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Updated: So how much would you trust the politically correct Ofcom to censor internet news?...

Ofcom boss Sharon White sneers at the British people, and volunteers Ofcom to be their internet news censor


Link Here 16th July 2018
Sharon White, the CEO of Ofcom has put her case to be the British internet news censor, disgracefully from behind the paywalled website of the The Times.

White says Ofcom has done research showing how little users trust what they read on social media. She said that only 39% consider social media to be a trustworthy news source, compared with 63% for newspapers, and 70% for TV.

But then again many people don't much trust the biased moralising from the politically correct mainstream media, including the likes of Ofcom.

White claims social media platforms need to be more accountable in how they curate and police content on their platforms, or face regulation.

In reality, Facebook's algorithm seems pretty straightforward, it just gives readers more of what they have liked in the past. But of course the powers that be don't like people choosing their own media sources, they would much prefer that the BBC, or the Guardian , or Ofcom do the choosing.

Sharon White, wrote in the Times:

The argument for independent regulatory oversight of [large online players] has never been stronger.

In practice, this would place much greater scrutiny on how effectively the online platforms respond to harmful content to protect consumers, with powers for a regulator to enforce standards, and act if these are not met.

She continued, disgracefully revealing her complete contempt of the British people:

Many people admit they simply don't have the time or inclination to think critically when engaging with news, which has important implications for our democracy.

White joins a growing number of the establishment elite arguing that social media needs cenorship. The government has frequently suggested as much, with Matt Hancock, then digital, culture, media and sport secretary, telling Facebook in April:

Social media companies are not above the law and will not be allowed to shirk their responsibilities to our citizens.

Update: The whole pitch to offer Ofcom's services as a news censor

15th July 2018. See Sunday Times article republished by Ofcom from ofcom.org.uk

Ofcom has published Sharon White's pitch for Ofcom to become the internet news censor.

White is nominally commenting on two research reports:

There seems to be 4 whinges about modern news reading via smart phones and all of them are just characteristics of the medium that will never change regardless of whether we have news censors or not.

  1. Fake News: mostly only exists in the minds of politicians. No one else can find hardly any. So internet news readers are not much bothered by trying to detect it.
  2. Passive news reading. Its far too much trouble typing in stuff on a smart phone to be bothered to go out and find stuff for yourself. So the next best thing is to use apps that do the best job in feeding you articles that are of interest.
  3. Skimming and shallow reading of news feeds. Well there's so much news out there and the news feed algorithm isn't too hot anyway so if anything isn't quite 100% interesting, then just scroll on. This isn't going to change any time soon.
  4. Echo chambers. This is just a put-down phrase for phone users choosing to read the news that they like. If a news censor thinks that more worthy news should be force fed into people's news readers than they will just suffer the indignity of being rapidly swiped into touch.

Anyway this is Sharon White's take:

Picking up a newspaper with a morning coffee. Settling down to watch TV news after a day's work. Reading the sections of the Sunday papers in your favourite order.

For decades, habit and routine have helped to define our relationship with the news. In the past, people consumed news at set times of day, but heard little in between. But for many people, those habits, and the news landscape that shapes them, have now changed fundamentally.

Vast numbers of news stories are now available 24/7, through a wide range of online platforms and devices, with social media now the most popular way of accessing news on the internet. Today's readers and viewers face the challenge to keep up. So too, importantly, does regulation.

The fluid environment of social media certainly brings benefits to news, offering more choice, real-time updates, and a platform for different voices and perspectives. But it also presents new challenges for readers and regulators alike -- something that we, as a regulator of editorial standards in TV and radio, are now giving thought for the online world.

In new Ofcom research, we asked people about their relationship with news in our always-on society, and the findings are fascinating.

People feel there is more news than ever before, which presents a challenge for their time and attention. This, combined with fear of missing out, means many feel compelled to engage with several sources of news, but only have the capacity to do so superficially.

Similarly, as many of us now read news through social media on our smartphones, we're constantly scrolling, swiping and clearing at speed. We're exposed to breaking news notifications, newsfeeds, shared news and stories mixed with other types of content. This limits our ability to process, or even recognise, the news we see. It means we often engage with it incidentally, rather than actively.

In fact, our study showed that, after being exposed to news stories online, many participants had no conscious recollection of them at all. For example, one recalled seeing nine news stories online over a week -- she had actually viewed 13 in one day alone. Others remembered reading particular articles, but couldn't recall any of the detail.

Social media's attraction as a source of news also raises questions of trust, with people much more likely to doubt what they see on these platforms. Our research shows only 39% consider social media to be a trustworthy news source, compared to 63% for newspapers, and 70% for TV.

Fake news and clickbait articles persist as common concerns among the people taking part in our research, but many struggle to check the validity of online news content. Some rely on gut instinct to tell fact from fiction, while others seek second opinions from friends and family, or look for established news logos, such as the Times. Many people admit they simply don't have the time or inclination to think critically when engaging with news, which has important implications for our democracy.

Education on how to navigate online news effectively is, of course, important. But the onus shouldn't be on the public to detect and deal with fake and harmful content. Online companies need to be much more accountable when it comes to curating and policing the content on their platforms, where this risks harm to the public.

We welcome emerging actions by the major online players, but consider that the argument for independent regulatory oversight of their activities has never been stronger. Such a regime would need to be based on transparency, and a set of clear underpinning principles.

In practice, this would place much greater scrutiny on how effectively the online platforms respond to harmful content to protect consumers, with powers for a regulator to enforce standards, and act if these are not met. We will outline further thoughts on the role independent regulation could play in the autumn.

When it comes to trust and accountability, public service broadcasters like the BBC also have a vital role to play. Their news operations provide the bedrock for much of the news content we see online, and as the broadcasting regulator, Ofcom will continue to hold them to the highest standards.

Ofcom's research can help inform the debate about how to regulate effectively in an online world. We will continue to shine a light on the behavioural trends that emerge, as people's complex and evolving relationship with the media continues to evolve.

And perhaps if you have skimmed over White's piece a bit rapidly, here is the key paragraph again:

In practice, this would place much greater scrutiny on how effectively the online platforms respond to harmful content to protect consumers, with powers for a regulator to enforce standards, and act if these are not met. We will outline further thoughts on the role independent regulation could play in the autumn.

 

 

Updated: A date with the waste paper bin...

Love Island wins a record breaking number of complaints but Ofcom doesn't sound too interested


Link Here 16th July 2018
Ofcom has received more than 2,500 complaints over Sunday night's episode of Love Island.

The complaints are directly related to a scene where Dani Dyer is shown a misleading video about the fidelity of boyfriend Jack Fincham. The couple were put in separate villas, after the boys and girls were split up as part of a plot twist.

Viewers took to Twitter to criticise the scene, with some saying the show was not considering the mental health of contestants.

A spokeswoman for Ofcom confirmed that there had been 2,525 complaints in total relating to Dani being shown the video of Jack. She added the rather disinterested comment:

We are considering these complaints against our broadcasting rules, before deciding whether or not to investigate. The number of complaints is irrelevant - Ofcom will investigate if it considers a broadcaster or service provider may have breached its codes.

Update: Final tally

16th July 2018. See article [pdf] from ofcom.org.uk

And indeed Ofcom reported that they consigned 2644 complaints about Love Island straight into the waste paper bin.

 

 

Annual Diversity Report...

Ofcom publishes its latest Annual Report


Link Here 13th July 2018
There's plenty of fine words in Ofcom's latest Annual report covering the 12 months up until March 2018.

Particularly prevalent are comments about diversity, obviously a big thing at Ofcom. They speak of programming for diverse audiences, diversity targets for employment in the TV and radio industry, and diversity targets for their own staff. It is clearly commendable that they have set themselves aggressively short time scales to sort out their own diversity, but is seems a little ironic that the only way they can achieve this is by the blatant discrimination against white men, by refusing to employ any of them for 2 or 3 years.

Diversity also features prominently in Ofcom's summary of broadcasting sanctions for the year, albeit with a distinctly non-diverse commonality:

Our Broadcasting Code includes rules which prohibit the broadcast of material that is likely to encourage or incite crime or disorder. This is a critically important duty and we have taken robust enforcement action against broadcasters for serious breaches of our rules, involving hate speech and material likely to incite crime or disorder.

In the most serious case, we found that the licence holder for Iman FM was not a fit and proper licensee and we revoked its broadcast licence. This community radio station in Sheffield broadcast lectures by a radical Muslim cleric which contained material likely to incite crime, hate speech and justified in tolerance towards non-Muslim people.

We also fined Ariana International 200,000, Kanshi Radio 17,500,and Radio Dawn 2,000 for serious breaches of our rules in this area.

Ofcom does not mention other censorship issues much beyond repeatedly claiming that they are protecting people from harm (by not letting them watch what they want to watch).

Perhaps the most hopeful section of the report is that Ofcom look set to allow more adult content to be broadcast before the watershed when PIN technology is available as an alternative to waiting until bedtime. Presumably British TV companies are rather seeing their narrow post watershed time slot as a little unfair when US internet TV services, notably Netflix and Amazon Prime can sell their programmes throughout the day.

Ofcom writes:

In March 2018 we published a consultation seeking stakeholder views on a proposal to extend the mandatory daytime protection rules in the Code beyond premium subscription and pay-per-view film channels, so that programmes which can currently only be shown after the 9pm watershed could be shown on scheduled television channels at any time of day, provided that a mandatory PIN protection is in place.

To inform this work, we commissioned research on family viewing habits and audience awareness, use of and attitudes towards PIN systems. This research report was published alongside the consultation.

The consultation set out Ofcom's view that the proposed extension of the rules in this area would enable the Code to reflect the evolving viewing habits of TV audiences, and would allow adults to have increased choice in daytime viewing. Importantly, our proposal would not affect the 9pm watershed, which is a trusted and fundamental feature of broadcast regulation that continues to ensure protection for children.

We are currently considering stakeholder responses and expect to publish a statement in summer 2018.

 

 

Stereotypically PC...

Ofcom is offended by 1944 cartoon featuring historical racial stereotyping


Link Here 2nd July 2018

Suddenly It's Spring
That's Oxford, 17 March 2018, 11:20

That's Oxford is a local television service for Oxford and the surrounding area.

Suddenly It's Spring was a children's cartoon made in 1944, featuring the doll Raggedy Ann setting out on a mission to ask the Sun to shine on her poorly owner. On her journey she was shown asking other weather elements, Mr Cloud, Mr Breezy and Mr Zero to assist her.

Ofcom received a complaint that the character of Mr Cloud was depicted as an offensive and outdated racial stereotype of a black person. Mr Cloud was depicted in the cartoon as a black person from the deep south of America with exaggerated facial features. In addition, he was portrayed as indolent with slow, slurred speech.

Ofcom considered:

  • Rule 1.3: Children must206be protected by appropriate scheduling from material that is unsuitable for them206.

  • Rule 2.3: In applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context206Such material may include, but is not limited to, ...humiliation, distress, violation of human dignity, discriminatory treatment or language (for example on the grounds of...race....

The Licensee accepted that the cartoon contained a racial stereotype that was likely to cause offence and apologised for any offence caused.

Ofcom decision

Ofcom considered whether the characterisation of Mr Cloud in this cartoon was unsuitable for children. In Ofcom's view the exaggerated facial features and indolent nature of the character reinforced an outdated, pejorative and harmful racial stereotype of a black person which was not suitable for children to view.

Rule 2.3 states that in applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that potentially offensive material is justified by the context. Context includes, but is not limited to, editorial content of the programme, warnings given to listeners, the time of the broadcast and the likely expectation of the audience.

We first considered whether this content was potentially offensive. Given this cartoon included a negative stereotype of a black person, which reinforced racial prejudice, Ofcom was of the view that this material was also highly offensive.

We next considered whether there was sufficient context to justify any potential offence. We acknowledged this cartoon dated from 1944 when there were very different attitudes towards portrayals of race and when race discrimination was prevalent. We also accepted that with the appropriate level of context such archive material may still be broadcast. However, in our view UK audiences today would find such racial stereotyping highly unacceptable and out of step with generally accepted standards as it was broadcast in this case. Therefore, the broadcast of this offensive content without a warning or any other context was also a breach of Rule 2.3.

Breaches of Rules 1.3 and 2.3

 

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