
We welcome Sky’s assurances that it has reminded staff of the importance
of due diligence in assigning the correct versions of programmes to
respective timeslots in their schedules. However, this programme
contained several instances of bad language, including the most
offensive type, and was broadcast before the watershed.
This programme was therefore in breach of Rule 1.14 of the Code.
Sexist Celebrity Babes
101 Sexiest Celebrity Bodies
ITV2, 31 July 2007, 20:00
This programme was also in breach of Rule 1.14 of the Code for 5 'fuck'
or 'fucking'. The ITV censors were apparently distracted by issues of
All material intended to arouse banned from free to air TV
From Ofcom see
Complaints Bulletin 93
House of Fun is a free-to-air adult entertainment channel featuring
female presenters - known as babes who invite viewers to call them
on premium rate phone lines for sexual conversation.
A complainant said the output broadcast around midnight on 7/8 May
2007 was too sexually explicit for un-encrypted transmission,
particularly in a segment at 00:27 .
1.24 of the Code says premium subscription services and pay-per
view/night services may broadcast "adult-sex" material between
22:00 and 05:30 - provided there is a mandatory PIN protection
system, or equivalent protections, to restrict access to those
authorised to view.
2.1 says generally accepted standards must be applied to ensure
the public is protected from harmful and/or offensive material.
2.3 says broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause
offence is justified by its context.
The broadcaster, House of Fun, said the output did not represent the
more explicit images of sexual activity as defined in the
Code as "adult-sex" material, and so did not come into the category
of programme requiring mandatory encryption and PIN protections. The
representations of sexual intercourse were simulated; they did not
involve the use of sexual toys; and the presenters wore underwear at
all times. Further, the content was justified by its context in an
adult show, on an adult channel, and within the adult section of the
Sky electronic programme guide ( EPG ).
In deciding what is "adult-sex" material, Ofcom guidance for
broadcasters refers to definitions used by the BBFC for "sex works
at 18". These are defined as works whose primary purpose is sexual
arousal or stimulation.
The output of House of Fun featured two topless women apparently
engaging in masturbation inside their underwear, and then simulating
oral sex. A third woman, apparently naked, was later presented in a
separate window on screen with her legs spread and appearing to
engage in masturbation, obscured by pixellation of her genital area.
There was however no sound transmitted, except for a music track and
an occasional voice-over urging viewers to call the babes on premium
Images featuring simulated sexual acts that are not justified by
context (such as the editorial content of the programme) will be
considered "adult-sex" material by Ofcom if one of their primary
purposes appears to be sexual arousal or stimulation.
Ofcom considers that this output went beyond acceptable limits for
free-to-air broadcast, in spite of the presence of underwear and
pixellation, because of its explicit sexual content, and so amounted
to "adult-sex" material. One of its primary purposes was to provoke
sexual arousal or stimulation as part of a commercial offer linking
the on-screen sex acts with chat on premium rate sex lines.
The Code makes it clear that such "adult-sex" material should be
secured behind a mandatory PIN protection system. This requirement
is not met by the voluntary system available through the satellite
PIN system, which requires viewers to apply the protection
It follows that this material was therefore inconsistent with the
application of generally accepted standards to ensure protections
from harm and/or offence.
This was a serious breach of the Code. Ofcom considered whether the
matter should be referred to the Content Sanctions Committee for
consideration of a statutory sanction. However, Ofcom noted that on
this occasion that there was pixellation of the more explicit
images; no explicit sexual language was transmitted; and, the late
time of broadcast. Nevertheless, any similar breach in future is
likely to result in the consideration of a statutory sanction.
Breach of Rules 1.24, 2.1 and 2.3
Children's fare only at tea time please according to Ofcom
ITV must not replace children’s programmes with scenes of graphic
murder, the broadcasting regulator said.
Ofcom upheld complaints over ITV’s decision to show repeats of
Midsomer Murders at tea-time. Viewers complained that the
programme, shown at 4pm during half term, included strong language
and scenes of graphic violence likely to disturb children. This
meant that the material was clearly not suitable for children and
therefore inappropriately scheduled.
Ofcom rejects complaints about photos used in Diana: The Witnesses in the Tunnel
From Broadcast Now see
Ofcom has rejected 62 complaints over Channel 4's controversial
documentary Diana: The Witnesses in the Tunnel, ruling that
the use of photographs of Princess Diana's fatal car crash was
justified by their context.
The complaints largely centred on the use of the photographs and the
purpose of the programme. Some viewers said screening the programme
was disrespectful to the wishes of Prince William and Prince Harry,
who had called for it not to be broadcast.
Ofcom said Diana's death was a sensitive issue and that any
documentary treatment of it could offend some viewers.
But it said the images and themes of the programme were in line with
viewers' expectations of an investigative C4 documentary and that
the use of the photographs was therefore not gratuitous: The
photographs were integral to the credibility of the argument being
made and the corroborated first hand testimony.
Comes to the rescue of Trevor McDonald
From Ofcom see Complaints Bulletin 92
News Knight with Sir Trevor
ITV1, 24 June 2007, 22:00
This topical news comedy programme was introduced by Sir Trevor
McDonald. At one point, Sir Trevor McDonald introduced an item by
saying: It’s time for ‘Racist and Dead’, this week, it’s the turn of
corpulent, narrow-minded northerner Bernard Manning. Personally, I never
thought of Bernard Manning as a racist comic… just a fat, white bastard…
112 viewers complained that the use of
the expression “fat, white bastard” was inappropriate and/or racist.
The Code was drafted in the light of the Human Rights Act 1998 and the
European Convention on Human Rights. In particular, the right to freedom
of expression, as expressed in Article 10 of the Convention, encompasses
the audience’s right to receive creative material, information and ideas
without interference, but subject to restrictions prescribed by law and
necessary in a democratic society.
Ofcom must ensure that generally accepted standards are applied to the
content of television services, so as to provide adequate protection for
members of the public,
for example from the broadcast of offensive material.
Rule 2.3 of the Code states that …in applying generally accepted
standards broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence
is justified by the context. There is therefore no prohibition on
the broadcast of an expression such as the one used by Sir Trevor
McDonald, provided that it is justified by context. Context includes,
amongst other things: the time of broadcast; the editorial content of
the programme; the degree of offence likely to be caused by the
material; and the likely expectation of the audience.
The programme was broadcast a full hour after the 21:00 watershed, when
more challenging material can sometimes be expected. It was clear from
the outset that the programme, whilst a comedy, was an edgy, satirical
look at the week’s news, and that on occasions there would be some
material that risked offending some viewers.
In the case of this programme, Sir Trevor McDonald obviously, and
intentionally, drew on Bernard Manning’s own style of humour, which
frequently played on the real or apparent prejudices of his audience.
The comments were clearly intended to parody Manning’s own comedy, where
he claimed he was not himself racist, but simply made ‘jokes’ based on
racial stereotypes. It was in such a context that Sir Trevor McDonald
could therefore state that he did not consider Manning to be a racist
but then went on to say that he was “…a fat white bastard”.
Taking the above into account, therefore, we do not believe this
specific expression went beyond the likely expectations of an audience
for a satirical news-based comedy programme broadcast well after the
watershed, and that any offence that may have been caused was justified
by the context.
John Beyer, Pedantic Bastard
John Beyer, director of mediawatch-uk
said: While Sir Trevor McDonald's comments were untypical, I still
think Ofcom should have reached a different outcome. If the comment had
been made in reverse (a white man calling someone a ‘fat black bastrd')
there would have been utter outrage, and rightly so.'
Ofcom revisit premium services technology
Thanks to Paul
From Ofcom see
Making enforcement more targeted and effective
Ofcom have identified a work package
for the coming year entitled: Carry out a review of Premium Rate
Service regulation, taking into account technological advances and the
development of new services.
Now Ofcom ban hardcore from satellite
TV on the basis of an inadequate PIN technology. There maybe some hope
that PIN technology could one day be reviewed and pronounced adequate.
Particularly as Internet TV will soon allow hardcore via the very same
cable where it is banned from cable TV.
Allowed before the watershed
From Ofcom see
Broadcast Bulletin Issue 91
Sky News, 25 April 2007, 19:00
A viewer complained that the channel broadcast the word ‘fuck’ during a
live link to the opening of the trial of Phil Spector. The complainant
objected to the fact that an early evening news programme allowed this
to happen and had not used a time delay.
Ofcom considered the complaint against Rule 1.14 (the most offensive
language must not be broadcast before the watershed or when children are
particularly likely to be listening) and Rule 2.3 (generally accepted
standards) of the Code.
Sky accepted that the word was broadcast before the watershed but
regretted that it was impossible to have anticipated that such language
would have been used by the lawyer at the trial.
Because of the immediacy of news and the necessity to go live at times,
the broadcaster has less control of its editorial output. There is
always the possibility that material transmitted on these channels may
be unsuitable for children, although these services are generally aimed
at adults and for a ‘self-selecting’ audience.
In this case, Ofcom took the view that offensive language was unlikely
to have been anticipated from a live news report from a courtroom,
unlike for example, in programmes where the inclusion of such language
was more likely and necessitated greater care over compliance.
We then considered the context of this programme and whether within
context it had complied with Rule 2.3. We took into account the
editorial content, the service on which the material was broadcast, the
likely size and composition of the potential audience and any supporting
information that was given. In this case, it was a live news broadcast
from a courtroom, contained within a rolling news service, and aimed
primarily at an adult audience. An apology was made very soon after the
word had been broadcast.
We welcome the apology given shortly after the incident and Sky’s
assurances that it takes the broadcast of offensive language seriously.
Taking into account all of these factors, Ofcom considers the matter
Ofcom wound up by pantomime horror
The West see
A UK talent show that featured an illusionist who pretended to chop
off his hand before cutting open an assistant with a power-saw broke
Ofcom said Dr Gore's blood-soaked performance on Britain's Got Talent on
ITV was unsuitable for weekend family viewing.
Dr Gore had reached the semi-final of the ITV series to find an
up-and-coming act to play before the Queen at the Royal Variety
The show's hosts, Ant and Dec, warned viewers that he wasn't for the
faint-hearted. Ant said: He can make an entire audience feel sick in
Dr Gore walked on stage in black leather biker boots and a blood-stained
He appeared to slice off his hand with a large knife before asking the
audience: Do you want to see some gore?
He then took an electric rotary saw to a young helper lying on a trolley
and pretended to rip out his organs.
The act ended when the three judges - Simon Cowell, Piers Morgan and
Amanda Holden - said they'd seen enough.
The show went out at 7.45pm on June 16. Twenty-one people complained to
The show's makers said they had asked Dr Gore to tone down his act and
had made sure the presenters warned the audience about what to expect.
Producers said the act was more pantomime than horror.
Ofcom challenge the very essence of babe channels
This decision challenges the very essence of free to
air Babe channels. If they are not allowed to show on-going
advertisements then their days must surely be numbered
From Ofcom see
Turn on TV, 6/7 May 2007, 23:47 - 00:51
Turn on TV2, 6/7 May 2007, 00:04 - 01:04
Both channels broadcast interactive chat-based programme where viewers
are invited to contact on-screen presenters via premium rate services.
Both of the programmes complained about featured female presenters
(referred to as ‘babes’), dressed in underwear, inviting viewers to call
them. The complainant objected that the programmes promoted services
that were not linked to the editorial content.
We requested and viewed a sample of the channels’ output and noted the
- On the service Turn on TV 2 there
was an almost continuous on-screen promotion of a club that offered to
send pictures and videos to members’ mobile phones. Membership of the
club was offered via a premium rate text service.
- The club was also promoted on Turn
on TV. Additionally, Turn on TV promoted a service that offered
viewers an option of buying, via a premium rate text service, pictures
of the ‘babes’.
Turn on TV2
The Code requires broadcasters to ensure that the programming and
advertising elements of a service are kept separate (Rule 10.2) and
prohibits the promotion of products and services within programmes (Rule
10.3). It makes clear that premium rate services will normally be
regarded as products and services and must not therefore appear in
programmes, except where they either meet the definition of
programme-related material or contribute to the editorial content of the
programme. In this case, the service promoted (i.e. the club sending
pictures and videos to mobile phones via a premium rate text service)
neither contributed to the programme’s editorial content nor met the
definition of programme-related material. Therefore, as accepted by the
broadcaster, the advertising of the service within the programme was in
breach of the Code.
Turn on TV
The advertising of the same service on Turn on TV was also in breach of
the Code. The promotion of the text club on Turn on TV was in two forms:
1. a text box broadcast intermittently that was ‘overlaid’ on the
2. scrolling text that appeared underneath the main telephone number
used for contacting the on-screen ‘babes’.
In the case of the ‘overlaid’ text box, regardless of the duration of
the message, viewers were likely to see this message not as advertising
but as an integral part of the programme. As such, there was not
sufficient separation between what was an advertising message and the
In the case of the scrolling text, this accompanied the main channel
telephone number and its associated information (e.g. call costs).
Again, it was therefore likely to be understood by viewers as forming
part of the programme information rather than a separate piece of
Turtle is apparently cooked alive
From The Times
Ofcom has censured ITV for editing a
programme to make it appear that a turtle was being roasted alive by
Bear Grylls, the “survivalist”.
ITV breached broadcasting rules during a family show by showing Grylls
apparently biting the head off a live frog and cooking a turtle in its
shell on an open fire.
Edited clips from the former SAS soldier’s Channel 4 show, Born
Survivor, were included in the ITV1 satirical show, Harry Hill’s
Viewers raised concerns about the animals’ welfare, and several parents
complained that their children had been upset by the scenes.
Harry Hill’s producers said that some viewers did seem to believe
that the turtle had been ‘cooked alive’, which was of course not the
case; however, unlike the programme makers of Born Survivor, we did not
show the killing of this poor animal, which may have led to this
Ofcom rejected that argument and ruled that the clips were
inappropriately scheduled. ITV compounded the offence by editing the
clips so that viewers were not aware that the turtle had been killed
before being cooked.
Swearing on Radio offends Ofcom
From The Times
Ofcom has found BBC Radio 2 in breach
of broadcasting rules after a lunchtime f-word outburst from Jack Dee
during a comedy programme. The BBC admitted that it had not checked for
offensive material before the broadcast.
Listeners complained about the programme, The Green Guide to Life,
a sketch show about the “complications and confusion of modern-day
living”, broadcast at 1pm in April. Dee was heard to say: What do you
mean, fuck off, during the Saturday show.
The BBC said that the language was
completely inappropriate for broadcast and apologised.
The prerecorded programme was made for the BBC by an independent
production company. It had been intended for a late-evening broadcast
but the producers did not indicate that it contained strong language.
Ofcom Said: It is the clear responsibility of the broadcaster to
ensure that all material, irrespective of who originally produced it, is
suitable for broadcast and appropriately scheduled.
Ofcom warn of frequent watershed lapses
Based on an article from Broadcast Now see
Ofcom has issued a warning to
broadcasters after a rise in the number of supposedly inappropriately
edited programmes being aired before the 9pm watershed.
The concerns centre on material originally produced for a post-watershed
timeslot that has been transmitted unedited - or inadequately edited -
before 9pm when children are likely to be listening or watching.
A statement from Ofcom said that in such cases broadcasters frequently
blame the failures on scheduling problems and/or human errors.
But the regulator said that broadcasters are under a clear duty to
ensure that robust procedures are in place, supported by a sufficient
number of appropriately qualified and trained staff, to ensure full
compliance with the [Broadcasting] Code.
Ofcom warned that regulatory action would be taken if compliance
procedures were not in place.
Ofcom publish annual report
Based on an article from Ofcom see
Ofcom has published its Annual Report
There a few words about convergence
issues that are starting to make an impact, particularly internet based
video: The Content Board
remained engaged with Ofcom’s work in connection with the European
Audio-Visual Media Services Directive (AVMS). It welcomed recognition
for Ofcom’s position that future regulation under the Directive should
be confined to television-type services, rather than all forms of
Ofcom wound up by Cops on Camera
From Digital Spy see
The regulator has ruled that Bravo breached watershed rules when it
aired Cops on Camera at 8am on January 20. The episode
featured black and white footage captured by a CCTV camera of a
violent attack on a man by a gang of youths. One viewer complained
to Ofcom that the violence was unsuitable for broadcast at the time
Virgin Media Television said that only a small number of children
watched Bravo during the timeslot when the programme went out and
that the 8am slot on weekends competed against children's
programming on terrestrial TV. It also said that the CCTV footage
was of poor quality and not presented in a graphic or sensationalist
manner and so was appropriately limited.
In its response, Ofcom said: Ofcom has concluded that at 08:00 on
a Saturday, a higher proportion of the audience is likely to consist
of children, both the very young as well as older children; and they
may well be watching without an adult present in the room to make
decisions about what material is watched. Further the nature of the
content of Cops on Camera includes elements that may well attract
children. Ofcom has concluded therefore that children were not
protected by appropriate scheduling from this unsuitable material
and there was a breach of Rule 1.3.
It added: Ofcom is concerned that this is the fourth breach of
the Code it has recorded against Bravo regarding unsuitable content
in daytime programmes. If there are any further breaches of this
nature by Bravo, Ofcom may consider further regulatory action.
Shipwrecked cleared over racist comments
From Digital Spy see
Ofcom has cleared Channel 4's Shipwrecked after the regulator
received complaints about alleged racist and homophobic comments in the
1,453 complaints were received about the about the 'homophobic'
treatment of student Joe Stone and the 'racist' views of teenager Lucy
Ofcom recognised that unscripted reality television should give an
accurate picture of each contestant rather than "editorialise" them.
In Buchanan's case, the regulator said the broadcaster showed an
appropriate counter balance to her comments, including airing footage of
fellow competitors challenging her views.
A reference to Stone as a "fairy" was justified by the regulator,
stating: Whilst most would consider the pejorative use of the word
‘fairy’ as offensive, Ofcom noted it was not used as an insult or in a
derogatory way towards Joe. It was an off-the-cuff remark to camera from
the self-appointed leader of the group who was frustrated by Joe’s lack
of willingness to participate in the more
macho elements of the group.
Ofcom added: There is no requirement that all people who take part in
a reality television programme must be shown to only express views which
meet generally accepted standards. This would not be a justifiable or
proportionate limitation on freedom of expression.
Ofcom reject complaints against Russell Brand at the Brit Awards
From The Guardian see
Complaints about comedian Russell Brand's controversial hosting of the
Brit Awards on ITV1 this year have been rejected by Ofcom.
The media regulator received 262 complaints about the ITV1 broadcast in
February - which started at 8pm, before the watershed - in which Brand
made a series of risqué jokes about "intimate parts of the human body",
drugs, Iraq, the Queen and Robbie Williams.
Ofcom quoted Brand as saying: What about the rumours David Cameron
smoked drugs as a schoolboy? What worries me most is that he dressed up
as a schoolboy to do it, the pervert.
Though, perhaps let's not condemn him regardless. Who among us didn't
smoke just a little bit of weed at school, just to take the edge off
those irksome crack come-downs?
Actually, as it turns out, it's about as good an anti-drugs campaign
as you're going to get, don't take drugs or you might end up leader of
the Tories with a face like a little painted egg.
Ofcom also singled out: "... time to find out who has pierced the
hymen of awareness to ejaculate success into the uterus of popular
The watchdog said it did not consider any of Brand's other comments to
be worthy of investigation, saying they were justified in the context
of what was a rock and pop event aimed at a primarily youth audience.
Ofcom concluded that the two statements by Brand it had singled out were
"on the margins of suitability".
But Ofcom ruled that they were acceptable in the context of an
established music awards ceremony where a certain amount of controversy
was likely to be expected by the audience.
Ofcom find offensive language on Revelation TV
From Ofcom see
Revelation TV is a religious channel that often features live phone-in
programmes and discussions which from time to time deal with
controversial and topical issues. Ofcom received seven complaints from
viewers who alleged that some presenters and contributors during some
editions of the programmes World in Focus and R Mornings
used offensive language when discussing homosexuals, homosexual
behaviour and immigrants.
In an edition of the programme World in Focus a panel of three
contributors criticised the newly implemented Equality Act and, in
particular, the associated Sexual Orientation Regulations, which they
alleged would force schools to teach children about homosexuality as
part of the national curriculum. Three viewers complained that the
discussion was wholly against the new Regulations, with no balance or
opposing points of view were given, and that some of the remarks were
disparaging and offensive to the gay community.
Four other viewers complained of offensive comments made by Howard
Conder, the owner and presenter of Revelation TV, and some of his guests
concerning homosexuality and also immigrants in various other
Ofcom asked Revelation TV to comment with regard to the following Rules
in the Broadcasting Code (“the Code”): 2.3 (generally accepted
standards) and 5.5 (due impartiality on matters of political or
industrial controversy and matters relating to current public policy).
Ofcom understands that the issue of homosexuality is a contentious one
both within and outside religious communities, and that a number of
opposing views are held. The expression of such sincerely-held and
controversial views may give rise to the potential for offence.
It is therefore important that, where there is the potential for
offence, broadcasters must comply with Rule 2.3 of the Code which states
that: “…in applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must
ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the
context. Such material may include but is not limited to, offensive
language…discriminatory language…on the grounds of age, disability,
gender, race, religion, beliefs and sexual orientation”.
The issue of the treatment of homosexuality (in relation to the Equality
Act and the Sexual Orientation Regulations) was a matter of political
controversy and/or matter relating to current public policy at the time
it was discussed on Revelation TV. Due impartiality was therefore
required. The discussions of the topic on the channel however did not
include any representation at all of alternative views. The content
therefore breached Rule 5.5.
Breach of Rules 2.3 and 5.5
Ofcom tick off Big Brother
Big Brother bosses have received a sticking off by Ofcom for their
handling of the racism row on Celebrity Big Brother.
And Channel 4 will have to air an unprecedented three apologies during
the new Big Brother series
Ofcom, who investigated the allegations of racism, was handed unseen
footage of the show in which Shilpa Shetty was referred to as a 'Paki'.
Yesterday Ofcom accused Big Brother chiefs of 'serious
editorial misjudgements' but did not fine Channel 4. The TV watchdog
also said bosses had failed to protect the public from 'offensive
Daytime free to air channel ticked off
From Ofcom see
Turn On TV, 14 September 2006, 13:00-16:00
Turn On TV is an unencrypted channel, situated in the adult section of
the Sky EPG, broadcasting programming based on premium rate adult chat
In June and September 2006, Ofcom wrote to broadcasters who provide such
services due to serious concerns about their compliance with the
Broadcasting Code (“the Code”). In particular, we were concerned about
the degree of sexual content on these channels (both before and after
the 21:00 watershed) and the separation of advertising from programme
content. Following these letters, we monitored the output of the
On 14 September 2006, we monitored a programme entitled Naughty Nurse
on Turn On TV between 13:00 and 16:00. This programme featured female
presenters, dressed provocatively as nurses, encouraging viewers to call
them. Investigation of this telephone service by Ofcom revealed that
callers were given the option of connecting to an on-screen or
off-screen ‘nurse’. Connection to an off-screen ‘nurse’ resulted in an
explicit live conversation of a sexual nature.
During monitoring of Naughty Nurse on 15 September 2006, one of the
presenters could be seen engaged in a call. While the presenter’s
microphone was not on, she could be overheard saying “Oooh, baby fuck
me” and moaning in a sexual manner.
It is clear from the content of the
call made by a member of Ofcom staff to the
number broadcast on 14 September 2006 that the premium rate service
during daytime programming was for an adult sexual service.
Additionally, the actions and language used by the presenter on 15
were unacceptable for broadcast during daytime programming and also
that the number promoted was for an adult sexual service.
We therefore consider that the programmes breached programme Ruleon the
- the clothing and posing of the
presenter was overtly sexually provocative and
the sexual behaviour was therefore not appropriately limited
- the broadcaster had failed to take
all reasonable steps to protect children in
that this content (in terms of both the appearance and actions of the
presenters and the promotion of adult services) was inappropriately
- the language used by the presenter
was unacceptable and offensive for the
time of broadcast and not justified by the context.
We put the Licensee on notice that
should there be any future breaches of
the Code of a similar nature, Ofcom will not hesitate to consider the
statutory sanctions (which may include a fine and/or revocation of the
About the TV showings of Saddam's execution
The execution of Saddam Hussein on
30 December 2006 attracted worldwide attention. The former head of
state was executed after judicial process and officially released
footage of the execution, by the Iraqi government, was made
available for broadcast. Many broadcasters chose to show extracts of
these pictures and this was done at different times of the day and
in different ways by individual broadcasters. The execution
dominated news headlines for at least the first two weeks of January
2007, as unofficial mobile phone footage of the event came into the
public domain (some of which was also broadcast on UK television).
Ofcom received 70 complaints from viewers who found some of the
images broadcast to be offensive. Many complainants also expressed
concern at the effect such images may have had on younger viewers.
The complaints related to coverage on several channels and
programmes. Ofcom viewed all of the material complained of and
concluded that in most cases, the use of the footage was justified
in context given the huge public interest there was in the news and
that, for example, warnings were given to viewers about the nature
of the material they were about to see and what was shown was
appropriately limited. There was therefore no need, in these cases,
to seek a response from the broadcasters.
The Broadcasting Code recognises the broadcasters and the audience’s
right to freedom of expression (particularly, in this case, the
right to receive and impart information and ideas). The issue Ofcom
had to consider here was whether that right was exercised
responsibly and therefore in accordance with the Code. The execution
of Saddam Hussein had been widely anticipated. Further, the
execution was clearly a matter of public interest. Nevertheless,
many people found the footage leading up to the execution
disturbing. We do not consider that the images themselves were too
offensive for broadcast – provided they were properly justified in
The BBC News 24 bulletin, on the
30 December 2006, was broadcast in the hours immediately following
the execution and the focus was on the events of the day. BBC News
24 prefaced the use of the images with the words you’re watching
a BBC News special, with extensive coverage of the execution of
The Sky News bulletin, on 2
January 2007, was reporting how the Deputy Prime Minister had
described the manner of the execution as deplorable. Sky News
referred in its introduction to the “jeering” in the execution
chamber. We, therefore, believe that while there were no specific
warnings, the broadcasters - in both cases - did provide
“appropriate information” (for news channels) as required by the
Code and so viewers would have been aware to a great extent of the
nature of the subsequent reports
Given the unique nature of the events, Ofcom considers in both
instances the use of the pictures was justified by the context, so
that there was no breach of the Code. At all times the footage was
curtailed to events surrounding the execution; the moment of death
was never shown. We also bore in mind the fact that both BBC News 24
and Sky News are rolling news channels, the audience for which is
overwhelmingly adult and self-selecting.
While we do not consider that there were breaches of the Code in
respect of these two bulletins, broadcasters should be aware that
footage, such as, this may contain particularly disturbing images
(for instance, the jeering and taunting of Saddam Hussein before his
execution). Broadcasters therefore need to consider very carefully
the use of such strong material as general ‘background’ imagery in,
for examples, interviews or live discussions with correspondents. It
may be the case that where images are extremely powerful
broadcasters will need to give greater context to the pictures (e.g.
by careful scripting).
Complaints not upheld
Near the watershed
appeal about a previous decision regarding Hellbound: Hellraiser
II on Rapture TV, 15 May 2006, 21:00
Rapture TV is a general entertainment channel. Hellbound:
Hellraiser II is a well-known 1980's horror film rated 18 by the
BBFC. A viewer complained about the broadcast of graphic violence so
near to the watershed on a channel which is not PIN protected, and
therefore widely accessible. Rapture TV was asked to comment in
relation to Rules 1.6 and 1.21 of the Broadcasting Code which state:
1.6: The transition to more adult material must not be unduly
abrupt at the watershed or after the time when children are
particularly likely to be listening. For television, the strongest
material should appear later in the schedule.
Rule 1.21: BBFC 18-rated films or their equivalent must not be
broadcast before 2100 on any service except for pay per view
services, and even then they may be unsuitable for broadcast at
Rapture TV said that the film was preceded by an 18 visual and audio
warning and that it was transmitted after the watershed. It said
that the EPG description was clear and highlighted that the film was
a horror film and therefore unlikely to be family viewing. It
commented that the weekly slot promoted by the channel for a horror
movie should have meant that the audience would expect a horror film
at that time.
This film contains graphic sequences of violence from the start,
e.g. a scene of a man, whose face is impaled by hooks, being torn
apart; graphic scenes of bloodied mutilation which explained how the
main character, Pinhead came to be; and an image of a corpse covered
The film was preceded by a visual warning which included the BBFC's
18 rating symbol and text noting that the film was not suitable for
persons under 18. An accompanying audio warning stated: The
following film is not suitable for any persons under the age of 18
years. It may contain scenes of an adult nature and contains bad
language from the beginning.
The information given before this film was in both audio and visual
format. However the wording of the on-screen text was insufficient
to fully inform viewers of the nature of the content to follow.
Similarly, although the audio information was more comprehensive,
this suggested that the film may contain scenes of an adult
nature which would not have prepared viewers for the sequences
of graphic violence which were present from the very start of the
We accept that regular viewers of the channel may be familiar with
this weekly horror slot and that some information had been provided
before the broadcast of the film. However, given the extreme
violence in the very early scenes of the film, it was unsuitable for
broadcast so soon after the watershed on a free-to-air, general
entertainment channel. The violent and extreme nature of the imagery
at the beginning of the film resulted in the transition after the
watershed to more adult material being unduly abrupt. For the same
reason, this film was not suitable for broadcast at 21:00.
scheduling of the film was therefore in breach of the Code, rules
1.6 and 1.21.
Jeremy Clarkson re-reprimanded for gay remark
From Ofcom see report [pdf]
Top Gear, BBC Two, 16
July 2006, 20:00
In this episode, Jeremy Clarkson invited a man in the studio audience to
comment on a car the team were discussing. The audience member described
the car as “gay”. Jeremy Clarkson repeated this word and went on to add
“it’s a bit ginger beer”.
Five viewers complained
that the expressions used were offensive to homosexual people. Rule 2.3
of the Broadcasting Code states that broadcasters must ensure that
material which may cause offence is justified by the context….
The BBC Editorial Complaints Unit
(“ECU”) had already concluded that:
As Jeremy Clarkson supplemented the term “gay” with a phrase which is
rhyming slang for “queer”, there was no doubt that it was being used in
the sense of “homosexual”, and was capable of giving offence… in this
instance there was no editorial purpose which would have served to
justify the potential offence and the complaints were therefore upheld…
the Executive Producer of Top Gear has reminded the presenters and the
production team of the importance of avoiding derogatory references to
Any use of the word “gay” which
results in a negative portrayal of homosexual men and women can give
rise to concern. Some in the homosexual community are sensitive to the
word being used in a pejorative way, having seen adoption of the word as
a means of referring to themselves and their community in a positive
manner. To use it as a term of ridicule therefore runs the risk of
In Ofcom’s view there is not
sufficient evidence to conclude that use of the word “gay” is
necessarily and automatically intended to be, or is, offensive.
Broadcasters’ right to freedom of expression should not be restricted
without at least some objective evidence that the word in context was
capable of causing offence.
In this edition of Top Gear, the presenter’s use of a Cockney rhyming
phrase made clear he intended to give a particular meaning to the use of
the word “gay” by the member of the audience, i.e. not to restrict its
meaning simply to foolish or stupid, but clearly linking the reference
to homosexual people. This, in Ofcom’s opinion, meant that the use of
the word became capable of giving offence. In the context, there was no
justification for using the word in this way. We note, however, that the
BBC has taken steps to remind the production team and presenters of the
importance of avoiding derogatory references to sexual orientation. In
light of the ECU ruling and the BBC’s actions, we consider the matter
Soaps reach the limit of acceptability
From the Daily Mail
Media watchdog Ofcom said violence in
programmes such as Coronation Street and EastEnders - both
shown before the watershed, at a time when children are likely to be
watching - has reached the 'limit of acceptability'.
The move was prompted by four episodes of Emmerdale, broadcast
last September, which showed a woman being shot in the chest.
The regulator said: Ofcom recognises that these programmes are aimed
at an adult audience and that, to reflect real life, producers will
include challenging material.
However, given that these programmes are generally transmitted some time
before the 9pm watershed, such content must be treated with particular
and due care.
ITV, which said the shooting episode
had been one of the most popular in Emmerdale's history,
apologised for having caused offence. But it defended its decision to
run the storyline, saying: While our stories do not condone violent
acts, it need not and should not shy away from them.
Mediawatch assured no hardcore on UK TV
In meetings with Ofcom officials we
have made our opposition very clear with regard to the transmission on
television of ‘R18’ pornography. We have supported the prohibition on
such material set out in the Broadcasting Code on the grounds that it
does not meet with ‘generally accepted standards’. We have been assured
that it is unlikely that the existing prohibition will be removed.
Ofcom annual plan with fine words but bollox policies
Based on an article from Ofcom see
Ofcom has published its Annual Plan
for 2007/8 which sets out Ofcom’s policy framework for the next three
years and lists specific priorities for 2007/8.
Censorial Priorities for 2007/8:
Delivering public outcomes as
platforms and services converge
- Reviewing how Ofcom protects
viewers and listeners though content regulation, including the rules
protecting against harm and offence.
- Promoting access and inclusion,
including research to understand better the nature of citizen and
- Maintaining diverse and
high-quality content in public service broadcasting.
Improving industry compliance and
empowering citizens and consumers
- Promoting media literacy and
enabling consumers to make informed choices.
- Making enforcement of the rules
designed to protect citizens and consumers more targeted and
Reducing regulation and minimising
- Examining the scope for removing
regulation and easing the administrative burdens on stakeholders.
Maximising Ofcom’s impact on
international policy developments.
- Participating in core EU
negotiations, such as supporting the Government in concluding
negotiation on the Audio-Visual Media Services Directive; and
contributing to other EU negotiation, such as addressing the
legislative proposals which will follow the Commission’s Content
Censorship required due to category in EPG
From Ofcom see
The Extreme Truth
Men & Motors, 15 March 2006, 23:30
This programme featured couples who were hypnotised to reveal their most
intimate secrets including their most extreme sexual experiences and
secret sexual fantasies. These experiences and fantasies were re-enacted
(filmed in soft focus and black and white) as they are described by the
person under hypnosis. During the programme there were portrayals of
vaginal, oral and anal sexual acts.
A viewer objected to the explicit nudity and sexual content within the
programme. ITV, the broadcaster responsible for Men & Motors, was asked
to comment in the light of Rules 1.24 (adult sex material), 2.1 and 2.3
(generally accepted standards) of the Broadcasting Code.
ITV said that the series was carefully edited by a dedicated and highly
experienced Men & Motors compliance editor. ITV acknowledged that the
programme was quite sexually explicit. However, it stated that the
series was aimed solely at an adult audience, very late night and in the
clear context of the Men & Motors channel. The show was labelled at the
outset; an on-screen caption carried the single word "EXPLICIT" and the
accompanying voice-over said: We'd like to inform viewers that the
following programme contains scenes of a sexual nature.
In relation to whether the content amounted to "adult sex material"
requiring encryption, ITV considered that it followed the guidance
issued by Ofcom. In judging what material is adult sex material, Ofcom
suggests that broadcasters should be guided by the definitions used by
the BBFC. The BBFC defines "sex works" as works whose primary purpose is
sexual arousal or stimulation. The Code makes a similar differentiation.
On this occasion ITV concluded that the series did not meet the
definition of a "sex work" and therefore did not require encryption.
In this case, Ofcom notes the programme was preceded by detailed
information alerting viewers to its sexual content and was broadcast
late in the evening on a channel that attracts a predominantly adult
male audience. The channel is known for broadcasting mainly motoring
based programming and, later in the schedule, programmes of a more adult
However, the channel is situated in the general entertainment section of
the Electronic Programme Guide. Although the editorial basis of the
programme ostensibly appeared to be the impact of the revelations on the
couples , the actual content was principally the portrayal of the sexual
fantasies and experiences. This focus on the sexual acts, coupled with
the filming techniques used, created a programme that appeared
predominantly to be what the Broadcasting Code refers to as "adult sex
material" in terms of both style and intent . We consider that the
degree and explicitness of the sexual activity shown and the overall
tone of the programme was not editorially justified and went beyond what
is generally acceptable on an unencrypted channel.
We consider this programme was in breach of the Code and welcome the
steps taken by the broadcaster to improve compliance in this area. We
expect these improved compliance procedures to prevent this or similar
material from being broadcast without encryption in future.
Breach of Rules 1.24, 2.1 and 2.3
Ofcom on the whinge
Ofcom has upheld complaints about
strong language in the BBC programme Who Do You Think You Are?
'Fuck' was used during the programme which was shown at 7.00pm. It was a
repeat showing on BBC1 of a programme first shown at 9.00pm on BBC2. The
BBC said that there had been “human error” in that the post-watershed
version of the show was shown instead of the pre-watershed version.
Ofcom said that there had been a breach of Rule 1.16.
Another example occurred when the
Biography Channel showed a factual documentary The Beatles Biggest
Secrets at 4.00pm. This, too had included 'fuck' and after
investigation it had been found that the channel’s scheduler had
accidentally overridden the various warnings triggered by the channel’s
Complaints against Coronation Street not Upheld
From the BBC
Scenes of bullying and torture in ITV
soap Coronation Street have been cleared by Ofcom after more than
30 viewers complained.
An episode shown last October featured womanising builder Charlie Stubbs
tying up teenager David Platt and forcing his head under water.
Ofcom received 31 complaints saying such scenes were unacceptable before
the watershed and might be imitated.
ITV1 insisted the audience knew that Charlie was a womanising bully and
were prepared for the confrontation. The broadcaster said the words
"Charlie has a nasty surprise for David" before the programme hinted at
what was to come.
The episode had Charlie luring David into a flat to exact revenge for
weeks of taunting over an affair.
Ofcom said: Even if there were some risk of imitation, we believe
that the scenes were editorially justified by the plot development, the
characters involved and the manner in which it was edited. But it
added that the broadcaster could have given more warning about the
violent content before the episode was aired.
Mandatory 2 pairs of knickers on babe channels?
From Arginald on the bgafd forum
I have seen it all, or not as it turns
out. Tonight we see a new level of censorship on British TV. All the
girls on SKY's FTA adult channels are wearing 2 pairs of knickers!! Even
Angel Long on Sport XXX! Pathetic when Playboy One shows full frontal
open leg shots.
Some viewers may find some of Gordon Brown's words disturbing
From The Guardian
A "labelling" system for media content
is under way to help parents protect their children from unsuitable
content in the digital age, Gordon Brown revealed today.
The chancellor said that Ofcom, the industry regulator, has agreed to
introduce a media content rating scheme to provide better information
about websites, TV programmes, computer games and other media.
Brown also signalled the need for international agreements to block the
scourge of inappropriate content available to children on the internet.
Speaking to an audience of mothers and fathers in central London, Brown
drew on his own experiences as a father to expose the new challenges
faced by parents trying to teach their children right from wrong as
sensationalist images of violence, drugs, and sex proliferated on the
internet and other new media outlets.
He said: We want to promote a culture which favours responsibility
and establishes boundaries: limits of what is acceptable and
unacceptable. We can't and shouldn't seek to turn the clock back
on technology and change. Rather we need to harness new technology and
use it to enable parents to exercise the control they want over the new
influences on their children.
As part of its responsibilities for content regulation and media
literacy Ofcom will introduce common labelling standards providing
information on the type of content, regardless of the medium concerned:
cinema, TV, radio, computer games, or the internet, Brown told the
An Ofcom spokesman said the labeling system will cover all media content
in a "text-based" form. This will spell out the level of nudity involved
in the content, for example: We have not set in stone yet is what
these labels will look like but it won't be like age related labelling
you get in cinema classifications.
The regulator will also conduct an information campaign to let parents
know about the software available for computers and TV set-top boxes to
control what their children see. Ofcom will also work with the Internet
Watch Foundation to ensure internet service providers tell their
subscribers about software which blocks access to sites, Brown said.
Other measures will include persuading technology manufacturers to give
better information on blocking software and investigating new ways of
restricting access to violent and obscene material sent over the
A Treasury spokeswoman was unable to confirm when the scheme will be
introduced, but said: The labelling is going to affect all visual
media - DVDs, videos, films and games. It is still currently under
discussion and will involve various organisations.
Ofcom investigating complaints about programme on Islam Channel
From black information link
See more on
Hidden agenda from The Guardian
Last month British-based Islam Channel
suddenly suspended its popular current affairs show The Agenda
fronted each morning by the prominent journalist and campaigner Yvonne
There was no warning or explanation. Days then weeks went by, viewers'
complaints and concerns mounted, but the mystery only deepened. Finally,
the station relented and issued a very short press release blaming the
TV regulator: Due to recent pressure from Ofcom The Agenda has been
taken off air until further notice. The statement ended strangely:
No further explanation will be given on the topic.
Did Ofcom really kill off The Agenda? A spokesperson for the
watchdog confirmed that two complaints had been lodged against the show
and were being investigated, but strenuously denied that Ofcom had
interfered with the editorial sovereignty of Islam Channel's programme
Complaints dismissed against A Girl's Guide to 21st Century Sex
From Digital Spy
Ofcom has cleared A Girl's Guide to
21st Century Sex, ruling that the Five programme did not breach the
21 viewers complained to the regulator, claiming that the programme
contained "shocking and explicit" material worthy of an R18 rating from
the BBFC. The complainants also claimed that the programme could impart
inappropriate information to vulnerable young girls.
The show contained footage of sexual activity including the filming of
ejaculation in a woman's vagina. Topics ranging from masturbation to
STIs were discussed in detail.
In its response to the complaints, Ofcom said that the programme was
"factual" and "educational", and noted that there was no ban on the
broadcast of non-simulated sexual intercourse on television. The
regulator said that images of "real" sex "should not automatically be
equated with BBFC-rated R18 material," and added that the portrayal
of sex in this programme genuinely sought to inform and educate rather
than stimulate or arouse sexually.
TV evangelists to be allowed to ask for cash
From The Times
Ofcom are changing their rules to
allow TV evangelists to appeal for money on screen.
The change, opposed by the Church of England as having a clear
potential for exploiting viewers’ sensitivities, comes after a
consultation process by the regulator Ofcom. It found that channels
being beamed in from overseas, and therefore not subject to British
broadcasting rules, rendered the previous regulations ineffectual.
The new rules come with caveats such as not creating unrealistic
expectations of what a donor’s gift will actually accomplish. Ofcom
said: There is evidence that this move will help religious
broadcasters who otherwise might not be able to get off the ground by
giving them a way to raise money.
The change was welcomed by Revelation’s boss, Howard Conder: I said
to Ofcom last year that I was going to have to break the law. It wasn’t
fair that the channels broadcasting via satellite from overseas could
appeal for funds when we couldn’t ask for anything on-air, or even thank
anyone who had sent anything in.
All we want to do is tell people how much we need to run the channel,
and show them what our shortfall is. At the moment we want an outside
broadcast van so we can broadcast from other cities. We want to do less
of the preaching and more documentaries.
The change could also pave the way for greater involvement of American
evangelicals in Britain. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, one
of America’s biggest ministries, said that it was aware of the rule
change and right now we are consulting with our partners in the UK
and considering a range of options.
Twelve satellite channels beam Christianity to Britain. Ten broadcast
from outside the UK and so are out of Ofcom’s jurisdiction. UCB, the
other British channel, said that it would not appeal for funds.
Ofcom criticise BBC plan for time shift downloads
From the BBC
The BBC's plans to offer all its TV
and radio shows on-demand via the internet and cable TV have been
criticised by Ofcom.
Ofcom said that certain aspects of the BBC's on-demand service, which is
due to start later this year, could have a "negative effect" on
It added that while the BBC's plans would boost interest in rival
services, it would likely limit their investment. Ofcom said such an
outcome would not be in the long-term public interest.
Under the BBC's proposals, viewers would be able to watch any BBC
programme from the previous seven days via the internet, using a tool
called iPlayer, or through NTL-Telewest's cable television service at a
time of their choosing.
Ofcom estimates that the BBC's on-demand service could account for
almost four billion viewer and listener hours by 2011. In addition to
limiting investment by commercial rivals, Ofcom said it was also
concerned about the impact on related markets such as DVD rentals and
sales. For this reason it has recommended that the BBC's on-demand
service reduces from 13 weeks the planned amount of time that users
could keep downloaded programmes.
Ofcom Content Board appointment
Ofcom has appointed Chris Banatvala to
executive member of its content board.
Banatvala is director of standards at
Ofcom with responsibility for the implementation and policy development
of standards regulation in broadcasting. He is responsible for the
development of Ofcom's first broadcasting code, which sets standards for
television and radio broadcasts.
The board is currently reviewing some 40,000 complaints about Channel
4's Celebrity Big Brother over allegations of racism.
As a member of the content board, Banatvala will sit as a full member of
both Ofcom's content sanctions committee and its fairness committee.
Banatvala takes his new position with immediate effect.
Ofcom fine You TV2 100,000
Ofcom has slapped a hefty £100,000
fine on Gamecast UK Limited for the breaching of broadcasting guidelines
by its service You TV2.
Cellcast UK Limited, the parent company of Gamecast, was hauled up
before the Ofcom sanctions committee after complaints that its service
had transmitted six minutes of sexually explicit material on the
afternoon of 1 September 2005 on TV2, which is a free-to-air service.
You TV2 currently transmits material promoting adult chat lines and is
placed in the adult section of the Electronic Programme Guide under its
You TV2 licence.
Ofcom also received a complaint that Gamecast was broadcasting a
pre-recorded quiz, on 28 July 2005, but had not informed viewers that
the telephone number was not live.
A complaint was made by a member of the general public concerning a quiz
called Guess the Celebrity Live, part of a programme called
Babestar too explicit to broadcast, not enough to watch
From The Guardian
Ofcom has revoked the licence of adult
TV channel Look4Love following multiple breaches of its broadcasting
code and a failure to pay a £175,000 fine.
The regulator has moved to close Look4Love for broadcasting 18-rated
material unencrypted and repeatedly ignoring previous warnings about its
Look4Love, run by Television Concepts, broadcast the material in a
programme called Babestar.tv Live XXX, featuring a number of
women in various states of undress using sexual actions and extremely
explicit sexual language to promote a premium rate chat line, said
This included apparent masturbation and verbal invitations to both anal
and oral sex.
The content was found to be in "serious breach" of seven rules of the
broadcasting code, including unsuitability for children, mental harm,
misleading advertising and harm and offence.
In November, Ofcom's content sanctions committee gave notice that it was
threatening the channel with closure if it did not clean up its act and
imposed a £175,000 penalty.
Television Concepts failed to either change its content or pay the fine.
Ofcom said that the extreme explicitness of the language transmitted
was of an adult sexual nature and was wholly unsuitable for transmission
on a free-to-air service.
Look4Love is a free-to-air service which broadcasted after 10pm on Sky
Digital channel number 916.
Complaints about TV coverage of the killing of Saddam
From The Guardian
Saddam news coverage draws complaints
Ofcom is to investigate UK
broadcasters' coverage of Saddam Hussein's execution after receiving 30
complaints from viewers.
The complaints are believed to include criticism of the broadcasters'
decision to use audio and video extracts of the controversial mobile
phone footage of the former Iraqi dictator being mocked on the gallows
by his executioners.
However, no UK broadcaster showed footage of the moment when Saddam was
BBC1 news coverage of Saddam's execution received the most complaints,
11, with a further 8 about BBC News 24.
Ofcom has also received four complaints about Sky News coverage, and one
each for ITV1 News, Channel 4 News, Fox News and Classic FM.
Stephen Carter gets a CBE
Stephen Carter was always good with fine words at
Ofcom. But he excelled even more at failing to live up to his fine
Former Ofcom CEO Stephen Carter was
honoured in the New Years lists with a CBE 'for services to the
Office of Communications
A regulator with multiple
roles. Roles of Interest to Melon Farmers are:
TV censors for nearly all radio/TV/cable/satellite except for the
Internet censors for Video on Demand. This task has been
delegated to ATVOD but Ofcom retain teh absiolute authority
Internet censors for copyright/file sharing issues
Advert Censors for the limited role of TV channels which exist
mainly to advertise premium rate telephone services (such as babe
Melon Farmers Pages: