TV censor Ofcom has rejected an appeal by the Islam Channel over its coverage of Israel.
The English-language satellite station had challenged a ruling last year that it breached Ofcom's broadcasting code in two programmes which discussed Israel's conduct in Gaza.
But Ofcom's broadcasting review committee, in a decision published this month, stated that the London-based channel had failed to maintain an adequate and appropriate level of impartiality .
The committee noted the channel's difficulties in finding guests to represent the Israeli government viewpoint. But it went on: The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is, however, a matter of political controversy and the Islam Channel... was
therefore obliged to ensure some discussion of the policies and actions of the Israeli government which represented its viewpoint.
The two programmes under scrutiny were an edition of Umma Talk , broadcast on October 14 2009, and an edition of Politics and Beyond. The subject was the Israeli blockade of the peace flotilla to Gaza.
The Ofcom review committee said that the Islam Channel was required to ensure that alternative viewpoints are adequately represented . Although the channel's breaches of the broadcasting code were not serious enough to merit a statutory
sanction , it was considered appropriate for the Islam Channel to be invited to attend a meeting with Ofcom , to discuss how to improve its compliance with impartiality rules.
Israel illegally occupies adjoining territory, starting when I was an undergraduate and going on as I prepare to collect my pension.
Muslim Channel understandably wants to comment on this state of affairs, but must impartially show Israeli viewpoint. If the channel invites Israeli government spokesman to appear, the latter can effectively censor the progamme by refusing
to turn up.
Press TV have issued another propaganda peice suggesting that Ofcom are set to ban the satellite channel from broadcasting with a UK licence.
Press TV writes in a website posting:
London has spared no effort in its two-year-long battle against Press TV. Its media tool, Ofcom, is now about to revoke the channel's broadcast license, hoping this desperate measure will silence criticism.
And in a coincidently timed piece, the Wall Street Journal points out that Iran is regularly jamming BBC programmes targeted at Iran:
As uprisings rolled across the Middle East this year, Iran stepped up its jamming of the BBC, Voice of America and other Western networks with Persian-language news channels. The move is intended to prevent Iranian audiences from seeing
foreign broadcasts the Iranian government finds objectionable, five networks protested in a joint statement this month.
Some 45% to 60% of Iranians watch satellite TV, according to estimates from the state media company and an Iranian research center, exceeding the number believed to use the Internet. Iran so far seems to be winning a struggle to filter out
unwanted TV content and broadcast its own propaganda: The country jams channels like the BBC on Western satellites even as Iran's state media company broadcasts pro-government news on some of the same satellites, and at times has aired forced
confessions of political detainees.
Iran is having it both ways, said a U.S. State Department official. While they benefit from the international community's respect for 'freedom of expression' and 'freedom of the airwaves,' they deny that same right to their own
citizens, aggressively jamming Persian-language broadcasts from other countries.
Ofcom has fined Satellite Entertainment Ltd £ 130,000 for being a little bit too sexy for what Ofcom prudes consider acceptable on babe channels.
The fine is in respect of its services Sport XXX Girls, Essex Babes and Northern Birds.
Ofcom considers babe channels to be advertising and censors such channels using advert censorship rules:
Rule 4.2: Adverts 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
In addition Ofcom whinged at a lack of recordings from the channels and cited their licensing rule:
Rule 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
The overly sexy programmes were broadcast in the period 5th - 14th April 2011.
Ofcom highlighted a number of examples of broadcast material that were claimed to be clearly inconsistent with the Chat Service Guidance, such as:
extremely prolonged and close up images of the genital area;
bunching of underwear to simulate masturbation;
pouring oil and white cream onto, and massaging it into, the buttocks, anal area and genital area; and
presenters wearing clothing that did not adequately cover their genital and anal area.
Ofcom noted that in conjunction with those images the presenters performed various other actions including: opening their legs wide to camera; stroking their bodies; thrusting their buttocks; massaging oil into their breasts; and miming sexual
intercourse. The combination of these images and action resulted in prolonged and frequent scenes of a strong sexual nature. Ofcom said it was also concerned at the degree of offence likely to be caused to viewers who might come across this
Ofcom decided that the Code breaches were serious and repeated, and that the breach of Licence Condition 11 was serious, and therefore a financial penalty should be imposed in accordance with Ofcom's Procedures for the consideration of
Ofcom then also considered the level of the fine to be imposed. Having regard to the serious and repeated nature of the breaches of the BCAP Code, the serious nature of the breach of Licence Condition 11 and having regard to the Licensee's
representations and Ofcom's Penalty Guidelines, Ofcom decided it was appropriate in the circumstances to impose a financial penalty of £130,000 on SEL.
The Sun has won its appeal against the Authority for Television on Demand (ATVOD) who claimed that newspaper's video clips section was TV-like. Being TV-like forces websites to register with ATVOD's very expensive Video on Demand censorship
Ofcom deliberated on the appeal and ruled in favor of The Sun newspaper. The decision is wide-ranging and it will apply to video on other newspaper sites.
The Ofcom decision was based on the fact that the Sun publishes more content than just video on its website: Too much focus was placed on the 'Sun Video' section of The Sun's website, it noted in that decision.
Essentially, Ofcom said that only sites whose primary purpose is to show the kind of video that one would find on regular television should be subject to ATVOD's regulations.
This should come as some relief to magazine and newspaper publishers in the UK. This will save newspapers high fees, perhaps up to £ 20,000 depending on turnover and the number of service.
ATVOD has acted promptly following a decision by Ofcom today to uphold an appeal by News Group Newspapers Ltd. against a determination by ATVOD that The Sun's website included a video on demand service which fell within the video on
demand regulator's remit. Given the similarities between The Sun case and other newspaper and magazine websites, ATVOD has today announced that it will withdraw its Determinations that The Sunday Times Video Library, Telegraph TV, The
Independent Video, FT Video, Guardian Video, Guardian You Tube, News of the World TV and Elle TV were On-Demand Programme Services.
ATVOD had held that The Sun's internet video offering met the definition of an On-Demand Programme Service, set out in the Communications Act 2003. The Ofcom decision is that the Sun Video section of the website (previously styled as Sun
TV') is not subject to regulation by ATVOD.
The appeal judgement is the third made by Ofcom this year, the communications regulator having previously backed ATVOD's rulings that adult websites Demand Adult and Climax 3 fell within the scope of the new rules which include a
requirement that children are protected from material which might seriously impair their development.
ATVOD Chief Executive, Pete Johnson, said:
Most people will recognise that defining the scope of new regulations in a fast-moving market is a complex and difficult task. The appeal system is a vital part of the process, giving users and providers of video on demand services greater
clarity over where the new protections for consumers do and do not apply. Given the clear similarities between The Sun and the other newspaper and magazine websites under appeal, we have moved quickly to confirm that the Determinations in
relation to those services are being withdrawn with immediate effect.
We will now reflect further on the appeal judgement and consider any implications it may have for any other past and future rulings on whether a service falls within ATVOD's remit.
Ummah Channel, 3 September 2011, 22:00
The Ummah Channel is a satellite television service which aims to promote knowledge of Islam through educating viewers to fulfil their spiritual and religious development .
This edition of Debate Night was the first of three programmes broadcast on three consecutive days starting on 3 September 2011, that debated when the Islamic holiday of Eid1 should be celebrated in the UK.
17 complainants alerted Ofcom to the 3 September programme because they considered the programme:
incited hatred against non-Barelvi 2 Muslims;
stated non-Barelvi Muslims celebrated Eid on the wrong day ; and
Encouraged Barelvi Muslims to storm mosques that celebrated Eid on the wrong day
Barelvi muslims are generally from South Asia, Non Barelvi seems to refer to Saudi muslims.
Ofcom had two concerns.
Firstly that a Muslim scholar (who was one of four panellists in the studio) made the following statements:
When [the Saudis] celebrate Eid on a day of Ramadan, they are publically insulting that month – even if they fast for their whole lives, they cannot atone for this sin.
If you see wrongdoing going on, then stop it physically. If you have no power, then stop it verbally. If that too is not possible, then consider it as wrongdoing in your heart…We are not even talking about [the Saudis?] filthy
erroneous beliefs with regards to Allah and his Prophet but just moon-sighting, which is damaging and destroying the worship done by simple Muslims. If you cannot do so with your hands or tongue then at least condemn them.
Ofcom considered this raised issues under Rule 3.1:
Material likely to encourage or incite the commission of crime or to lead to disorder must not be included in television or radio services.
Ofcom concluded that this did not constitute incitement:
In considering Rule 3.1, we are required to address the likelihood of the commission of a crime against a follower of the non-Barelvi tradition of Islam or of disorder being created. In particular, we considered whether this statement in the
programme included a direct or indirect call to action with a reasonable likelihood it would have encouraged or incited, for example, Barelvi Muslims to take violent or criminal action against non-Barelvi Muslims or lead to disorder.
We recognised that phrases such as If you see wrongdoing going on, then stop it physically and If you cannot do so with your hands or tongue then at least condemn them could be construed, to some limited degree, as having the potential to
encourage some form of physical action (possibly including assault or violence) against, or lead to disorder involving, members of the non-Barelvi Muslim tradition of Islam.
However, it was Ofcom's overall view that this one statement on its own would not be likely to encourage or incite the commission of crime or to lead to disorder. Therefore, Ofcom did not consider that the broadcaster breached Rule 3.1.
Secondly Ofcom considered statements made by callers to the programme:
If you are in Saudi Arabia, you have to follow them because otherwise you will be oppressed by the tyrants but we here do not follow them...[Saudis] have no fear for the laws of Allah and Sharia and they are transgressing. And Allah has no
love for those who transgress. They are not following the Sharia and it appears in some ways that they are not even Muslims.
Before these, Mecca was ruled by others – the Saudis captured the country; their [Saudi] beliefs are filthy. People need to be told that they [Saudis] are expropriating in the name of the holy places but they grossly insult those holy
places…These cruel people [Saudis] have destroyed our holy places. You need to tell people that their beliefs are filthy and we hate them not because of some personal reasons but because they insult our ancestors, our beliefs, and use
inappropriate words about Prophet Muhammad. That is why we have differences with them and people should stop blindly following them.
Ofcom consider these remarks under Rule 4.2:
The religious beliefs of those belonging to a particular religion or religious denomination must not be subject to abusive treatment.
it was Ofcom's view that the use of such terms and references when taken together amounted to abusive treatment of the religious views and beliefs of non-Barelvi Muslims in Saudi Arabia, and those who follow that tradition of Islam
within the UK. And hence a breach of Rule 4.2.
Although the breach of Rule 4.2 in the present case was not as serious as the breaches recorded in Ofcom Broadcast Bulletin 167, we are concerned that a similar breach of the Code occurred despite enhanced compliance procedures that Ummah
Channel put in place. Therefore, if any similar breaches should happen in future, we are putting Ummah Channel on notice that we would consider taking further regulatory action.
Ofcom has re-iterated its rules for banning 'inappropriate' song lyrics.
The radio and TV censor claims that the new guidelines will be clearer about what is and isn't suitable.
Subject matter is as relevant as the quantity of swear words, says OfCom in its new guidelines, stressing that radio broadcasters should avoid broadcasting lyrics that clearly focus on the taking of drugs, sexual acts or behaviour, or
convey a clearly sexualised theme, when children are particularly likely to be listening .
Times when children are likely to be listening are listed as 6am to 9am and 3pm to 7pm on weekdays during term time, and 6am to 7pm at weekend.
Red Light 1 (Channel 911), 1 September 2011, 00:00 to 01:00 Red Light Central
Red Light 2 (Channel 902), 26 August 2011, 22:32 to 23:00
Red Light 2 (Channel 902), 2 September 2011, 22:55 to 23:05
Red Light 2 (Channel 902), 5 September 2011, 21:03 to 21:35
****Babes and Red Light Central are segments of programming on babe channels Red Light 1 & 2. Playboy TV is the licensee of both channels (albeit via a Just4Us subsidiary for Red Light 1).
Ofcom received two complaints about the content listed above. In summary the complainants were concerned about the level of sexual content which they considered was capable of causing offence and the level of sexual imagery immediately
after the watershed.
Ofcom cited several examples of material they considered too sexy, but their main whinge was about:
1. Red Light 1, 1 September 2011, 00:00 to 01:00
The presenter was wearing a black latex thong and red shoes. The broadcast included prolonged images of the presenter adopting sexual positions, such as with her legs wide open to camera, often mimicking sexual intercourse. At various
points during the broadcast intrusive images of the presenter's genital area were shown. Approximately 18 minutes into the broadcast, the presenter was shown pouring oil onto her buttocks and anal area and three minutes later spitting onto
her fingers and letting the saliva drip down onto her genital area, as if to emulate ejaculate. Throughout the broadcast the presenter was shown touching her outer genital area and massaging oil into her legs and breasts.
Approximately 50 minutes into the broadcast the presenter spoke directly to viewers to encourage further calls:
Come on, bend me over, give me a spank, stretch me open. Do whatever you want. I'm up for it. I want every hole filled up with your dirty, hot, sticky muck. Come on you naughty boys, call me right now .
Predictably Ofcom found the channels to be in breach of the UK Code of Broadcast Advertising (BCAP) rules:
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.
And of course given that Playboy TV have just been fined £110,000, Ofcom have started the ball rolling again with the warning:
Ofcom has recently recorded a number of serious and repeated breaches of the BCAP Code6 against Playboy TV and Just4Us which led to the imposition of a financial penalty totalling £110,000 . These present contraventions of the BCAP Code are
another example of poor compliance by the Licensee, particularly with regards to the material broadcast on 1 September 2011 that was of a strong sexual nature. Playboy TV is put on notice that any further similar contraventions of the BCAP
Code will be considered for further regulatory action by Ofcom.
Channel 5, 23 and 30 September 2011, 21:00
A complainant alerted Ofcom to the broadcast of the words fuck and fucking in the opening sequence in an episode of this well-known reality show broadcast on 23 September 2011. Ofcom noted a similar incident in the eviction
show broadcast the following week.
Both episodes began at 21:00 with clips of notable events in the Big Brother house from the previous week. Each pre-title sequence contained two instances of the word fuck or fucking . In the case of the episode transmitted
on 23 September 2011, Ofcom noted the word fucking was broadcast at eleven seconds and again 16 seconds after the 21:00 watershed. On 30 September, the word fuck was broadcast 18 seconds and the word fucking 31 seconds
after the watershed.
Ofcom considered 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.
Channel 5 said that Rule 1.6 does not prohibit an 'abrupt' transition to more adult content nor does it specify…that strong language should not be included in programmes until a certain set time - for example, 9.05 or 9.10pm.
The Licensee added that the use of duly (in Rule 1.6) in its view incorporated elements of the transition to adult content being improper, inappropriate and/or without editorial justification?. Channel 5 said that the use of strong
language in these programmes was completely editorially justified and therefore the transition to strong language was not unduly abrupt.
Ofcom Decision: Breach of Rule 1.6
Rule 1.6 is not prescriptive. It does not stipulate a certain set time after the watershed when broadcasters may start to transmit the most offensive language. What constitutes an unduly abrupt transition to more adult material
depends on the context: for example, factors such as the editorial content of the programme, the time it is broadcast and the expectations of the audience. Clearly however, bearing in mind that there is an absolute prohibition on the most
offensive language immediately before 21:00 (Rule 1.14), a broadcaster would need very strong reasons to justify starting to broadcast the most offensive language in the period immediately after the 21:00 watershed.
Ofcom noted that the episode broadcast on 23 September featured housemate Rebeckah saying are you fucking crackers? 11 seconds after the watershed and less than six seconds into the programme. The second use of fucking was 16
seconds after the watershed. The episode on broadcast 30 September featured housemate Harry shouting stay the fuck out of other people?s business 18 seconds after the watershed, and another housemate used fucking 31 seconds
after the watershed. We therefore did not accept Channel 5?s argument that the programmes did not include strong language immediately? after the watershed .
Ofcom did not consider there was sufficient editorial justification to include repeated use of the most offensive language in these programmes so soon after the watershed. The two uses of the word fuck or fucking in each
programme in the period directly after the watershed did in Ofcom's view constitute an unduly abrupt transition to more adult material at the watershed.
Gem TV, 20 September 2011, 18:30 (UK) and 21 September 2011, 11:30 (UK)
A complainant drew Ofcom's attention to the morning and early evening scheduling of The Exorcist , the notorious 1970s horror film.
Gem TV is a Farsi (Iranian) language channel broadcasting via the Hotbird 6 satellite. The channel can be received in Europe and the Middle East. The licence for this channel is held by General Entertainment & Music Ltd (GEM)
The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) rates the The Exorcist at „18 for theatrical and video release.
Ofcom considered the scheduling of the film to raise an issue warranting investigation under Rule 1.23 of the Code, which states:
BBFC 18-rated films or their equivalent must not be broadcast before 2100 on any service (except for pay per view services), and even then they may be unsuitable for broadcast at that time.
GEM said that it accepted that it had made a mistake in scheduling. However, the Licensee told us, because the channel broadcasts in Farsi for Iranian viewers its programme times and schedules are based on Iranian time. The Licensee
stated that the film's scheduling would therefore have been compliant with the Code when judged against Iranian local time. The Licensee apologised and stressed that it strives to comply with Ofcom's rules
Ofcom Decision: Breach of Rule 1.23
Given The Exorcist's themes of self-mutilation, possession and violence, Ofcom considered this film to be clearly unsuitable for children.
Ofcom noted the Licensee's comments in respect of its target audience being in Iran, but rejected this as a defence. First, the transmission of The Exorcist at 11:30 UK time was inappropriately scheduled even when assessed against local
Iranian time. The same time slot would have been 15:00 in local Iranian time, still well before the 21:00 watershed.
Second, and more importantly, where a service can be received in more than one time zone, scheduling considerations made under the Code are judged against the earliest time at which the service can be received (i.e. the most westerly time
zone). For GEM TV this is UK time. In that respect we would point out that the complaint was made by a viewer in the UK.
For The Exorcist to have been scheduled in the morning and early evening therefore represented two clear and serious breaches of the Code.
We have reminded GEM Ltd of its responsibilities under its Ofcom licence. Any recurrence of this issue is likely to result in the consideration of the imposition of statutory sanctions.
The top comedian of the year is Matthew Wright of the The Wright Stuff. He triumphed with a cracking gag during a TV debate about the murder of Liam Aitchison, the first murder in Scotland's Western Isles in 43 years.
He put on a mock Scottish accent and quipped there's been anudder moider , copying a catchphrase from the detective show Taggart.
The complaint-o-meter registered a top notch score of 2,200 complaints to Ofcom.
In second place is the perennial favourite, Jeremy Clarkson. His jolly jape, live on The One Show, joked that public sector workers out on strike should be executed in front of their families. This scored a healthy 763 on
the Ofcom complaint-o-meter and thousands more complained direct to the BBC too.
In third place was Jason Gardiner, a talent show judge appearing in Dancing on Ice.
Following a performance by the celebrity Jeff Brazier and his professional partner Isabelle Gauthier, Gardiner quipped:
The Jackson 5 are very tight and you aren't. You're choreography, especially in your arms, is still very, very sloppy and messy and it almost looks like you're weak and there's moments especially in your facial
expressions as well with everything, it's almost like you're missing a couple of chromosomes.
This scored a respectable 253 on the complaint-o-meter. The reference to missing a couple of chromosome ', which complainants considered was highly offensive, particularly to those with chromosomal disorders , discriminatory
and completely inappropriate .
TV presenter Matthew Wright has apologised for making jokes while discussing the first murder on the Western Isles in 43 years.
During Tuesday's The Wright Stuff , he did a mock Scottish accent and said there's been another murder , copying a phrase from detective show Taggart.
The murder of Liam Aitchison was discussed during a newspaper review. Panel member Charlie Baker described the probe as the longest episode of Taggart of all time .
Liam's family have issued a statement through the police criticising the programme. They said:
We are very disappointed at the insensitive and offensive nature of the comments made on the Channel 5 programme, The Wright Stuff.
This is very upsetting and insulting for, not just the family, but for the whole community of the Western Isles.
In his apology, Wright, who presents the Channel 5 morning discussion show, said it had not been his intention to belittle Liam's death. He added that those campaigning for people to complain to TV watchdog Ofcom should grow
A campaign, called Report The Wright Stuff to Ofcom, has been launched by islanders on Facebook urging complaints to be made to television regulator.
Ofcom have just published their draft annual plan and here are some of the paragraphs that may be of interest to Melon Farmers.
Provide appropriate assurance to audiences on standards
4.38 While the media landscape continues to evolve, providing appropriate assurances to audiences on standards remains an essential part of our role. We are considering the current framework for this and future requirements for content
Consider approaches to future content regulation, including a review of regulation of video on demand Provide appropriate assurance to audiences on standards
4.39 We will continue to review our wider regulatory approach to content regulation, to ensure that it remains fit for purpose, continues to serve the interests of citizens and consumers, and is clear for stakeholders.
4.40 There will be a number of challenges in this area. Changes in technology, including the emergence of mass-market IPTV services in the UK, will challenge the existing regulatory structures, which were designed predominantly for
linear broadcasting. We will continue to work with our co-regulators, such as ATVOD, to develop these regulatory structures. We will consider how regulatory approaches to content regulation might further evolve to remain fit for
purpose and proportionate.
4.41 In March 2012, two years will have passed since the Authority for Television On Demand (ATVOD) was designated by Ofcom as the co-regulator of editorial content in on-demand services. In accordance with the terms of the
Designation, Ofcom is required to carry out a review of ATVOD. We will conduct this review during 2012/13; it will assess the overall effectiveness of the co-regulatory arrangements for on- demand services
Play an active role in UKCCIS and contribute to European debates in relation to the protection of minors
5.44 We will continue to play an active role in supporting the Government's UK Council for Child Internet Safety. We are able to inform the work of UKCCIS through our market research into awareness and use of online media, particularly
through our media literacy reports. In addition, we will support government and industry in their efforts to secure an effective self-regulatory regime in relation to child safety online. Finally, we will continue to contribute to
European debates on the protection of minors, as appropriate
We have revised the procedures for handling broadcasting complaints, investigations and sanctions
7.24 We have revised our procedures for broadcasting investigations and sanctions as we believed that they could be further improved for the benefit of all of our stakeholders. We proposed a number of changes that would:
streamline our processes and procedures;
improve the speed with which we carry out investigations;
allow more responsive decision making;
simplify stakeholders interactions with us on a day-to-day basis; and
deliver greater value for our stakeholders.
7.25 We publicly consulted on these changes to gather stakeholders' views. The consultation closed in February 2011 and the new procedures were published in June 2011.The key changes to the new procedures include:
A move to an issues-based model for ensuring compliance with relevant requirements: Ofcom will continue to acknowledge all complaints, but will no longer reply to every individual complaint with a tailored response.
Instead, we will investigate where necessary and prioritise our investigations according to a number of factors.
The introduction of a preliminary view : This will be made early in the process and will enable broadcasters (and complainants in fairness and privacy cases) to prepare their representations, having already been informed of
the preliminary view.
The removal of the internal review mechanism: Stakeholders no longer have the opportunity to request an internal review of all of our decisions on breaches of broadcast licence requirements. As a result, we have removed the
Broadcasting Review Committee.
The removal of the Broadcasting Sanctions Committee: The consideration and determination of statutory sanctions will now normally be carried out by two members of the Ofcom Executive with relevant expertise and seniority and one
non-Executive member of Ofcom's Content Board.
Clarity of Ofcom's approach to the disclosure of information it gathers during investigations.
Strike Back: Project Dawn
Sky 1, 21 August 2011, 4 and 11 September 2011, 21:00
Strike Back: Project Dawn is a drama series focusing on covert army operations concerning anti-terrorist operations around the world.
Three complainants alerted Ofcom to scenes in three separate programmes in this series. Complainants objected to scenes of sexual intercourse being broadcast just after the watershed.
21 August 2011:
At approximately 21:06, there was a scene featuring one of the male lead characters, Damien Scott, who was naked and depicted having sexual intercourse with a naked female character. The scene lasted ten seconds in total and included
a full body side shot, lasting four seconds portraying Damien Scott having sex with the female character from behind.
4 September 2011:
At approximately 21:22, there was a scene lasting about 58 seconds featuring a naked couple depicted having sex. The scene started by showing the naked female character on top of the male character in long shot and from behind the
female character. The majority of the scene then showed the couple either from the side or from behind the male character, and continued until the couple was portrayed reaching a sexual climax.
11 September 2011:
At approximately 21:09, Damien Scott was depicted partially clothed having sex with a female character, while standing up. The whole scene lasted approximately 30 seconds and cut away to other characters, but included three side shot
sequences of the couple: the first two sequences lasted approximately five seconds each and were full body side shots, portraying Damien Scott having sex with the female character whilst her legs were wrapped around his waist; and the
third scene lasted approximately two seconds, showing the couple?s heads and shoulders, and ended with the couple portrayed reaching a sexual climax.
Ofcom considered Rule 1.6 of the Code, which states:
The transition to more adult material must not be unduly abrupt at the watershed (in the case of television)...For television, the strongest material should appear later in the schedule.
Ofcom Decision: Resolved
Each of the programmes in question was preceded by the following pre-broadcast announcement:
The following programme contains scenes of strong violence, sex and very strong language from the outset and throughout.
We took into account Sky's view that the scenes were judged to be in line with what would be permissible at a BBFC 15 rating and, therefore, not beyond what may be expected at the 21:00 timeslot on Sky1 . We acknowledge that
BBFC 15-rated films are often broadcast at or soon after 21:00. However, broadcasters must still ensure that the transition to any type of adult material is not unduly abrupt after the watershed.
Sky argued that the child audience for these three programmes was low, with the percentage of children in the audience for the three programmes in question being 4%. However, we took into consideration that: all three programmes were
immediately preceded by editions of The Simpsons, a programme that would have been likely to attract a family audience, including a large amount of children; and it was likely that children would still have been watching the programme
segments in this case given their proximity to the watershed.
We noted Sky's arguments that: in the scene broadcast at 21:06 on 21 August 2011, there was no explicit detail ; and that the scene broadcast at 21:09 on 11 September 2011 was not graphic or explicit . Ofcom considered
however that these scenes, albeit relatively brief, clearly depicted couples engaging in sexual intercourse. In addition, in the latter scene, the fact that the couple were partially clothed did not dilute the fact that the scene
unambiguously depicted sexual intercourse.
Ofcom acknowledges that broadcasters are of course permitted to show sex scenes after the watershed. However, given all the factors above, we considered that the material broadcast on 21 August 2011 and 11 September 2011 was of a
sufficiently strong sexual nature and extended that it was clearly unacceptable for broadcast within the first ten minutes following the 21:00 watershed on a general entertainment channel. Therefore, the transition to more adult
material was unduly abrupt on these two occasions, and was not compliant with the Code.
Ofcom however took into account the various significant steps that the Licensee said it would be taking in response to the concerns Ofcom raised in relation to the broadcast content in this case. We therefore concluded on balance that
this matter should be resolved.
Footage of the former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi badly injured shortly before his death was not too graphic to broadcast.
TV censor Ofcom complaints about the bloody news coverage but has decided not to proceed with an investigation.
The BBC received 473 complaints after the images were broadcast on its rolling news channel and main BBC1 bulletins in the week after Gaddafi's death, of which 197 were in the first 24 hours. A further 136 complaints were made to
Ofcom about coverage on Sky News, ITV News, Channel 4 News and al-Jazeera.
A spokeswoman for Ofcom said the regulator had decided not to investigate after it found that the broadcasts of Gaddafi's final minutes were appropriately limited both pre- and post-watershed .
50 Super Epic TV Moments
E! Entertainment, 7 September 2011, 11:00
A complainant alerted Ofcom to the inclusion of sexual material in this programme. The complainant drew attention to a scene in which a reality show participant apparently masturbated using a wine bottle.
E! Entertainment is a cable and satellite television channel.
50 Super Epic TV Moments was an American compilation show that assembled various sequences – largely from „reality, chat and award shows – and linked them with brief comments from comedians. Sardonic advice
to the people featured in the clips was also offered from time to time by two presenters, NeNe Leakes and Jerry Springer.
The show contained sequences from the 2005 series of Big Brother in the UK in which a housemate apparently penetrated herself with the neck of a wine bottle after declaring that she wished to masturbate. The programme labelled this
item „Penis Grigio. The item was approximately two minutes long.
Other clips used were selected for their bizarre or sensational nature and included items showing:
an American TV celebrity undergoing a cervical smear test;
a reality show participant behaving aggressively, removing his penis from his trousers and smashing a bottle on his head;
a pubic wax carried out by one member of a celebrity family on her sister;
a woman on an American talent show smashing soft drink cans with her breasts;
fights between women on various reality shows;
a woman capable of achieving orgasm only by stimulating herself with the corner of a laundry basket;
a woman apparently masturbating a man beneath a dinner table;
the elders of a family in Madagascar eating the foreskin of a circumcised infant;
a survival expert performing an enema on himself; and
an Indonesian toddler who smokes 40 cigarettes a day.
None of the sequences was visually explicit: where sexual or other intimate activity was apparently taking place or was being discussed no detail of body parts or penetration was shown. Swearing was bleeped out or obscured.
Rule 1.3: Children must … be protected by appropriate scheduling from material that is unsuitable for them.
Rule 1.4: Television broadcasters must observe the watershed.
Rule 2.3: In applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context
E! Entertainment acknowledged that the content in this show was wholly inappropriate for the time it was scheduled and the omission of any warning slates for our viewers only made this worse. It apologised unreservedly to
viewers. E Entertainment said that its usual compliance procedures were not followed in this case.
Many of the other sequences, including those listed in the Introduction section of this finding, were in Ofcom's view unlikely to be suitable for broadcast at a time when children may be available to view. Further, the cumulative
effect of the numerous clips made this programme in general unsuitable for transmission before the watershed in Ofcom's view.
Ofcom acknowledges the Licensee's apologies in this case and its intention to improve its compliance arrangements. Nonetheless, these were clear and serious breaches of the Code and Ofcom does not expect any similar compliance
failures by E Entertainment in future.
Breaches of Rules 1.3, 1.4, and 2.3
Keeping Up with the Kardashians
E! Entertainment were also found to be in breach of the code for 6 occurrences of the word 'fuck' during the programme, Keeping Up with the Kardashians, broadcast by E! on 24 September 2011 at midday.
Ofcom added the warning:
Ofcom noted two past findings relating to the pre-watershed broadcast of the most offensive language on the Licensee's channels. We also noted the previous finding published in this issue of the Broadcast Bulletin recording breaches
of Section One of the Code against the Licensee.
In the circumstances, Ofcom is putting E Entertainment on notice that it is particularly concerned about the Licensee's compliance procedures and will proceed to consider further regulatory action should any similar incidents occur.
Playboy TV UK managing director Jeremy Yates has said that the TV watershed is a nonsense and called for a change in the way adult broadcasting is regulated. Speaking at an industry event he said that it will be a bit
odd to regulate TV when the open internet comes to the small screen.
Earlier in the month, Playboy TV was fined £ 110,000 by Ofcom for airing adult sex chat advertisements that were slightly too sexy for Ofcom's prudish view on what should be allowed on
free to air TV.
Playboy currently operates a number of video on-demand services, but the broadcaster still relies heavily on its portfolio of softcore TV channels to reach the audience.
UK adult TV is censored down to naff softcore, but it has still found a valuable niche. It is now more or less glorified advertising for either premium rate phone chat, or else hardcore services on the internet.
Yates feels that because adult broadcasters such as Playboy are so tightly regulated, they are losing ground to the internet, where there is an anything goes mentality. He said that the TV watershed at 9pm is a nonsense
, largely because there is no watershed on the internet . I'd like to see a change that allows us to compete with the internet . If someone who is a responsible adult who wants to watch our content at 5pm in the
afternoon, why shouldn't they?
He suggested adult content shown during the day could be given a second PIN number on digital TV to increase security, but accepted that gaining approval for such a scheme will be hard. I'll keep banging the drum anyway, Yates added.
Ofcom has reversed its unpublished decision to revoke the broadcasting licence of Press TV, the Iranian state broadcaster's English-language outlet, as tensions rise between Britain and the Islamic republic.
Ofcom had apparently told Press TV last month that it was minded to ban it from broadcasting in the UK after the channel aired an interview with Maziar Bahari, an imprisoned Newsweek journalist, taking his words seriously when in
fact the interview had been conducted under duress.
However, after hearing final submissions from the broadcaster, and amidst a crisis in bilateral relations that has seen Britain withdraw members of its diplomatic mission from its Tehran embassy after the building was stormed by
protesters, Ofcom is understood to have downgraded the sanction to a fine of £ 100,000. Details of the sanction are expected to be published this week.
According to the WikiLeaks cables, the Foreign Office told a US diplomat in 2010 that the UK government was exploring ways to limit the operations of ... Press TV. At the time, the department warned the US that UK law
sets a very high standard for denying licences to broadcasters. Licences can only be denied in cases where national security is threatened, or if granting a licence would be contrary to Britain's obligations under international
law. Currently neither of these standards can be met with respect to Press TV, but if further sanctions are imposed on Iran in the coming months a case may be able to be made on the second criterion .
A Foreign Office spokesman said that there had been no government intervention in the process.
Christian Broadcasting Council asks for the BBC to be packed with churchgoers
Surely it is to be expected that a 'creative' industry, will on average, feature people more confident in their own selves ,and therefore less likely to sheepishly follow some of the more ludicrous norms dictated by social
pressure. No doubt the BBC has a higher percentage of gays than the national average too, for exactly the same reason.
The Christian Broadcasting Council (CBC) has claimed that churchgoers are underrepresented at the BBC and it may be affecting the Corporation's output.
The Christian media group made the comments in a submission to the TV censor Ofcom.
J Peter Wilson, a media consultant with CBC who co-wrote the submission, highlighted the BBC's own figures:
The number of staff professing a Christian faith was 37%, compared to 63% nationally. Those saying they were Muslim was the same as the national figure, and those saying they were non-religious was 50%, compared to 23% nationally.
It is important that media organisations -- including the BBC -- employ people with a real knowledge and understanding of religion, including the Christian faith in its many forms.
Ofcom and Parliament need to understand that the reporting of any matter is influenced by the journalist's worldview.
A variety of providers is essential in a free and democratic society -- including those with a faith-based perspective.
CBC also called for fair representation of faith groups in media ownership .
Ofcom have fined Playboy TV (including its wholly owned subsidiary Just4Us TV) £110,000 for supposed breaches of their code by the babe channels Red Light 1, 2 & 3 during April 2011.
Ofcom cited breaches of advertising censorship rules:
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.
[I can't say I noticed any evidence supplied about actual 'widespread offence'. Just a handful of complaints].
The finding highlighted a number of supposed examples of broadcast material that was claimed to be clearly inconsistent with the Chat Service Guidance, such as images of the presenters:
spitting on their bodies to emulate ejaculate;
using a cupped hand and on one occasion a telephone to cover their genital area, resulting in clear pressure between their hand or telephone and the genital area;
pouring oil onto their buttocks and genital area; and
wearing clothing that did not adequately cover their genital area (in one case outer labia were clearly visible).
Ofcom considered this material should not have been broadcast within the context of „adult chat. advertisements that were freely available without mandatory restricted access.
With regards to two broadcasts on 9 and 13 April 2011 between 21:00 and 21:45, Ofcom noted that on a number of occasions between 21:00 and 21:30 the female presenters adopted sexually provocative positions, sometimes for prolonged
periods and regularly stroked and massaged their breasts and mimicked sexual intercourse.
In Ofcom's opinion, viewers (and in particular parents) would not expect such material to be broadcast so soon after 21:00. Further, the broadcast of such relatively strong sexualised content was inappropriate to advertise adult
sex chat so soon after the 21:00 watershed.
After considering all the evidence and all the representations made to it by the Licensees, Ofcom decided that the BCAP Code breaches were serious and repeated and therefore a financial penalty should be imposed.
Ofcom then also considered the level of the fine to be imposed. Ofcom decided it was appropriate and proportionate in the circumstances to impose a financial penalty of £60,000 on Just4us and £50,000 on Playboy TV in respect of
the Code breaches.
Sri Lanka's Killing Fields
Channel 4, 14 June 2011, 23:05
The documentary Sri Lanka's Killing Fields , which presented evidence of alleged war crimes in the final stage of the Sri Lankan civil war, generated 118 complaints and alerted Ofcom to a range of potential issues including
impartiality, offensiveness and the broadcast of misleading material.
Sri Lanka's Killing Fields was a documentary which focused on: the conclusions of the UN report by the Secretary-General's Panel of Experts on Accountability in Sri Lanka ( UN Panel Report ) into the Sri Lankan civil war in
2008/2009; the actions and policies of the armed forces of the Sri Lankan Government and of the Tamil Tigers ( LTTE ) towards the civilian population at this time; and the call, by the survivors of the conflict, on the
international community to investigate the potential war crimes set out in the programme.
The information about potential war crimes presented in the programme, which supported the UN Panel Report findings, was drawn from a dossier of evidence including film (such as mobile phone footage), photographs and eye witness
accounts collected by Channel 4 in the previous two years.
The Sri Lanka government were also displeased with being shown in such a poor light. At the time of broadcast Sri Lankan diplomats and leading forensic video 'experts' contested Channel 4's claims of accuracy. They claimed that
video footage used to support the killing fields story was faked or altered
Due Impartiality and whether Channel 4 has presented the policies, arguments and actions of the sides involved in the conflict in a balanced way
Rule 5.5: Due impartiality on matters of political or industrial controversy and matters relating to current public policy must be preserved on the part of any person providing a service.
Misleading Material and whether the footage and eyewitness accounts obtained by Channel 4 (which was presented in the programme as the evidence that war crimes were committed) may have misled viewers through the broadcast of faked
or manipulated material, and was presented in such a way that materially misled the audience.
Rule 2.2: “Factual programmes or items or portrayals of factual matters must
not materially mislead the audience.”
The programme included a number of images of murdered and tortured bodies, and also of partially clothed women who, it was suggested in the documentary, had been sexually abused prior to their death. Ofcom considered this material
was potentially offensive.
Rule 2.3: In applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context.
Ofcom Decision: Not in breach of the rules
Due impartiality does not mean an equal division of time has to be given to every view, or that every argument and every facet of the argument has to be represented. Due impartiality may be preserved in a number of ways and it is
an editorial decision for the broadcaster as to how it ensures due impartiality is maintained.
In this case, Ofcom noted that:
Channel 4 did seek to include the viewpoints of the Sri Lankan Government and produced evidence that it had put all of the significant allegations included in the programme to them for a response in advance of the programme. As
the Sri Lankan Government chose not to respond in full, Channel 4 could only broadcast the limited statement provided; |
the programme included - when the relevant evidence was presented - several official statements previously made by the Sri Lankan Government regarding the events in the final stage of the civil war. The narration at various points
referred to the Government's official position. The programme also included clips of Government officials setting out that position stating for example that: there had been zero civilian casualties ; it was engaged in a humanitarian rescue operation
; all the civilians inside the no fire zones were rescued by government forces; and, that the first video of an execution shown in the programme was a fake. The programme also explicitly referred to the Sri Lankan Government's
rejection of the UN Panel Report;
the subject matter of this documentary was clearly presented as being about the final stages of the Sri Lankan civil war, and in particular, the serious effects on many in the civilian population of the offensive of the Sri Lankan
Government against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) held areas of Sri Lanka. It was never intended to be an analysis of the entire conflict or the actions of the LTTE and Sri Lankan Government during the duration of the
civil war as a whole. Consequently, the programme was only required to maintain due impartiality of the specific subject matter presented - which detailed the Sri Lankan Government offensive against the LTTE held areas at the
final stage of the conflict. While the subject matter did present evidence which predominantly covered the actions of the Sri Lankan Government offensive, the documentary included explicit references to the LTTE activities at this
time where this was relevant.
Ofcom therefore concluded that overall Channel 4 preserved due impartiality in its examination of the Sri Lankan Government's actions and policies during its offensive and there was no breach of Rule 5.5.
On the topic of faked or misleading material Ofcom noted that:
with regard to the overall editorial context, before the alleged faked footage was broadcast, the presenter Jon Snow explained that no international observers were allowed to enter the conflict zone and the official footage
from the Government of Sri Lanka suggested its activities were humanitarian only. Therefore, the alleged footage of executions and torture, filmed on the mobile phones of Sri Lankan Government soldiers, according to Jon Snow
represented public evidence of war crimes which demand proper investigation . Ofcom therefore concluded that the broadcaster provided viewers with this editorial justification for the inclusion of the mobile phone material
and other supporting evidence;
the broadcaster took steps to ensure the view of the Sri Lankan Government – that the footage was faked – was made clear to viewers. With regard to the first clip shown, the presenter Jon Snow explained that the same
footage had been shown previously on Channel 4 and it had been denounced as fake by the Sri Lankan Government . He then explained: the footage has since been authenticated by the UN although the Sri Lankan Government
refuses to accept that . With regard to the second clip Jon Snow highlighted this was shocking new video evidence of the shooting of three bound prisoners filmed on a mobile phone. He also advised: we have had this
footage analysed by experts who say it shows no signs of manipulation and appears to depict genuine executions. Metadata encoded within the video indicates it was recorded on 15 May 2009 in the last few days of the civil war ;
the programme included eyewitness accounts and photographs to corroborate that the incidents of torture and sexual abuse recorded on mobile phones were not isolated, as well as other footage which the programme therefore claimed
depicted systematic war crimes.
It is Ofcom's view that the broadcaster therefore ensured that the audience was not materially misled regarding the nature of the content by taking reasonable steps before the broadcast to establish that the material was not faked
or manipulated, and informing the audience of those steps during the programme.
And on the subject of offensive images, Ofcom said that the images included in this programme, whilst brutal and shocking, would not have exceeded the expectations of the audience for this Channel 4 documentary scheduled well
after the watershed with very clear warnings about the nature of the content.
Bluebird TV is interactive daytime chat advertising content broadcast on the babe channel SportXXXGirls. The licence for the service is held by Satellite Entertainment Limited (SEL)
A complainant alerted Ofcom to the broadcast of offensive language during Bluebird TV at 18:30 on 10 August 2011.
After inviting viewers to contact the studio, the female presenter placed the microphone beside her but it was not then muted. As a result, her conversation with three callers and a woman off-screen was broadcast over a 20 minute
During the three telephone conversations with callers only the presenter's side of the conversation could be heard and her speech was not always clearly audible. At other times however her words were clearly audible. For example:
get your big dick out ... slide it in inch by fucking inch into my pussy aren't you?
Between telephone calls, a conversation between the presenter and a woman off- screen was also clearly audible. That conversation included the following phrases:
...and to get money out of him is fucking hard as fuck
...fucking in here now
Ofcom considered the material raised issues warranting investigation under the following BCAP Code rules.
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 SEL apologised for any offence caused and stated:
...there was a specific technical fault which did occur with one of our microphones at this specific time. Upon investigation ... it has been confirmed that there were audio problems with this specific microphone. Additional
equipment checks have also been introduced to minimise [the] risk of this problem occurring again.
Ofcom Decision: Breach of BCAP Code Rules 4.2, 32.3
Ofcom considered under BCAP Code Rule 32.3 whether relevant timing or scheduling restrictions were applied to these broadcasts by the Licensee. In Ofcom's view this material clearly exceeded the expectations of the audience for
this daytime chat channel at 18:30. 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
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 very concerned that this broadcast of the most offensive language appeared to go undetected by the broadcaster for approximately 20 minutes. Ofcom considered this raised serious questions about the robustness of the
Licensee's existing compliance procedures and expects SEL to review its compliance arrangements thoroughly as a result of this incident to ensure there are no further contraventions of a similar nature.
Ofcom has recently recorded a number of serious and repeated breaches of the BCAP Code3 against SEL. These are being considered for the imposition of a statutory sanction. This present contravention of the BCAP Code is another
example of very poor compliance by the Licensee and may be taken into account as part of its compliance record when Ofcom considers the imposition of a sanction against SEL.
Radio stations are to get new guidance on avoiding sexually explicit songs.
[Oh dear, does that mean some unfortunate employee has got to actually listen and try to work out what on earth the musicians are singing anyway. Sounds an impossible task to me].
The BBC and commercial radio broadcasters will have to take more care with sexually explicit lyrics, particularly in songs by rap artists, as part of a continuing crackdown by Ofcom on content that is inappropriate for children.
UK radio broadcasters are to be issued with new guidance by the TV and radio censor to address the supposed problem of broadcasting sexually explicit lyrics at times when children are listening.
An Ofcom spokeswoman said:
Ofcom takes its role in protecting children from offensive language on the radio very seriously. We are concerned that there have been a number of recent cases where offensive language was broadcast, some at times when children
were particularly likely to have been listening. That is why we held a meeting with the radio industry this week to discuss the issues. We intend to publish guidance by the end of the year to clarify the rules in the broadcasting
2 August 2011, 22:50 to 23:00 and 23:50 to 00:00
Adult Channel is a channel broadcast under a licence held by Playboy TV UK/Benelux Ltd.
Between the hours of 22:00 and 05:30 it is a subscription services providing softcore adult material subject to encrypted and restricted access. The channel however includes some sections broadcast without mandatory restricted
freeview access to promote the channel and encourage viewers to subscribe.
On 8 August 2011 Playboy alerted Ofcom to a scheduling error which had resulted in content normally shown encrypted being broadcast without the restrictions for ten minutes on two separate occasions after 22:00.
On assessing the content, Ofcom noted the material broadcast at 22:50 started with about 30 seconds of non-explicit images of a man and woman appearing to have sexual intercourse. This was followed by some advertisements, channel
idents and channel promotions to encourage viewers to subscribe to the service. The last seven minutes of the material showed a woman in a garden performing a striptease set to music.
The second piece of material broadcast at 23:50 started with about 30 seconds of a film including a brief image of a topless woman. This was followed by some advertisements, channel idents and promotions to encourage viewers to
subscribe to the service. The last seven minutes of the material showed a woman in a photographer's studio performing a slow striptease set to music. This material included a close-up shot of the woman naked and stroking her
genitals that lasted approximately eight seconds, and included close-up images of the woman's genitals.
Ofcom considered Rule 1.18
'Adult sex material' - material that contains images and/or language of a strong sexual nature which is broadcast for the primary purpose of sexual arousal or stimulation - must not be broadcast at any time other than between 2200
and 0530 on premium subscription services and pay per view/night services which operate with mandatory restricted access. In addition, measures must be in place to ensure that the subscriber is an adult.
Ofcom Decision: Breach of Rule 1.18
Ofcom considered the material broadcast at:
22:50 showing strong but not explicit images of a man and woman appearing to have sexual intercourse; and
23:50 that included clear images of the woman masturbating and close ups of her genitals,
was adult sex material, i.e. contained images of a sexual nature which were broadcast for the primary purpose of sexual arousal or stimulation. Being broadcast between 22:00 and 05:30 but without mandatory restricted access, it
was therefore in breach of Rule 1.18.
In Ofcom's view, given the nature of the material and that it involved a compliance failure that had occurred previously, Ofcom considered whether to take further regulatory action in this case. However, given that Playboy TV
reported this error to us in a proactive and timely fashion, we do not consider further regulatory action is necessary on this occasion.
Sikh Channel Youth Show
Sikh Channel, 28 May 2011, 19:30
The Sikh Channel is in the religious section of the Sky Electronic Programme Guide (EPG), and the channel is aimed at the Sikh community in the UK. The Sikh Channel Youth Show was a weekly live programme broadcast in Punjabi. The
licence for the Sikh Channel is held by TV Legal Limited.
This programme consisted of a live discussion programme, consisting of a panel of guests and a live studio audience. The discussion touched on a range of subjects including: a Sikh demonstration that had taken place in Dudley on
the day of the broadcast (28 May 2011); and various reported actions taken by the Indian Government towards the Sikh community in India, including Operation Blue Star 1.
Two viewers alerted Ofcom to the programme, objecting to the manner in which the programme had referred to the Hindu community.
On assessing the content, Ofcom noted the following statements made within the programme:
In India there is one law for the majority and another law for the Sikh minority .
The Sikhs should realize that they are slaves .
In genocide, people are physically eliminated. But you can also eliminate them mentally by making them subservient and slavish. That is being done to the Sikhs in India .
This is a message to the oppressors that you have done what you did and you can do more but we are ready to seek a homeland for ourselves .
Ofcom considered the material raised issues warranting investigation under Rule 5.5 of the Code which states that:
Due impartiality on matters of political or industrial controversy and matters relating to current public policy must be preserved on the part of any person providing a service. This may be achieved within a programme or over a
series of programmes taken as a whole
Ofcom Decision: Breach of Rule 5.5
In assessing whether due impartiality has been applied in this case, the term due is important. Under the Code, it means adequate or appropriate to the subject and nature of the programme. Therefore, due impartiality
does not mean an equal division of time has to be given to every view, or that every argument and every facet of every argument has to be represented. Due impartiality may be preserved in a number of ways and it is an editorial
decision for the broadcaster as to how it ensures due impartiality is maintained.
In this case, Ofcom considered that the programme included a number of viewpoints, but all of them were: either critical of the Indian state's policy in relation to its treatment to the Sikh community in India; or could be
interpreted as arguing the case for an independent homeland for the Sikh community in India.
We considered that the programme did not contain any alternative views, which could be reasonably and adequately classed as supportive of, or which sought to explain: either the actions of the Indian State in relation to the Sikh
community within India, and in particular, the Punjab; or the arguments against an independent homeland for the Sikh community within India.
Ofcom concluded the programme was in breach of Rule 5.5 of the Code.
The Sikh Channel got in further trouble for evasion of supplying of a full recording of the progamme.
Ofcom recorded Breaches of Licence Condition 11(2)(b).
Being Erica is a Canadian comedy drama series about a woman who begins seeing a therapist to deal with regrets in her life, only to discover the therapist has the ability to send her back in time to re-live and change
events in her life.
A complainant alerted Ofcom to a scene in this programme which featured a large sculpture made out of ice clearly shaped as a penis. The programme was broadcast at a time when children were likely to be viewing (during the early
morning in the school holidays).
In the scene in question, at the beginning of the programme, two characters discussed a large ice sculpture of an erect penis and scrotum, which had been placed on the counter in a bar, as decoration for a party.
In the rest of the 50 minute programme, there were four further scenes in which the „penis ice sculpture appeared either as background to the dramatic action, or was referred to by characters in the programme.
Ofcom considered Rule 1.3 of their Code, which states:
Children must ... be protected by appropriate scheduling from material that is unsuitable for them.
Channel 4 said that during the scene in question and in several subsequent ones, the „ice penis sculpture is referred to in a comedic way and it is mostly background and incidental . It added that it considered the
ice sculpture to be an an abstraction of a phallic image that is made of ice, rather than a facsimile of an „erect penis .
Channel 4 said that the programme had been substantially edited to make it suitable for its scheduled transmission time. However, the broadcaster said that in retrospect some of the edits didn't go far enough,
particularly in view of the fact that it coincided with school holidays . Specifically, the broadcaster said that it considered in retrospect … that the inclusion of the ice sculpture itself as a narrative element... may
not have been appropriate at 07:35 on E4 .
Ofcom Decision: Breach of Rule 1.3
Under the Code, there is no prohibition on depictions or descriptions of human genitalia appearing in programming before the watershed. However, in Ofcom?s view, in this case the cumulative effect of the repeated appearance of,
and references to, a large erect penis ice sculpture, was to convey a sexualised theme, even though the primary purpose of the programme was not necessarily to convey a sexual theme, but rather to provide a comedic narrative.
We noted Channel 4's submission that it considered the ice sculpture to be an an abstraction of a phallic image that is made of ice, rather than a facsimile of an erect penis . We disagreed. In our view, the appearance and
relative dimensions of the penis and scrotum depicted in the ice sculpture were highly likely to mean the ice sculpture would be perceived by members of the audience as being a depiction of an erect penis.
Given the above, it is Ofcom's view that this content was not suitable for children. Ofcom concluded that the material was in breach of Rule 1.3.
Believe TV is a service which broadcasts Christian programming and is located in the religious section of the Sky electronic programme guide. The channel broadcasts programmes which include testimony where members of the
churches featured, including the VPA, 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.
A complainant alerted Ofcom to two alleged claims of serious illnesses being cured. These were broadcast on Believe TV on 25 June 2011. The claims were included in a programme which lasted around 20 minutes promoting the work of
the church known as the Victorious Pentecostal Assembly ( VPA ). The claims appeared as onscreen text while images of the pastor of VPA, Alex Omokodu, were shown giving healing to followers at the church. The
onscreen text claims referred to by the complainant were shown on the bottom third of the screen in white lettering on a black background: HIV IS HEALED and CANCER IS HEALED .
Ofcom considered rules:
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
Rule 4.6: Religious programmes must not improperly exploit any susceptibilities of the audience.
Ofcom Decision: Breach of Rules 2.1 and 4.6
In assessing whether there was a breach of Rule 2.1, Ofcom therefore had to consider whether the claims broadcast could have encouraged viewers to believe that the serious illnesses featured, in particular cancer and HIV, could be
cured through the work of the VPA (without orthodox medication). If this were the case, there was a potential for harm because some viewers with serious illnesses – who may therefore be more vulnerable – might have understood on
the basis of what they saw on Believe TV that they could be cured by the work of the VPA, and as result either not sought medical advice or stopped following a course of recommended medical treatment. This clearly could be very
The claims were made in a programme promoting the VPA, and its founder and pastor Alex Omokodu. Around two minutes into the programme it showed images of attendees at the church receiving healing from Pastor Omokudo as a
Victorious Pentecostal Assembly is a church regularly in communion with the power of the Holy Spirit and has been witness to scores of miraculous testimonies, breakthroughs, healing and what can only be described as divine
intervention – a second nature at this mountain of God. This centre of excellence is committed to building up a people of purpose, power and praise, nursing the afflicted to deliverance, the downtrodden are restored to a royal
priesthood, from many other afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivered them from them all. And He will do the same for you.
Ofcom noted that as these images were broadcast various graphics were laid over a black segment filling the bottom third of the screen. Each separate graphic was on screen for around 10 seconds. Four of the graphics stated
consecutively: THE LAME WALK AGAIN ; CANCER IS HEALED ; WAS PRONOUNCED DEAD BUT RESTORED AT V.P.A ; and HIV IS HEALED .
Taking into account :
the juxtaposition of the images of healing and the claims contained in the graphics; and
the voiceover stating that VPA had been witness to scores of miraculous testimonies and healing,
Ofcom considered that viewers would have reasonably understood from the onscreen claims that the healing and testimony at the church could include the curing of HIV and cancer through attendance at the VPA alone.
However before the start of the promotional style programme the following three onscreen graphics were broadcast while the text was read in voiceover:
We advise you to always seek your medical practitioner advise [sic] before making any decision based on this programme.
This statement provided some protection to viewers, by warning them to seek medical advice. But Ofcom noted that:
these statements were broadcast before the promotional style programme began;
they were separated from the claims of healing by about two and a half minutes; and
no warning or information was broadcast immediately before, during or after the four claims for healing highlighted above.
These factors limited the protection afforded to viewers by the statement
Ofcom concluded that, taking all these factors into account, viewers were not provided with adequate protection from harm. Some members of the audience – especially those with serious illnesses – could have been left with the
impression that the healing of HIV and cancer could, and would, take place if the viewer attended the church. This was a breach of Rule 2.1.
Ofcom concluded that the broadcaster did not appropriately recognise and mitigate the risk to vulnerable viewers, and that the susceptibilities of members of the audience (some of whom might be experiencing a life threatening
illness) were improperly exploited by the claims of healing of cancer and HIV broadcast on Believe TV. This was a breach of Rule 4.6.
Ofcom has recently recorded breaches of Rules 2.1 and 4.6 against the Licensee in relation to the promotion of products as cures for serious illnesses and other medical claims made in various broadcasts between 21 December 2010
and 1 February 20111 . Ofcom regarded these contraventions of the Code as so serious and also repeated that we put the Licensee on notice that it was being considered for the imposition of a statutory sanction.
Ofcom have revoked the licences of the following services:
Babeworld licensed by Babeworld TV Ltd
House of Fun licensed by House of Fun Television Ltd
The Other Side licensed by Forenzquick UK Ltd
Section 362(2) of the Communications Act, sets out who should be treated as the provider of the service for the purposes of holding the licence:
A person will normally have general control if that person exercises effective control over the selection of programmes that comprise the service and their organisation into a programme schedule. It is that person who will
normally be treated as being the provider of the service and who will need to hold a broadcasting licence authorising its provision.
In the course of correspondence and meetings with Ofcom, statements made by Babeworld Television Limited, House of Fun Television Limited and Forenzquick UK Limited about the operation of the Licensed Services failed to satisfy
Ofcom that these Licensees had general control over which programmes and other services were comprised in the Service.
Ofcom therefore concluded that Babeworld Television Limited, House of Fun Television Limited and Forenzquick UK Limited were not the providers of the Licensed Services in accordance with section 362(2) of the Communications
Act 2003 and that, accordingly, it was appropriate to revoke their Licences.
Aden Live is a general entertainment service broadcast in Arabic by Dama Ltd, a company based in the UK. The service is aimed at the people of South Yemen and includes programmes based on news, political views, South Yemeni
culture and entertainment. It can be received in the Middle East and some parts of Europe by satellite, but it is not on the Sky Electronic Programme Guide and cannot be received in the UK on normal satellite equipment. At the
time of the complained about Broadcasts, it was also streamed on the internet.
In 1990 North and South Yemen were united to form the Republic of Yemen ( Yemen ), and Ali Abdullah Saleh became president of Yemen. The capital of Yemen is Sanaa (sometimes spelt Sana ). Aden is a city and
governorate in the south of Yemen.
In October 2010 Ofcom received a complaint made on behalf of the Government of Yemen about the service Aden Live. In summary, the complaint stated that the channel is encouraging Yemeni nationals in southern Yemen to revolt
against the Government of Yemen and to divide the nation into separate states. It stated that the channel was spreading hatred and calling for attacks on government regional offices, the police and the national army; and its
content was affecting the civil peace and stability of Yemen.
Having viewed the Broadcasts and the transcripts, Ofcom considered that some of the content of the Broadcasts raised potential issues under the Code and warranted investigation. Ofcom consider rules:
Rule 2.4 Programmes must not include material (whether in individual programmes or in programmes taken together) which, taking into account the context, condones or glamorises violent, dangerous or seriously antisocial
behaviour and is likely to encourage others to copy such behaviour.
Rule 3.1 Material likely to encourage or incite the commission of crime or to lead to disorder must not be included in television or radio services.
Rule 5.4 Programmes in the services (listed above1 ) must exclude all expressions of the views and opinions of the person providing the service on matters of political and industrial controversy and matters relating to current
public policy (unless that person is speaking in a legislative forum or in a court of law). Views and opinions relating to the provision of programme services are also excluded from this requirement.
Rule 5.11 In addition to the rules above, due impartiality must be preserved on matters of major political and industrial controversy and major matters relating to current public policy by the person providing a service (listed
above2 ) in each programme or in clearly linked and timely programmes.
Rule 5.12 In dealing with matters of major political and industrial controversy and major matters relating to current public policy an appropriately wide range of significant views must be included and given due weight in each
programme or in clearly linked and timely programmes. Views and facts must not be misrepresented.
Ofcom Decision: Breaches of Rules 2.4, 5.4, 5.11 and 5.12
It is not within Ofcom's remit to take a view on the legitimacy or otherwise of the policies and actions of the Southern Movement or those opposed to the Yemeni government. However, in Ofcom's view, material which condones or
glorifies death in support of a cause, revolt against a government and the carrying of weapons can reasonably be considered material which condones or glamorises violent or dangerous behaviour.
Given that Dama directs its broadcasts predominantly to a South Yemeni audience, many of whose members (given the political context set out above) are likely to support the Southern Movement and oppose the Government of Yemen,
Ofcom considered that the material in examples could reasonably be considered as material likely to encourage others to copy violent or dangerous behaviour. Ofcom noted Dama's comment that the carrying of arms by
tribespeople is common in Yemen … and there are likely to be far more guns than people in Yemen . Ofcom considers that, while this context may to some extent account for the prevalence of references to arms in the examples, it
made it more likely that the material would have encouraged others to carry weapons. In light of the above, we concluded that the material was in breach of Rule 2.4.
However Ofcom found that the example content was not likely to incite the commission of crime or to lead to disorder and so did not breach Rule 3.1.
Dama accepted that in relation to the requirement for due impartiality, on two occasions, the presenters may have strayed a little from their roles as presenter. Presenters may express their own views on matters of
political controversy within the limits of the Code. However alternative viewpoints must be appropriately represented. Accordingly, Ofcom considered that the Broadcasts as a whole (as translated and transcribed for Ofcom), due
impartiality was not preserved on matters of major political controversy and major matters relating to current public policy, and an appropriately wide range of significant views was not included and given due weight. Ofcom
therefore considered that for the reasons given above the Broadcasts breached Rules 5.11 and 5.12 of the Code.
The views and opinions of the Licensee on the contemporaneous political situation in Yemen, including the policies and actions of the Government of Yemen could reasonably be identified from the material and representations. These
views and opinions were in turn expressed in different ways and to varying degrees in the output of the channel, contrary to the requirements of Rule 5.4. Ofcom therefore considered that the relevant material was in breach of Rule
5.4 of the Code.
Ofcom Considering Sanctions
The right to broadcast comes with responsibilities. It is important that broadcasters do not use their licensed service to condone or glamorise violent, dangerous or seriously antisocial behaviour, or fail to maintain due
impartiality on matters of major political controversy and major matters relating to current public policy, in contravention of the Code.
Dama has assured Ofcom that it is now well aware of the need for due impartiality in its broadcasts, and is taking steps to address this going forward . However Ofcom considered Dama's contraventions of the Code to be
serious. Dama is therefore put on notice that these contraventions of the Code are being considered by Ofcom for statutory sanction.
The UK Office of Communications (Ofcom) has succumbed to the British Royal Family's demands to ban Press TV activities despite the Iranian news network's compliance with the law.
The British media regulator has reportedly decided to remove the channel from the SKY platform. The move is considered to be in violation of the UK media law and the result of mounting pressure on the
organization by certain members of the Royal Family and government.
article for yourself, or perhaps better to wait for confirmation from other sources
Nine months ago, when al-Jazeera and the Guardian jointly published the Palestine papers, revealing the scale of concessions secretly made by Palestinian negotiators in a decade of talks with Israeli leaders, we were accused of
biased, agenda-driven coverage. As head of the investigative team that produced the papers, I was accused on live television by the chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, of being a CIA agent on a mission to destroy the
chances of Palestinian statehood.
Today Ofcom, which was asked by the PLO to investigate whether our coverage had been unfair to both it and to Erekat, published a 19-page ruling that unequivocally vindicates our coverage.
It seems strange to let TV taste and decency censors loose on seriously diplomatically sensitive issues.
The usual role for the Ofcom censors is to get easily offended by trivial cases of strong language or anything remotely sexy. They must have an A-Team of more robust intellects to deal with the more difficult cases like this.
Ofcom will take no action against BBC2's Newsnight following an item on the summer riots in which the historian David Starkey claimed the problem is that the whites have become black .
The media regulator received more than 100 complaints from members of the public while the Labour leader, Ed Miliband, also joined in the criticism of Starkey's comments on race, describing them as disgusting and outrageous.
However, Ofcom has ruled that Newsnight presenter, Emily Maitlis, had sufficiently challenged Starkey's claims. An Ofcom spokesperson told the Independent:
This was a serious and measured discussion within a programme with a well-established nature and format and with reputation for dealing with challenging subjects. The effect of his comments was limited by the presenter's
moderation of the item and his comments were countered by the views of other contributors.
The BBC had already found similarly in August. The BBC explained that while it acknowledged that some people will have found Starkey's comments offensive, he was robustly challenged by presenter Emily Maitlis and the other
contributors who took issue with his comments .
Ofcom has issued new guidance on the TV watershed, warning broadcasters to be more careful about programmes they show before 9pm that could be unsuitable for children or the easily offended.
The new guidance follows a series of recent meetings with broadcasters to ensure they are clear about the censorship rules compliance that Ofcom expects from them.
The new guidance outlines how broadcasters must comply with the Broadcasting Code rules for pre-watershed content, with specific focus on:
Programmes broadcast before and soon after the watershed; and
Music videos broadcast before the watershed.
Broadcasters are expected to pay particular attention to family viewing programmes, trailers and soaps. Ofcom advises broadcasters to take particular care with post-watershed content which has been edited for pre-watershed
viewing, for example by masking or editing offensive language.
Surveying the easily offended
Ofcom have also published a new survey about viewing 'concerns'. For example, fewer parents are now concerned about the TV programmes their children watch (31%) than they were in 2009 (36%).
Ofcom also measures parents' views about the time of the watershed and the amount of TV regulation. 77% of parents think the watershed is at the right time, and 73% believe the amount of censorship of television is about right
The new research found that the majority (58%) of parents surveyed were not concerned by what their children had watched on television before 9pm in the last 12 months. One quarter (24%) of the parents surveyed said they were fairly concerned
, although fewer than one in ten (9%) said they were very concerned .
21% of all parents surveyed mentioned concerns about nudity or sexual content, one in five (20%) were concerned about violence, and one in six (17%) had concerns about offensive language.
Just under a quarter (23%) of teenagers surveyed said that over the past 12 months they had seen something on TV before the watershed that had made them uncomfortable or had offended them.