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  Tom Watson attacks witty adverts for Russian propaganda channel RT...

Politicians need to face up to their own failure to look after the jobs and prospects of people and not blame their unpopularity on silly distractions like Russian propaganda


Link Here 20th October 2017
rtt question moreAdverts for the Russian propagander channel RT that tell London commuters to watch to find out who we are planning to hack next show it is the Russian government's mouthpiece, Labour has said.

Shadow Culture Secretary Tom Watson called on TV censor Ofcom to investigate RT, formerly known as Russia Today, over the advert running on the bus and Tube network, saying it is not funny and caused significant alarm. Watson wrote in a letter to Ofcom chief executive Sharon White:

This has caused significant alarm in light of the fact the Russian state has been linked to a series of cyberattacks across the world. I appreciate the RT advert in question may have been intended as ironic or humorous but it isn't funny.

At a time when there are grave international and domestic concerns following hacking by the Russian state, this provocative advert is a tacit admission that RT is the mouthpiece of that state.

Watson's intervention comes after Boris Johnson condemned Labour MPs, including Jeremy Corbyn, for appearing on the channel for interview, despite the fact many Tories, including his own father, had done the same.

The hacking advert is one of a series of provocative ads running on London buses and on the Tube, in which the channel mocks accusations of bias and cites them as a reason to watch it. Another advert ironically notes:

Missed the Train?
Lost a vote?
Blame it on us!

An Ofcom spokesman said: We have received Mr Watson's letter and we'll respond shortly.

The Advertising Standards Agency told HuffPost it had received a complaint, which accused the advert of being offensive as it likely to cause fear or distress (by suggesting a foreign power can disrupt a democratic system). A spokesman added it was still being assessed to see whether there was grounds for an investigation.

 

  A bit of a lucky dip...

Games censors and the UK parliament considers whether loot boxes in video games need to be regulated as gambling


Link Here 17th October 2017
loot boxLoot boxes are a revenue creating facility where gamers are assisted in their quests by the real money purchase of loot boxes that contain a random collections of goodies that help game progress. loot boxes are found in many commercially successful games, such as Overwatch, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Halo 5: Guardians, Battlefield 1, Paragon, Gears of War 4, and FIFA 17.

The pros and cons of this method of revenue raising has been passionately debated in games forums and teh debate seems to have widened out to more regulatory spheres.

Last week the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), who rate games for North America declared that loot boxes, despite their inherent randomness, do not constitute a form of gambling. The reason, simply put, is that while you don't know what you're going to get out of them, you know you're going to get something -- unlike a lottery ticket, say, where the great likelihood is that your money is just going up in smoke.

The same opinion is reflected by PEGI who rate games for Europe. PEGI operations director Dirk Bosmans told Wccftech:

In short, our approach is similar to that of ESRB. The main reason for this is that we cannot define what constitutes gambling, That is the responsibility of a national gambling commission. Our gambling content descriptor is given to games that simulate or teach gambling as it's done in real life in casinos, racetracks, etc. If a gambling commission would state that loot boxes are a form of gambling, then we would have to adjust our criteria to that.

And for solidarity the UK games trade group Ukie agreed. Dr. Jo Twist of Ukie said

Loot boxes are already covered by and fully compliant with existing relevant UK regulations. The games sector has a history of open and constructive dialogue with regulators, ensuring that games fully comply with UK law and has already discussed similar issues as part of last year's Gambling Commission paper on virtual currencies, esports and social gaming.

Not everyone agrees though, a British parliamentarian gave a little push to the UK government by submitting the questions:

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps she plans to take to help protect vulnerable adults and children from illegal gambling, in-game gambling and loot boxes within computer games.

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment the Government has made of the effectiveness of the Isle of Man's enhanced protections against illegal and in-game gambling and loot boxes; and what discussions she has had with Cabinet colleagues on adopting such protections in the UK.

It seems that the Isle of Mann already sees loot boxes as being liable to gambling controls.

Tracey Crouch, from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport responded in a statement, pointing out that definitions and protections already exist regarding loot boxes and other in-game currencies, referencing a paper published by the UK Gambling Commission earlier this year. She said:

Where items obtained in a computer game can be traded or exchanged outside the game platform they acquire a monetary value, and where facilities for gambling with such items are offered to consumers located in Britain a Gambling Commission licence is required. If no licence is held, the Commission uses a wide range of regulatory powers to take action.

So for the moment it seems that for the moment the status quo will be maintained, but in this age of cotton wool and snowflakes, I wouldn't bet on it.

 

  Smoking Hot...

House of Lords questioning criticises smoking on ITV's Love Island


Link Here 17th October 2017

love island 2017Lord Storey Not So Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Education)

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they plan to strengthen the broadcasting code in relation to smoking on reality TV shows, particularly those aimed at young people.

Lord Ashton of Hyde The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

My Lords, as the independent regulator, decisions on amending the Broadcasting Code are rightly a matter for Ofcom. Ofcom takes the protection of children and young people very seriously, and that is why there are already specific restrictions on the portrayal of smoking on television.

Lord Storey

I thank the Minister for his reply. I do not know whether he is a regular watcher of Love Island, but the ITV website describes that programme as an, emotional feast of lust and passion in the sun.

The same website says that the programme captures 56% share of 16-34 viewers.

On this programme, those contestants are regularly smoking. What message does that send to young people -- that I can live a glamorous life if I smoke as well? I am surprised that the Ofcom Broadcasting Code says that smoking must not be,

"glamorised in ... programmes likely to be widely seen, heard or accessed by under-eighteens unless there is editorial justification".

Does the Minister think that Ofcom should take action on this matter?

Lord Ashton of Hyde

My Lords, I am not a regular watcher of Love Island, but I cannot help noticing that the House is unusually full today. Obviously, as I said, it is a matter for Ofcom. The Broadcasting Code is there to be regulated by Ofcom, and that is what Ofcom is there for. Any complaints about a programme will be investigated by Ofcom, and it is up to anyone who has concerns about smoking in this programme to complain to Ofcom. Incidentally, to put this into perspective, Ofcom had just under 15,000 complaints last year and 75 related to smoking on Love Island.

 

  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.

 

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