Ofcom Watch

 2010: April-June



23rd June   

Update: Guarding the Secret Code '.com'...


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Can anybody guess the website address of a TV channel called Live960?
Link Here  full story: Babe Channels...Ofcom have it in for free to air babe channels

live960 logoAfternoon Delight – Live Skyve
Live 960, 16 March 2010, 12:00

Live 960 is an adult sex chat television service, owned and operated by Hoppr Entertainment and is available without mandatory restricted access on Channel 960. The channel is situated in the adult section of Sky electronic programme guide ( EPG ).

Ofcom received a complaint that the channel included an onscreen reference to the website www.live960.com and on accessing the site material equivalent to BBFC classified R18 content could be viewed.

Although the material was not broadcast on-air, Ofcom identified that the website was promoted on the channel at 12:00. When accessing the website address and entering the web forum (known as Sassy ), explicit images of real sex acts, equivalent to R18 material, could be freely viewed without any age verification or registration of the user.

Ofcom considered:

  • Rule 1.2 …broadcasters must take all reasonable steps to protect under eighteens
  • Rule 1.3 …children must also be protected by appropriate scheduling from material that is unsuitable for them.
  • Rule 2.1 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…harmful or offensive material
  • Rule 2.3 …broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context

Live 960 stated that the Sassy web forum page, which was supplied to the broadcaster's website by a third party, featured posts submitted by contributors and was to the best of their knowledge not normally explicit . The Licensee explained that as soon as it was alerted by Ofcom that there was explicit and unprotected R18 equivalent content on the Live 960 website and it should be taken down, it responded immediately and removed the link. The broadcaster has confirmed that the Sassy web forum is no longer used on the website and it has no affiliation to the supplier.

Ofcom Decision: Breaches of Rules 1.2, 1.3, 2.1 and 2.3

While the content of a website is not in itself broadcast material, and therefore not subject to the requirements of the Code, any on-air references to the website on the broadcaster's licensed service is part of the broadcast content. Therefore such references must comply with the Code, in particular Rules 1.2, 1.3, 2.1 and 2.3.

Ofcom noted that when accessing the site's front page the website contained extremely explicit material featuring still images of real sex acts (equivalent to BBFC R18 rated content). This material did not require any registration to view and could therefore be freely accessed by under-eighteens. No requirement for registration or credit card verification was required to access the content.

It is a requirement upon the licensee to ensure it is fully aware of such decisions and it is of concern to Ofcom that Live 960 was not monitoring the content on its website to ensure it was suitable, particularly given that its website address was promoted during the day when children could have viewed the material.

In Ofcom's view the promotional reference to the website on the Live 960 channel therefore breached generally accepted standards and, given that the website reference was broadcast during the day before the 21:00 watershed, the broadcaster also failed to protect under-eighteens. They were therefore in breach of rules 1.2, 1.3, 2.1 and 2.3.

 

22nd June   

Update: Panty Poopers...

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Ofcom easily offended by flesh coloured panties.
Link Here  full story: Babe Channels...Ofcom have it in for free to air babe channels

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House of Fun, 20 March 2010, 22:00

House of Fun is an adult sex chat television channel. House of Fun is available without mandatory restricted access on Sky channel number 949 and is situated in the adult section of the Sky electronic programme guide ( EPG ). House of Fun is based on interactive adult sex chat services: viewers are invited to contact onscreen female presenters via premium rate telephony services ( PRS ). The presenters dress and behave in a sexually provocative way while encouraging viewers to contact the PRS numbers. 

Ofcom received a complaint about the above broadcast. The complainant said that the content transmitted was too sexually explicit to be broadcast at the time it was shown because it showed full nudity, including shots of the presenters' genitals.

Ofcom viewed the material broadcast on 20 March 2010 between 22:00 and 23:00. It featured four presenters dressed in skimpy clothing: one female was wearing a white bra pulled down to expose her breasts and a flesh coloured g-string with white string thong over the top and flesh coloured stockings; a second female presenter was wearing only a purple g-string; a third female was dressed in a red bra, red skirt and flesh coloured g-string; and, the fourth presenter was wearing black lace knickers and black ripped stockings.

At various times during the broadcast the presenters adopted sexual positions, including lying on their backs with legs wide open to camera and kneeling on all fours while bending over with their buttocks spread to camera. While in these positions the presenters repeatedly carried out a number of sexually provocative acts. These included rubbing their breasts and nipples, stroking and jiggling their buttocks direct to camera and pulling their legs apart to reveal outer labial detail. The presenters also rubbed and touched themselves and each other around the tops of their thighs and on their outer labia, spread their buttocks to reveal outer labial and anal areas, and simulated masturbation on themselves with their fingers.

Ofcom considered:

  • Rule 2.1 - the broadcaster must apply generally accepted standards
  • Rule 2.3 - offensive material must be justified by context.

Ofcom Decision: Breaches of Rules 2.1 and 2.3

Ofcom considered the sexual images complained of were strong and capable of causing offence. On a number of occasions the female presenters adopted various sexual positions and, on occasions, due to their skimpy underwear, did reveal some outer labial and anal detail, despite the broadcaster's assertions to the contrary.

Ofcom concluded that overall the broadcast of the offensive material described above was not justified by the context. Given the overall content of the broadcast, the intrusive and sometimes prolonged and frequent scenes of a sexual nature (including the presenters adopting sexual positions and simulating masturbation) and the inclusion of images of the presenters' outer labial and anal areas), the time of broadcast and location of the channel were not sufficient to justify the broadcast of the material.

The material shown was strongly sexual and would have exceeded the likely expectation of the vast majority of the audience watching a channel without mandatory restricted access at this time. [But surely this hardly applies to babe channel viewers who expect this level of sexy fun and would actually prefer more!].

Ofcom was also concerned at the degree of offence likely to be caused to viewers who might come across this material unawares.

Ofcom noted the broadcaster's assertion that the complainant was incorrect in his assumption that the performers were not wearing underwear and showed their genitals. After viewing of material between 22:00 and 23:00 it was apparent that the presenters were wearing flesh coloured underwear.

However in Ofcom's opinion, the flesh tones of the g-strings were intended by the broadcaster to give the impression to viewers that they were in fact not wearing underwear, in particular by the presenter in a red skirt.

Ofcom does not dispute the Licensee's assertion that the viewer is free to choose what he watches on television. However, any content broadcast by an Ofcom licensee must comply with the provisions of the Code. As already pointed out, the weight attached to freedom of expression is less when it concerns sexual imagery  broadcast to promote a product or service, or primarily for reasons of sexual stimulation. For these reasons, Ofcom considers that the material complained of breached generally accepted standards.

This broadcast therefore breached Rules 2.1 and 2.3 of the Code.

 

18th June   

Update: Ofcom Nazis...


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Jon Gaunt argues that 'nazi' is slang term for those imposing their views on others
Link Here  full story: Jon Gaunt and Talksport Nazis...Talksport sack radio presenter over Nazi jibe

greenaziNazi is now a recognised slang word rather than an historical insult, Jon Gaunt's lawyers told the high court today in the former TalkSport presenter's legal battle with media regulator Ofcom.

Gaunt is challenging, on freedom of speech grounds, Ofcom's decision to censure the station after he labelled a councillor a Nazi on air, an exchange which resulted in his sacking.

His lawyer, Gavin Millar QC, told the court that Ofcom had acted disproportionately by censuring TalkSport and impugning his client's professional reputation, in contravention of article 10 of the European convention on human rights.

He said that Gaunt had not used the word Nazi in an historical or ideological sense. There is now a recognised slang of the word Nazi [as] one who imposes their views on others.

Gaunt's legal team say that Ofcom's responsibility to enforce the broadcasting code, which commits it to upholding generally acceptable standards of behaviour, must be balanced against the right to free speech as enshrined in the convention.

Millar told the court that fundamental right could only be infringed when there is a pressing social need to do so.

He said that European law recognised that different standards apply to journalists carrying out their professional duties and to politicians who are being quizzed about policies they support or uphold. Journalists have a duty to disseminate information to the public and the public have a right to hear it, he added.

Based on article from guardian.co.uk

Jon Gaunt labelled a guest on his TalkSport show a Nazi because it was his intention to offend , the high court was told today. David Anderson QC, who is acting for Ofcom, said Gaunt wanted the right to bully and insult a guest on a radio. That is what he is saying he had a right to do .

Anderson said Gaunt's use of offensive language , including Nazi , health Nazi and ignorant pig was part of a bullying and hectoring approach which exceeded the expectations of the audience for his programme .

Anderson said: To call someone a Nazi is... slightly different to calling someone a health Nazi but in either case the intention was to offend .

The hearing has now ended and a ruling is expected by the end of next week.

 

15th June   

Update: Ofcom Nazis...

Jon Gaunt challenges Ofcom's censure over calling a council official a 'Nazi'
Link Here  full story: Jon Gaunt and Talksport Nazis...Talksport sack radio presenter over Nazi jibe

Old BaileyThe judicial review hearing of Ofcom's decision to uphold complaints against the radio talk show host Jon Gaunt has begun in the High Court. Liberty, the human rights group, has intervened in the case because of its wider importance to free speech.

Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty, said: Too many people say – my speech is free but yours is more expensive. Love him or hate him, Jon Gaunt's case is a vital defence of everyone's political speech under Article 10 of the Human Rights Act. None of us should take this freedom for granted.

Jon Gaunt said: British people have fought tooth and nail over the centuries since Magna Carta to defend and protect the right to free speech. Our forefathers fought the Nazis in the 20th century to protect such rights. It would be painfully ironic if use of the word 'Nazi' were to defeat us when the real Nazis couldn't.

Martin Howe, Jon Gaunt's solicitor, said: A free press and media is an essential and fundamental ingredient of meaningful democracy. Broadcasters should be free to test our elected politicians on matters such as expenses, front-line cuts, terror policies, the prosecution of wars etc. In Jon Gaunt's case he should be free to challenge a controversial childcare policy. Presenters in political debate should not be looking over their shoulder waiting for the Ofcom gag to be slapped on. Tyranny triumphs when good men are silenced. Our democracy has more to fear from faceless bureaucrats thumbing their thesaurus than from the plain speaking polemic of Jon Gaunt.

Jon Gaunt was sacked from TALKsport on 19 November 2008, two weeks after he called a Redbridge Council representative a Nazi , a Health Nazi and an ignorant pig during an on-air discussion about the Council's ban on placing vulnerable children with foster parents who smoke.

 

14th June   

Sky High Complaints...

Ofcom's hit parade of the most complained about TV
Link Here

Ofcom logoOfcom have produced a league table of the most complained about TV.

Vivienne Pattison, director of mediawatch-uk said she was disappointed that Ofcom had not upheld more of the complaints and claimed it seemed to be on the side of the broadcasters .

Television's most complained about incidents:

  1. Sky News: 2,093 complaints

    Exchange between Adam Boulton and Alistair Campbell where Boulton lost his cool and seemed on the point of fisticuffs. Also an interview conducted by an an unprepared Kay Burley who covered with an aggressive attack on democracy campaigner David Babbs.
     
  2. Afternoon Live (Sky News): 891

    Interview in which she presenter Kay Burley left reality TV star Peter Andre visibly upset. Since cleared by Ofcom.
     
  3. The Sky News Leaders' Debate: 674 complaints

    probed over fairness
     
  4. Dancing on Ice: 484 complaints

    Celebrity ice-skating competition Dancing on Ice harrangued for comments made by one of its judges, who told Sharron Davies, the Olympic swimmer, that she looked like faecal matter . Commenting after she had performed a routine wearing a brown costume, he said: It was like watching faecal matter that won't flush – it goes around and around and around and in the end it doesn't go anywhere.

    Ofcom rejected the complaints noting that the judge Jason Gardiner is the acerbic 'nasty' judge on Dancing on Ice, and seems quite content to play up to his 'pantomime villain' image .
     

  5. The Alan Titchmarsh Show: 301 complaints

    Complaints for a blatantly biased discussion on violence in video games.

    Also complaints for an item on sex toys as part of a pre-Valentine's day special. Sex toys being considered in appropriate for pre-watershed discussion.
     

  6. Marie Stopes International advert: 236 complaints

    Innocuous advert harangued more for the subject matter than anything in the advert
     
  7. Dispatches Britain's Islamic Republic: 208 complaints

    Complaints that the programme was biased
     
  8. The Door: 203 complaints

    Viewers concerned about the portrayal/references of big aggressive German shepherd dogs as being dangerous.
     
  9. Coronation Street: 200 complaints

    Various issues
     
  10. Celebrity Big Brother: 190 complaints

    Various issues

 

12th June   

Update: Participation TV...

Ofcom statement on new censorship rules for babe channels
Link Here  full story: Babe Channels...Ofcom have it in for free to air babe channels

Ofcom logoA few months ago Ofcom initiated a consultation about the censorship of what it calls Participation TV, This refers to channels that are continuous advertising for premium rate telephone services such as babe channels.

The basic change is that in the past these have been regulated as TV programmes by Ofcom. However they will now be considered and regulated as advertising traditionally with stricter censorship rules. However babe channels simply can't exist within such constraints but Ofcom will relax the advertising rules to allow the channels to continue.

However the censorship task will not be picked up by the current advert censors of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) but will continue to be imposed by Ofcom, at least for the time being.

Perhaps the most immediate consequence of the changes coming into force on 1st September 2010 is that viewers of babe channels on digital terrestrial TV will be restricted to the late night slot starting from midnight.

Ofcom explain further in their Participation TV: Regulatory Statement :

Ofcom published a third consultation on Participation TV: rules on the promotion of premium rate services. The consultation confirmed Ofcom's decision to amend the Broadcasting Code to clarify that services designed primarily to promote Premium Rate Service (PRS) lines would not be considered as editorial in nature but would be treated as advertising. Advertising is regulated under the BCAP Broadcast Advertising Standards Code.

The consultation set out the new rules and associated guidance under the Broadcasting Code. on 3 November 2009. This document is Ofcom's regulatory statement on this consultation.

Our impact assessment suggested that relatively few services will be significantly affected by this change and need to modify their services. However, two categories of service – Adult Chat

However, research commissioned by Ofcom on audience views of Participation TV services showed that viewers are generally tolerant of such services continuing to be broadcast, subject to certain safeguards to ensure that services are appropriately labelled and positioned so that viewers do not chance upon them unintentionally.

1.7 The consultation set out four options for the future regulation of Adult Chat PTV services. These options were:

  1. Retain the current rules, allowing promotion of PRS of a sexual nature on encrypted channels only
  2. Allow promotion of PRS of a sexual nature on open access channels in spot advertising and teleshopping, subject to scheduling restrictions
  3. Allow promotion of PRS of a sexual nature in spot adverts subject to scheduling restrictions, but with teleshopping promotion only allowed on encrypted channels
  4. Allow promotion of PRS of a sexual nature on dedicated teleshopping channels subject to scheduling restrictions and labelling rules, but spot advertising remains only on encrypted channels.

We stated that Option 4 was Ofcom's preferred option for regulation of promotion of these services. We proposed amendments to the relevant rules in the Advertising Code, to be introduced when the changes to the Broadcasting Code come into effect.

The proposed Advertising Code rules for promotion of telecommunications based sexual entertainment services required channels to be appropriately positioned and labelled within an Adult or similar section of an Electronic Programme Guide (EPG) on any platform. Digital Satellite (Sky, Freesat) and Digital Cable (Virgin Media) platforms operate segregated genre-based EPGs including an Adult section: channels on these platforms would be able to meet the conditions the proposed rule.

However, due to the lack of a segregated EPG on most set-top boxes, channels would currently be unable to meet the conditions for promotion (unless in encrypted form) on the Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) platform. The most commonly used operator on the DTT platform is Freeview.

Ofcom notes that, compared to other TV platforms, DTT provides a smaller number of channels to access; also, not all receivers offer parental controls, to block either individual channels or groups of channels on the platform. The risk of unintentional viewing is therefore higher than with other platforms, and we consider that a stricter timing restriction should be introduced for DTT: that adult sex chat services should be allowed only between midnight and 0530 hours, rather than 2100-0530 on other platforms.

The revised Advertising Code is due to come into effect on 1 September 2010. The amended rules will be effective from this date.

The revised Advertising Code rules will require TV channels wishing to promote telecommunications based services sexual entertainment services or live psychic PRS to ensure that they are licensed for the purpose of the promotion of such services. These licences are currently categorised as editorial in the annex to the licence, and will need to be amended to be teleshopping licences. Broadcasters would therefore need to request an amendment to the annex to their licence to reflect these requirements should they wish to broadcast such content.

Ofcom, BCAP and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) have agreed that, for the time being, Ofcom will be the regulatory body for Participation TV (defined as all types of long-form advertising that are primarily dependent on promotion of Premium Rate Service phone lines, and other paid interaction with content). This includes services currently regulated by Ofcom (adult chat, psychic, quiz) and others currently regulated by the ASA (gambling, message boards, dating).

Later on Ofcom respond to pints made in the consultation:

BCAP express concern that some adult sex chat services may currently breach the requirements of the Broadcasting Code in relation to avoidance of offence from sexual material. Where breaches of the Ofcom Broadcasting Code occur, Ofcom has taken firm regulatory action in relation to these particular broadcasters. It would not, in our view, be proper in effect to enforce closure of all operators in a particular field, as a response to the transgressions of some. Moreover, programming on Adult Chat PTV will continue to be subject to the requirement not to “cause serious or widespread offence against generally accepted moral, social or cultural standards, or offend against public feeling” in accordance with Rule 6.1 of the Advertising Code. This provision is comparable with Rule 2.1 of the Broadcasting Code which requires broadcasters to apply generally accepted standards so as to provide adequate protection for members of the public from the inclusion in such services of harmful and/or offensive material. As a result, Adult Chat PTV will continue to be required to comply with rules relating to offence under the Advertising Code.

Ofcom does not consider that, to date, the primary purpose of adult sex chat services has normally been sexual arousal. In our judgement, the primary purpose is the generation of calls to the PRS lines. The content must be less sexually explicit than what is permitted on encrypted services with mandatory access restrictions. Where the content goes beyond the rules of the Codes in relation to offence, and its primary purpose appears to be sexual arousal, Ofcom has taken and will continue to take very robust regulatory action.

 

11th June   

Update: Lowest Common Denominator Nutters...

Daily Mail rounds up a few sound byte 'fears' of more strong language on TV
Link Here

Daily Mail logoMinor league nutters have accused Ofcom of giving broadcasters a green-light to swear after consulting almost 130 people who largely thought offensive language was acceptable.

A study by the watchdog, which included special input for minority groups like those who are transgender or travellers, suggested people were willing to tolerate various swear words on TV throughout the day.

While Ofcom insists there have been no rule changes about swearing as a result of the research, the likes of Mediawatch-Uk fear the report will pave the way for a more permissive attitude to the problem.

Vivienne Pattison of Mediawatch UK said last night the findings did not reflect what her organisation was hearing. She said: It just doesn't ring true. I find it really surprising because in all the conversations I have the general view is that swearing is not acceptable pre-watershed at all.

Also it is not acceptable in society per se, one can't go into a shop and say things like that. That's why it is does seem bizarre that people would think it would be okay on television. I have been totally bamboozled by the science behind the survey.

Don Foster, the Not So Liberal Democrat MP for Bath, who before the election was the party's culture spokesman said the report was bizarre . He said: Some of the things they are saying are acceptable is frankly amazing. I hope it won't be used to give licence to the broadcasters to totally ignore what I think are real concerns about good taste. We have a responsibility to set standards and I think it is important that broadcasters don't just operate at the lowest common denominator. Nobody but nobody has come to me saying we want to see more swearing, it is the reverse, they want to see less of it.

An Ofcom spokesman said: The research was conducted to ensure that Ofcom continues to remain in tune with public expectations of what they hear on TV and radio. Our research shows that audiences remain concerned about a range of language that they find offensive. For this reason we are not considering any changes to our robust rules which protect the public, and in particular children, from offensive material.'

 

10th June   

Update: How Offensive is That?...

Ofcom publish research grading strong language
Link Here

Ofcom logoOfcom have produced a report titles: Audience attitudes towards offensive language on television and radio. In it they write:

Ofcom recognises that the use of language changes over time. Likewise the impact of the offence it may cause also changes over time.

In the five years since Ofcom last published research on attitudes to offensive language, we have received complaints about the use of terms which may not have previously been considered potentially offensive. In addition some words are now considered of heightened sensitivity and are seldom broadcast, while other terms are considered less offensive than in previous years.

Therefore the purpose of Ofcom commissioning independent research by Synovate, was to provide an up to date understanding of public attitudes to offensive language in order to inform Ofcom, viewers, listeners and broadcasters.

The research was qualitative in nature. This means it explored the views of a range of participants across the UK, and provided insights into their opinions based on a variety of examples of broadcast material. It was not a quantitative study, so the results do not seek to provide a definitive measure of the proportion of the UK population who hold specific opinions.

They found:

Amongst the words explored in this research, participants thought that some words were considerably stronger than others.

The mildest words were considered acceptable in most situations (e.g. arse , damn , tits'), whereas considerable care was seen to be necessary over the use of stronger words. In terms of strong language, most participants found the words 'cunt , fuck , 'motherfucker', pussy , cock and twat unacceptable pre-watershed and also wanted care to be taken over the use of the words bitch , bastard , bugger , dick , wanker , 'shag', slag and shit .

Post-watershed, cunt and motherfucker were considered the least acceptable words discussed in the research.

There were mixed views on the use of the word fuck which was considered more acceptable by some participants (e.g. younger people and male participants) but less acceptable by others (e.g. participants aged 55-75).

Most participants also wanted some care to be taken over the use of the word pussy post-watershed. The other words listed were seen to be acceptable postwatershed by most participants.

In terms of discriminatory language, nigger and Paki were seen as the most offensive words. Some participants thought it was acceptable to use them in some specific contexts (e.g. for educational use), whereas some thought they should not be used on television or radio in any context. The word spastic was also generally considered unacceptable.

Some discriminatory language polarised responses, particularly 'retarded', gyppo , pikey , gay and cripple as participants' familiarity with and interpretation of, these words varied greatly, both within the general UK sample, and between the general UK sample and the minority groups.

Overall, most potentially offensive words were not seen to be unacceptable in principle, as context was a key factor in determining whether language was seen as generally acceptable or unacceptable. The exception to this was some potentially discriminatory language (particularly Paki , nigger and spastic') which some participants considered unacceptable in any context. Some participants considered offensive language to be unacceptable when used too frequently, even if its use was thought to be broadly acceptable in relation to all of the other principles outlined in this report.

 

9th June   

Update: Hardcore Pedantry...

URL on bland terms and conditions page found to be offensive to Ofcom
Link Here

Televison X logoReference to website address Television X (Freeview channel 93),
between 10 and 15 March 2010, 03:00 to 23:00

Television X is an adult channel located on the Freeview platform (channel 93). It is operated by Portland Enterprises.

Between 03:00 and 23:00 the channel broadcasts, without mandatory restricted access, a static interactive information page which provides viewers with details of how they can register for subscription or pay-per night adult services that have mandatory restricted access. By clicking on the yellow button on the remote control viewers can access another information page, also broadcast without mandatory restricted access, that includes some of the terms and conditions of these services (the terms and conditions page). When on this page viewers are directed to go to a particular website for the full terms. Between 23:00 and 03:00 the channel transmits both free-to-air (i.e. without mandatory restricted access) promotional trailers to encourage viewers to register for subscription or pay-per night services, and also [softcore] adult sex material that can only be broadcast under mandatory restricted access.

Ofcom received two complaints from viewers who said that the terms and conditions page, accessed by using the yellow button, directed viewers to a website address that contained sexually explicit content equivalent to the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) of R18 (i.e. hard core pornographic) material. On viewing the terms and conditions page complained of, Ofcom noted that it displayed the website URL www.televisionx.com. Ofcom visited this website address and found that it contained images of a strong sexual nature equivalent to BBFC R18-rated material ( R18-rated equivalent material ) which could be readily viewed without appropriate protections.

Although this R18-rated equivalent material was not broadcast on-air, Ofcom was concerned that it appeared on a website that was referred to on screen by an Ofcom licensed service freely available without mandatory restricted access between 03:00 and 23:00.

Ofcom considered Rule 2.1 (generally accepted standards) and 2.3 (offensive material must be justified by context) of the Code.

Ofcom Decision: In breach of the rules

The content of websites is not broadcast material, and therefore not subject to the requirements of the Code. However, any references to websites or URLs made on air, which can be through an interactive element of a service (i.e. the yellow button), are broadcast content. Ofcom therefore has the duty and the power to regulate such references under the Communications Act 2003. Ofcom licensed services should in no circumstances promote or direct viewers to adult websites which contain R18-rated equivalent material if such content can be accessed without appropriate restrictions in place. Therefore such references must not be broadcast on a service without mandatory restricted access.

The issue in this case was whether the website address was suitable to be referred to on a licensed television service that was broadcast without mandatory restricted access, and so complied with these rules. When accessed merely by clicking a button on a warning page to confirm that the user was over 18 the www.televisionx.com website contained images of R18-rated equivalent material. This included explicit images of a woman inserting a dildo. This website did not require prior registration to view and therefore the reference to its URL on the terms and conditions page, which clearly directed viewers to the website, was of serious concern to Ofcom. Ofcom considered that the broadcast of this website address was a breach of generally accepted standards because of the unprotected and explicit sexual material it led to.

Ofcom therefore concluded that the reference to www.televisionx.com, as broadcast on the terms and conditions page of the service Television X, via the yellow button, was in breach of Rules 2.1 and 2.3 of the Code.

 

8th June   

Update: Elite Whinges...

Ofcom continue their babe channel tirade
Link Here  full story: Babe Channels...Ofcom have it in for free to air babe channels

Elite TV advertElite Days
Elite, 31 March 2010, 15:00 to 16:00

Elite is owned and operated by Prime Time TV Ltd. The channel broadcasts interactive daytime and adult-sex chat programmes that are freely available and without mandatory restricted access. It is located in the adult section of the Sky Electronic Programme Guide ( EPG ) on Channel 911. Viewers can contact the onscreen female presenters via a premium rate telephone or text number ( PRS ). Generally the female presenters dress and behave in a provocative and/or flirtatious manner.

'A' viewer was concerned that during this daytime output the presenter was shown continually thrusting her body and mimicking sexual intercourse and this was inappropriate for the time of transmission.

Ofcom viewed the material broadcast between 15:00 and 16:00 and noted that the presenter was wearing a skimpy gold lam thong swim suit. During the broadcast she was shown sitting on a sofa facing the camera and lying on her side. While in these positions the presenter spread her legs wide apart for prolonged periods of time and she repeatedly gyrated her pelvis. The presenter also repeatedly stroked and caressed the top of her thighs and breasts, and pinched her nipples.

Ofcom considered Rule 1.3 of the Code (children must be protected by appropriate scheduling from material that is unsuitable for them).

Ofcom Decision: In Breach

Ofcom has made clear in previous published findings what sort of material is unsuitable to be included in daytime interactive chat programmes. Some of these findings involved channels licensed to Prime Time TV. Presenters of daytime chat services should not at any time appear to mimic or simulate sexual acts before the watershed or behave in a sexual manner, by for instance adopting sexual positions. These decisions were also summarised in a guidance letter sent by Ofcom to daytime and adult sex chat broadcasters, including the Licensee, in August 2009.

In Ofcoms view the material shown in this broadcast was clearly unsuitable for children. We do not agree with the broadcasters view that this was equivalent to looking at any woman in a bikini, lingerie or fully clothed. During this broadcast the female presenter, who was wearing very skimpy clothing, was shown on a sofa in sexually suggestive poses for prolonged periods of time. In particular, she was shown sitting down facing the camera and lying on her side, and in both positions she had her legs wide apart. While in these positions the presenter behaved in a sexual manner by repeatedly gyrating her pelvis as though, in Ofcoms opinion, miming sexual intercourse. During this time she also repeatedly touched and stroked her body, including her breasts and the top of her thighs in a sexually provocative manner. We concluded that this content had no editorial justification for broadcast at this time. Its purpose was clearly sexual stimulation with the aim of attracting PRS income and was not suitable to promote daytime chat. Further, contrary to the broadcasters assertion, the material in this instance was stronger than content broadcast in daytime soaps and videos shown on pre-watershed music channels (because, for example, the shots of the presenter here were more prolonged and sexually provocative, and were not part of an editorial narrative).

This unsuitable content was not appropriately scheduled and was therefore in breach of Rule 1.3.

 

26th May   

Smacked in the Kisser...

Ofcom reject whinges about a lesbian kiss on Coronation Street
Link Here

Coronation Street 1960s Disc Box The TV censor Ofcom has cleared one of Coronation Street 's recent lesbian screen kisses.

During the soap's 8.30pm installment on April 23, viewers saw best friends Sophie Webster (Brooke Vincent) and Sian Powers (Sacha Parkinson) finally confess their true feelings for each other, before cementing their relationship with a lingering kiss.

Following the broadcast, ten viewers logged complaints with Ofcom under Section 1 of the broadcasting code, which covers sexual material .

However, after reviewing the material and consulting with programme makers Granada, Ofcom cleared the scenes and took no further action.

 

25th May   

Update: Slow Witted...

Oops Channel 4 were slow to notice that the word 'retard' has been hyped into a major no-no.
Link Here  full story: The R Word...Campaign against the word 'retard'

Vinne Jones(Celebrity) Big Brothers Big Mouth E4, 29 January 2010, 23:05

Big Brothers Big Mouth (BBBM) is the sister programme to Channel 4s main Big Brother series . It is transmitted live and is broadcast post-watershed and looks at events in the Big Brother House with a studio audience and celebrity guests. It provides a platform for fans to voice their views, put questions to the evicted housemates and discuss the latest events in the house. Viewers are able to contribute to the programme by phone, e-mail, textpolls, or by leaving a message on the 24-hour Mouthpiece rant line.

This episode was broadcast the same night as the CBB series finale and followed the Channel 4 coverage of the event. The programme was presented by Davina McCall. It was preceded with a warning which stated: First on Four, with strong language, adult humour and flashing images, the Big Mouth on a big event, Celebrity Big Brother.

One of the guests on the programme was Vinnie Jones, who came third in the competition and had been evicted from the CBB house that night. During the programme a member of the studio audience asked Jones how he had known instantly that the person who came into the house disguised in a chicken outfit was Ms McCall and not fellow housemate Nicola Tappenden. In response to the question, Jones said: she was walking like a retard, she was walking like this [he then demonstrated walking with difficulty] and our Nicky walks lovely.

Ms McCall then responded by saying: I do not walk like a retard.

Ofcom received eight complaints about the programme. In summary, all of the complainants were offended by the use of the term walking like a retard by  Jones, and the demonstration he gave after saying the comment. Seven of the complainants were also offended by the response from the presenter, Ms McCall, who had repeated the phrase. Four of the complainants also raised concerns that Ms McCall had appeared to enjoy the joke and did not reprimand Jones for the comment.

In line with Ofcoms procedures, the complaints were initially considered by the Executive without representations being requested from Channel 4. On 18 February 2010, Ofcom wrote to Channel 4 informing them that eight complaints had been received but not upheld. Ofcom stated that it was mindful of the overall context of the programme and decided on balance that there was not sufficient evidence to conclude that the word was necessarily intended to be offensive to anyone with learning difficulties.

Two of the complainants requested a review of this decision. Ofcom considered Rule 2.3 of the Code (which requires material that may cause offensive must be justified by the context).

Ofcom Decision : Resolved

The Committee first examined the language used in this case in order to assess the potential it had for causing offence. In doing so the Committee recognised that the use of discriminatory language of this nature can be profoundly offensive to some viewers as it singles out a minority in society. Ofcoms own research (-3-) into offensive language identified that the word retard is quite polarising. Those people who consider it offensive do so because it is a derogatory term that refers to a disability.

In the Committees opinion, the comments made by both Jones and Ms McCall in this programme were clearly capable of causing offence. In reaching this view, the Committee noted that the use of the word retard by Jones, although arguably intended as a joke and not aimed at an individual with learning difficulties, could be seen as being a comment on people in society with a particular disability. This was reinforced by Jones demonstrating walking with difficulty when imitating the way in which Ms McCall had walked. Jones then unfavourably compared the walk with that of fellow housemate Nicola Tappenden, which he described as lovely. It was the Committees view that his use of the word retard was capable of being understood not as merely a passing reference directed towards Ms McCall, but also as ridiculing those with a physical or learning difficulty, emphasised by his attempt at imitation.

The Committee was particularly concerned that not only was Jones comment not corrected but that it was repeated by the presenter, Ms McCall, without any apparent recognition of its potential to cause offence. The Committee, while acknowledging this was a live show, considered that in this instance the action of Ms McCall had the potential to heighten the offence to viewers.

The Committee was also concerned that the programme makers took no action during the programme to seek to mitigate the offence that would have been caused by the comments. The Committee noted Channel 4s admission that it would normally respond to a comment of that nature by asking the presenter to admonish the person responsible and if appropriate, apologise to the audience. It said that, due to human error, it had failed to do so on this occasion.

In the Committees opinion that failure suggested a lack of understanding during the live broadcast of how offensive the comments had been.

However, the Committee concluded that, on balance and in the circumstances of this particular case, there was insufficient context to justify the offence that was likely to be caused by the comments made during the programme. Therefore the broadcast breached generally accepted standards.

The Committee then went on to consider whether Channel 4 had taken immediate and appropriate steps to remedy this breach of generally accepted standards. The Committee noted the action taken by the broadcaster in response to the complaints made about the programme. In particular Channel 4 had voluntarily removed the comments from the Video on Demand (4OD) version of the programme after an internal review (albeit this was in response to a complaint several days after broadcast by an individual who is also a complainant in this case), and had apologised in writing to the complainant. The Committee also noted the measures taken by Channel 4 to ensure this does not happen again. The Committee considered these measures appropriate to remedy the breach of generally accepted standards and therefore considered the case resolved.

 

25th May   

Update: Banging On...

TV censor continues twice monthly rant at Bang Babes
Link Here  full story: Babe Channels...Ofcom have it in for free to air babe channels

Babe ChannelOfcom have found a few more examples of mild sex material to have a rant at on the various day and night time babe channels.

Ofcom predictably found all the examples in breach of their code and so concluded:

Ofcom is presently considering the imposition of a statutory sanction against Bang Media (London) Limited and Bang Channels Limited for material transmitted between 20 June and 25 November 2009. In light of Bang Media and Bang Channels Limiteds serious and/or repeated breaches of the Code and Condition 11 of their licences, and their continued transmission after 25 November 2009 of content which appears similar in nature to that which had already been found in breach of the Code, Ofcom issued them with a Direction on 12 March 2010.

As a result of the serious and repeated nature of the breaches recorded in these current findings, and those recorded against Bang Media (London) Limited elsewhere in this Bulletin and in Bulletin 157, the Licensee is put on notice that these present contraventions of the Code are being considered for statutory sanction.

 

25th May   

Offsite: Speculation of a Scaled Down Ofcom...

How should Jeremy Hunt confront Ofcom?
Link Here

libdem con logoOfcom's budget for 2010/11 is 142.5 million GBP. That compares to the legacy regulators' combined budget of 118.3 million GBP in 2002/03. Now that's a significant nominal increase, but perhaps a real decrease if you fully buy Ofcom's spin. It also depends on whether you consider Ofcom's duties to have changed much since 2002/03. My take: Ofcom still spends far too much for this digital era. The regulator has achieved some easy efficiencies but needs to make much harder choices to lower its total cost to regulated firms and the public.

The grand, withering vision. After the 2005 general election Lord Currie, then chair of Ofcom gave a speech where he stated:

In practice a bias against intervention means that we will try to get out of the way. I have also said that we must encourage innovation and investment in the sector, and the best way to achieve this is by being somewhere else. In essence, an effective regulator must aim to regulate itself out of a job. This withering of regulation will be seen by some as a threat. But I see it as a proper ambition.

Let's face it, Ofcom appears to have quietly abandoned its ambition. In some respects, the fault lies with Parliament, the government, regulated firms (and even the complaining public). But in many important respects, Ofcom has shown a desire to intervene even where there was no statutory duty and the evidence showed it might have very little real impact with its actions (eg, junk food advertising).

...Read full article

DCMS Takes a Budget Cut

Based on article from 38minutes.ning.com

DCMS logoBroadcast magazine writes that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport is to have its budget trimmed by £88m and Ofcom is preparing to have its powers reigned in under the new coalition government's public spending cuts.

Ofcom is bracing itself for a significant reduction in its powers. Officials are still waiting to hear how the details of the cuts will impact them, but are expecting some of its current responsibilities to be brought into central government in line with the Tories' pre-election pledge.

Insiders do not expect the body to be scrapped altogether.

 

22nd May   

Banging On Somewhere Else...

TV censor to stand down
Link Here

stewart purvisStewart Purvis is to leave the TV censor Ofcom after two-and-a-half years.

Purvis, who is the Ofcom partner responsible for content regulation and standards, is understood to be leaving in the autumn. Purvis joined Ofcom in November 2007.

Ofcom's content and standards group oversees censorship of television and radio standards and compliance with the broadcasting code

 

11th May   

Update: Banging On...

TV censor still whingeing at the Bang Babe channels
Link Here  full story: Babe Channels...Ofcom have it in for free to air babe channels

Babe ChannelOfcom are continuing their long term whinge abiout the free to air babe channels of the Bang Babes/Tease Me stable

Ofcom considered

  • Bang Babes Tease Me 3, 16 January 2010, 03:20
  • Bang Babes Tease Me, 17 January 2010, 00:30

Bang Babes is an adult sex chat service, owned and operated by Bang Channels Limited ( Bang Channels or the Licensee ) and available freely without mandatory restricted access on the channels Tease Me and Tease Me 3 (Sky channel numbers 912 and 959). Both channels are situated in the adult section of the Sky electronic programme guide ( EPG ). These channels broadcast programmes after the 21:00 watershed based on interactive adult sex chat services: viewers are invited to contact onscreen female presenters via premium rate telephony services ( PRS ). The female presenters dress and behave in a sexually provocative way while encouraging viewers to contact the PRS numbers.

Ofcom received a complaint about the following broadcasts. The complainant said that the content transmitted was too sexually explicit to be available without mandatory restricted access.

Ofcom considered

  • Rule 1.18 ('Adult sex material' - material that contains images and/or language of a strong sexual nature which is broadcast for the primary purpose of sexual arousal or stimulation - must not be broadcast at any time other than between 2200 and 0530 on premium subscription services and pay per view/night services which operate with mandatory restricted access. In addition, measures must be in place to ensure that the subscriber is an adult)
  • Rule 2.1 (the broadcaster must apply generally accepted standards)
  • Rule 2.3 (offensive material must be justified by context).

Ofcom Decision

Having assessed this programme's content and purpose, Ofcom considered that the material broadcast constituted adult-sex material. Its broadcast, without mandatory restricted access, was therefore in breach of Rule 1.18.

Ofcom is concerned that the Licensee considers material, such as extensive genital and anal detail and simulated masturbation in a sexual context such as this, to be acceptable for broadcast without mandatory restricted access.

Ofcom concluded that this content was clearly not justified by the context and was in breach of generally accepted standards and therefore in breach of Rules 2.1 and 2.3 of the Code.

Daytime Babes

  • The Pad Tease Me, 26 February 2010, 11:45
  • The Pad Tease Me 3, 27 February 2010, 11:45
  • Tease Me: Earlybird Tease Me TV (Freeview), 26 January 2010, 07:15

The Pad is a televised daytime interactive chat programme broadcast without mandatory restricted access. It is broadcast on the Tease Me and Tease Me 3 channels, which are located in the adult section of the Sky Electronic Programme Guide ( EPG ) on channel numbers 912 and 959. The channels are owned and operated by Bang Channels Limited ( Bang Channels or the Licensee ). Viewers are invited to contact onscreen female presenters via premium rate telephony services ( PRS ). The presenters generally dress and behave in a provocative and/or flirtatious manner.

Ofcom received a complaint about the above broadcast. The complainant was concerned that the presenter was shown exposing nipples on several occasions and considered the content inappropriate for the time of broadcast.

Ofcom considered

  • Rules 1.3 (children must be protected from unsuitable material by appropriate scheduling)
  • Rule 2.3 (offensive material must be justified by context).

Ofcom Decision

In Ofcom's opinion the sexual imagery shown to viewers during both daytime broadcasts had no editorial context other than sexual stimulation. It was therefore not editorially justified and so not appropriately scheduled and in breach of Rule 1.3.

In Ofcom's view the material broadcast at this time on this service exceeded generally accepted standards and was in breach of Rule 2.3 of the Code.

Considering Sanctions

Ofcom is presently considering the imposition of a statutory sanction against Bang Media (London) Limited and Bang Channels Limited for material transmitted between 20 June and 25 November 2009. In light of Bang Media and Bang Channels Limited's serious and/or repeated breaches of the Code and Condition 11 of their licences and their continued transmission of content which appears similar in nature to that which had been found in breach of the Code, Ofcom issued them with a Direction on 12 March 2010.

As a result of the serious and/or repeated nature of the breach recorded in this current finding, and those recorded against Bang Channels Limited elsewhere in this Bulletin, the Licensee is put on notice that this present contravention of the Code is also being considered for statutory sanction.

 

30th April   

No Burley Bully...

Ofcom dismisses complaints about distressing Sky News interview for Peter Andre
Link Here

kay burleyAfternoon Live
Sky News
3 February 2010, 15:30

Afternoon Live is a live rolling news programme with a focus on the human interest angle of news stories.

This programme included a live interview by presenter Kay Burley of the pop singer Peter Andre. The interview took place on the day it was announced that the singer's former wife, and mother of his children, Katie Price, had married her partner Alex Reid. Kay Burley explained to viewers at the start of the interview that Peter Andre had been booked to come onto the programme a week earlier to discuss his new album. However, the presenter introduced the interview by saying they would talk about the [Katie Price/Alex Reid] wedding anyway . She then proceeded to ask Peter Andre questions about the wedding and how that might change the childcare arrangements for his children. The presenter commented that Peter Andre was responding cautiously to the questions. Kay Burley then stated that Peter Andre had been prewarned that the programme had earlier interviewed the father of Katie Price's first child, footballer Dwight Yorke. A clip from that interview was played in which Dwight Yorke criticised Peter Andre's interest in adopting Dwight Yorke's son by Katie Price. Following the clip Peter Andre responded angrily to the criticisms made about him by Dwight Yorke. Kay Burley said she wanted to show Mr Andre the clip because we were wondering how you might feel if Alex Reid said he wanted to adopt your kids . Peter Andre, who then appeared visibly upset, replied that he did not wish to talk about the issue, explained that he was not expecting the comments from Mr Yorke, despite being pre-warned it would be shown, and asked for the interview to be concluded.

Ofcom received 881 complaints from viewers who expressed concern about the way in which Kay Burley conducted the interview. The majority of complainants were concerned by the intrusive manner in which Peter Andre was interviewed by the presenter. They believed that the line of questioning about his personal life had made him distressed. In effect, these complaints appeared to have been complaints of unfair treatment or unwarranted infringement of privacy made on Peter Andre's behalf. Other complainants suggested that Kay Burley was bullying and intimidating; and that the interview was upsetting and offensive to watch given the obvious distress it caused Peter Andre.

Ofcom considered the material with reference to Rule 2.3 of the Code. Rule 2.3: Offence Rule 2.3 requires that, in applying generally accepted standards, broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence must be justified by the context. Such material includes humiliation, distress and violation of human dignity.

Ofcom Decision: Not in Breach

First we considered complaints that Kay Burley was bullying and intimidating and that
the interview was upsetting and offensive to watch due to the obvious distress it
caused Peter Andre.

The interview was part of the Afternoon Live programme which is broadcast on a dedicated news channel and combines rolling news coverage with live studio interviews which have a human interest angle.

In Ofcom's opinion, it was in keeping with the established editorial line of the programme for the presenter to ask Peter Andre questions about the new marriage of his former wife given that it was a major news story on that day. Further, it was understandable that the presenter focussed on the human interest angle of the wedding by asking Peter Andre for his reaction, and how it would impact on their children.

In Ofcom's view, the audience could therefore reasonably have expected the presenter to ask him about the wedding, and the implications of it, given that the interview was taking place on a rolling news programme on the same day that the wedding featured as a major news item.

Ofcom then considered (assessing the language and approach of the presenter) whether the interview style and line of questioning was likely to have been perceived as bullying and intimidating and therefore, in the absence of appropriate context, beyond the expectations of the audience.

Ofcom acknowledges viewers' concerns that Kay Burley's interview style was persistent and probing. This was generally in response to Peter Andre choosing not to reply to her questions. In Ofcom's view, however, she remained overall measured in her tone throughout and did not put inappropriate pressure on Peter Andre for a response. She also expressed concern about his well being and apologised for any upset the broadcast may have generated.

Ofcom also notes that although he appeared upset to some extent by the style of interviewing, Peter Andre is a well known professional singer with considerable experience of the media, who had agreed to appear on the programme to promote his album knowing that the wedding of his former wife was a topical news story.

Overall, therefore, we concluded that the style of interview did not breach generally accepted standards.

Secondly, Ofcom looked at the specific lines of the questioning to determine whether or not they were of such a personal and private nature as to be unduly intrusive and a violation of Mr Andre's human dignity, and therefore offensive to viewers.

Regarding questions about his marriage to, and his children by, Katie Price, Ofcom noted that Peter Andre had previously talked candidly and frequently in public (including in television programmes) about his relationship with his former wife and his children. Therefore the subject of his family and his marriage breakdown has been previously brought to public attention on several occasions and it would not in Ofcom's opinion have exceeded viewer expectations for questions on these subjects to be put to him in the context of a programme with a populist news agenda.

In conclusion, taking all the circumstances into account, Ofcom considered that in the context of a news programme which focuses on the human interest angle the broadcaster applied generally accepted standards to the interview with Peter Andre. There was no breach of Rule 2.3 of the Code. Kay Burley's approach was persistent and probing, but in Ofcom's view it could not reasonably be described as bullying and intimidating.

Not in breach of Rule 2.3

 

28th April   

Sanitising the News...

Ofcom take offence at real shootings in African news
Link Here

Al Jazeera logoAl Jazeera
9 February 2010, 21:04

Al Jazeera is an international news channel, originating in the Middle-East but with different language versions being broadcast around the world.

Ofcom received a complaint about the English-language version of Al Jazeera broadcast on the Sky platform and licensed by Ofcom.

The complainant objected to footage being shown in a news report on the channel concerning recent events in Nigeria. According to the complainant, in a news item, a number of people appeared to be shown being forced to lie down and then being shot dead by Nigerian security forces. The report concerned the aftermath of hostilities between Nigerian police forces and members of a Muslim separatist group Boko Haram.

In introducing the report, the studio presenter said: Pictures have emerged which appear to show Nigerian police carrying out extrajudicial killings…We must warn you that the images in Mike Hannah's report are very disturbing. The footage included images of seven men, in three separate groups (one group of four, a group of two, and then an individual), being walked forward onto a road. All three sets of men were forced to lie face down on the ground. They were then shown being shot a number of times in the back of their bodies. In total, the sequences of the shootings lasted just under a minute. Several of the men who were shot were shown twitching after the first bullets entered their bodies. The second group (of two men) who were executed were shown being made to walk forward on their crutches prior to being shot.

Commentary over the footage provided translations of some of the things being said by the Nigerian security forces carrying out the killings, including: One of the officers called out: 'Shoot him in the chest, not the head. I want his hat' . This man is told: 'Sit properly, we want to take your picture' .

Ofcom considered Rule 2.3 (offensive material must be justified by the context).

Ofcom Decision: Breach of Rule 2.3

We carefully reviewed the material complained of as described above. The images were certainly extremely disturbing and graphic, showing at length the summary execution of a number of men. The murders were cold-blooded and ruthless. It is important that the news is not sanitised and broadcasters are free to report the reality of war and other atrocities – in line with the broadcaster's and the audience right to freedom of expression.

Ofcom considered the context in which this material was transmitted. First, this item was clearly a matter of significant public interest. It was reported in a serious manner and was not sensationalised. The footage itself was documentary evidence demonstrating alleged human rights crimes and atrocities. It was transmitted on a news channel where an audience, likely to be predominantly adult and self-selecting, would expect material to be challenging. Further there was a warning given by the news presenter just before the report.

However, the material was transmitted just after the watershed, when viewers would not expect to see the most graphic material. The images showed the callous killing of a group of men from the very moment they were shepherded onto a public highway and told to lie down in order to be executed. The three sets of men were then shot a number of times in their backs. The cumulative effect of the detailed and relatively close-up images of the shootings, contained within the footage, was clearly extremely disturbing. In particular, we considered that there were a number of factors that heightened the likely level of offence in this case. These included: the length of the footage; the fact that it consisted of long, unedited shots; the actual act of execution and the immediate effects of the bullets entering the men's bodies were shown at relatively close range; the ruthless behaviour of the Nigerian security forces undertaking the shootings; and the fact that none of the victims was shown resisting his captors (and two of them were on crutches).

We considered that Al Jazeera was intending to broadcast journalism with a serious purpose that included footage of events with a strong public interest. There was no intention to cause offence unnecessarily. However, despite this serious editorial approach, we considered that the sheer length and graphic nature of the images (as described above) went beyond generally accepted standards and could not be sufficiently justified by the context. In particular, while we appreciate that the editorial narrative may have required a certain amount of documentary evidence and actuality, the manner it was presented went beyond generally accepted standards in this case. We note that there are a range of techniques that exist that broadcasters can employ, when necessary, which can ensure that an appropriate level of challenging material is broadcast to verify legitimate stories but also ensure compliance with the Code.

Breach of Rule 2.3

 

27th April   

Deterioration of Brain Cells...

Genesis TV censured for religious nonsense about cancer cures
Link Here

genesis tv logoBible Medicine
Genesis TV, 4 January 2010, 19:30

Genesis TV is a UK-based Christian channel that features a range of programmes with a religious theme.

On 4 January 2010, it broadcast Bible Medicine, a programme produced and presented by an 'academic' named Dr. John Grinstein. In the programme Dr Grinstein presented his approach to the prevention and treatment of cancer, which was proposed as an alternative to invasive surgery or traditional medicine.

Ofcom received a complaint that this programme provided advice giving people false expectations about…health issues and in particular claim[ing] to cure cancer . Dr Grinstein named his approach GC100. GC100 is founded on the belief that cancer and other neurological conditions1 can be prevented and cured by tackling the problem of DNA2 deterioration, through the eating of specific fruits and vegetables that naturally prevent and inhibit DNA deterioration or repair existing DNA damage.

The programme contained numerous comments about the benefits of using the GC100 approach. Some of these suggested that the GC100 approach could not merely help prevent or delay cancer, but cure it. All these comments were juxtaposed with statements about the ineffectiveness and negative side-effects of traditional medical treatments for cancer.

Ofcom considered Rule 2.1 of the Code. This states: 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 .

Ofcom Decision: Breach of Rule 2.1

During the programme Ofcom noted that there were several statements that were potentially harmful in two respects.

Firstly, we noted that there were statements which seemed to suggest that the GC100 approach might be preferable to established medical treatments for cancer, such as chemotherapy. In addition, during the Presentation, Dr. Grinstein made some comments suggesting that the GC100 approach could cure cancer.

Secondly, we noted that there were statements that could be construed as referring to traditional medical cancer treatments in negative terms and as being uniformly ineffective, and could be construed as either directly or indirectly encouraging viewers to stop using traditional medical for serious medical conditions such as cancer.

Ofcom notes that official Government health advice advocates the consumption of fruit and vegetables to help prevent cancer.5 However, we considered that, overall, the programme made unsubstantiated and potentially dangerous medical claims regarding the efficacy of the GC100 approach in relation to other established anticancer treatments. In particular, the statements endorsing the use of the GC100 approach to the detriment of established forms of medical treatment, and the cumulative effect of the views espoused in both the Testimonial and Presentation, created a potential risk of viewers with treatable cancers from dispensing with orthodox medical treatment in favour of the GC100 approach. Ofcom considered that this resulted in inadequate protection being provided to viewers against this risk and so a failure to apply generally accepted standards. We considered that the advocacy of GC100 as an anti-carcinogenic strategy had a clear potential to cause some members of the audience – especially vulnerable ones – very serious (and possibly life-threatening) harm.

The programme was therefore in breach of Rule 2.1 of the Code.

Ofcom takes very seriously the issue of broadcasters providing content that dispenses potentially misleading advice on serious illnesses, and in particular cancer. This partly reflects the fact that legislation6 exists that makes it a criminal offence for anyone to publish an advertisement offering to treat any person with cancer or prescribe any remedy or to give any advice in connection with the treatment of cancer. Parliament has therefore made clear that any public advertisement or advice on how to treat cancer must be very carefully regulated in the public interest.

Although, on balance, we did not recommend this case for consideration of a statutory sanction, we put Genesis TV on notice that we may consider recommending any future similar breach for consideration of a statutory sanction.

Note:

Perhaps this one of the reasons why Genesis TV (associated with Revelation TV) have opted out of Ofcom's remit and are now licensed in Spain.

 

15th April   

Burning Issues...

Whinges about loan harassment storyline in Coronation Street dismissed
Link Here

Coronation Street 1960s Disc Box Ofcom has cleared ITV soap Coronation Street following viewer complaints over an arson storyline.

In an episode which aired on February 19, fans saw menacing loan shark Rick Neelan set fire to a newspaper and push it through Tina McIntyre's letterbox. He did so as part of a harassment campaign he launched against the McIntyres and Platts over an outstanding debt.

Following the broadcast, 31 complained that the serial had incited and encouraged crime with its depiction of Rick's actions.

However, the media watchdog this week ruled that the instalment was not likely to encourage or incite the commission of crime or lead to disorder .

 

14th April   

Should Have Seen it Coming...

Rage in the Machine wouldn't fucking do as they were told on Radio 5 Live Breakfast
Link Here

Battle Angeles Rage Against Machine 5 Live Breakfast live performance by Rage Against the Machine
BBC Radio 5 Live
17 December 2009, 09:00

Radio 5 Lives Breakfast programme is broadcast on weekdays between 06:00 and 10:00 and features news, sport, weather and money reports. This edition of the programme included a live interview with the United States alternative rock band Rage Against the Machine.

At approximately 09:00, the band were interviewed in a live link with the United States. The band were on the programme to discuss a Facebook campaign to make their song Killing In The Name , Christmas number one in the UK.

After the interview the band performed the song live. During the performance the bands singer, Zack de la Rocha, repeated the phrase Fuck you, I wont do what you tell me four times before the song was faded out by the shows producers.

While the song was being faded out presenter Shelagh Fogarty was heard saying: Get rid of it. Sorry, we needed to get rid of that because that suddenly turned into something we were not, well we were expecting it and asked them not to do it, but they did it anyway so buy Joe's record.

Ofcom received a complaint from a listener who considered this language was offensive and unsuitable for the time of transmission.

Ofcom considered Rule 2.3 (material that may cause offence must be justified by the context).

Ofcom Decision: Resolved

Ofcom acknowledges that there was editorial justification for having the band on the programme, given the well publicised story concerning the Facebook campaign to get their song Killing In The Name to Christmas number one. Ofcom also acknowledges that the producers took measures before the live performance to prevent strong language from being broadcast. Further, Ofcom notes that during the interview with the band and the first section of the song performance, the band had refrained from using strong language and this therefore gave comfort to the producers that they would comply with the BBCs requests not to do so. Ofcom also took into account that the apologies made during the programme would have gone some way in mitigating any offence caused of the language used.

Ofcom considered, however, that the language was likely to have gone beyond the expectations of the audience for a programme of this type and at this time. It was concerned that the programmes producers were well aware in advance that the original lyrics contained very strong language. In addition, the very nature of the song was about refusing to conform to society's expectations, as suggested through the lyrics Fuck you, I wont do what you tell me. Yet despite this, the bands singer was able to repeat the lyrics Fuck you, I wont do what you tell me four times before the song was faded out by the producer. This last point is of particular concern in view of the fact that the producers had full control over the output since it was provided over a live feed from the United States.

However, given the measures taken by and assurances given to the broadcaster before the broadcast, the conduct of the band during the interview and start of the song performance, and the apologies issued, we consider that on balance this particular case should be resolved.

 

13th April   

Jump...

Radio DJ censured over light hearted approach to suicide incident
Link Here

steve nkSteve Penk at Breakfast
The Revolution 96.2 FM
14 January 2010, 06:00

The Revolution 96.2 FM (The Revolution) is a contemporary-music radio station broadcasting to the Oldham area of Greater Manchester. Steve Penk broadcasts an early morning show every weekday on this station.

During the first hour of this edition of Steve Penk at Breakfast, it was reported that traffic on the local M60 motorway had been heavily disrupted due to police attending an incident. The presenter asked the production team to find out what had caused the disruption. It was then reported that the incident was caused by a woman threatening to jump from a motorway bridge.

Steve Penk (P) made light of the incident with the news editor (N)

At 07:33 the following exchange was broadcast:

P : Why don't they just suddenly inflate a giant bouncy castle below this woman?

N: Er they could do maybe. I think they're trying to talk to her.

P: Get a load of mattresses

N: Yeah I think they're trying to get her away from the side rather than tell her to go for it

P: Right how inconsiderate though.

N: I knew you were going to say that. [LAUGHTER]

P: Why do it in the middle of the rush hour? If you're going to do it, do it at midnight, when it doesn't inconvenience so many other people trying to get to work.

N: Well apparently she's been there since half three, so

P: Well...[INAUDIBLE] midnight then.

N: Well, I don't know, ask her?

P: Am I not being sympathetic enough?

N: Not really.

P: Well Im only saying what everybody else is thinking.

Later on in the programme at 08:02 Steve Penk mentioned on air that the broadcaster had received two requests from people stuck on the motorway: for the song Jumping Jumping by Destinys Child; and for Jump by Van Halen.

At 08:28, Steve Penk played the song Jump which contains the chorus:

Ah, I might as well jump. Jump! Might as well jump. Go ahead jump. Jump! Go ahead, jump!

Ofcom received 57 complaints that, given the circumstances, the broadcast was offensive and insensitive. Complainants variously considered the playing of the song Jump : showed complete lack of sensitivity to a horrific personal tragedy; was insensitive to those who had been affected by suicide; stigmatised people who have mental health problems; and that the broadcaster empathised with the motorists inconvenienced by the M60 Incident, whilst not empathising with the woman who was threatening to jump on to the M60 on the morning in question.

Ofcom considered Rule 2.3 (offensive content must be justified by the context)

Ofcom Decision: Breach of Rule 2.3

Ofcom recognises that many radio stations broadcast DJ-led early morning programmes presented by popular presenters with a loyal listenership. In most circumstances, The Revolutions audience would have a good understanding of the irreverent content included in Steve Penk at Breakfast.

Throughout this programme there were repeated references to the M60 Incident. Ofcom recognises that the main reason for this repetition was the need to inform the audience about the traffic jam on the motorway. In some cases however as set out above - the potential suicide attempt was discussed in a light-hearted manner even though it was an on-going and live incident at the time. While some listeners may have been frustrated to be caught in traffic (and contacted the station) most would have been aware that, in real time as the programme was being aired, there was a woman considering suicide. Under such circumstances, and given this context, Ofcom does not consider that the broadcaster applied generally accepted standards by, during the 07:33 Exchange, making references to a giant bouncy castle, mattresses and a giant trampoline.

Ofcom noted that the News Editor countered to some extent the offence that could have been caused by Steve Penks comments. However her comments were not, in our view, enough to lessen sufficiently the potential for offence being caused, especially as the News Editor appeared to laugh at times at some of the comments made by Steve Penk during the 07:33 Exchange.

At the time of these remarks, listeners would not have been aware of whether the woman was about to or had jumped, and if so, whether she had died. We noted during the 07:33 Exchange Steve Penk made repeated references, which he intended to be humorous, to the M60 Incident. We considered the cumulative effect of these repeated references would have increased the potential for offence in this case.

Complainants objected to Steve Penk playing the track Jump . There is no absolute prohibition on a broadcaster playing any particular song, as long as in doing so, the broadcaster complies with the Code. Ofcom recognised that the playing of this track had the potential to be tasteless and insensitive. This is in light of the serious nature of the M60 Incident, and the fact that Steve Penk had announced on air at 08:02 that he had received a request for this particular song. We noted that Steve Penk played the track nearly half an hour after announcing the song request, and he made no explicit reference to the M60 Incident, either before or after the track was played. However, given the fact that listeners over the course of the programme had been aware of Steve Penks continuing comedic references to the M60 Incident, including his reading out the song request for the song Jump , we considered that the words Steve Penk used to introduce the song ( Just get on with it!) may well have been construed by listeners as a direct link to the song request at 08:02 to play the song Jump. We considered, therefore, that this would have compounded the potential offence that would already have been likely to have been caused by the 07:33 Exchange, and the song request for Jump .

Ofcom considered that the manner in which the potential suicide attempt was discussed on air on balance breached generally accepted standards and has therefore recorded a breach of the Code. Breach of Rule 2.3

Footnotes:

According to later news reports, the woman in question did subsequently jump onto the M60 but survived, sustaining minor injuries.

 

5th April   

Update: A Revelation...

Christian TV channel opts out of Ofcom TV censorship
Link Here  full story: Revelation TV...Religious views winds up TV censors

Revelation TV logoThe christian TV station Revelation TV has crossed swords several times with the TV censor Ofcom.

The satellite TV station has been censured by Ofcom for programmes going over the top in criticising homosexuality, islam and abortion.

With another Ofcom investigation under way, Revelation TV has made a strategic withdrawal from UK censorship.

On 1st April 2010 Revelation TV gave up its UK broadcasting licence and took up a new one from the Spanish government. This means that they no longer have to comply with UK broadcasting regulations and Ofcom will not accept any further complaints about the channel.