Ofcom Watch

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30th September   

Storm in a Tea Cup...

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Oops, afternoon babe channel viewers treated to an open-mike customer phone-in
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storm tv logoStorm Afternoons
Storm TV,  3rd July2011, 16:00

Storm Afternoons is an interactive daytime babe channel broadcast on the service Storm (Sky channel number 966). The licence for the service is held by Chat Central Ltd.

A complainant alerted Ofcom to the broadcast of offensive and racist language during Storm Afternoons on the afternoon of 3 July 2011.

After inviting viewers to contact the studio, the female presenter placed the microphone beside her but neglected to switch it to mute. As a result, her conversation with callers and a man off-screen was audible for approximately 14 minutes. During this time, the following clearly audible phrases were broadcast:

  • I feel fucked
  • Oh fucking hell
  • I fucking hate this song. How the fuck can you dance to this in a club. Fuck off
  • I feel too fucked
  • I wish black guys called me. I get all the Paki

Ofcom considered:

  • Rule 4.2 Advertisements must not cause serious or widespread offence against generally accepted moral, social or cultural standards.
  • Rule 32.3 Relevant timing restrictions must be applied to advertisements that, through their content, might harm or distress children of particular ages or that are otherwise unsuitable for them.

The Licensee acknowledged that not only had our compliance procedures not been followed but that the error had not been duly reported to the company management team. It added that the language used by the presenter was wholly unacceptable, whether broadcast or used in the workplace and as a result of this the presenter was dismissed as soon as this incident came to light.

Ofcom Decision: Breach of BCAP Code Rules 4.2 and 32.3

Ofcom noted that the content was highly offensive and clearly exceeded the expectations of the audience. Ofcom concluded that relevant timing and scheduling restrictions were not applied to the broadcasts so as to offer adequate protection to children and therefore the material was in breach of Rule 32.3.

Ofcom concluded that relevant scheduling restrictions were not applied so as to ensure that the material which was broadcast was not capable of causing serious or widespread offence against generally accepted moral, social or cultural standards. The material was therefore in breach of BCAP Code Rule 4.2.

Ofcom was particularly concerned that the repeated broadcast of the most offensive language appeared to go undetected by the broadcaster for approximately 14 minutes. Ofcom considered this raised serious questions about the robustness of its compliance procedures. In view of the measures taken by the broadcaster in response to this incident, Ofcom does not expect further breaches of the BCAP Code.

 

29th September   

Prayers for Cash...

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Noor TV asked to donate 75,000 to Ofcom in return for the chance of continued business health
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noor tv logoOfcom has imposed a statutory sanction of £ 75,000  on Al Ehya Digital Television Ltd ( the Licensee ) in respect of its service Noor TV.

Noor TV is a general entertainment and Islamic education channel broadcast on the Sky platform. The channel is aimed at Muslims living in Europe.

Saturday Night Special was a programme which mainly consisted of a presenter taking calls from viewers who donated money to the channel in return for prayers for themselves or for their relatives.

Ofcom had previously found the programme had breached the following Code rules:

  • 2.1: (generally accepted standards)
  • 2.2: (materially misleading)
  • 4.6: (the exploitation of susceptibilities of the audience by religious programmes)
  • 10.3: (promotion of products and services)
  • 10.15: (appeals for funds)

Ofcom considered that the inducements which were made in this programme, i.e. the receipt of a special gift for a donation of £1,000, and the offer of a prayer that would improve the donor's health, wealth, success or good fortune carried the risk that susceptible members of the audience may have been persuaded to donate money to Noor TV when they would not otherwise have done so. In particular, the appeal focused heavily on religious beliefs, which Ofcom considered had created an additional risk that susceptible viewers would have been more likely to make donations than they otherwise would have done.

Ofcom was also extremely concerned that although viewers were told that their donations were for the purpose of funding Noor TV's programming, the funds donated via the Mohiuddin Trust website, were not in fact received by Noor TV and therefore were not used for their stated purpose.

 

27th September   

Ofcom have their 50 Cent's Worth...

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Sexy music videos at 9am get the Ofcom treatment
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50 cent pimp video 50 Cent Music Videos
Greatest Hits TV, 22 June 2011, 09:00

Greatest Hits TV is a music channel that broadcasts music videos and music based programmes. The licence for Greatest Hits TV is held by Mushroom TV.

Ofcom received two complaints about a quarter hour segment on this channel broadcast immediately after 09:00 devoted to music videos by the rap singer 50 Cent. These complaints alerted Ofcom to the issues of offensive language and images of topless female performers included in music videos broadcast at this time.

On assessing this content, Ofcom noted the following:

Music Video for P.I.M.P. :

This music video included several images of topless female performers dancing in a sexualised manner. For example, there were repeated images of: 50 Cent, and another artiste, Snoop Dogg, dancing with two topless female performers in a sexualised manner; and 50 Cent in a close embrace with three topless female performers, while he fondled the breast of one of the performers. In addition, there were also images of two scantily-clad female performers being „walked? like dogs by another scantily-clad female performer, by means of leashes connected to dog collars on their necks.

Music Video: I Like the Way She Do It :

This music video contained the following potentially offensive statement: It never enough she like it rough. We keep it going and we switch positions, listen .

Music Video: Disco Inferno :

This music video contained the potentially offensive word nigger . In addition, during the three and a half minute music video there were numerous instances of sexualised images and nudity, including topless female performers caressing and kissing each other; and over 45 close up images of female performers in skimpy underwear gyrating their bare buttocks to camera, including two sets of images showing bottles of alcohol being poured over a female performer's crotch and bare buttocks.

Music Video: If I Can't :

This music video contained the following potentially offensive language: pussies ; nigger ; motherfucker ; and fuck .

Ofcom considered Rules of the Code:

  • Rule 1.3: Children must also be protected by appropriate scheduling from material that is unsuitable for them ;
  • Rule 1.14: The most offensive language must not be broadcast before the watershed ;
  • Rule 1.16: Offensive language must not be broadcast before the watershed...unless it is justified by the context. In any event, frequent use of such language must be avoided before the watershed ;
  • Rule 1.21: Nudity before the watershed must be justified by the context ; and
  • Rule 2.3: In applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context .

Mushroom TV said that of course [the content] fell short of compliance with the rules of the Code because the material was broadcast inadvertently . Mushroom TV added that: We would not attempt to justify the content as [it was] clearly inappropriate before the watershed . The Licensee said that it had broadcast an on-screen apology for seven days from 24 July 2011.

Ofcom Decision: Breaches of Rules 1.3, 1.14, 1.16, 1.21 and 2.3

Two of the music videos (P.I.M.P. and Disco Inferno) included numerous images of a sexualised nature including: the singer dancing with topless female performers in an erotic manner; and 50 Cent in a close embrace with three topless female performers, while he fondled the breast of one of the performers. In addition, there were also images of two scantily-clad female performers being walked? by another scantily-clad female performer, by means of leashes connected to dog collars on their necks; topless female performers caressing and kissing each other; and (in Disco Inferno) around 45 close up images of female performers in skimpy underwear gyrating their bare buttocks to camera, including two sets of images showing bottles of alcohol being poured over a female performer's crotch and bare buttocks. In Ofcom's view, the cumulative effect of these various images was to convey highly sexualised themes. Second, we considered that the other two music videos. It is Ofcom's view that the content of these particular music videos was not suitable for children.

We noted that the Licensee did not offer any editorial justification for the broadcast of this content at this time. In addition, given the channel's likely appeal to a broad range of viewers, we concluded that the audience for this channel was unlikely to expect the broadcast of numerous examples of highly sexualised imagery and instances of offensive language in a fifteen minute period after 09:00.

In light of this case, Ofcom is putting the Licensee on notice that if there is any recurrence of similar compliance issues, we will consider taking further regulatory action.

 

19th September   

Ability Challenged Censors...

Ofcom whinge at America's Next Top Model
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Americas Next Top Model Cycle America's Next Top Model
Sky Living HD, 9 April 2011, 10:00

America's Next Top Model is an American reality series in which contestants compete in various tasks and photo shoots to win a modelling contract with an international modelling agency.

During this episode of the series, Miss Jay, the „runway coach, advised contestants on how to perfect their catwalk on various surfaces, while also handling various accessories. In giving feedback to one contestant on how she performed this task, Miss Jay said: Michelle, you're walking like you have spina bifida on the right side of your body .

Miss Jay then walked in an exaggerated style as if to mimic the contestant's walk.

Ofcom received one complaint from a viewer who considered that the comment was offensive. The complainant said that this comment was disgusting and a derogatory insult to those who live with the challenges of disability.

We considered the following rule of the Code:

  • Rule 2.3 In applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context. Such material may include,...offensive language,... discriminatory treatment or language (for example on the grounds of ... disability ...).

Sky explained that America's Next Top Model is now in its fifteenth series on Sky Living HD. This particular episode, taken from the fourth series, was first transmitted on Living TV in 2005. Sky explained that the episode had been complied for broadcast at the time by the Living TV compliance team and had subsequently been repeated many times on Living TV and Sky Living.

Sky stated that it recognises the potential for offense [sic] that can be caused by such comments and said that the team who complies the programme has been made aware of the issue and the need for sensitivity has been reiterated. It added: accordingly, the offending comment has been removed from the programme for future transmissions.

Ofcom Decision: Resolved

The comments and actions of Miss Jay - criticising the catwalk style of one of the contestants and linking it with spina bifida - had the clear potential to be understood as ridiculing those with spina bifida, a serious physical disability. In Ofcom's view it therefore had the potential to offend.

As regards the degree of harm or offence likely to be caused by the remark, Ofcom noted that the comment by Miss Jay was not aimed at a particular individual with a disability, nor was it used aggressively. However, it could be seen as ridiculing people in society with a particular disability. This impression was reinforced by Miss Jay imitating in a slightly exaggerated way the manner in which contestant had walked. The comments and actions of Miss Jay therefore had the potential to cause considerable offence, especially to those with disabilities. Ofcom concluded that, on balance, there was insufficient context to justify the offence likely to be caused by the comments made by, and actions of, Miss Jay during the programme. The broadcast therefore breached generally accepted standards.

However, Ofcom notes Sky's sincere regret that this incident occurred and its immediate decision to remove the offensive comment from the programme for future transmissions. Ofcom also welcomes the action taken by Sky to remind its compliance team of the need for sensitive treatment of broadcast comments relating to disability. In light of these actions taken by Sky, Ofcom considers this matter resolved.

 

18th September   

Accidental Censors...

Ofcom whinge at US comedy, Accidentally on Purpose shown on daytime Channel 4
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Accidentally Purpose Dvd Region NTSC Accidentally on Purpose
Channel 4, 30 May to 3 June 2011, 09:25

Accidently on Purpose is an American sitcom about a woman who finds herself accidentally pregnant by a younger man.

A complainant alerted Ofcom to the broadcast of this series at a time when children were likely to be viewing (during the mornings of the week 30 May to 3 June 2011, a week when many schools were on holiday).

The programme that was the subject of the complaint included: a scene in which the main characters visited a gynaecologist and had a discussion about vaginas, dialogue in which a character refers to his ability to get an erection, and a discussion about a female character?s breasts. Ofcom viewed other episodes broadcast between 30 May and 3 June 2011 and noted that these also contained sexual references and, in one episode, an implicit reference to drug use.

Ofcom considered Rule 1.3 of the Code, which states:

  • Children must also be protected by appropriate scheduling from material that is unsuitable for them.

Channel 4 explained that the series was originally scheduled at 22:00 on E4. It was then repeated at 16:00 on E4. For the purpose of the 16:00 repeat, Channel 4 made edits to the original version so that it was suitable for the earlier timeslot. The edited version of the series was subsequently scheduled at 09:25 on Channel 4.

Channel 4 said that it had reviewed the programme and was of the view that the individual segments complained of were, in isolation, appropriately scheduled and justified editorially. Any references in the programme to relationships, sex, sexuality or anatomy were discreet, inexplicit, ambiguous and vague and therefore unlikely to be understood by children. Nonetheless Channel 4 accepted that the overall tone of the programme was not suitable for scheduling at times when it is reasonably expected that children may be viewing. Given that children were on school holidays at the time of transmission, Channel 4 accepted that the scheduling was inappropriate in the circumstances

Ofcom Decision: Resolved

Having viewed the episodes of this series broadcast between 30 May and 3 June 2011 at 09:25 on Channel 4, Ofcom noted that they included a number of sexual references and, in one episode, an implicit reference to drug use. Ofcom considered that, although a number of the sexual references may not have been easily understood by children, these episodes did contain material whose overall tone was inappropriate if it was reasonably likely that children would be in the audience in fairly high numbers. We considered therefore that these programmes were potentially unsuitable for children.

Channel 4 however: has accepted that it was a regrettable oversight to schedule this series during a school half term break; in future will only broadcast this series when children are not likely to be watching; and, has organised additional internal compliance training in response to Ofcom's concerns. We therefore consider this matter resolved.

 

17th September   

Offsite: Meet the Censors...

The Independent talks to censors from BBFC, IWF, ASA and Ofcom
Link Here

shocked censorThey have the power to ban a film, withdraw an advert or shut down a website. But how do Britain's censors decide what goes beyond the boundaries of good taste? Holly Williams meets the nation's moral guardians

Rebecca Mackay of the BBFC revealed"

We reject the granting of certificates very rarely. Fifty years ago, we were rejecting films that now we might classify as a '15'. Now, we're classifying things with greater potency, because shocking and offending is just shocking and offending.

Fred Langford of the Internet Watch Foundation revealed:

We also took on obscene adult content, so that's anything likely to deprave and corrupt -- which is quite subjective. Because of the shifting landscape, we only act when the content is potentially illegal, and a legal precedent has been set. We don't see ourselves as censors of the internet. If it's criminal offline, it's criminal online. Simply inappropriate content isn't within our remit.

There's no place for vigilantes searching for this content, but if a member of the public stumbles across it, they can report it on our website. The number of reports vary from 150 to over a thousand, though that would be an unusually busy day. We have four analysts and a hotline manager.

Louisa Bolch of the Advertising Standards Authority revealed:

More interesting is the stuff around taste and decency, and harm and offence. We ask, is this something the majority are going to find offensive? Or is this something which is going to offend a much smaller number of people, but offend them so much that actually when you weigh in the balance the advertisers' right to freedom of expression versus the amount of offence it's caused, you say it's too great. That's a really grey area -- we will discuss them for quite a long time. We don't withdraw adverts lightly; it's a serious business. The meetings can be really good fun, but there's a lot at stake. If it's not clear cut, at the end of the day we have a voting mechanism.

Alison Marsden of Ofcom revealed:

Ofcom isn't a censor; we don't have any powers before broadcast. We have to take into account freedom of expression -- broadcasters' and audiences' rights to impart and receive material. [...BUT...] The counterpoint to that is that, intervening post-transmission, we have some pretty strong legal powers to impose sanctions where necessary, so there is an incentive for broadcasters to comply.

...Read the full article

 

17th September   

Censured Girls on Film...

No Ofcom watershed concession for arts channel
Link Here

girls on film duran duran video Duran Duran: Video Killed the Radio Star
Sky Arts 1, 25 June 2011, 09:45

Sky Arts 1 is a channel specialising in cultural content, including music, literature and films.

Ofcom received a complaint from a viewer who had been watching this programme with her eight year old niece. The complainant alerted Ofcom to the issue of the broadcaster transmitting on a Saturday morning at 09:45 excerpts from a music video which included various shots of topless women and of nudity, which the complainant considered provocative, sexualised…and unacceptable for transmission before the watershed .

This documentary discussed the making of a number of music videos by the pop band Duran Duran in the 1980s. Extended clips of each music video were shown and discussed, in interviews, by two members of the band and other people involved. We noted that one of the music videos discussed in the programme was originally made and released in 1981 and was for the song „ Girls on Film? . Clips of this music video included various instances of topless female performers in a variety of sexualised situations. For example, we noted: two topless performers mud-wrestling; two topless performers pillow fighting; and a female performer taking off a fur coat in a provocative manner to expose her breast to camera. We also noted a shot of a fully naked female performer, in side-profile, writhing in a chair, while using a hairdryer to blow air over her body. This was immediately followed by a close up of an ice cube being rubbed against a female nipple.

Ofcom considered Rules of the Code:

  • Rule 1.3: Children must also be protected by appropriate scheduling from material that is unsuitable for them ; and

  • Rule 1.21: Nudity before the watershed must be justified by the context .

Sky said that the excerpts from the music video showing topless women and of nudity were compliant with Rules 1.3 and 1.21 because they were appropriately scheduled and justified by the context.

The main factors Sky referred to as making the scheduling appropriate were:

  • Sky Arts 1 is not a channel that is intended to appeal to children. The Licensee pointed to audience research figures showing that on this and the seven previous occasions when this episode had been shown pre-watershed on Sky Arts 1 no children were recorded as watching;

  • the programme was part of a series which did not have an inherent appeal to children because it primarily focussed on bands from the 1980s such as Spandau Ballet and A-ha as well as Duran Duran. As a result it would have appealed to viewers whose formative years was during the 1980s ;

  • the programme discussed the content of each Duran Duran video and extracts were included to illustrate the discussion. They were not included on a standalone or gratuitous basis ;

  • the content would not have exceeded viewers? expectations because the channel attracts an adult audience which expects stronger, more provocative material , and as part of a series the programme had an established base of viewers; and

  • it was well-known that controversy surrounded the „Girls on Film? video; and viewers were informed on the Sky electronic programme guide that this video was to be discussed.

  • the video clips were not gratuitous, were fleeting , and were used sparingly, and to inform the viewer rather than be provocative or arousing; and

  • there were no explicit scenes of sexual activity.

Sky concluded by saying that having been notified of Ofcom's investigation into this material it would not show this programme again in any pre-watershed slot until this case was concluded.

Ofcom Decision: Resolved

Ofcom had to consider first whether this broadcast material was unsuitable for children. We noted that the clips included various instances of topless female performers in a variety of sexualised situations, as described in the Introduction, including in particular a shot of a fully naked female performer, in side-profile, writhing in a chair, while using a hairdryer to blow air over her body, and a close up shot of an ice cube being rubbed against a female nipple. In Ofcom's view, the cumulative effect of the clips of Girls on Film? featured in the programme was to convey a highly sexualised theme.

We also considered the descriptions of the content of Girls on Film? made by interviewees in the programme. We noted that the interviewees acknowledged the strength of the images included in the music video. For example, one of the band members, Simon Le Bon, variously described the music video as dead sexy and a sexy video . One of the co-directors of the music video, Kevin Godley, described the music video as soft porny . This interviewee also described what he perceived to be the band's rationale for making the music video: You want a film that people are going to talk about, to spread the word. Sex always does that - still .

Taking account of all these factors, it was Ofcom's view that the content of this particular music video was not suitable for children

Although the extracts from the video were used to illustrate the documentary, in Ofcom's opinion overall they were too extensive. Further, some of the shots were too sexualised. Therefore, Ofcom considered that, on balance, the material was not appropriately scheduled at 09:45 on a Saturday morning.

We considered that there was some context provided by the fact that the images in question were broadcast to illustrate a serious music documentary shown on an arts channel aimed at an adult audience; and that the strength of the images was reduced by their being interspersed in split-screen style with interview clips. However, we cannot agree with Sky that the images were fleeting .

Ofcom concluded that the context was insufficient to justify the broadcast of nude images in a sexualised setting, at 09:45 on a Saturday when there was a material chance of children being in the audience, some unaccompanied.

We noted however that, having been notified of Ofcom's investigation into this material, Sky immediately decided not to show this programme again in any pre- watershed slot until this case was concluded, and subject to Ofcom's guidance would make appropriate edits to the material. In view of these points, Ofcom considers this matter resolved

 

16th September   

Update: Like Censors in a Candy Shop...

Ofcom whinges about daytime trailers for Candy Bar Girls
Link Here  full story: Candy Bar Girls...TV trailers wind up the nutters

candy bar girls logo Candy Bar Girls (Trailers)
Channel 5, 5*, 18 to 29 June 2011, various times before 21:00

34 complainants alerted Ofcom to potentially offensive content in trailers for the programme Candy Bar Girls which were broadcast at various times before the 21:00 watershed on Channel 5 and 5*. Some complainants also considered the trailers were inappropriate for children when shown at this time.

Candy Bar Girls is a documentary series on Channel 5 that follows regular customers and staff from the Candy Bar, a well-known lesbian night club in London's West End.

Trailer One

In this trailer, music was played over various shots of the lips (including a close up of one woman pursing her lips suggestively), faces and upper bodies of two young women, who were sweating and appeared sexually aroused or engaged in sexual activity. These shots were interspersed with three separate full-screen neon-like signs, which read consecutively:

Red Hot Lesbians .

The trailer ended by cutting to a wide shot of the two women exercising in a gym (one on a treadmill and one doing sit-ups). The voice over then said:

Well, what were you expecting? Real lesbians, real lives, no clichés, Candy Bar Girls coming soon to Channel Five .

The woman doing sit-ups then said: I really need a shower, and the other woman squirted her with a water bottle.

Trailer Two

In this trailer music was played over a shot of a young woman who was sitting in a high-backed armchair facing away from camera so her face and body were largely hidden. A second young woman then walked in and knelt down in front of the seated woman, gave her a suggestive look and then leant forward so that her face disappeared from view but appeared to go into the crotch of the seated woman, giving the impression that she was performing oral sex on her. These images were interspersed with three separate full-screen neon-like signs, which said:

Pussy Loving Ladies .

Ofcom Broadcast Bulletin, Issue 189 12 September 2011 28 A voice over then said:

Well, what were you expecting? Candy Bar Girls coming soon to Channel 5 .

The kneeling woman then leant back and stated: Nice pussy . The seated woman replied: Thanks, I just got it stuffed. The seated woman then showed the other woman a stuffed toy on her lap in the shape of a cat.

Ofcom considered rules:

  • Rule 1.3: Children must ... be protected by appropriate scheduling from material that is unsuitable for them.
  • Rule 2.3: In applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context.

Channel 5 explained both trailers were initially scheduled for transmission at any time, with the restriction [emphasis in original] that when scheduled pre-watershed, they could not be scheduled in or around programming aimed at children or programming which was anticipated to have an under 16 audience of more than 7% under 16s (i.e. they were rated EX KIDS ) .

According to Channel 5, the decision was made to schedule the two trailers with this restriction because:

  • although both trailers contain suggestions of sexual behaviour neither is explicit and the double entendre in both would be unlikely to be understood by children;
  • the double entendre is not revealed to viewers until the end of each trailer. This, Channel 5 said, is a common technique employed by advertisers and therefore one the audience would be familiar with; and
  • both trailers contain humorous references to common perceptions of lesbians and seek to inform viewers that Channel 5?s series, Candy Bar Girls, is a programme about lesbians but that it will not conform to the usual stereotypes: it is about real-life lesbians and the day to day issues they face.

Ofcom Decision: Breach of rules 1.3 and 2.3

Ofcom noted that the first part of Trailer One consisted of various images of the faces, upper bodies and lips of two women who were engaged in some form of physical exertion and sweating. These shots were interspersed with three separate neon-like graphics which read consecutively Red , Hot and Lesbians . The neon- like style of these graphics is commonly associated with the adult entertainment industry. This combination in Ofcom's view clearly implied that the two women were sexually aroused or engaged in sexual activity. Ofcom noted that it was only at the end of the trailer that there was a wide shot of the two women working out separately in a gym. We noted the Licensee considered children would not have understood the implication of the first part of the trailer that the women were sexually aroused, however, we considered many older children would probably have understood the sexual inference of the trailer.

With regards to Trailer Two, Ofcom considered that the images of the two women in the first part of the trailer combined with the neon-like graphics (consecutively Pussy , Loving , and Ladies ) clearly implied that one woman was performing oral sex on the other. The exchange between the two women at the end of the trailer when the stuffed cat toy was revealed ( Nice pussy . Thanks, I just got it stuffed ) was based on viewers understanding this sexual implication. As with Trailer One, we considered that older children would have understood this implied message of the trailer.

In Ofcom's view both trailers contained material whose sexual tone and implied sexual content made them potentially unsuitable for children. Ofcom is clear that the unsuitability of these trailers for children was not based on their subject matter (a programme about a lesbian night club) but the manner in which that subject was treated.

We noted that the Licensee took measures to ensure the trailers were not scheduled in or around programming aimed at children or programming which was anticipated to have an audience of more than seven percent of viewers under 16. However, we considered that both trailers were likely to exceed audience expectations when shown before the watershed on services like Channel 5 and 5*.

Ofcom concluded that these trailers contained material that was unsuitable for child viewers, and children were not protected from it by appropriate scheduling. Both trailers when shown pre-watershed were therefore in breach of Rule 1.3.

Ofcom concluded that these two trailers – and in particular Trailer Two – would have exceeded the likely expectation of the audience watching these trailers when shown before the 21:00 watershed. The broadcaster therefore did not apply generally accepted standards and breached Rule 2.3

 

13th September   

Punani at Ofcom...

Ofcom have a whinge at strong language in song lyrics aired on daytime radio
Link Here

Fuck You Then VINYL Overkill Ofcom have devoted the latest Complaints Bulletin to a whinge at strong language in the lyrics of songs aired on daytime radio.

Ofcom started off with a note:

Note to Broadcasters Offensive language in radio programming

This issue of the Broadcast Bulletin contains a number of findings relating to the use of offensive language in radio programming. In view of our concerns about the material in these cases, especially those broadcast when children were particularly likely to have been listening, we will be requesting that a number of radio broadcasters across the industry who transmit such programming attend a meeting at Ofcom to discuss the compliance of such material.

Ofcom then  had a go at several radio stations eg:

Rory's Reggae Roots
Brick FM
23 February 2011, 15:00

Brick FM is a community radio station providing a service for the people of St Boswells, Newton St Boswells and the surrounding area in the Scottish Borders. It has been on air since January 2008 and the output is presented by volunteers. The licence is held by Brick FM. One of Brick FM's key commitments is to establish links with local primary schools, who will be encouraged to visit the station and to make their own programmes. It also aims to appeal to the different age demographics of the local community .

When monitoring the station's output on Wednesday, 23 February 2011, Ofcom identified various instances of offensive language. For example, after welcoming ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls a guest DJ proceeded to play songs that contained offensive language:

  • at 15:07 a song ( More Punany by Dr Evil) containing two instances of the word fuck was broadcast; and

  • at 15:24 a song ( Pass Out by Tinie Tempah) containing five instances of the word fucking was broadcast.

Note Punany or punani is an urban slang word meaning vagina.

Ofcom considered that the content raised issues that warranted investigation under the following Code rules:

  • Rule 1.14: The most offensive language must not be broadcast … when children are particularly likely to be listening (in the case of radio).

  • Rule 2.3: In applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context.

Brick FM said that a punany was a sandwich sold locally and is made of Italian bread with cheese and tomato which is heated up and therefore did not accept the song More Punany had sexual connotations.

Brick FM also maintained that the word fuck is a commonly used word in Scotland, as a description, when something goes wrong or if they get angry or upset rather than a sexual act. It argued that it had the right to use the commonly spoken word which is not considered offensively locally and claimed that Ofcom was unfamiliar with our [its] local dialect .

Ofcom Decision: In Breach of Code

Ofcom's research on offensive language indicates that the word fuck and its derivatives are examples of the most offensive language. Ofcom noted seven instances of the most offensive language in the material it was monitoring. The Code states (see Rule 1.5) the phrase when children are particularly likely to be listening largely refers to the school run and breakfast time but might include other times . Ofcom noted that the two songs in question were broadcast between 15:07 and 15:27 on a weekday and that they were introduced by the Guest DJ welcoming ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls. Regardless of this programme's intended adult audience, we therefore concluded it was particularly likely that children were listening at this time, and there was a breach of Rule 1.14 as regards the expletives broadcast between 15:07 and 15:27.

Irrespective of whether the word fuck is used in a sexual context or as an expression of anger, our research indicates the word and its derivatives are examples of the most offensive language. Ofcom therefore does not accept Brick FM's argument that the word is not considered offensive in Scotland. In Ofcom's view, the broadcast of this language clearly had the potential to offend.

Ofcom noted the lyrics to the song More Punany contain the following:

last night I had a crazy threesome
I like to see the girls in the sexy bikini ni ni Want to take my chilli and push it between ni ni
I like pun-na-na-na-ni even if it's a virgin

Ofcom rejected Brick FM?s comments as to punany referring to a local sandwich . The word was clearly used in this song as urban slang word meaning vagina, and it was used in a sexual context. While Ofcom's research (2005) on the word punani is unclear as to whether it is widely regarded as the most offensive language, this word does have the potential to offend.

This context was not in Ofcom's view, sufficient to justify the potential offence caused, the broadcaster did not apply generally accepted standards and there was a breach of Rule 2.3 of the Code.

Ofcom has serious concerns about Brick FM's approach to compliance and may consider regulatory action if further breaches occur.

Breaches of Rules 1.14 and 2.3

Ofcom made whinged similarly at:

  • Howard Taylor at Breakfast, Total Star – Wiltshire, 20 May 2011, 06:00
  • School's Out, Bishop FM, 8 June 2011, 18:13

Ofcom also considered strong language in the following:

  • Radio 1's Big Weekend, BBC Radio 1, 14 May 2011, 19:50
  • BBC Introducing in Essex, BBC Radio Essex, 6 May 2011, 19:00
  • James Barr, Capital Radio East Midlands (Leicester), 14 May 2011, 19:28 24

But didn't record a breach of rules after explanations of strong language appearing unexpectedly in live performance and being misled by musicians with regards to the lyrics.

Brick FM Not Impressed

See article from heraldscotland.com

brick fm logoJesse Rae, head of broadcasting at Brick FM, founded four years ago and run by volunteers, said this explanation was the result of genuine innocence on behalf of station director Dave Elliot, who did not know what the word meant.

No one complained about these things, no one heard them, he said. We broadcast 24 hours a day and this is all they can come up with, these seven minutes -- what are they trying to do?

The panini thing is just innocence and that is the truth, and Ofcom cannot comprehend that.

 

29th August   

Miracle Olive Oil Soap...

Ofcom considers sanctions against Believe TV for potentially harmful nonsense about a miracle cure for cancer
Link Here

believe tv logo Believe TV
21 and 22 December 2010, 4 January 2011 and 1 February 2011

Believe TV is a service which broadcasts Christian programming. The channel broadcasts programmes which include testimony , where members of the churches featured proclaim how health problems, financial issues or other personal matters have been alleviated through healing from a pastor or other religious leader and their faith in God. Believe TV also features other Christian programming including preaching and healing from churches in the UK and around the world.

The licence for Believe TV is held by The Light Academy Limited.

In January 2011 the Advertising Standards Authority ( ASA ) informed Ofcom that it had written to the Licensee regarding the broadcast on Believe TV of two programmes, featuring the televangelist. Paul Lewis, on 21 and 22 December 2010. Both programmes featured Paul Lewis's Miracle Olive Oil Soap . which it was claimed has healing properties that can cure serious illnesses such as cancer.

The ASA informed Light Academy that these broadcasts contained similar claims by Paul Lewis to those which had already been the subject of an ASA adjudication in May 2007. Further, the ASA advised the Licensee that Ofcom had also previously recorded breaches of the Broadcasting Code in relation to content containing similar claims by Paul Lewis that had been transmitted by two other broadcasters in 2008.

In response to the ASA, the Light Academy confirmed that Paul Lewis Ministries content had now been removed from its schedules as of 24 December 2010 onwards, and that in any event the content was editorial and not advertising.

The ASA therefore referred the material to Ofcom for further investigation, as well as further material broadcast on Believe TV (not featuring Paul Lewis) the ASA had recorded on 4 January 2011.

Ofcom reviewed this material and agreed that the content being investigated in this case should be regarded as editorial and not advertising and therefore that the Code applied. Separately Ofcom was also concerned that other material broadcast on Believe TV, on these three dates, contained examples of potentially unsubstantiated and dangerous claims about the healing of serious conditions such as infertility and cancer.

Ofcom considered that such material raised potentially serious issues under the Code. In particular, Ofcom was concerned about the risk that as a result of watching the testimonies and preaching, viewers with serious medical conditions would either not seek or discontinue conventional medical treatment.

Ofcom also notified the Licensee of its concerns about the apparent promotion of products such as CDs and DVDs in some of its programming.

Ofcom noted further broadcast content which raised similar issues, for example:

  • hCancer healing testimonies and claims.
  • Members of the congregation claiming to give up their medication as a result of the receiving healing at the church.
  • Members of the congregation claiming to have disregarded conventional medical advice and treatment in favour of healing at the church.
  • Infertility healing testimonies and claims.
  • Claims of healing of other serious medical illnesses, for example: blood pressure problems, heart disease and drug and alcohol addictions.

Ofcom considered:

  • 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 the inclusion in such services of harmful and/or offensive material.
  • Rule 4.6: Religious programmes must not improperly exploit any susceptibilities of the audience.
  • Rule 10.2: Broadcasters must ensure that the advertising and programme elements of a service are kept separate.
  • Rule 10.3: Products and services must not be promoted in programmes. This rule does not apply to programme-related material.

Ofcom Decision: In Breach

Given that some viewers who may have watched this material may also have been suffering from serious medical conditions, and were therefore likely to be in a vulnerable state, Ofcom also concluded that this material clearly had the potential to cause harm, and possibly very serious harm. In view of the fact that the Licensee did not take steps to provide viewers with adequate protection from this potential harm by providing any context to the claims made, Ofcom concluded that the Licensee did not apply generally accepted standards. Rule 2.1 was therefore breached.

Given that the content was also soliciting a response from viewers and such individuals experiencing serious illnesses may be vulnerable to the healing claims being made, Ofcom concluded that there was a material risk that susceptible members of the audience may be exploited by the material broadcast on Believe TV. This was a breach of Rule 4.6.

Ofcom also considered that the references to the products were made in such a highly promotional manner that they appeared akin to advertising within a programme. Ofcom therefore also found the programmes in breach of Rule 10.2 and 10.3 of the Code.

The Licensee broadcast material where there was a likelihood that significant potential harm may have resulted. It is Ofcom's view that any material broadcast which may lead to a material risk to the health and safety of the audience must always be considered a significant breach of the Code.

In deciding what further regulatory action to take in this case. Ofcom considered that at no time were steps taken by the Licensee to provide adequate protection to members of the public from harm or exploitation, taking into account the fact that the self selecting audience of Believe TV, given that it is a religious service, may have been less likely to question the potentially harmful and exploitative content broadcast.

The Licensee is put on notice that the breaches of Rules 2.1 and 4.6 in this case are being considered for the imposition of a statutory sanction.

 

28th August   

Voting for Change...

Ofcom will allow TV programmes to refer to websites for paid competitions and votes
Link Here

Ofcom logo In July 2011, Ofcom announced its intention to conduct a year-long pilot period within which websites could be referred to on air as acceptable routes of paid-for audience participation or interaction with programmes, subject to certain conditions.

We invited stakeholders to submit comments on the proposal. This note discusses the comments received and gives our response to them, and announces the revised terms on which the pilot period will now be run.

Rule 9.26 of the Code currently states: Where a broadcaster invites viewers to take part in or otherwise interact with its programmes, it may only charge for such participation or interaction by means of premium rate telephone services or other telephony services based on similar revenue-sharing arrangements .

Ofcom's current guidance in this area  explains that these means are limited to premium-rate telephone and text messages and apps downloaded to mobile phones and other mobile devices.

Because of the speed of change in this area we proposed that a trial period should operate within which broadcasters could add websites as mechanisms through which paid-for participation and interaction with programmes could be offered, subject to certain terms.

After careful consideration of the responses we will now operate the year-long pilot under the following terms:

  • The pilot period begins on Monday 22 August 2011 and will end on Monday 20 August 2012.
  • The pilot period will apply only to audience voting and competition schemes.
  • The pilot period therefore does not allow on air references to websites as a means for paid-for audience interaction with or participation in programmes for any other reasons
  • A PRS means of entry must be one of the routes available, and third party verification will therefore apply across all available routes.

Provided that all the above conditions are met, self-standing websites or apps downloadable to mobile phones and related devices, or both, may be referred to on air as means for viewers to vote or submit competition entries, subject to other relevant Code rules.

After the pilot period Ofcom will assess its impact and associated issues.

 

20th August   

So How Did ATVOD Decide on Onerous Restrictions on Porn?...

Freedom of Information and ATVOD
Link Here

Freedom of Information logo The Authority for Television On Demand is a supposedly independent co-regulator for the editorial content of UK video on demand services. However the government seems to be in the driving seat when it comes to restricting access to porn.

ATVOD is not formally subject to Freedom of Information law, but is listed on WhatDoTheyKnow.com due to its public regulatory role.

This site assists in the process of making Freedom of Information requests to ATVOD and others.

Make a new Freedom of Information request to The Authority for Television On Demand Freedom of Information requests made using this site

Nobody has made any Freedom of Information requests to The Authority for Television On Demand using this site yet.

 

17th August   

Update: A Talent for Pandering to Nutters...

Ofcom said to be preparing buffer censorship rules to stop broadcasters getting anywhere near breaching the actual censorship rules
Link Here  full story: UK TV Talent Shows...A talent for whingeing

X Factor Revealed DVD X Factor producers have been told by Ofcom to keep the new series clean in the wake of the nutter overreaction to sexy performances from Rihanna and Christina Aguilera last year.

Ofcom ruled in April the final was at the limit of acceptability for broadcast before 9pm for a family audience.

Ofcom have had talks with producers ahead of Saturday's opener to ensure there is no repeat of the nutter nonsense.

An X Factor source said:

There have been lots of conversations about making sure The X Factor stays a family show and doesn't become controversial for the wrong reasons. Ofcom made themselves very clear about what they expect, and the message they gave us was basically to cut the smut.

Ofcom is drawing up new guidelines on the use of 'racy imagery' on family shows and plans to publish them by the end of the year. The TV censor said last month:

The guidelines will be there to make sure broadcasters like ITV don't hover near the boundaries of harmful content to children.

This is what happened with Rihanna's performance on the show last year, where the broadcasting code was almost breached.

Ofcom confirmed it had discussed the guidelines with ITV.

 

8th August   

Update: What's the Harm in Excessive Censorship?...

Ofcom recommends strict age verification for R18 material on Video On Demand and a ban on anything stronger
Link Here  full story: VOD censorship in UK...Excessive age restrictions an adult internet video

ofcom sexually explicit material Background

This report concerns the protection of children from hard core pornography on UK- based video on demand services1 . The government is concerned that under the current UK legislation these protections may not be adequate.

On 1 April 2010, DCMS wrote to Ofcom about the new legislation for UK-based video on demand services (implementing European law), which for the first time impose certain minimum requirements on regulated UK-based video on demand services

In particular, the legislation introduces minimum requirements on the provision of potentially harmful material in VOD services. The relevant section of the Communications Act (368E(2)) states that:

If an on-demand programme service contains material which might seriously impair the physical, mental or moral development of persons under the age of eighteen, the material must be made available in a manner which secures that such persons will not normally see or hear it .

DCMS raised concerns as to whether this provision would in practice provide sufficient safeguards to protect children from sexually explicit material, or whether greater safeguards might be appropriate for such material which is made available over VOD Services.

DCMS considered in its letter to Ofcom that a precautionary approach would be justified. This was because such an approach:

  • would be generally supported by the public, given the nature of the material in question and the need to protect minors
  • would be consistent with the tough constraints which Parliament has already placed on the distribution of sexually explicit material in hard copy form as a film or a DVD (i.e. material classified as R18 by the British Board of Film Classification
  • would also be consistent with the approach Ofcom has taken on the provision of this material on television under its Broadcasting Code.
  • In DCMS's view, there is plainly an argument for concluding that on-demand programme services, which are capable of being accessed by children and young people at home round the clock, require sufficient safeguards.

Evidence relating to harm

In light of the Government's clearly stated intentions, we commissioned research to inform our response to DCMS.

A review was commissioned from Dr Guy Cumberbatch, an independent expert in the effects of media, especially on young people.This looked at the available evidence on the risk of harm from R18 material. The review updates the review of the research literature in this area conducted for Ofcom by Dr Ellen Helsper of the London School of Economics ( LSE ) in 2005.

Guy Cumberbatch's main conclusions are consistent with the conclusions of the 2005 review. Firstly, that the research does not provide conclusive evidence that R18 material might seriously impair minors' development. Secondly, the research does not provide clear, conclusive evidence of a lesser degree of harm. It is acknowledged that the research is by its nature limited given there are significant ethical constraints about conducting experiments which expose children to this type of material and monitor their development for signs of potential harm.

However, some experts believe that there is evidence that exposure of minors to R18 material can have adverse effects. In short, this area remains highly controversial and in light of these considerations, it cannot be confidently concluded that sexually explicit material carries no risk of harm to the development of minors.

Guy Cumberbatch's report has been peer reviewed by Dr Sonia Livingstone of the LSE's Department of Media and Communications.

Conclusions and recommendations

In reaching a view in response to DCMS's request as to whether greater safeguards might be appropriate for the protection of children in this important and controversial area, Ofcom considered both R18 material and also material stronger than R18. It took account of the following important considerations.

In relation to R18 material, these considerations are:

  • that the evidence for children being caused harm by exposure to R18 material is inconclusive and the research is necessarily limited by the ethical constraints of exposing children and young people to sexually explicit material
  • Ofcom has a statutory duty under Section 3 of the Communications Act 2003 to further the interests of citizens and consumers and in doing so, to have regard to the vulnerability of children (and others whose circumstances appear to Ofcom to put them in need of special protection)
  • that the public (including parents) consider that whilst those who wish to should have access to pornography, access to this material should be restricted in such a way that children cannot see it
  • the range of approaches in Europe as regards implementing the might seriously impair obligation in the Directive, and the number of countries that have relied on other legislation (existing or new) to restrict access to sexually explicit material on VOD
  • the lack of any test case under current UK law establishing whether R18 promotional material supplied over the internet is obscene (i.e. has a tendency to deprave and corrupt its likely audience), but noting also that according to the Crown Prosecution Service ( CPS ) (Legal Guidance to prosecutors) , it is possible that the publication of such material, provided it is sufficiently explicit and is freely accessible, is capable of being prosecuted as obscene and therefore a criminal offence under the Obscene Publications Act [Although it is noted later in the report that no such prosecution has ever actually been attempted].
  • the desirability in the public interest of giving children appropriate protection from highly unsuitable material
  • the absence in the current regulations of a clear standard requiring sexually explicit material of R18 standard (or its equivalent) to be prohibited, in VOD services, unless it is made subject to restrictions;
  • the Government's clear intention to ensure protection of children from sexually explicit material on UK-based VOD services
  • the value of adopting a precautionary approach to protecting minors from the risk of harm from accessing R18 material (and material stronger than R18) on UK- based VOD services. There is clear evidence that the public (and in particular parents) support a precautionary approach.

In relation to material stronger than R18 we had regard to the following considerations:

  • content stronger than R18 material encompasses a wide variety of unclassified material which cannot legally be supplied in the UK in licensed sex shops and includes abusive and/or violent pornography, examples of which have been held to be obscene and a criminal offence to provide, if accessible by children
  • this material is acknowledged to be potentially harmful or very harmful to adults, particularly those who are vulnerable
  • yet the current legislation does not clearly prohibit it from VOD Services.

In summary, Ofcom's opinion is that taking into account:

  • all the considerations set out in this report, including the evidence relating to harm
  • DCMS's clearly stated intention to ensure the protection of children
  • the desire for certainty in this important and controversial area
  • the legislative protections currently in place are not sufficiently clear to provide that certainty. Greater safeguards should therefore be put in place.

We recommend the Government introduce new legislation which would specifically:

  • prohibit R18 material from being included in UK-based VOD services unless appropriate mandatory restrictions are in place
  • prohibit altogether from UK-based VOD services material whose content the BBFC would refuse to classify i.e. material stronger than R18.

 

7th August   

Update: Morally Impaired Plot...

In the absence of evidence of harm due to porn, ATVOD will blather on 'serious impairment of the moral development' of minors until legislation can be drawn up to legally ban it
Link Here  full story: VOD censorship in UK...Excessive age restrictions an adult internet video

Ed Vaizey Ed Vaizey wrote to Ed Richards of Ofcom on the subject of restricting hardcore Video on Demand:

SEXUALLY EXPLICIT MATERIAL AND VIDEO ON DEMAND SERVICES

Ofcom produced a report on this last autumn and our officials have subsequently discussed the best way forward in the light of the recommendations of the Ofcom report, the policy position taken by ATVOD to require access controls to any such material and Government policy generally on access to potentially harmful material, including work in UKCCIS and the current Communications Review.

Like you, we are quite clear that children should not have access to hard-core pornography on ATVOD-regulated video-on-demand services. The current rules put in place by ATVOD requiring access controls on such material should remain in place.

As ATVOD regulates only a comparatively small number of services available over the Internet, our wider approach to protecting children from potentially harmful material is being taken forward by the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS), building on the commitments made in our industry round-tables. We are committed to making progress in this area, preferably through industry action, but if necessary through legislation. Any necessary legislation is best taken forward in the forthcoming Communications Bill.

Your report examined the current UK regulations, transposing the requirement in the Audiovisual Media Services Directive that VOD material which might seriously impair the physical, mental or moral development of minors [is] only made available in such a way that ensures that minors will not normally hear or see [it] (which means in effect that this content must generally be encrypted). Department for Culture, Media and Sport

What concerned us was whether that requirement would provide sufficient safeguards to protect children from material equivalent to that classified by the BBFC at R18 and suitable for sale on DVD only in licensed sex shops. Our policy aim was that such material should not be made available in ways accessible to children on those UK-based VOD services which fell to be regulated under the Audiovisual Media Services Directive.

The Ofcom report concluded that this was an area in which it was probably impossible to get conclusive evidence of harm and that it was Ofcom's view that, in the absence of such evidence, there was a case for taking a precautionary approach and indeed seeking a legislative opportunity to provide a more certain legal basis for requiring access controls to protect children.

In the meantime, of course, ATVOD's rules have continued to require access controls to prevent children's access to R18 material on regulated sites – as we understand it, this generally at present takes the form of short video sequences promoting hard- core pornography sites which can be accessed in full only after supplying credit card details.

The Ofcom review considered two main areas of content. The principal one, and the one on which the Department had sought your advice in particular, was the availability of hard-core pornography with content equivalent to that which would be classified by the BBFC as suitable to the R18 category in DVD format. However, the report noted that there may also be material for which the BBFC would refuse a classification but which would not necessarily be illegal to distribute to adults.

All such material is prohibited by Ofcom on licensed broadcasting services and is allowed on VOD services regulated by ATVOD only when access controls are in place to prevent access by children. Outside the small number of regulated services, such material is known to be widely available on the Internet and that is why Ministers have given priority to working with ISPs to allow parents to make an active choice as to whether they want such material to be available to their household. The wider application of this policy by ISPs, and the use of effective parental controls by parents, would do much to minimise the accessibility of hard-core pornography, and worse, by children on all on-demand services.

The questions addressed by the Ofcom report were therefore whether, on the small number of on-demand services regulated by ATVOD, where additional controls could be put in place under the AVMS Directive, the Regulations provided an adequate level of protection for children from material equivalent to R18 by offering a secure legal basis on which to require access controls. Department for Culture, Media and Sport

We remain of the view - like you - that there is a good case that the Regulations require a precautionary approach in that the test is whether material might be seriously harmful rather than that it necessarily is demonstrably harmful. However we accept that, in the light of Ofcom's recommendation, it would be preferable to provide legal certainty to ensure that the ATVOD rules are robust, in case of future legal challenge, and the protection for children secure.

In these circumstances, and given the wider policy context, it seems to us that these issues would be best addressed comprehensively in the Communications Review. We would appreciate it if Ofcom, with ATVOD, would take any steps necessary in the interim period to ensure that children remained adequately protected under the ATVOD rules, in the knowledge that we could bring forward Regulations in the short term if it proved necessary to support this position.

 

7th August   

Update: Oops...Ofcom Kindly Detail Site Blocking Work Rounds...

DCMS ask Ofcom to delete part of their Site Blocking report
Link Here  full story: Digital Economy Act...Clause 11 grants government control of the internet

DCMS logo Ofcom have recently written a report, Site Blocking to reduce online copyright infringement, as part of a feasibility study into measures contained in the Digital Economy Act.

For the moment Ofcom has come out against the use of website blocking and explained some of the difficulties in the report. Particularly the current ease with which both websites and readers may circumvent current blocking techniques.

According to The Register, the Department of Media, Culture and Sport weren't too impressed by Ofcom letting the public be aware of the limitations of current website blocking technologies and asked Ofcom to censor the information.

Ofcom deleted the offending but some of the censored information was left in the document presumably in the document history. It was published and some clever people were able to restore the deleted text. Ofcom have now properly implemented the censorship but not before it was published on scribd and internet commentators had pointed out some of the sensitive work rounds to site blocking techniques. eg:

  • Websites providing encrypted access to their websites via SSL/HTTPS
  • Websites using a network port other than the usual port 80
  • Websites changing the IP address and bypassing the network routing announcements
  • Websites registering a new domain name and letting users know via email and social networking
  • Websites using page naming to defeat individual page blocking perhaps by having arbitrary search strings that lead to the blocked page
  • Readers using Virtual Private Networking (VPN)
  • Readers using anonymous web proxies

In general the authorities are not going to be very keen on large numbers of internet users being encouraged to use hard to monitor web routings that make life difficult for policing the net for more serious issues.

 

7th August   

Offsite: ASA and Ofcom: you're not worth it...

We don't need quangos to protect us from misleading L'Oreal adverts or bad soap-opera storylines.
Link Here

Spiked logo Thank god that we, the people of the UK, have these brave but very, very wise men and women holed up in state-backed organisations to look over us. Just imagine for a moment where we would be if the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) or, perish the thought, the Office of Communications (Ofcom) ceased to exist. Not only would British public life be a couple of acronyms lighter, we would almost certainly be shaking, upset and very probably ill.

..Read the full article

 

4th August   

Update: Britain's Adult Internet Trade to be Driven Offshore...

Ed Vaizey looks to restrict UK internet porn to credit card holders only
Link Here  full story: VOD censorship in UK...Excessive age restrictions an adult internet video

Ed Vaizey Repressive controls to prevent children from accessing hard-core pornographic material through video-on-demand (VoD) services will be secured as part of the comprehensive review of communications legislation currently being undertaken, Communications Minister Ed Vaizey has announced.

Rules are already in place which mean that video which the BBFC would classify as R18, pornography which is explicit and sold in licensed sex shops, but not illegal, can be made available through VoD services only if excessively restrictive controls are in place to prevent children from accessing it.

The Authority for Television On Demand (ATVOD) is the internet censor for VoD services and enforces rukles which ensure that any material which 'may' seriously impair children's physical, mental or moral development, but probably doesn't must not be freely available. Access controls such as pin protection must be put in place if R18-type content is to be made available on anytime television services or internet websites that include video.

But, in the light of an Ofcom report which recommended a precautionary approach to protecting children and new legislation, the Government has committed to securing the present controls and looking at whether the legal position should be bolstered further by future-proofing legislation as part of the current review of communications policy.

Vaizey said:

The Government is clear that children must be protected from harmful content, on television or online. We have made it a priority to address the concerns of parents that their kids are being exposed to material that's not appropriate for them to see.

Without a doubt we want to make sure that video-on-demand services carrying adult material cannot be seen by children and it's already a legal requirement that any such content has access controls.

But the communications review gives us an opportunity to consider whether there's more we should do to ensure children remain protected and to limit access to potentially harmful material, such as introducing unclassified material into the statutory framework.

A starting point is Ofcom's report to Government, Sexually Explicit Material and Video On Demand Services which has just been published.

The review will look at the availability of both R18-type material, and video content which is stronger than that classified as R18 by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) but still might be made available to adults.

Ensuring the effectiveness of restrictive controls on VoD services will also complement the recommendations made by Reg Bailey in his independent review of the commercialisation and sexualisation of childhood, Letting Children Be Children.

 

1st August   

Update: Handled with Kids Gloves...

Ofcom dismiss complaints about the New Year EastEnders storyline
Link Here  full story: Eastenders...Eastenders TV programme complaints

Eastenders logo Eastenders
BBC 1
31 December 2010, 20:00, 1 January 2011, 20:30; and various episodes to 14 April 2011, 19:30

EastEnders is a long-running and well established drama with a record of tackling controversial and, at times, highly sensitive social issues.

Over two episodes, the character Ronnie Branning lost her new born son James to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome ( SIDS or cot death ). The programme showed the stunned Ronnie cradling her dead child in Albert Square as the New Year festivities went on around her. On being alerted to the sound of another new born baby boy crying in the Queen Vic pub, Ronnie entered the building and made her way to the crying baby, Tommy, who had just been born to the character Kat Moon. Ronnie then swapped her dead baby for Tommy. The episodes that followed explored the experience of the characters Kat and Alfie Moon, who believed it was their baby Tommy who had died of cot death, and Ronnie became withdrawn and tearful.

Ofcom received 1,044 complaints from viewers, most of which were received in the days following the episodes broadcast on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. Complainants were concerned that the baby swap storyline was an inaccurate, insensitive and sensationalised portrayal of the behaviour of a mother who has lost a baby from cot death. Others commented that, in addition to the storyline being distressing and horrific particularly for those parents affected by SIDS, the scheduling of the broadcast was inappropriate, particularly given it was broadcast pre-watershed on New Year's Eve.

The storyline concluded in April 2011 when Ronnie could no longer cope with her actions and confessed to Kat and Alfie, returned baby Tommy to them and turned herself in to the police.

Ofcom considered the material with reference to Rule 2.3 of the Code:

In applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by context ... Such material may include, but is not limited to, ... distress ... Appropriate information should also be broadcast where it would assist in avoiding or minimising offence.

Ofcom Decision: Not in Breach

The main issue raised by the baby swap storyline, as referred to by complainants, was that the drama presented the baby swap in an offensive manner because it appeared to suggest that a mother who has suddenly and tragically lost a baby through cot death would react by stealing another baby to replace that loss. This was considered to have the potential to generate great distress. Any offence was potentially heightened not just by the time of the broadcast, which was pre- watershed, but also because it was scheduled on New Year's Eve. Ofcom acknowledged that the broadcast on New Year's Eve, when taken in isolation, was clearly capable of causing offence.

Ofcom went on to consider whether the material which had the potential to generate offence was justified by the context provided by the broadcaster. Ofcom first considered the character of Ronnie as depicted in the programme and whether the storyline did suggest that it was the loss of her baby alone that was critical in her motivation for swapping the baby. While Ofcom noted that this was the immediate shocking event that preceded the baby swap, there had also been a number of other events in the storyline leading up to her taking this action which arguably contributed to her behaviour. These included: her losing the daughter she had been forced to give up for adoption at 14, her desperation to have a baby and the tragedy she had experienced when she had miscarried, and the recent revelation of sexual abuse by her father. Ronnie's state of mind at the time of the swap was revealed in full to viewers in the episode following the handing back of baby Tommy to his mother Kat, when Ronnie talked to a police psychiatrist and discussed her personal history.

Whilst the loss of baby James was a catalyst, Ronnie's reaction was born out of extreme personal trauma in her life and not as the direct and sole consequence of losing her baby. It is Ofcom's view that the broadcaster did not intend the storyline to suggest that her actions were a typical response of a mother who had experienced SIDS and therefore sufficient editorial context was provided to viewers.

The BBC advised that the programme makers consulted the Foundation for the Study of Infant Death ( FSID ).

Ofcom considered that for the regular EastEnders audience, the storyline would not have exceeded their expectations given that the soap is known for presenting a range of challenging and, at times, controversial issues. For those less familiar with the programme it is Ofcom's view that the publicity surrounding the storyline and the guidance provided by the broadcaster before the start of the programme would have provided additional context thereby limiting the degree of offence likely to be caused by the baby swap storyline.

Ofcom concluded that the broadcaster provided sufficient context overall to justify the potential offence. Consequently, there was no breach of Rule 2.3.

 

22nd July   

Update: Cooking Up a 10pm Watershed...

Ofcom easily offended by Gordon Ramsey's 15 rated strong language
Link Here  full story: Babe Channels...Ofcom have it in for free to air babe channels

Hells Kitchen USA Season 8 Hell's Kitchen USA
ITV2, 18 April 2011, 21:00

Hell's Kitchen USA is the American version of the UK reality-style cooking contest which features members of the public working in a highly pressurised restaurant environment under the guidance of Gordon Ramsay.

Ofcom received one complaint about the frequency of the word fuck (or a derivative) in the programme. The complainant considered this to be inappropriate for a programme broadcast directly after the watershed. Ofcom noted that there were 47 instances of the use of this expletive in the programme. Eighteen of these were within in the first programme segment after the 21:00 watershed which lasted 11 minutes.

Ofcom considered this material raised issues that warranted investigation under the following Code rules:

  • Rule 1.6: The transition to more adult material must not be unduly abrupt at the watershed….For television, the strongest material should appear later in the schedule.
  • Rule 2.3 In applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context.

Ofcom Decision: Breach of Rules 1.6 and 2.3

Regarding context, Ofcom considered first the editorial content of the programme and the likely size, composition and expectations of the audience. Ofcom acknowledged that ITV2 is aimed at young adults who (ITV's research suggests) are less likely to be offended by the most offensive language than other age groups. We also noted that Gordon Ramsay has a well established reputation in broadcasts such as Hell's Kitchen USA for using the most offensive language and that, as a result, the audience might expect some examples of the most offensive language in his programmes. We noted the continuity announcement before the programme advising viewers of very strong language from the start and that the programme started at 21:00. Ofcom took into account these factors and ITV's explanation that the purpose of the extended montage [of challenging scenes with very strong language] at the start of the programme was to reflect the various characters participating.

However, this context was not, in Ofcom's view, sufficient to justify the potential offence caused. There were 18 instances of the most offensive language included in the first 11 minutes of the programme broadcast immediately after the 21:00 watershed. This was a significant concentration of the most offensive language and had the potential to cause considerable offence to viewers, especially those who may come across it unawares. Further, this amount of very strong swearing concentrated immediately after the 21:00 watershed in Ofcom's opinion would not have been in keeping with viewers' expectations – partly because the warning given to viewers before the programme began was inadequate to prepare them for this amount of very strong language at this time.

Ofcom was concerned that a very significant portion of instances of the strongest language (18 out of the total of 47) happened between 21:00 and 21:11. Irrespective of the target audience of the preceding programme or of ITV2 in general, Ofcom considered it was likely that children would still have been watching this programme segment given its close proximity to the watershed. Audience figures in fact show that 38,000 children under the age of fifteen did in fact watch this programme (6.6% of the audience). Therefore, Ofcom concluded that this amounted to an unduly abrupt transition to more adult, post-watershed material and Rule 1.6 of the Code was breached.

 

19th July   

Update: Babe Channels Up For Sanctions...

Ofcom continue to claim wide spread offence yet offer hardly any complaints
Link Here  full story: Babe Channels...Ofcom have it in for free to air babe channels
  • sport xxx girls logo Office Girls, Sport XXX Girls (Channel 967), 9-10pm and late night

  • 40+ Readers Wives, Essex Babes (Channel 954), late night

  • Sport XXX1, Northern Birds (Channel 955), late night

Office Girls, 40+ Readers Wives and Sport XXX1 are programme segments on babe channels, Sport XXX Girls, Northern Birds and Essex Babes. These services are broadcast on Sky Channels 967, 954 and 955 respectively. The services are freely available without mandatory restricted access. The female presenters dress and behave in a sexually provocative way while encouraging viewers to contact premium rate phone services.

The licences for Sport XXX Girls, Northern Birds and Essex Babes are all held by Satellite Entertainment Limited (SEL).

Ofcom received a  [somehow unspecified] number of complaints about the content listed above. The complainants were concerned about the level of sexual content which they considered was capable of causing offence.

Eg Office Girls, Sport XXX Girls, 5 April 2011, 22:00 to 23:00

The female presenter was wearing a black thong, black fishnet stockings and a white bra. During the broadcast she adopted various sexual positions. While positioned lying on a desk on her side with her legs wide open to camera, she revealed her outer genital area. In this position she thrust forwards to camera and bunched her thong tightly against her genitals to reveal her labia. The presenter was also positioned with her buttocks to camera. While in this position she thrust her buttocks to show anal detail. The images broadcast were prolonged

Ofcom considered:

  • BCAP Code Rule 4.2 states: Advertisements must not cause serious or widespread offence against generally accepted moral, social or cultural standards
  • BCAP Code Rule 32.3 states: Relevant timing restrictions must be applied to advertisements that, through their content, might harm or distress children of particular ages or that are otherwise unsuitable for them.
  • Licence Condition 11: the Licensee shall adopt procedures acceptable to Ofcom for the retention and production of recordings in sound and vision of any programme which is the subject matter of a Standards Complaint

Ofcom also quoted their censorship rules for post watershed babe channels:

  • at no time broadcast invasive shots of presenters? bodies. Ofcom cautions against physically intrusive, intimate shots of any duration; and against less intrusive shots that may become unacceptable by virtue of their being prolonged;
  • at no time broadcast anal, labial or genital areas or broadcast images of presenters touching their genital or anal areas either with their hand or an object;
  • ensure that presenters? clothing adequately covers their anal, labial or genital areas. They should also avoid adjusting their clothing (including clutching or bunching) which results in anal, labial or genital areas being exposed;
  • at no time include shots of presenters spitting onto their or others? bodies, or include shots of presenters using other liquids, such as oil and lotions, on their genital or anal areas; or
  • at no time broadcast shots of presenters using liquids of a sort or in a way which suggests the liquid is ejaculate

Ofcom Decision: In Breach of their rules

In Ofcom?s view the sexual images included in all these broadcasts were strong and capable of causing offence (although some were relatively stronger than others). In all cases the content included material that is clearly inconsistent with Ofcom's censorship rules.

Ofcom was additionally concerned that the Licensee did not provide Ofcom with any comments to explain how the material complied with the BCAP Code and published Guidance, nor did it inform Ofcom of any steps taken to improve compliance.

In addition, Ofcom sought comments regarding the quality of the recordings supplied to the regulator by the Licensee. SEL stated it would look into the issue of the quality of the recordings supplied as a matter of urgency. SEL however failed by the deadline set to provide any further recordings to Ofcom that Ofcom considered were of broadcast quality and also no provided no explanation as to the reason for this failure. Consequently, the Licensee is also in breach of Condition 11 of its Licence for failing to have acceptable procedures in place to provide recordings of broadcast quality.

Ofcom has stated that it will not tolerate serious and/or repeated breaches of the BCAP Code in this area by services operating in the sector of daytime and adult chat and will not hesitate to take robust enforcement action where necessary. In the breach finding against SEL published in Broadcast Bulletin 185, Ofcom warned SEL that we would not expect further breaches of the BCAP Code to occur again. In light of the serious and repeated Code breaches recorded in this finding SEL is put on notice that these present contraventions of the BCAP Code are being considered by Ofcom for statutory sanction

 

15th July   

Office of BBC Communications...

Lords committee reports on the governance and regulation of the BBC
Link Here

governance and regulation of the bbc The convoluted and overly complicated complaints process at the BBC must be improved, say the Lords Communications Committee in a report. The Committee has conducted an inquiry into the governance and regulation of the BBC, and have identified a number of areas of governance that the BBC needs to upgrade.

Concerns over the mechanisms for complaining are raised by the Committee, which learned of the many different processes for varying types of complaint, making it very difficult for viewers, listeners and users of BBC content to know where to go to complain. This must be resolved. The BBC needs to provide a clear overview of how the complaints process works and publish this in one place on its website and there needs to be a clearing house to direct people through the complaints process.

The confusion is in part because the BBC Trust and Ofcom have overlapping jurisdiction in several areas of content regulation, with the exception of issues of impartiality and accuracy and commercial references, which the BBC Trust regulates. In particular, because the BBC should not remain judge and jury in its own case, the Committee wants the BBC and Ofcom to consider granting Ofcom the right to regulate the BBC on matters of impartiality and accuracy.

In addition, the Committee say that:

  • Creativity must not be allowed to be stifled by overly bureaucratic compliance culture .
  • Best practice for programme making needs to be established to ease concerns that it isn't always clear to viewers what is reality, reconstructed and constructed footage.
  • Greater clarity is needed on the governance role of the Non-Executives on the on the BBC Executive Board, and the Non-Executive Directors at the BBC to be recruited from a wider range of backgrounds than they are presently.
  • The Government, the BBC and the National Audit Office (NAO) should work together to agree on terms of access for the NAO to the BBC, ensuring that the NAO does not comment on any matters of broadcast content or journalistic integrity which should be entirely off limits.

Commenting on the report, Chairman of the Communications Committee, Lord Inglewood said:

Ultimately the BBC needs to be accountable to those who use and pay for it, at the same time as having the independence of its journalism, broadcasting and creativity protected from outside political interference. There are a number of ways that its systems and processes need to be improved, some of which can be done relatively quickly. The new Chairman of the BBC, Lord Patten of Barnes, is set to review issues of BBC governance this summer and we urge him to consider our recommendations as part of his review.

 

13th July   

Update: Ofcom Widespread Offence Bollox...

Get Lucky TV causes widespread offence with literally zeroes of complaints
Link Here  full story: Babe Channels...Ofcom have it in for free to air babe channels

get lucky tv logo Get Lucky TV, 10 April 2011, 22:00 to 22:20

Get Lucky TV is a babe channel on Sky channel 909. Get Lucky TV is owned and operated by Grandiose Ltd.

As a result of Ofcom?s continuing concerns about compliance in this sector, Ofcom conducts occasional monitoring of adult chat channels.

In this case, Ofcom noted that between 22:00 and 22:20 the broadcast showed a female presenter wearing a white crop shirt, short tartan skirt and white skimpy thong underneath, knee high white socks and black stiletto shoes. As 22:04 the presenter removed her top and bra. During the broadcast the presenter was shown, for prolonged periods of time: lying on her front, side and back, all with her legs wide open to camera. While in these positions the camera was focused on the presenter's genital and anal area for prolonged periods of time and her outer genital and anal area were shown in close up. While in these positions she was also shown repeatedly thrusting her hips and buttocks and lightly touching around her genital area.

Ofcom considered BCAP Code Rule 4.2 which states:

Advertisements must not cause serious or widespread offence against generally accepted moral, social or cultural standards.

Ofcom also noted their own censorship rules:

  • at no time broadcast invasive shots of presenters' bodies. Ofcom cautions against physically intrusive, intimate shots of any duration; and against less intrusive shots that may become unacceptable by virtue of their being prolonged
  • at no time broadcast anal, labial or genital areas or broadcast images of presenters touching their genital or anal areas either with their hand or an object

Grandiose said that the content was in conformity with Ofcom guidance and would not cause serious or widespread offence . It stated that the material was broadcast after 22:00 on an appropriately licensed channel within the adult section of the Sky EPG and said that on more than one occasion the presenter emphasised that the content was adult in nature [and] that they [viewers] needed to be over the age of 18.

The Licensee said that there were no physically intrusive or unduly prolonged shots and on average, a period of 2 minutes would elapse before the presenter altered position. It also said that no anal or genital detail was revealed and the presenters' pants, which substantially covered her genital area, remained on. The licensee added that the only close up shot was when the camera panned to the presenter's face and the presenter was careful not to be seen to touching her genital or anal area.

Ofcom Decision: In Breach of Rule 4.2

In Ofcom's view the sexual images included in this broadcast were strong and capable of causing offence. The presenter was wearing a revealing thong and during the broadcast she was shown in various sexual positions. The presenter repeatedly positioned her legs wide apart to camera, and while doing so her genital and anal area were shown in close up. As a consequence the broadcast included some very intrusive images. As set out above, Ofcom guidance cautions against physically intrusive, intimate shots of any duration. Further, some of these intrusive images of the presenter's crotch area were shown for up to two minutes, and therefore, in our view, they were also shown for prolonged periods of time. These strong images were also combined with images of the presenter repeatedly thrusting her buttocks and pelvis as though miming sexual intercourse, and miming masturbation by touching around her genital area.

In this case, given the content included prolonged and frequent scenes of a sexual nature (provided for the purpose of sexual arousal), the location of the channel in the adult section of the EPG was not sufficient to ensure that serious or widespread offence against generally accepted standards was not caused by this content. Ofcom was concerned at the degree of offence likely to be caused to viewers who might come across this material unawares.

Taking into account the factors above, Ofcom has concluded that relevant scheduling restrictions were not applied so as to ensure that the material which was broadcast was not capable of causing serious or widespread offence against generally accepted moral, social or cultural standards. Specifically, this material should not have been broadcast within the context of adult chat advertisements that were freely available without mandatory restricted access. Therefore Ofcom concluded that this material breached Rule 4.2 of the BCAP Code.

 

12th July   

Update: Shocked!...

Ofcom whinge at daytime Babeworld TV
Link Here  full story: Babe Channels...Ofcom have it in for free to air babe channels

babeworld logo Bluebird Daytime TV
Babeworld TV, 14 April 2011, 13:45 to 14:45

Bluebird Daytime TV is a programme on the babe channel, Babeworld TV (Sky channel number 908). The service is available freely without mandatory restricted access.

Ofcom received a complaint about the above broadcast. The complainant said that he was shocked to see a girl on a daytime babe phone-in channel adopting sexually explicit positions and facial mannerisms . The complainant added that broadcasts like this should only be shown after the watershed not in the daytime when children can easily see them .

The female presenter was wearing a cropped black bra top, high cut latex red hot pants (which revealed a significant proportion of her buttocks) and black stiletto shoes. During most of the broadcast she was shown lying on her stomach (side on) with her legs open (away from camera). The presenter was also shown: repeatedly gyrating and rocking her buttocks while her legs were open; repeatedly stroking her legs and buttocks and occasionally her breasts; and licking her lips. The broadcast also included six shots of the camera panning up and down the presenter's legs, with close up shots of the presenter's buttocks.

Ofcom considered Rule 32.3 of the BCAP Code:

  • Relevant timing restrictions must be applied to advertisements that, through their content, might harm or distress children of particular ages or that are otherwise unsuitable for them.

Babeworld TV said that:

this genre of content has received widespread publicity over the years and it would be reasonable to say that most Sky subscribers, if not all of them, would be well aware of the adult section and the content they could and actually expect to find there. It added that any Sky subscriber who has concerns over a minor accessing the adult channels is easily able to block this section.

It is certainly not our intention to provide content of a sexual nature. We were aiming to provide content that was light hearted and possibly flirtatious… Babeworld TV said that it did not consider the material in breach of the BCAP Code as we were not advertising a sexual service.

Ofcom Decision: Breach of rule 32.3

Ofcom guidance explicitly states that daytime chat broadcasters should:

  • ensure that presenters are wearing appropriate clothing, that adequately covers their bodies, in particular their breasts, genital areas and buttocks;
  • not broadcast images of presenters touching or stroking their bodies in a suggestive manner;
  • not broadcast images of presenters mimicking sexual intercourse by rocking and thrusting their bodies, or otherwise adopting sexual poses.

In Ofcom's view, the revealing clothing, the sexual position held for relatively prolonged periods and repeated actions of the presenter were intended to be sexually provocative in nature and the broadcast of such sexualised content was inappropriate to advertise daytime chat. In light of this behaviour and imagery, Ofcom concluded that under BCAP Code Rule 32.3 the material included in these daytime broadcasts was clearly unsuitable for children.

Breach of BCAP Code Rule 32.3

 

11th July   

Update: Ofcom Widespread Bollox...

Elite TV causes widespread offence with literally zeroes of complaints
Link Here  full story: Babe Channels...Ofcom have it in for free to air babe channels

Elite TV ad Elite Nights
Elite TV 2 March-April 2011, late night

Elite Nights is a babe channel on Sky channel 914. The service Elite TV 2 is owned and operated by Over 18 TV.

As a result of Ofcom's continuing concerns about compliance in this sector, Ofcom conducts occasional monitoring of adult chat channels. In these cases, Ofcom noted that the broadcasts contained the following content.

Elite Nights, Elite TV 2 (Channel 914), 19 March 2011, 00:27 to 00:46

The female presenter was wearing a revealing black thong which she removed at 00:40 so that she was naked. During the broadcast (and before she removed her thong) she was shown in various positions for prolonged periods of time, including: lying on her front with her legs open to camera; straddled over a bench with her buttocks to camera; lying on her back with her legs open and at times pulled back towards her head; and bent over a bench with her buttocks towards camera. After the presenter removed her thong she was shown lying on her back with her legs apart and away from camera. While in these positions the presenter was shown pouring and massaging oil onto her breasts, buttocks and legs. She was also shown dribbling oil over her anal area (on top of her thong). The broadcast included images of the presenter repeatedly and heavily thrusting her buttocks for relatively prolonged periods of time, and very close up shots between the presenter's legs. Due to the skimpy underwear she was wearing her outer genital area was shown. While the presenter was naked she was shown turning over and her anus was briefly shown.

Elite Nights, Elite TV 2 (Channel 914), 10 April 2011, 22:17 to 22:55

The female presenter was wearing a white lace body and white fishnet stockings. At various points during the broadcast the presenter was standing over the camera with her legs open. This resulted in a number of prolonged shots between the presenter's legs. The presenter was also shown in various other positions for prolonged periods of time, such as: bending over on all fours with her buttocks to camera; and lying on her back with her legs open to camera. While in these positions viewers were shown very close up and frequent images of the presenter's crotch area, often for prolonged periods of time. She was also shown touching and rubbing around her genital and anal area for prolonged periods of time.

Ofcom considered  BCAP Code Rule 4.2 which states:

Advertisements must not cause serious or widespread offence against generally accepted moral, social or cultural standards.

Ofcom also noted their own censorship rules:

  • at no time broadcast invasive shots of presenters' bodies. Ofcom cautions against physically intrusive, intimate shots of any duration; and against less intrusive shots that may become unacceptable by virtue of their being prolonged
  • at no time broadcast anal, labial or genital areas or broadcast images of presenters touching their genital or anal areas either with their hand or an object
  • at no time include shots of presenters spitting onto their or others' bodies, or include shots of presenters using other liquids, such as oil and lotions, on their genital or anal areas.

The Licensee said that has made great efforts to ensure our nighttime content meets the applicable standards . It said that measures it has taken include: banning the use of hand-held camera work ; instructing presenters to be appropriately clothed and limit movements to those of a less sexualised style than previously practiced ; and the implementation of a new internal compliance monitoring system. We now have a fully trained member of staff monitoring all of our channels 24 hours a day .

The Licensee said that the material above broadly complied with Ofcom guidance, however it accepted that there are some instances of overly intrusive camera work and, on occasions, the content appears on the outer edges of what could be considered acceptable . It said however that in relation to both broadcasts, despite the shortcomings, which we accept, we feel that, on the whole, the material is highly unlikely to 'cause serious or widespread offence' .

Ofcom Decision: In Breach of Rule 4.2

The content included in the two broadcasts included prolonged and frequent scenes of a sexual nature (provided for the purpose of sexual arousal), the location of the channel in the adult section of the EPG was not sufficient to ensure that serious or widespread offence against generally accepted standards was not caused by this content. Ofcom was concerned at the degree of offence likely to be caused to viewers who might come across this material unawares.

Taking into account the factors above, Ofcom has concluded that relevant scheduling restrictions were not applied so as to ensure that the material which was broadcast was not capable of causing serious or widespread offence against generally accepted moral, social or cultural standards. Specifically, this material should not have been broadcast within the context of adult chat advertisements that were freely available without mandatory restricted access. Therefore Ofcom concluded that this material included in the two broadcasts breached Rule 4.2 of the BCAP Code.

Ofcom considers that these breaches of the BCAP Code are serious and significant. Ofcom has taken several steps to ensure that Licensees are fully aware that the material broadcast on adult chat services is suitable for broadcast without mandatory restricted access. This has included publishing decisions Ofcom has made in this area on the Ofcom website, meeting with Licensees operating in this sector and most notably issuing Guidance. Consequently, these breaches will be held on the Licensee?s compliance record and we will consider further regulatory action should further similar breaches be recorded.

 

10th July   

Update: The Noble Sport of Ofcom Baiting...

Ofcom easily offended by SportXXX1 and Live XXXBabes
Link Here  full story: Babe Channels...Ofcom have it in for free to air babe channels

sport xxx logo Northern Birds SportXXX1, 12 March 2011, 21:30 to 22:00 and 13 March 2011, 01:00 to 01.20
Asian Babes, Live XXXBabes, 14 March 2011, 00:00

Northern Birds and Asian Babes are free to air babe channels. The female presenter dress and behave in a sexually provocative way while encouraging viewers to contact premium rate phone numbers.

The licences for both the Northern Birds and Live XXX Babes services are held by Satellite Entertainment Ltd. SEL is responsible for the compliance of the Asian Babes content broadcast on the LiveXXXBabes service.

Ofcom received two complaints about content broadcast on Northern Birds and Live XXX Babes. The complainants were concerned about sexual content capable of causing offence.

On viewing the recordings provided by the Licensee, Ofcom noted that the quality was very poor and was of the view that it was not of broadcast quality.

Ofcom considered that this material raised issues under BCAP Code Rule 4.2 which states:

Advertisements must not cause serious or widespread offence against generally accepted moral, social or cultural standards.

In addition, Condition 11 of the Television Licensable Content Service (TLCS) licence states:

… the Licensee shall: make and retain or arrange for the retention of a recording in sound and vision of every programme included in the Licensed Service for a period of 60 days from the date of its inclusion therein;  and, in addition, the TLCS Guidance Notes for Licence Applicants requires the Licensee to ensure: recordings must be of a standard and in a format which allows Ofcom to view the material as broadcast 2

Ofcom published detailed Guidance on the advertising of telecommunications-based sexual entertainment services eg:

  • at no time broadcast invasive shots of presenters' bodies. Ofcom cautions against physically intrusive, intimate shots of any duration; and against less intrusive shots that may become unacceptable by virtue of their being prolonged; and
  • at no time broadcast anal, labial or genital areas or broadcast images of presenters touching their genital or anal areas either with their hand or an object

Ofcom Decision: Northern Birds, SportXXX1

Ofcom noted that at 21:30, when the presenter was positioned with her legs open to the camera, her labia were visible. This was because the item of clothing worn consisted only of a very thin strip of fabric. In addition, during the broadcast from 21:30, when the presenter thrust her buttocks to camera, she revealed further labial detail and also her anal area.

Ofcom also noted that during the material broadcast at 21:30, whilst the presenter was positioned with her legs open to camera revealing her labia, she stroked and rubbed her genital area with her hand so as to mime masturbation. These images were shown for prolonged periods of time.

During the later broadcast at 01:00, Ofcom noted that the presenter was initially naked and used her hand to cover her genital and anal area whilst she adopted various sexual positions. Whilst covering her genital area, she used her hand to apply firm pressure on her genitals as she thrust her hips backwards and forwards to mime masturbation. Ofcom was particularly concerned that later images of the presenter massaging her genital area and pulling the thin strip of fabric tightly over her vagina to reveal her labia were extremely intrusive, filling the entire screen for prolonged periods of time.

In Ofcom's view the sexual images included in these broadcasts were strong and capable of causing offence. In both cases the broadcasts included material that is explicitly prohibited under Ofcom's guidance, as set out above. Both broadcasts therefore contained material which raised issues under BCAP Code Rule 4.2.

Specifically, this material should not have been broadcast within the context of adult chat advertisements that were freely available without mandatory restricted access. Therefore, Ofcom concluded that the material breached Rule 4.2 of the BCAP Code

Ofcom Decision: Asian Babes, Live XXX Babes

Ofcom noted that one of the presenters, who was wearing a black thong, lay on her side and opened her legs full to camera. In this position she stroked and lightly massaged her genital area to mime masturbation and revealed labial and anal detail. Whilst positioned with her buttocks to camera, the presenter thrust her body vigorously so as to mime sexual intercourse and revealed anal detail. These positions were adopted for prolonged periods of time.

In Ofcom's view the sexual images included in these broadcasts were strong and capable of causing offence. This material should not have been broadcast within the context of adult chat advertisements that were freely available without mandatory restricted access. Therefore, Ofcom concluded that the material breached Rule 4.2 of the BCAP Code.

Ofcom considers that these breaches of the BCAP Code are serious and significant. Ofcom is also concerned that the Licensee did not provide to Ofcom broadcast quality recordings. Consequently, these breaches will be held on the Licensee's compliance record and we will consider further regulatory action should further similar breaches be recorded.

 

6th July   

Only for the Benefit of Nutters...

Ed Vaizey suggests that Ofcom should consider industry interests when imposing their heavy handed censorship
Link Here

Ed Vaizey Ofcom, the TV censor, could be handed responsibility for looking after the best interests of businesses as well as the interests of [a few whingeing] consumers, under a radical shake-up of the quango.

Ed Vaizey believes the Communications Act does not adequately take account of the amount of regulation that controls both the telecoms and broadcasting industries Photo: John Taylor

Vaizey, the Minister for Culture, Communications and the Creative Industries, told MPs that his department is considering changing Ofcom's remit as part of a review of the Communications Act. He said: One of the issues that we will come up against is whether Ofcom should have a duty towards business as well as towards consumers. I am not saying I have a view on it but it is a legitimate question that we will consider.

 

6th July   

Diplomatic Censorship...

Diplomats claim that Channel 4 is inaccurate in documentary about Sri Lanka's Killing Fields
Link Here  full story: Sri Lanka's Killing Fields...UK's Channel 4 comes uder pressure from Sri Lanka over TV documentary

sri lanka killing fields The UK's TV censor Ofcom is to investigate the accuracy of Channel 4's recent documentary Sri Lanka's killing Fields following claims that it was misleading and misrepresentative.

British TV website TV Pixie disclosed that Ofcom would probe the program, presented by Jon Snow and produced by Callum Macrae: Ofcom will assess the complaints against the program under their Broadcasting Code to see if it needs further investigation and action.

Ofcom has received over 100 complaints since the film was aired on Channel 4 on June 14.

Sri Lankan diplomats and leading forensic video 'experts' had contested Channel 4's claims of accuracy. They are claiming that video footage used to support the killing fields story was faked or altered

Meanwhile, the Sri Lanka High Commission in Australia and Sri Lankans living in Australia have complained to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation following its decision to telecast the Channel 4 documentary as part of its Four Corners programme.

 

4th July   

Update: Ofcom Recommend...

Ofcom prudes easily offended by the softcore babe channels of Red Light TV
Link Here  full story: Babe Channels...Ofcom have it in for free to air babe channels

red light tv logo Programmes: Red Light, Bang Babes, Xplicit, 100% Horny
Channels: Red Light 1, 2, 3 (Sky channels 911,902,948)
Times: 21:00 - 22:00 and after 22:00

Red Light, Bang Babes, Red Light 2, Xplicit, Red light 3, and 100% Horny are segments of televised interactive adult sex chat advertisement babe channels broadcast on the services Red Light 1, Red Light 2 and Red Light 3.

These three services are available freely without mandatory restricted access on Sky channel numbers 911, 902 and 948 respectively. These services are in the adult section of the Sky Electronic Programme Guide ( Sky EPG ). 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.

The licence for Red Light 1 is owned and operated by Just4Us; and the licences for Red Light 2 and Red Light 3 are owned and operated by Playboy TV. Just4Us is a wholly owned subsidiary of Playboy TV.

Ofcom received a complaint about the content listed above. In summary the complainant considered the material was becoming more and more sexually explicit and is clearly way beyond what could be deemed acceptable .

An example from Red Light 1 of clearly way beyond what could be deemed acceptable :

The naked female presenter was shown spitting onto her breasts, wiping saliva onto her buttocks and letting saliva drip onto her genital area. The broadcast also Ofcom Broadcast Bulletin, Issue 185 4 July 2011 12 included images of the presenter: rubbing oil all over her body, particularly onto her breasts; pouring oil onto her buttocks; adopting sexual positions, such as on her back with her legs wide open to camera; mimicking sexual intercourse; mimicking oral sex on a man using her fingers; and gyrating her hips whilst applying pressure with her cupped hand to cover her genital area. During the broadcast the presenter was also shown using the telephone to cover her genital area.

Ofcom considered:

  • BCAP advertising Code Rule 4.2 states: Advertisements must not cause serious or widespread offence against generally accepted moral, social or cultural standards.
  • BCAP advertising Code Rule 32.3 states: Relevant timing restrictions must be applied to advertisements that, through their content, might harm or distress children of particular ages or that are otherwise unsuitable for them.

Playboy TV explained that although most of these programmes were examined under Rule 4.2 of the BCAP Code, there is no evidence to suggest that serious or widespread offence was caused by any of these broadcasts, in fact quite the opposite. Ofcom monitoring or a solitary public or competitor complaint were the sole instigators of these enquiries .

It added However, we recognise there are always areas for improvement and there are a few which have been identified here, specifically the labial detail, which we had previously construed to mean rather more detail than we were permitting. However, as mentioned above, a change of underwear type will prevent this reoccurring, and also lead to a reduction of an intrusive feel to shots. The incidents of saliva dripping and spitting are limited, but will be eradicated from future broadcasts .

Ofcom re-iterated some of their censorship rules:

  • at no time broadcast invasive shots of presenters' bodies. Ofcom cautions against physically intrusive, intimate shots of any duration; and against less intrusive shots that may become unacceptable by virtue of their being prolonged;
  • at no time broadcast anal, labial or genital areas or broadcast images of presenters touching their genital or anal areas either with their hand or an object;
  • ensure that presenters' clothing adequately covers their anal, labial or genital areas. They should also avoid adjusting their clothing (including clutching or bunching) which results in anal, labial or genital areas being exposed;
  • at no time include shots of presenters spitting onto their or others' bodies, or include shots of presenters using other liquids, such as oil and lotions, on their genital or anal areas.
  • at no time broadcast shots of presenters using liquids of a sort or in a way which suggests the liquid is ejaculate

Ofcom Decision: Breach of rules 4.2 & 32.3

The examples highlighted above include images that are not permitted in adult chat broadcast advertisements that are freely available without mandatory restricted access. Ofcom noted that in conjunction with those images the presenters performed various other actions including: stroking their bodies; gyrating their hips; massaging oil into their breasts; and mimicking sexual intercourse. The combination of these images and action resulted in strong sexual material.

Given the content included prolonged and frequent scenes of a strong sexual nature, the location of the channel in the adult section of the EPG was not sufficient to ensure serious or widespread offence against generally accepted standards was not caused. This was regardless of the fact the content was shown between the hours of 22:00 and 01:00.Ofcom was also concerned at the degree of offence likely to be caused to viewers who might come across this material unawares. Taking into account the factors above, Ofcom has concluded that relevant scheduling restrictions were not applied so as to ensure that the material which was broadcast was not capable of causing serious or widespread offence against generally accepted moral, social or cultural standards. Specifically, this material should not have been broadcast within the context of adult chat advertisements that were freely available without mandatory restricted access.

Therefore Ofcom concluded that this material breached Rule 4.2 of the BCAP Code

Ofcom also concluded that the material shown between 9 and 10pm was not suitable for this hour and therefore breached Rule 32.3 of the BCAP Code.

In light of the serious and repeated Code breaches recorded in this finding, and other breach findings recently recorded against Playboy complied material, Playboy TV and Just4us Limited are put on notice that these present contraventions of the BCAP Code are being considered by Ofcom for statutory sanction.

 

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