Ofcom Watch

 2017: Oct-Dec

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  Ofcom threatened to light Gunpowder under the BBC's arse...

The BBC set to start producing viewer complaint figures once a fortnight


Link Here 15th November 2017

BBC logoThe BBC is to publish detailed information about the complaints it receives from viewers after Ofcom , the TV censor, demanded that the corporation become more transparent.

Under new rules the BBC will have to reveal the number of complaints it receives every fortnight, identify the shows that received more than 100 complaints, and explain the editorial issues raised by the complaints and whether they were upheld.

Ofcom's demand has prompted an angry response from the BBC, which initially fought against publishing the figures amid concerns that it would be expensive and time-consuming.

The BBC is expected to publish the first wave of information about complaints under the new system within the next few days.

 

  Post-mortem censure...

Fox News has ended in the UK but Ofcom have announced that it would have been censured for its partisan reporting of Trump's muslim ban


Link Here 6th November 2017

hannity fox newsHannity
Fox News, 31 January 2017, 06:15

Fox News is a news channel from the US shown on UK TV. Although the channel has ceased to broadcast and is no longer a licensed television service falling under Ofcom’s jurisdiction, Ofcom has decided that publication of this short form decision is appropriate to ensure there is a complete compliance record and to facilitate public understanding of the Code.

This case concerns “due impartiality”.

In reaching this Decision, we have taken into account the fact that Fox News is a US news channel, directed at US audiences, which is available in the UK. The people who watch it in the UK are aware that it is a US channel and their expectations are different. It is not a main source of news in the UK. However, we were also mindful that, in our view, this particular programme dealt with major matters relating to current public policy that, as well as being of international significance, were of particular relevance and significance to UK viewers.

Hannity is a current affairs discussion programme. On 31 January 2017, it covered President Donald Trump’s Executive Order issued on 27 January 2017 restricting travel from seven majority-Muslim countries. Ofcom considered the programme under Code rules:

  • 5.9 (adequate representation of alternative views in ‘personal view’ or discussion programmes),

  • 5.11 (due impartiality on matters of major political and industrial controversy and major matters relating to current public policy) and

  • 5.12 (inclusion of an appropriately wide range of significant views when dealing with matters of major political and industrial controversy and major matters relating to current public policy).

Ofcom considered the Order to be a “major” matter. There was intense international and UK interest in it at the time. Although a domestic US policy, its application was likely to impact non-US citizens, including in the UK. It also attracted scrutiny as an early signal of how the Trump Administration would approach domestic and international affairs. On the day before the broadcast thousands of people joined protests in several UK cities against the travel ban, MPs held an emergency debate at Westminster and more than 1.5 million people had signed a petition calling for Mr Trump’s state visit to the UK to be cancelled.

We went on to consider if due impartiality had been preserved by ensuring alternative viewpoints were sufficiently reflected. The opening monologue featured several video clips of public figures reacting critically to the Order. However, these views were briefly represented in pre-recorded videos and repeatedly dismissed or ridiculed by the presenter without sufficient opportunity for the contributors to challenge or otherwise respond to the criticism directed at them. During the rest of the programme, the presenter interviewed various guests who were all prominent supporters of the Trump administration and highly critical of those opposed to the Order. The presenter consistently voiced his enthusiastic support for the Order and the Trump Administration.

Ofcom acknowledged that viewers were likely to expect Hannity to address controversial issues from a perspective that is generally more supportive of the US Republican Party. However, the likely audience expectations did not provide sufficient contextual justification to outweigh the numerous highly critical statements made about people who had opposed the Order, coupled with the clear support being expressed for the policies of President Trump.

Breaches of Rules 5.9, 5.11 and 5.12

Ofcom cited a second example of Fox News one sided reporting, criticising Tucker Carlson Tonight for a programme about Islam, child abuse and terrorism.

 

  Cleaning up TV...

Ofcom get nasty to force TV companies to snoop on the religion and sexuality of workers and contractors so that Ofcom can demand discriminatory policies of who is allowed to work in TV


Link Here 24th October 2017
Ofcom logoOfcom threatened:

We have investigated 67 licensees in total who failed to respond to our information request by the required deadline, or who provided an incomplete response and we have published our findings on them in this bulletin.

Ofcom considers the breaches we have found to be serious and we will be engaging with these licensees on this matter. We will request diversity and equal opportunities information annually and if the breaches continue, we will consider the imposition of statutory sanctions.

We have examined in detail the arrangements each licensee has in place to promote equal employment opportunities and training, in line with their licence conditions, and we will be contacting licensees we assess to have inadequate arrangements in place.

Monitoring of the radio industry

Ofcom has already started engaging with the radio industry to discuss equal opportunities and diversity and we will begin our monitoring of radio broadcasters shortly. Each licensee will be sent an information request, detailing exactly what information we are collecting, when it is required and what action each licensee needs to take to comply with the request.

Further monitoring of the television and radio industry

We've committed to monitoring the broadcasting industry on an annual basis and publishing the results. Therefore, in 2018 we will be requesting, as a minimum, information on the same protected characteristics of gender, racial group, disability, sexual orientation, age, religion or belief, pregnancy and maternity, and gender reassignment. We are also very keen to understand the make-up of the industry in terms of additional characteristics such as social, geographic and educational background, and we welcome feedback on how this can be measured and improved.

 

  If only people could be force fed with official propaganda news, all would be right with the world...

Ofcom's Patricia Hodgson angles for powers to censor and control internet news distribution by the likes of Facebook and Google


Link Here 11th October 2017
patricia hodgsonThe chairman of the media censor Ofcom has said she believes internet businesses such as Google and Facebook are publishers, and so should be regulated by the state.

Patricia Hodgson also revealed that the board of Ofcom discussed how the internet could be regulated in the future at a strategy day last week, although she said this was ultimately a matter for the government.

Hodgson was speaking to MPs at a hearing of the digital, culture, media and sport committee. Asked about the rise of fake news and whether internet companies should face greater regulation, Hodgson said:

Those particular distribution systems [Facebook, Google, Twitter etc] are not within Ofcom's responsibility but we feel very strongly about the integrity of news in this country and we are totally supportive of steps that should and need to be taken to improve matters.

My personal view is I see this as an issue that is finally being grasped -- certainly within the EU, certainly within this country -- and to my amazement and interest, being asked in the United States as a result of the potential Russian scandals. My personal view is that they are publishers but that is only my personal view, that is not an Ofcom view. As I said, Ofcom is simply concerned about the integrity of news and very supportive of the debate and the steps that are being taken.

Theresa May's spokesman said Hodgson's comments were a matter for her as an independent regulator, but indicated that ministers were sympathetic.

Sharon White, the chief executive of Ofcom, said she was wary of regulating internet companies. We feel strongly that the platforms as publishers have got more responsibility to ensure the right content, she said. I don't think it's a question of regulation, which I think has a fuzzy boundary with censorship, but I think we feel strongly that the platforms ought to be doing more to ensure their content can be trusted.

 

 Update: An unbalanced complaint...

Ofcom clears an Al Jazeera documentary which revealed political plotting at the Israeli Embassy in London


Link Here 10th October 2017  full story: Al Jazeera censored in the Middle East...The Middle East doesn't like the balanced reportng of Al Jazeera
Ofcom logoQatar is under the cosh in the Middle East caught in a deadly pincer movement of a Saudi led coalition of Arab countries on one side and Israel on the other. All these countries object to Qatar's funding of the Al Jazeera news channel which provides seeming well balanced reporting across the region in both Arabic and English. Its seems that Qatar's neighbours would prefer the news to be dominated by their own, not quite so balanced, news networks, that are a little bit more sycophantic to their own interests.

So perhaps it was hardly surprising that an Al Jazeera documentary investigating the Isreali Embassy in London would be reported to Ofcom for supposed bias.

The UK TV censor Ofcom investigated Al Jazeera after receiving complaints about The Lobby , a four-part documentary investigating the political influence of the Israeli embassy in Britain.

The programme showed Shai Masot, an official in the Israeli embassy in London, saying he would take down MPs including Sir Alan Duncan , the Foreign Office minister who is an outspoken supporter of a Palestinian state. The Israeli ambassador subsequently apologised for the comments and Masot resigned.

Ofcom cleared al-Jazeera after concluding it did not make allegations in the documentary that were based on the grounds of individuals being Jewish and that it had included the view of the Israeli government in the programme. It ruled that al-Jazeera had not breached rule 2.3, which relates to offensive matter, and rule 5.5 with regards to impartiality. Ofcom said:

It was the view of some complainants that The Lobby fuelled harmful stereotypes about Jewish people controlling or seeking to control powerful organisations. These complainants considered this was antisemitic and offensive.

We considered that the allegations in the programme were not made on the grounds that any of the particular individuals concerned were Jewish and noted that no claims were made relating to their faith. We did not consider that the programme portrayed any negative stereotypes of Jewish people as controlling or seeking to control the media or governments. Rather, it was our view that these individuals featured in the programme in the context of its investigation into the alleged activities of a foreign state -- the state of Israel acting through its UK embassy -- and their association with it.

An al-Jazeera source welcomed the ruling, saying:

This goes to show that no matter what al-Jazeera's critics say, its journalism meets and exceeds the highest standards of objectivity and balance. We feel vindicated by the rulings and ever more committed to exposing human rights violations by anyone -- regardless of geography, religion, or the power of their lobbies.

 

  A complaint about transparency...

Ofcom tells the BBC to publish detailed viewer complaints figures about its programmes


Link Here 7th October 2017

Ofcom logoThe BBC is facing a court battle after it defied Ofcom orders to publish figures on complaints about its shows.

Channel 4 and ITV already disclose the numbers, and release detailed information about objections to their programmes every two weeks. But the BBC nsists on keeping that information a secret. Perhaps this more about revealing political accusations of bias rather than trivial whinges by the 'easily offended.

Now TV censor Ofcom has waded in and told the BBC it has no choice but to become more transparent. Ofcom insiders have also made it clear that they are prepared to go to court over the matter if the BBC digs its heels in. Sharon White, Ofcom's chief executive, regards it as an important point of principle.

Kevin Bakhurst, an Ofcom director and a former BBC news boss, has told Corporation executives they need to comply. In a strongly worded letter, seen by the Mail, he said:

The greater transparency we propose is necessary to build and maintain public confidence in the operation of the BBC... and to provide public accountability.

Ofcom has given the BBC until the November 19 to comply with orders and publish fortnightly complaints bulletins that go into the same level of detail as Ofcom's reports about Channel 4, ITV, Five, Sky and other broadcasters.

BBC bosses will then have to publish the exact number of complaints the Corporation receives about every programme that registers 100 or more objections. Every time a complaint sparks an investigation, it will also be forced to disclose full details of the complaints, the points of principles at stake and the outcome of its probe.

A BBC spokesman has responded:

The BBC is already the most transparent broadcaster on complaints, including publishing data every month and responding on our website, and numbers are often influenced by orchestrated political campaigns but of course we are considering Ofcom's letter.

 

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