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19th March

  Possessed by Mean Spirits...

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Ofcom claim that Most Haunted was too scary for kids
Link Here

Most Haunted Series 14 DVD Most Haunted
Pick TV, 17 October 2012, 18:00

Most Haunted is a well-established series which takes viewers to locations where in the past, according to the programme, there has been reported supernatural activity. The series is presented by Yvette Fielding and celebrity psychic Derek Acorah. The programme involves trying to film paranormal activity, as well as attempting to demonstrate possible paranormal activity through seances and possession by spirits at the location.

Most Haunted was last made in 2010 but repeats of episodes continued to be broadcast regularly on the Living TV channels and, since July 2012, on Pick TV, a channel which offers repeats of popular programming. Pick TV is broadcast free-to-air on all platforms. Sky holds the licence for Pick TV.

A complainant alerted Ofcom to this episode because of concerns regarding the suitability of the content before the watershed when children might be watching.

In this episode, Most Haunted investigated Chatham Dockyard in Kent where, over a number of years, there had been several accounts of malevolent spirits and dark evil shadows...wandering around as well as more benign ghostly sightings.

Ofcom provided several examples of programme content:

  • Members of the production team, who were conducting night-time vigils in various locations in the dockyard, reported on their experiences of dragging sounds, doors slamming, changes in atmosphere and calling on the spirits to make themselves visible. These sequences were replayed a number of times.

  • A scene of a seance in which Derek Acorah was possessed , firstly by a nine-year-old boy called Barney Little , and spoke in a childlike voice to say he had been treated cruelly and whipped by a woman called Lizzie . Secondly, Derek Acorah, who was then possessed by Lizzie , referred to as an obnoxious entity , contorted his face and spoke in a rasping and aggressive voice: What's your name, leper? Bleeps were used to mask offensive language. In response to the Lizzie possession, one of the employees at the Dockyard, not associated with the production, started to cry because she recognised Lizzie as the person responsible for the death of one of the children who had resided in the building, called Isabelle.

Ofcom considered:

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

  • Rule 1.27: Demonstrations of exorcisms, occult practices and the paranormal (which purport to be real), must not be shown before the watershed (in the case of television) or when children are particularly likely to be listening (in the case of radio). Paranormal practices which are for entertainment purposes must not be broadcast when significant numbers of children may be expected to be watching, or are particularly likely to be listening.

Given this episode included paranormal practices and was broadcast pre-watershed, Ofcom also considered the broadcast should be investigated under Rule 1.27 of the Code:

Ofcom Decision: Breach of Rule 1.3 and Rule 1.27

In Ofcom's view, the cumulative effect of the malevolent nature of the spirits who appeared either through Derek's possessions or were recounted in the experiences presented, and the repeated references to children being harmed, mistreated or murdered resulted in this particular episode being consistently dark and menacing. Therefore it had the potential to cause distress to younger members of the audience.

Further, while an adult may have picked up on the signposting throughout the programme, and particularly in the last five minutes, and concluded the programme was entertainment, children may not have understood this and could have been left feeling fearful of what they had viewed. Ofcom noted Sky's view that because children aged 10-15 viewing this programme may have been fully aware of the nature of the content, the assertion that this programme would have been distressing to this age group is not correct . However, it is Ofcom's view that even if children are old enough to understand, and also be scared by, paranormal activity, it does not necessarily follow that they are old enough to understand various statements made by some of the contributors suggesting this programme was for entertainment purposes.

Ofcom therefore considered that this material was unsuitable for children.

Ofcom was of the view that the nature of some of the content in this particular case (especially the nature of the alleged possessions by malevolent spirits and the fact they concerned children), and its scheduling in a teatime slot, meant it was likely that the expectations of viewers (and particularly of parents) of this channel at that time would have been exceeded. In the circumstances of this case the material was therefore not appropriately scheduled and breached Rule 1.3.

In this particular case, Ofcom noted that this episode did not feature any demonstrations of exorcisms, occult practices and the paranormal which purported to be real. We were of the view however that it did include paranormal practices, such as possessions and a seance, for entertainment purposes. Ofcom also noted that in this case these paranormal practices were broadcast at teatime, when children were likely to be viewing, and on Pick TV, which is a general entertainment channel. Consequently, in Ofcom's view, a significant number of children could have been expected to view this episode. Therefore, in this case, Ofcom concluded that Rule 1.27 was breached.

Breaches of Rules 1.3 and 1.27

 

8th March

 Updated: Pantomime Censors...

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Ofcom find WWE wrestling sequence too violent for Saturday mornings
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wade barrett video WWE Superstars
Sky 1, 10 November 2012, 09:00

Worldwide Wrestling Entertainment ( WWE ) matches are broadcast on Sky 1 during the morning at weekends.

A complainant alerted Ofcom to the violent content in a pre-recorded sequence featuring WWE contestant Wade Barratt broadcast at the beginning of the second segment of the programme at around 09:20 on a Saturday.

The sequence, lasting approximately one and a half minutes, depicted Wade Barratt in several underground wrestling and bare-knuckle fights surrounded by a group of men who appeared to be betting money on the outcome. It featured several close-up punches and kicks to the head and chest in slow motion with dramatic sound effects to underline the impact and, on one occasion, a bloody bruise on the chest of a competitor. The scene was set to a track of rock music and was accompanied by the following voiceover:

Where I come from the grim realities of life smack you in the face at every turn. An onslaught of fury is the only way to survive. I am Wade Barratt and my barrage has just begun. It doesn't matter if I'm fighting on the street or if I'm fighting in the ring. If I'm fighting I might as well make as much money as I possibly can. I decided I'd had enough of not getting my own way. I came here with one goal only. That was to become a world champion. One way or another I'm going to get to the top. I'm relentless. I am remorseless. I am Wade Barratt and my barrage cannot be stopped.

Ofcom considered rules:

  • Rule 1.3 Children must be protected by appropriate scheduling from material that is unsuitable for them.

  • Rule 1.11 Violence, its after affects and the descriptions of violence, whether verbal or physical, must be appropriately limited in programmes before the watershed and must also be justified by the context.

Sky explained that WWE has broadcast on Sky 1 since 1999 and is widely known for its outrageous storylines and pantomime characters. It said the fights themselves are only one element of the show as it also focuses on the backstories and feuds between wrestlers, and that the sequence involving Wade Barratt was intended to portray him as a dark and dangerous character.

The Licensee said that the fights in the arena are highly dramatic and pantomime, and that most of the violence shown is not graphic. It added, however, that due to the family nature of the audience, it carefully edits WWE for daytime transmissions on Sky 1. Sky said repeated kicks or punches and explicit shots are removed along with scenes including weapons and violence that occurs outside the arena. Scenes that involve blood are shot in black and white to minimise detail.

Ofcom Decision: Breach of rules 1.3 and 1.11

Ofcom noted that the scene in question depicted bare-knuckle fighting in an underground setting, clearly distinguishing it from staged competitive wrestling that takes place in a ring with a referee. The dark, aggressive and realistic nature of this scene combined with close-up slow-motion punches and kicks to the head and chest with powerful sound effects to underscore the impacts to make the material, in Ofcom's view, clearly unsuitable for children.

We took account in particular of the high likelihood of children watching this channel early on a Saturday morning, the strength and brooding nature of the images exemplified by the slow-motion shots of impact, and the fact that in Ofcom's opinion this content exceeded the likely expectations of the audience.

Ofcom noted Sky's acceptance that the material may not have been suitable for a Saturday morning audience, and its decision to review its compliance guidelines for all future WWE broadcasts. However, in this case, particularly given the violent content of this sequence and the very high proportion of child viewers, Ofcom decided that the material breached Rules 1.3 and 1.11.

 

6th March

 Update: Martyrs...

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Ofcom warns the Sikh Channel about positive references to a leader of a banned terrorist organisation
Link Here  full story: Ofcom on Religion...ofcom keep religious extremism in check

Sikh ChannelSikh Channel Report
Sikh Channel, 18 October 2012, 21:40

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 licence for the Sikh Channel is held by TV Legal.

This programme was a live transmission, broadcast in Punjabi, and consisted mainly of the performance of commemorative songs broadcast from a Gurdwara located in Coventry.

A complainant alerted Ofcom to a lecture which was also included in the programme. According to the complainant, a speaker appeared in front of a poster which had the words Babbar Khalsa International ( BKI ) written on it, and talked effusively about the Sikh militant Talwinder Singh Babbar, the founder of the BKI, which is a proscribed terrorist organisation in the UK.

The speaker introduced his lecture as follows:

This programme has been arranged in the memory of the martyrs and what they did, and in particular I want to tell you about the martyr Brother Talwinder Singh Babbar.

During the lecture the speaker recounted moments from Talwinder Singh Babbar's life . For example, we noted that the speaker made the following statements:

The Sikhs who lived with [Talwinder Singh Babbar] tell that if you told him that there were 32 policemen with AK-47 rifles outside waiting to arrest him, the respected Brother [Talwinder Singh Babbar] was the sort of person who would go out to meet them; he wouldn't stop and sit there but say, Let's go and fight with them. He had so much courage! You can see when you look at his face that his forehead reflects glory. His face reflects divine illumination. These are pure martyr devoted Sikhs. They have the Sikh spiritual narration inside them and a trust in this spirit.

Ofcom considered that the material raised issues warranting investigation under Rule 2.3 of the Code:

In applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context...Appropriate information should also be broadcast where it would assist in avoiding or minimising offence.

Ofcom Decision: Breach of Rule 2.3

In this case, we noted that a programme contributor gave a lecture in which he made a number of statements that could be interpreted as being strongly positive, or being otherwise supportive of actions taken by, the leader of a terrorist organisation (the BKI), which is proscribed in the UK. Ofcom considered that these statements were not sufficiently contextualised to justify the potential offence caused by positive references to the leader of a proscribed terrorist organisation. The man who delivered the lecture spoke directly to camera and to the audience in the Gurdwara. Also, the lecture was delivered in front of a poster referring to the BKI and depicting the armed founder of that proscribed terrorist organisation. In Ofcom's opinion, these factors increased the impact of his words and so the potential for offence. At no point was the lecturer challenged to justify his unqualified praise for Tavinder Singh Parmar, by referring for example to the acts of terrorism with which he is alleged to have been involved. Also neither the Licensee nor the lecturer himself attempted to place his positive statements in praise of Tavinder Singh Parmar in some form of context by acknowledging, for example, the deaths for which Tavinder Singh Parmar is widely held responsible. For these reasons, Ofcom's view is that the offence caused by the lecturer's comments was not justified by the context.

Ofcom is putting TV Legal on notice that any future similar breaches are likely to result in Ofcom taking further regulatory action.

Breach of Rule 2.3

 

5th March

 Update: Banned Babe Links...

Ofcom whinges at babe channels for promotion of related porn websites
Link Here  full story: Babe Channels...Ofcom have it in for free to air babe channels

Essex BabesNorthern Birds, Essex Babes, Sportxxx Girls, and Livexxx Babes
24 September to 8 February 2013, various times throughout the day

The services all transmit interactive daytime chat and adult chat advertising content. These services are freely available without mandatory restricted access and are situated in the adult section of the electronic programme guide of the Sky digital satellite platform ( Sky EPG ). Viewers are invited to contact on-screen 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 licencesare all held by Satellite Entertainment Limited ( SEL ).

Ofcom received a complaint that, throughout the day and across all these channels, on-screen references were made to the website bluebird.tv by means of a graphic giving the URL of the website positioned in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen. The complainant said that on accessing the website there were no access restrictions, and that users were directed to freely accessible R18 equivalent content by clicking on any number of links .

From Ofcom's examination of the broadcast material, it appeared that no verbal references to the website URL were made by the presenters.

The bluebird.tv website consisted of a homepage containing a number of tab-style links to Bluebird branded content. There were no access restrictions other than responding OK to a pop-up box on first visiting the site to confirm that the user was over 18 years of age.

Ofcom observed that this website contained explicit pornographic material (equivalent to the British Board of Film Classification ( BBFC ) R18-rated content 1 ). Registration and age verification by means of using a credit card (holders must be over 18 years of age) was only required if the user wished to become a member of the premium Bluebird service.

Two types of explicit pornographic material could be accessed and viewed from the Bluebird Films homepage.

The first type, on initially accessing the Bluebird Films website, consisted of an embedded video player positioned in the centre of the screen, which automatically played a video clip. The player showed a 50-second video clip, the first 30 seconds of which featured edited glamour shots of scantily clad or naked women, kissing, touching and posing in an erotic way. The final 20 seconds of the clip, however, featured explicit sexual material involving shots of oral sex, vaginal penetration, and the use of sex toys for sexual stimulation or penetration some of which were in close-up.

The second type of pornographic material was accessible at the bottom of the page and consisted of 17 photographic hyperlinks under the heading Bluebird Films Hot Movies . These links promoted pornographic films that could be viewed in full by purchasing premium Bluebird membership or by purchasing the associated DVD product (from the Buy DVD's [sic] tab positioned at the top of the page). Clicking on these photographic hyperlinks led the user through to teaser videos, each between about one and two minutes in length, promoting the full film to which the photographic hyperlink corresponded. These teaser videos featured explicit sexual material including vaginal penetration, oral sex, and masturbation some of which was again in close-up.

Ofcom considered BCAP Code Rule 30.3, which states:

Advertisements for products coming within the recognised character of pornography are permitted behind mandatory restricted access on adult entertainment channels only.

[After an initial approach from Ofcom the company reorganised the website so that the first website which would be accessed by viewers does not contain adult material itself but links though to another related website that does. Ofcom judged that this technique does not circumvent the ban on links to porn sites].

Ofcom Conclusion: Brach of Rule 30.3

The broadcast of an advertisement, on channels without mandatory restricted access, for a website containing pornographic material, is a serious breach of the BCAP Code. Ofcom is particularly concerned that the Licensee in these instances broadcast, for extended periods both during daytime and immediately after the watershed when children were available to view (some unaccompanied), on-screen references to a website which led to R18 equivalent material without any access restrictions.

Ofcom therefore puts the Licensee on notice that it will consider these breaches for the imposition of a statutory sanction.

Breaches of BCAP Code Rule 30.3

 

20th February

  3 Minute Whinges...

Ofcom has another knock at Studio 66 for porn video download ads
Link Here

studio 66 tv Studio 66 Nights
Studio 66 TV4 (Channel 927), 10 October 2012, 21:00 to 21:30

Studio 66 Nights is a segment of interactive adult chat advertising content broadcast on the licensed service known as Studio 66 TV4 (Sky Channel 927). The female presenters dress and behave in a sexually provocative way while encouraging viewers to contact the PRS numbers. The licence for Studio 66 TV2 is owned and operated by 965 TV Ltd.

Ofcom received a complaint that content on this service, broadcast between 21:00 and 21:30, contained explicit sexual images that were too strong to be shown at this time.

Ofcom noted that the advertising content featured a female presenter onscreen but, from approximately 21:07 onwards, the presenter was replaced with an advertisement shown full screen for three minute uncensored videos , downloadable to a mobile phone. The advertisement, which was repeated three times comprised a series of short clips taken from these uncensored videos , which included the following images:

  • full screen close ups of bare breasts being massaged with oil and rubbed together;
  • full screen close ups of a woman's buttocks being massaged with oil and cream and being slapped, and of women pulling down thongs between their buttocks;
  • two females kissing and touching each other's breasts and buttocks;
  • naked images of female presenters with their legs open or bending over to camera with a censored overlay placed on the genitals and anal area;
  • naked images of presenters with hands or legs concealing the genital area; and
  • an image of a presenter pulling down her bikini pants with a censored overlay which only partially covered her genital area.

The clips were accompanied by advertising straplines including: get this filthy video ; xxx content and more ; and get this video uncensored . These images were also accompanied by shortcode numbers which viewers could text to receive pictures.

Ofcom considered BCAP Code Rule 30.3:

Advertisements for products coming within the recognised character of pornography are permitted behind mandatory restricted access on adult entertainment channel only.

965 TV explained that the onscreen promotional video containing the clips taken from the uncensored videos was broadcast as a result of two errors. The first related to the promotional content that was broadcast and the other related to the product that was advertised.

Ofcom Decision: Breach of Rule 30.3

To assess the product being advertised, Ofcom sent a text message to a sample of the shortcodes shown onscreen with the same number 899**. As a result, Ofcom was sent details of a URL which gave access to explicit video and explicit still images. Some of these images were in close up. Ofcom notes that the Licensee has stated this content could only have been received by a handset which was age- verified by the mobile network operator. Indeed, Ofcom did receive a text message requesting age verification but we were still able to access the explicit sexual content without being required to provide any proof of age and this would have also been the case had a person under the age of eighteen used an adult's mobile phone to call the onscreen shortcode.

In Ofcom's opinion, this explicit sexual material was clearly equivalent to adult sex material 6 or stronger content such as that which would be given a British Board of Film Classification ( BBFC ) R18 rating. Both R18 equivalent content and adult sex material are clearly within the recognised character of pornography .

Any advertisement for this type of content is prohibited on a free-to-air service without mandatory restricted access.

Having reviewed the numerous onscreen images shown in this video promotion (which included: close-up images of bare breasts and buttocks with oil, mud and cream being applied and massaged into bare skin and the women's nipples; women slapping their buttocks; and naked women touching and kissing one another intimately), Ofcom is of the view that this material broadcast as part of an adult chat service would have breached BCAP Code Rule 32.3 if broadcast before 22:00 (as in this case), but, even if it had been broadcast after 22:00, it would potentially have been in breach of Rule 4.2.

Rule 32.3 states that:

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

Rule 4.2 states that:

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

This is a serious breach of the BCAP Code. Ofcom therefore puts the Licensee on notice that it is minded to consider a statutory sanction if there is any recurrence of this, or similar, compliance failings.

Breach of BCAP Code Rule 30.3

Ofcom also recorded a code breach for similar content on Studio 66 TV2 (Channel 938),

 

19th February

  Beyond Entertainment Purposes Only...

Ofcom seance reveals that Psychic Today overstepped the rules and made claims that inferred accuracy
Link Here

psychic tv logo Ofcom said Psychic Today was in breach of broadcasting rules over two interviews with psychics Jenna and Crystal.

Jenna claimed she once spoke to someone who became a very close friend of Jackson, who died in 2009, whilst Crystal claimed she had been used by police in the hunt for Milly Dowler.

Ofcom ruled that both instances were in breach of its broadcasting rules, which states that services such as astrology, horoscopes and tarot readings should be advertised for entertainment purposes only. Advertising channels such as Psychic Today are not allowed to make claims for efficacy or accuracy or predict negative experiences or specific events .

Of the Dowler claims, a spokesman for Majestic TV said the interview contained no explicit claims:

other than as part of a background piece on the psychic --- to say she helped police in the past.

But Ofcom said:

The clear implication of these comments was that various UK police forces had employed Crystal to assist them and that the police would only employ Crystal if they believed that the information she might provide as a psychic would be accurate and efficacious.

Ofcom let the channels off this time but warned them that sanctions may be invoked on further transgressions. But of the channels knew that already

 

8th February

  Used, Abused and Annihilated...

Ofcom whinges at Studio 66 babe channel as nutters don't go to bed for an hour after the watershed
Link Here

studio 66 tv Studio 66 Nights
Studio 66 TV 1 (912), 13 September 2012, 21:15 to 21:40

Studio 66 Nights is a segment on the babe channel Studio 66 TV 2 (Sky Channel 938). The female presenters dress and behave in a sexually provocative way while encouraging viewers to contact the premium rate telephony services ( PRS ) numbers.

The licence for Studio 66 TV 1 is owned and operated by 965 TV Ltd.

Ofcom received a complaint that content on this service, broadcast shortly after the watershed, contained sexual images that were too strong to be shown at this time.

Ofcom noted a female presenter on screen wearing a pink, sleeveless one-piece outfit. In addition, she wore a white bra under the one-piece outfit and white high- heeled shoes. From around 21:15, and until at least 21:40, the presenter adopted various sexual positions: she sat with her legs open to camera; knelt facing away from the camera; and at various points during the broadcast moved onto all fours with her legs apart and thrust her bare buttocks to mime sexual intercourse. We also noted that the camera focused on her crotch, at various points throughout the broadcast, for varying lengths of time, while she adopted those positions.

For much of the time and when the presenter was talking to callers, the studio sound was muted and music was played over images of the presenter. However the presenter occasionally talked directly to the audience to attract PRS calls and we noted the following statements were broadcast at 21:18 and 21:27 respectively:

Boys, come on you have got to do better than that, I want your filthy phone calls right now. Like I always say boys, I'm here to be used, abused and absolutely annihilated by you. So let's do this, you sexy things.

Phil, where did you go? You sound like you know exactly how to work your way around a woman's body...Come and tell me every dirty thing you want to do with me boys and I will tell you every fantasy that I have, every way that I want you to have me.

Ofcom considered BCAP Code 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.

Ofcom Decision: Breach of Rule 32.3

Ofcom noted that between 21:15 and 21:40 the camera focussed on the presenter's crotch area when her legs were spread open to camera and when she knelt facing away from the camera. In addition she stroked her breasts and inner thighs, adopted various sexual positions and repeatedly mimed sexual intercourse, such as: kneeling on all fours and thrusting her bare buttocks up and down; and kneeling upright and moving her body up and down. The presenter also sat, sometimes for prolonged periods, with her legs open to camera, although her crotch area was obscured at times by the on-screen graphic showing the premium rate number. We noted that the presenter made the statements at 21:18 and 21:27 set out above, when she was kneeling on all fours with her buttocks angled to camera and sat with her legs wide open to camera, respectively.

In Ofcom's view, these images, combined with the on-screen graphics of women with bare breasts and the sexual language noted above used on occasions, resulted in the material being sexually provocative in nature. This behaviour and imagery is clearly prohibited by the Chat Service Guidance. Therefore Ofcom concluded that this material was clearly unsuitable for children.

Breach of BCAP Code Rule 32.3.

 

7th February

  Elitist Censorship...

Ofcom claim sexy material causes widespread offence amongst viewers watching babe channels at 3 in the morning
Link Here

studio 66 tv Elite Nights
Studio 66 TV 2 (938), 15 July 2012, 03:00 to 03:55

Elite Nights is a segment on the babe channel Studio 66 TV 2 (Sky Channel 938). The female presenters dress and behave in a sexually provocative way while encouraging viewers to contact the premium rate telephony services ( PRS ) numbers.

The licence for Studio 66 TV 2 is owned and operated by 965 TV Ltd.

Ofcom received a complaint that content on this service, broadcast from 03:00, contained images that were inappropriate on a free-to-air service.

Ofcom noted there were two female presenters on screen at this time. The first female presenter was wearing black shoes, a pair of yellow knickers with party all night printed on the back and a black top pulled down to expose her breasts. The second presenter was wearing a pink thong under a pink one-piece outfit, which was pulled down to reveal her breasts. During the broadcast the presenters stroked each other's thighs, buttocks, stomachs and breasts. They also adopted sexual positions, such as on all fours with their buttocks to camera and also lying side by side with their legs intertwined, and while in these positions mimed sexual intercourse, sometimes for quite prolonged periods.

Ofcom also noted that while the female presenters filled most of the screen there were graphics on the right of the screen showing still images of women, all of whom were topless and in some cases naked, although their genitals were obscured. These images were accompanied by short code numbers which viewers could text to receive pictures and video content of the women, for example TXT XXX to 899** and TEXT FERNANDA TO 899** . In the bottom left-hand corner of the screen we noted there were graphics that were text only, such as FILTHIEST X RATED VID OF THE MONTH! TEXT JULY TO 899** , and TEXT BABE TO 899** .

Ofcom considered BCAP Code rules:

  • Rule 4.2: Advertisements must not cause serious or widespread offence against generally accepted moral, social or cultural standards.

  • Rule 30.3: Advertisements for products coming within the recognised character of pornography are permitted behind mandatory restricted access on adult entertainment channels only.

Ofcom Decision

Widespread Offence

On 27 July 2011, Ofcom published revised rules on the advertising of telecommunications-based sexual entertainment services and PRS daytime chat services. For example the rules explicitly state that adult chat broadcasters should:

[T]ake particular care if two or more presenters appear together on screen. If there is any contact between the presenters of an erotic or sexual nature (for example kissing, stroking, or contact between thighs, breasts or genital areas) or any miming or simulation of a sexual act performed by one presenter on another, in Ofcom's view there is a high risk of causing serious or widespread offence against generally accepted standards.

Sidebar Adverts

The still graphics included in these advertisements comprised still images of women, all of whom were topless and in some cases naked. In addition, the on-screen graphics were accompanied by text which included: FILTHIEST X RATED VID OF THE MONTH! TEXT JULY TO 899** and TXT XXX to 899** . This in Ofcom's view clearly indicated to the viewer that if they texted the relevant word or term to the on-screen short code number they would be provided with access to explicit adult material.

To assess the product being advertised, Ofcom sent a text message to a short code shown on-screen. As a result Ofcom was sent details of a URL which gave access to explicit video images of a female masturbating. Some of these images were in close- up. Further, although we received a text message requesting age verification, we were able to access the explicit sexual content without being required to provide any proof of age. We noted the Licensee's argument that viewers would only have been able to obtain the video clips and images if their handset had been age-verified by the relevant mobile network operator. However, we considered this did not remove or weaken the duty on the Licensee to ensure that the products advertised on this channel were acceptable on a free-to-air service. In Ofcom's opinion this explicit sexual material was clearly equivalent to that which would be given a British Board of Film Classification ( BBFC ) R185 rating. Both R18 equivalent content and adult sex material 6 are clearly within the recognised character of pornography .

Therefore any advertisement for this type of content was prohibited on a free-to-air service without mandatory restricted access, regardless of whether the images featured in the on-screen advertisement were edited or masked in an effort to make them non-explicit and suitable for broadcast on a freely available service or whether handsets to which the clips were downloadable had been age-verified by the relevant mobile network operator.

Rule 1.18 of the Broadcasting Code makes clear in giving the meaning of mandatory restricted access that this must consist of a PIN protected system (or other equivalent protection) which cannot be removed by the user, that restricts access solely to those authorised to view [i.e. adults] . As Ofcom's assessment of the on-screen promotions demonstrated (see above), we were able to freely access the explicit sexual content which was being advertised without being required to provide any proof of age. These advertisements for products within the recognised character of pornography were therefore shown on these channels without mandatory restricted access as required by Rule 30.3 of the BCAP Code.

Advertising for pornographic content is not suitable for broadcast at any time on any interactive adult chat service available free-to-air, regardless of the type of images broadcast as part of the advertising content.

Breaches of BCAP Code Rules 4.2 and 30.3

 

6th February

 Update: Ofcom Awards Full Marks to Jimmy Carr...

But the Daily Mail Fails to get anything right in the Big Fat Quiz of the Year
Link Here

big fat quiz Channel 4's Big Fat Quiz has been cleared of wrongdoing despite a couple of hundred complaints inspired by Daily Mail hype.

In a verdict which the Daily Mail claims shocked MPs and campaigners , Ofcom predictably said it would not investigate the show. Ofcom spokesman Rhys Hurd said:

We assessed the complaints and decided not to investigate for a number of reasons.

It was a post-watershed programme which started at 9pm and was preceded by a warning of strong language and adult humour.

We considered that the issues raised by the complainants did not warrant further investigation because the incidence of potentially offensive material was justified by the context in which it was presented.

We took account of the fact that the programme had been broadcast by Channel 4 since 2007.

It is a well-established programme and known for its incidence of challenging comments and risque humour.

Tory MP Mark Pritchard spouted:

I am disappointed that Ofcom has not taken this issue seriously.

These comments caused gross offence and went beyond the realms of decency. I'm surprised Ofcom has decided not to investigate a matter that caused offence to hundreds of people through the country. It needs to be far more robust.

 

6th February

 Updated: Party Poopers...

ASA and Ofcom both ban slightly sexy TV trailer for The Valleys
Link Here

tv advert the valleys video Banned by the advert censor, ASA

A TV ad for the MTV series The Valleys featured young people at a house party. Scenes included a woman bouncing on the sofa so you could see her pants, a man flexing his pecs, a women flexing her breasts in a low cut top, two women kissing, men and women kissing and a woman pulling up a man's top and touching his stomach.

The voice-over said, The harder they party, the harder they fall. Will they make it in Cardiff, or will they just end up back in the valleys? Brand new reality, coming soon to MTV .

The ad was cleared by Clearcast with an ex-kids restriction, which meant it should not be shown in or around programmes made for, or specifically targeted at, children.

Four complainants objected that, due to its sexual content, the ad was inappropriately scheduled before 9pm when children might see it.

Clearcast said that when assessing the ad they had considered previous decisions on ads for similar reality TV shows and for products which used innuendo or partial nudity in their treatment. They felt the ad did not go any further in terms of real or implied sexual content and considered an ex-kids restriction was sufficient.

ASA Decision: Complaints Upheld

The complainants had seen the ad between 8pm and 9pm during Eddie Stobart: Trucks & Trailers and the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and believed that, due to its sexual content, the ad was not appropriate to be shown before 9pm. The ASA understood that the ad also been broadcast before 7.30pm. The ad did not contain any explicit nudity, but did include a number of shots that focused on breasts and a number of suggestive scenes such as a woman moving her hand down a man's torso, and two women being photographed on a mobile phone while kissing. Many of the interactions between individuals at the party were depicted with a sexual element and we considered that the overall tone of the ad was sexual. We therefore considered that the ad was not suitable for broadcast when younger children might be watching. We concluded that the ad was not suitable for broadcast before 7.30pm and that the scheduling restriction applied was not sufficient.

The ad breached BCAP Code rule 32.3 (Scheduling of television and radio advertisements).

Update: Banned by the TV Censor Ofcom

6th February 2013. See  Broadcast Beulletin [pdf] from  stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk

Ofcom logo The Valleys (Trailer) MTV Base,
14 September 2012, 10:10 (and also on other MTV channels at various times pre-watershed, between 28 August 2012 and 9 October 2012)

The Valleys, a reality series which started on MTV in September 2012, featured a group of nine young people from the valleys in south Wales brought together in a house in Cardiff hoping to achieve their ambitions. The pre-watershed trailer for this new series was shown across MTV channels. It explained the format of the series and introduced the characters of the nine young people featured.

A complainant alerted Ofcom to the trailer when shown on the morning of 14 September 2012 because of concerns regarding the sexual tone of its content. The complainant considered it to be unsuitable for broadcast during the day when children were available to view.

On reviewing the trailer, Ofcom noted that it was about 30 seconds long. It included images edited together in quick succession of a house party where the nine young people from the valleys were partying energetically with one another. The voiceover at the end of the trailer said: Can these nine party animals make it in Cardiff or will they just end up back in the valleys? Brand new reality starts Tuesday 25th September only on MTV.

Ofcom noted that the brief images in the trailer included those of:

  • a woman, shot from the back, appearing to kiss a man's nipple as he pulls his shirt up;

  •  a man lifting his t-shirt and flexing his chest muscles and a close-up shot of a woman, wearing a low-cut dress revealing her cleavage, flexing her breasts;

  • a man and a woman kissing one another as she strokes her hand down his side and then a shot of the two of them walking towards a room or corridor;

  • two women play-fighting in a bathroom with foam; and

  • two women kissing as they are filmed on a mobile phone.

Ofcom considered the material raised issues warranting investigation under Rule 1.3 of the Code, which states:

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

MTV stated that it considered the trailer suitable for broadcast pre-watershed. The Licensee said that the trailer was viewed by the compliance team on several occasions and discussed extensively. The aim was to ensure the trailer struck the balance between the necessary protection of under-eighteens, the provisions of the Code and conveying the nature of the series to the audience. None of the scenes or individual shots featured in the trailer came from any episode of the series.

Ofcom Decision: Breach of Rule 1.3

Ofcom noted that several of the edited images in the trailer showed physical interactions between the young people featured in The Valleys. It was this interaction which, in Ofcom's opinion, created an implicit but unmistakeable sexualised tone with the purpose of reflecting the adult editorial nature of the post-watershed series. For example, Ofcom noted: the two women kissing; the man and woman kissing while the woman strokes the man's torso in a suggestive manner; the woman appearing to kiss a man's nipple; and the woman flexing her breasts in a low-cut dress in response to a man flexing his chest muscles. There was no nudity but Ofcom noted that there were images of a man's naked torso, a woman's cleavage, and women wearing skimpy party dresses. In Ofcom's view, the cumulative effect of the scenes in this trailer, when viewed together, resulted in a clear adult tone which was in general unsuitable for a pre-watershed audience.

Broadcasts of the trailer however may have been appropriately scheduled when shown later in the evening relatively closer to the 21:00 watershed when children were less likely to view.

Ofcom concluded that this trailer was not appropriately scheduled so as to protect children and therefore it breached Rule 1.3.

 

5th February

 Update: Safer Internet Day...

Ofcom save the sexualised world by making babe channels a little bit more miserable
Link Here

Babe TV Note to Broadcasters Re Adult chat and daytime chat services

Ofcom guidance clearly sets out what Ofcom considers to be acceptable to broadcast on daytime and adult chat services, both pre- and post-watershed. Ofcom has also made clear to licensees in numerous published decisions what sort of material is unsuitable in daytime or adult chat advertising content broadcast without mandatory restricted access.

Recent assessments and investigations by Ofcom into complaints about daytime and adult chat services have highlighted three areas which cause concern. Ofcom has therefore decided to amend the existing guidance to daytime and adult chat broadcasters to take account of these issues. The revised guidance link is effective immediately.

Ofcom requires daytime and adult chat broadcasters to take careful note of the following three points in particular, which are reflected in the amended guidance:

Presenters' clothing on daytime chat services

During daytime chat content, all dress and behaviour should be non-sexual in tone and apparent intent. Therefore presenters should wear clothing that adequately covers their bodies (in particular their breasts, genital areas and buttocks. Presenters should not wear revealing underwear, swimwear, gym wear or fetish clothing (for example nurse, secretary or police officer outfits);

Transition

The watershed is at 9pm and adult chat advertising is acceptable between 9pm and 5.30am only. Adult chat broadcasters should ensure that the transition to more adult material at 9pm, and from adult chat to daytime chat at 05:30am, is not unduly abrupt; and

R18 and equivalent products

Under BCAP Code Rule 30.3, advertisements for R18 and equivalent products (such as websites, video content or images that contain R18 material or its equivalent) are allowed on services with mandatory restricted access only. Ofcom has published on pages 53-59 and 60-66 of this Bulletin findings which illustrate how we apply BCAP Code Rule 30.3 and our interpretation of this rule regarding the advertising of websites and products that fall within the recognised character of pornography.

Ofcom also formally notifies daytime and adult chat broadcasters that as a result our continuing concerns about the compliance of material broadcast on these services with BCAP Code requirements, we are commencing a targeted monitoring exercise of all services broadcasting daytime and adult chat content.

Broadcasters are put on notice that any serious or repeated failings in this area are likely to result in Ofcom taking further regulatory action, for example, the consideration of the imposition of statutory sanctions.

 

28th January

  Shooting Themselves in the Foot...

Live Fox News coverage from a helicopter sees man shoot himself at the end of a car chase (thankfully in long shot)
Link Here

Fox News logo Studio B with Shepard Smith
Fox News Channel, 28 September 2012, 20:30

Fox News Channel is a news channel originating in the USA, broadcast on the Sky digital satellite platform and licensed by Ofcom in the UK. Studio B with Shepard Smith is a daily news and analysis programme hosted by Shepard Smith. The programme features breaking news and live coverage.

Ofcom received a complaint from a viewer objecting to a live segment in this programme in which a car chase was being followed and filmed from a helicopter. The car turned off a main road, the driver abandoned his vehicle on a dirt track, and was then shown in footage (filmed live in long shot from the helicopter but clearly distinguishable) committing suicide by shooting himself in the head with a handgun. The complainant said it was not appropriate to show this content on television, especially pre-watershed when he was watching with his children.

Ofcom considered:

  • Rule 1.3 states that: Children must...be protected by appropriate scheduling from material that is unsuitable for them.

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

Fox News confirmed that when the vehicle stopped the studio had implemented a five-second delay in broadcasting the live material, as stated by Shepard Smith in his broadcast apology. When it became apparent to the production team that the driver was holding a firearm, the Licensee said that the order was given to stop broadcasting the material being filmed from the helicopter and switch to a shot of Shepard Smith in the studio. The fact that the switch was not made in time was the result of human error. In the week following the incident, Fox News said it had instituted a channel-wide five-second delay drill to review how the system works and when it should be used.

The Licensee also pointed out that, in addition to the broadcast apology made by Shepard Smith, a further public apology was made by the Executive Vice-President of Fox News Michael Clemente.

Ofcom Decision: Breach of rules 1.3 and 2.3

The programme was broadcast before the watershed and outside of school hours at 20:30 on a Friday in the UK. While Fox News, as a rolling news channel, is unlikely to attract many child viewers, Ofcom notes that children were nevertheless available to view. The broadcast of this material at this time was clearly not in line with the likely expectations of the audience for this channel, and in particular those of parents. For these reasons, the Licensee failed to protect children from unsuitable material by appropriate scheduling. The material was therefore in breach of Rule 1.3.

The broadcast of images showing the moment of death requires exceptional contextual and editorial justification, as set out in previous findings1 . Ofcom does not believe that there was such exceptional contextual and editorial justification in this instance. Rule 2.3 was therefore breached.

Licensees are reminded that when broadcasting live, if there is a reasonably foreseeable chance that something might be broadcast that would raise issues under the Code, they should be able to demonstrate that they have taken all reasonable measures both before and during the broadcast to ensure compliance with the Code.

Breaches of Rules 1.3 and 2.3

 

27th January

  Too Juicy for Daytime TV...

Ofcom whinges at innuendo in daytime trailer for Keith Lemon's Celebrity Juice
Link Here

Celebrity Juice Too Juicy DVD Celebrity Juice (Trailer)
ITV2 and ITV4, 6 October 2012 to 18 October 2012, various times pre-watershed

Celebrity Juice is a comedy panel game show broadcast post-watershed on ITV2. Keith Lemon (Leigh Francis), the presenter, is a comic character, with a bleached blonde mullet haircut and a ginger moustache. He hosts a panel of celebrity guests who answer questions and compete in challenges, which often involve laddish humour and sexual innuendo. The television presenter Holly Willoughby is a regular team captain.

Ofcom received a number of complaints about a trailer for this programme being broadcast at various times pre-watershed on ITV2 and ITV4. The complaints all related to a brief shot in the trailer featuring the rapper, Example (Elliot John Gleave).

The trailer lasted a total of approximately 30 seconds. The trailer was accompanied by a voice-over, interspersed with snatches of speech, and by the soundtrack of the song Sex Machine :

Voice-Over: With his bronze body, silver tongue

Keith Lemon: You sexy bint!

Voice-Over: and golden 'tache, he's the fittest man on telly.

Holly Willoughby: You know what I'm saying?

Voice-Over: He's got the moves, the style, and the balls, to go where no host has gone before. So lie back, grab the juiciest lemon in the bunch, and prepare to get...

Keith Lemon: Intimate.

The trailer also featured a succession of brief clips from the programme, including Keith Lemon: preparing to run a race; with amateurish on-screen graphics altering his haircut; lifting his shirt to reveal a six pack drawn on his stomach ; miming wiping himself with shredded paper; wearing leopard-skin-print shoes; urinating in a bush; gyrating to music; kissing the head of male guest; with a woman lying prostrate on the ground; and with a man, both stripped to the waist, flexing their pectoral muscles.

There was also one shot featuring Example with Keith Lemon, which lasted only about one second. Example was shown wearing around his waist and over his clothes a pink object which, in Ofcom's view, appeared to resemble a strap-on dildo, which Example thrust towards Keith Lemon

Ofcom considered:

Rule 1.3 Children must...be protected by appropriate scheduling from material that is unsuitable for them.

ITV argued that it had taken the nature of the programme, its style of humour and its target audience into account when editing and scheduling the trailer: Given its nature, promotions for it that are broadcast before the watershed are therefore carefully edited and scheduled. Every promotion for the programme is given a time restriction, and usually they are not shown during or adjacent to children's programmes. This particular programme was given that same restriction, but otherwise it was considered the content was essentially silly and slapstick, and sufficiently acceptable for pre-watershed broadcast.

Ofcom Decision: Breach of rule 1.3

Ofcom first considered whether the brief shot of the object which, in our view, appeared to resemble a strap-on dildo, which was shown on numerous occasions pre-watershed, was unsuitable for child viewers.

ITV acknowledged that the trailer showed Example wearing a phallic object attached to a strap around his waist, which it said was clearly a large inflated balloon intended to provoke mildly bawdy humour . Ofcom disagreed. In our opinion, Example wore a strap around his waist from which protruded at the front a pink object which resembled an erect penis. To a number of viewers this could, in the brief shot shown, in Ofcom's opinion, have reasonably resembled a sex toy. The clip showed Example and Keith Lemon in mid-shot so that the phallic object was unmistakable, and a sexual context was clearly suggested by Example thrusting his pelvis forward. This shot included in the trailer was therefore unsuitable for children.

Breach of Rule 1.3

 

23rd January

 Update: More Serious Issues...

Ofcom put Takbeer TV on notice of sanctions for repeated abuse of the Ahmadi community
Link Here  full story: Ofcom on Religion...ofcom keep religious extremism in check

takbeer tv logo Global Khatm-E-Nabuwat Movement
Takbeer TV, 9 June 2012, 22:00
Khatm-E-Nabuwat
Takbeer TV, 3 July 2012, 22:00

Takbeer TV broadcasts religious and general entertainment content mainly in Urdu, directed towards the Sunni Muslim community, and is available on the Sky satellite platform.

Ofcom received a complaint about the following two programmes:

  • Global Khatm-E-Nabuwat Movement which was a two and a quarter hour phone-in programme, where a four-person panel answered telephone callers' questions on issues of Islamic theology. The complainant considered that the programme encouraged callers to make derogatory and extreme statements about the Ahmadi community
  • Khatm-E-Nabuwat which was a two hour programme that showed the proceedings of a symposium on Islamic themes held in Luton. The complainant considered that the programme contained statements that were derogatory about the founder of the Ahmadi movement, Mirza Ghulum Ahmad, and members of the Ahmadi community more generally.

Example

Caller: These Qadianis, you want to bring them to Islam, the disease [of not being a true believer in Islam] has gone deeper into them and you are treating their sickness; Allah will reward you for this. These are naïve people; they do not know what Mirza Ghulam Qadiani was.

Ofcom considered:

  • Rule 4.1: Broadcasters must exercise the proper degree of responsibility with respect to the content of programmes which are religious programmes.
  • Rule 4.2: The religious views and beliefs of those belonging to a particular religion or religious denomination must not be subject to abusive treatment.

Ofcom Decision; Breach of Rules 4.1 and 4.2

We considered that the broadcaster did not exercise the proper degree of responsibility with respect to the content of these two religious programmes. The programmes were, therefore, in breach of Rule 4.1 of the Code.

We considered that both the programmes subjected members of the Ahmadi community and their beliefs to abusive treatment and therefore were in breach of Rule 4.2 of the Code.

In recording the breaches of Rule 4.2 in this Finding, we noted that this case followed earlier breaches of Rule 4.2 recorded on 18 June 2011 against the Licensee. These earlier breaches concerned five editions of the programme Tafheem Al Masyal, broadcast between October 2010 and March 2011, which also contained a number of derogatory and abusive references to the religious views and beliefs of the Ahmadi community.

We are greatly concerned that Takbeer TV has broadcast further programmes including content that constituted abusive treatment of the Ahmadi community, despite specific assurances given directly to Ofcom by the Licensee that it had improved its compliance processes to address Ofcom's concerns.

In light of these previous assurances and Code breaches, Ofcom regards the current breaches of Rules 4.1 and 4.2 of the Code as serious.

Ofcom therefore puts the Licensee on notice that we will consider these breaches for the imposition of a statutory sanction.

 

22nd January

 Update: Serious Issues...

Ofcom considers sanctions against Sangat TV for panel discussion where participants congratulated knife attackers
Link Here  full story: Ofcom on Religion...ofcom keep religious extremism in check

sangat tv logo Programme about the attack on Lieutenant-General Brar
Sangat TV, 1 October 2012, 19:40

Sangat TV broadcasts religious and general entertainment content in English and Punjabi, primarily directed towards the Sikh community in the UK, and is available on the Sky digital satellite platform.

A complainant alerted Ofcom to a discussion programme on Sangat TV, stating that the programme was congratulating the attackers of Lieutenant-General Brar.

The discussion programme concerned an attack that had taken place on 30 September 2012 on Lieutenant-General Brar. It was reported that whilst on a visit to London Lieutenant-General Brar and his wife had been attacked in a central London street by four men. Despite suffering knife injuries, Lieutenant-General Brar survived the attack.

Lieutenant-General Brar had been the commander of the Indian armed forces who led Operation Bluestar, the Indian Army's controversial military operation against the Golden Temple at Amritsar in June 1984. The Golden Temple is highly revered as a sacred site by the Sikh community, and Operation Bluestar was aimed at removing a number of Sikhs, who were arguing for an independent Sikh homeland, and who were occupying the Golden Temple at that time. It is reported that, according to the Indian Government, 400 people died in the operation, including 87 Indian soldiers. However, these figures are disputed as being too low by some members of the Sikh community.

Ofcom noted that this half-hour programme consisted of eight panellists, including a presenter, discussing issues surrounding the attack. It was broadcast the day after the attack on Lieutenant-General Brar. Eg:

If they [who assaulted Lieutenant-General Brar] were Sikhs, I congratulate them.

Ofcom considered that these statements raised issues warranting investigation under Rule 3.1 of the Code, which states that:

Material likely to encourage or incite the commission of crime or to lead to disorder must not be included in television or radio services.

Following the broadcast of this programme, Sangat TV said that:

We realise that the comments of this programme were in non-compliance [with the Code] and we were unable to control the live broadcast. This was a highly exceptional situation, and when considered in isolation or out of context may make it look inappropriate.

Ofcom Decision

Ofcom found the programme to have breached Rule 3.1 of the Code. The breach of Rule 3.1 in this case is a serious contravention of the Code. Ofcom views any incident where a licensee has allowed content to be broadcast that is likely to encourage or incite the commission of crime or to lead to disorder as a significant contravention of the Code.

Ofcom therefore puts the Licensee on notice that we will consider this breach of the Code for the imposition of a statutory sanction.

 

19th January

  Top Gear and BBFC Food Elude the Grasping ATVOD...

Not only is it bad law that applies expensive and heavy handed state censorship to internet VOD, the rules are impossibly vague as to who it applies to
Link Here

top gear video Decisions uphold ATVOD determination that Business Channel was subject to regulation as an on-demand programme service, but rule that two BBC Worldwide YouTube channels were outside scope of VOD regulation

An appeal by Greystone Media Ltd against an ATVOD determination in April 2011 that its web- based video on demand service The Business Channel was an on-demand programme service and therefore subject to regulation by ATVOD has today not been upheld by Ofcom.

However, two further appeals against ATVOD determinations in May 2011 that BBC Worldwide was providing on-demand programme services on its YouTube channels BBC Food and BBC Top Gear have today been upheld.

In order to fall victim to censorship overseen by ATVOD, a service must satisfy a number of statutory criteria, as set out in section 368A of the Communications Act 2003. One of these is that the principal purpose of the service is the provision of programmes the form and content of which are comparable to the form and content of programmes normally included in television programme services.

To a significant extent, the outcome of all three appeals turned on whether the relevant on demand videos were comparable to television programmes.

Commenting on the decisions, ATVOD Chief Executive Pete Johnson said:

The question of whether video content is 'comparable' to programmes normally included in television broadcasts is far from straightforward. We will now consider the appeal decisions carefully and analyse the implications for future decisions as to whether a particular service is, or is not, subject to regulations designed to protect consumers.

 

17th January

  Suffocating UK Business...

Ofcom fine Playboy TV 100K for not implementing impossibly restrictive child protection rules on its website
Link Here

playboy tv logo Ofcom has fined Playboy 100,000 for failing to protect children from supposedly seriously harmful pornographic material.

Two websites owned by Playboy (Playboy TV and Demand Adult) allowed users to access hardcore videos and images without having the required controls in place to check that users were aged 18 or over.

Unlike other pornographic websites, Video on Demand websites are regulated by Ofcom and the Authority for Video On Demand (ATVOD).

Ofcom concluded that Playboy's failure to protect children from potentially accessing these sites was serious, repeated and reckless.

There are a number of controls that websites can use to verify the age of users. This includes asking for credit card details before any adult content is made accessible. Credit cards, unlike debit cards, are not available to under 18s.

Unfortunately for UK business, a large proportion of potential customers do not hold credit cards. And of those that do, few are willing to type in the onerous details required just to take a look round the site to see if they are interested in subscribing. Some don't want the hassle, and some don't trust porn websites enough to hand out credit card details to sites they have not even been able to have a look round yet.

Surely it would at least be possible for debit cards to introduce a flag to indicate that the holder is known by the bank to be over 18.

Playboy TV and Demand Adult had breached UK rules by having by only have a warning and a self declaration of age in place. Both sites had hardcore imagery available before subscribing and both sites accepted debit cards for full access to video on demand.

Ofcom claimed that due to the serious nature of these breaches, the following financial penalties have been imposed on Playboy:

  • Demand Adult: 65,000
  • Playboy TV: 35,000

Thankfully there are plenty of foreign businesses to support that are able to provide customers with what they are seeking.

 

8th January

  Ofcom Get Their Talons Into Wolverine...

12 rated and cut by channel 4, but not enough for an evening broadcast
Link Here

X Men Origins Wolverine Hugh Jackman X-Men Origins: Wolverine
Channel 4, 26 August 2012, 18:55

X-Men Origins: Wolverine is the fourth feature film in the X-Men comic book fantasy series. The film focuses on the background of Wolverine, a vigilante who produces metal talons from his knuckles and can recover from any wound.

A complainant alerted Ofcom to violent scenes in the broadcast of this film before the 21:00 watershed on Channel 4. After viewing the material, Ofcom noted various examples of violence:

  1. Wolverine as a young boy discovers bony talons emerging from his knuckles and then stabs and kills a man who is revealed subsequently to be his father;
  2. a fantasy gun battle in which a swordsman kills two men by leaping and stabbing them in the chest (not shown in vision);
  3. an intense sequence of surgery in which Wolverine's head and body are drilled with holes and liquid metal is injected into him;
  4. Wolverine has two violent fights his brother; various stab wounds are shown;
  5. Wolverine fights a mutant (who has had his mouth sewn shut and has a long sword coming out of each hand); various stab wounds are featured before the mutant is decapitated off screen; and
  6. Wolverine is shot in the head at close range, although this does not kill him.

Ofcom considered Rule 1.3 of the Code:

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

We therefore wrote to Channel 4 (or the Licensee ) for its formal comments on how the broadcast complied with this rule

Channel 4 said X-Men Origins: Wolverine had been carefully edited by a senior editor at the Licensee to reduce the level of violence in the film to make it suitable for the transmission time. Channel 4 listed 27 edits made to the film to reduce or remove the film's impact overall, including edits for language and violence. The Licensee said the film was scheduled with care to avoid programmes specifically made for children and was preceded in the schedule by 4thought.tv and Channel 4 News.

Channel 4 responded to each of the specific examples of violence identified by Ofcom in the Introduction to this finding:

  1. Channel 4 said that the stabbing itself is largely implicit and there is little or no blood and that it had: edited out close- up shots of the claws emerging from Wolverine's knuckles; and dipped the sound to minimise the impact of the stabbing to death of a man who is subsequently revealed to be Wolverine's father.
  2. Channel 4 pointed out that this scene is clearly a fantasy battle and the stabbing is not seen in vision and therefore only implied.
  3. The Licensee disputed Ofcom's description of this scene, maintaining that the scene was highly stylised and drill bits are not seen being drilled into Wolverine's body . It said that Wolverine had volunteered to undergo the operation to become a superhero and knew in advance it would involve pain: There is no duress and no deliberate infliction of pain for pain's sake.
  4. Channel 4 said it was important to bear in mind that the fights were clearly stylised, fantasy fights with little blood or graphic wounding and in which the wounds immediately healed up while the participants fly and leap across rooms and through buildings . Although edits were made to these scenes to reduce their impact, the Licensee was of the view that they would not have been perceived as real scenes of violence .
  5. Channel 4 said it is not clear whether or not the mutant's mouth was sewn shut as indicated by Ofcom: the Licensee said it was just clear that he [the mutant] has no mouth . It also pointed out that the decapitation of the mutant is not shown on screen and this only becomes apparent as his body falls from the building.
  6. Channel 4 again highlighted the elements of fantasy violence in this sequence and viewer awareness that the main character would not be killed by bullets. The Licensee said there is little or no blood or gore or, indeed, much suffering and that it had edited the sequence to reduce the level of violence, including the removal of a close-up shot of a point blank shot into Wolverine's head

Ofcom Decision: Breach of Rule 1.3

The film contained dark fantasy and violent themes throughout and a number of scenes of violence, aggression and menace. By way of example, in one scene (example 3 above), to enable Wolverine to kill his brother (who had apparently killed his girlfriend), Wolverine voluntarily submitted to a surgical procedure to change his body skeleton and talons from bone to metal. To achieve this, the character was placed in an aquatic container and two rows of hot needles were drilled into Wolverine's body and head. The character clearly experienced excruciating pain, and a number of close-up shots were shown of the needles being drilled into Wolverine's cheeks and forehead.

In another scene (example 5), the climatic fight sequence showed Wolverine fight with another mutant (the name the film series gives to those who have special abilities), a former soldier colleague of Wolverine who had been the subject of various experiments. The result of these experiments (not seen in the film) was that this mutant had a gruesome appearance: he was heavily scarred around the eyes and mouth and appeared to Ofcom to have had his mouth sewn shut so he could not speak. The mutant also had long swords extending from the knuckles of both hands. The fight involved various martial arts elements of jumping, punching and kicking but also, given the two characters had blades built in to their bodies, both characters stabbing each other a number of times (although both automatically healed themselves). The sequence concluded when Wolverine leapt towards the new mutant and slashed him aggressively across the neck. In the subsequent shot, it was clear that the mutant had been decapitated because his head was shown coming away from his body

We took account of the intensity of the surgery sequence, and the repeated sequences of violence and stabbing (despite a number of the characters healing automatically from wounds) spread throughout the film. This material conveyed a continuing theme of dark fantasy violence which, in Ofcom's view, made the content unsuitable for children to view, particularly younger children.

Ofcom did not consider that viewers, and in particular parents, would have expected this level of intensity and violence to be shown on Channel 4 from 18:55 on a Sunday evening.

Ofcom therefore concluded that children were not in this case protected from unsuitable material by appropriate scheduling, and there was a breach of Rule 1.3.

 

5th January

  Not So Popular Petition...

Ofcom fine Tunisian TV channel for partisan views of political controversy
Link Here

al mustakillah logo Ofcom has imposed a 25,000 fine on Al Mustakillah Television for the broadcast of two programmes, the first on 9 October 2011 and the second on 25 October 2011.

Al Mustakillah Television was a news, current affairs and general entertainment service broadcast in Arabic. The Licence for the service was surrendered to Ofcom on 20 November 2012.

Ofcom found that two programmes broadcast by the Al Mustakillah breached several rules of the Code. The Finding followed complaints from three viewers who considered the programmes broadcast on 9 and 25 October 2011 were used to promote the Popular Petition for Freedom, Justice and Development ( the Popular Petition ) in Tunisia.

Ofcom understands the Popular Petition was a manifesto written by Dr Mohamed Elhachmi Hamdi ( Dr Hamdi ), who featured in both of these programmes, adopted by the political party known as the Party of Progressive Conservatives in Tunisia. Dr Hamdi is also sole director and majority shareholder of Al Mustakillah.

Ofcom noted that during these programmes Dr Hamdi himself regularly spoke directly to the camera while setting out in detail the manifesto of the Popular Petition and promoted various policies and promises of the Popular Petition. These included the provision of: free healthcare for all Tunisians; unemployment benefits; and free travel for those of the age of 65.

This was in breach of Rule 5.4 (Programmes must exclude all expressions of the views and opinions of the person providing the service on matters of political controversy and matters relating to current public policy).

In its Finding, Ofcom considered the content and views expressed during the 9 October 2011 programme, prior to the Tunisian Election held on 23 October 2011, were almost entirely positive statements about the Popular Petition and the parties adopting it as a manifesto. Any references to other parties during the programme were, in Ofcom's view pejorative. This was in breach of Rules 6.1 (the rules in Section Five, in particular the rules relating to matters of major political controversy and major matters relating to current public policy, apply to the coverage of elections), 5.11 (due impartiality must be preserved on matters of major political controversy and matters relating to current public policy) and 5.12 (in dealing with matters of major political controversy and 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).

Ofcom considered that the programme broadcast on 25 October 2011, i.e. after the Tunisian General Election, dealt with a matter of political controversy and matters relating to current public policy. The broadcaster did not provide any evidence of the viewpoints of, for example, other Tunisian political parties or their supporters, on the aftermath of the Tunisian General Election, the future policy direction of Tunisia and the policy platform of the Popular Petition, being included on the channel in a series of programmes taken as a whole. Ofcom therefore considered the 25 October programme to be in breach of Rule 5.5 of the Code.

Ofcom logo

Ofcom

Office of Communications

A regulator with multiple roles. Roles of Interest to Melon Farmers are:

  • TV censors for nearly all radio/TV/cable/satellite except for the BBC

  • Internet censors for Video on Demand. This task has been delegated to ATVOD  but Ofcom retain teh absiolute authority

  • Internet censors for copyright/file sharing issues

  • Advert Censors for the limited role of TV channels which exist mainly to advertise premium rate telephone services (such as babe channels)

Websites:
www.ofcom.org.uk

Melon Farmers Pages:
Ofcom Watch
File sharing at Ofcom