UK TV and Radio News

 2010: April-June

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30th June   

Update: Ban Aborted...

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US banned Family Guy episode airs on BBC 3
Link Here  full story: Family Guy...TV programme found not so family friendly

family guy abortionThe BBC did a good thing last week, which was to broadcast an episode of Family Guy, Partial Terms of Endearment , on BBC3. This episode wasn't screened at all in the US, because it is about Lois having an abortion. She becomes a surrogate mother for a friend, but the friend then dies in a car crash. So Lois heads to the Family Planning Centre with her husband, Peter, where she makes a reasoned and thoughtful decision to have an abortion. Peter's all in favour of an abortion, too, until he is shown a pro-life video by protestors outside the centre.

This is all incredibly funny. The video that Peter watches is a heroic pastiche: Science, proclaims the spokesman, has proven that within hours of conception, a human foetus has started a college fund and has already made your first mother's day card out of macaroni and glitter . At this point, it cuts to a picture of a foetus holding a handmade card which reads, Mom, don't kill me! I wuv you.

It's no surprise this episode hasn't aired in the States, although it is expected to be included in the DVD release of the series.

So three cheers to Family Guy , for having the courage of many of our convictions. And an extra cheer for the BBC, for letting us watch it.

...Read the full article

 

23rd June   

Part of Life...

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BBC survey finds acceptance of TV violence in The Bill and Casualty
Link Here

BBC logoThe BBC reports that viewers find violence on TV acceptable after polling 300 people.

Sexual violence on screen is seen as part of life as long as it is not gratuitous , according to the study. The BBC survey found people are tolerant of violence in programmes such as The Bill and Casualty .

The findings, which will feed into programme makers' guidelines.

Nutters predictably fear the findings could be a green light to lower standards on taste and decency.

Vivienne Pattison, head of Mediawatch UK, said: No one has ever complained to me there is not enough violence on the telly. But I hear a lot from people who think there is too much. Our concern is that if violence is shown as normal on TV it is normalised and it helps create a violent society.

She also condemned the decision to consult children as young as 11, saying big themes should be decided by people who are at least old enough to vote.

The study saw 13 fictional and factual sequences, including rape and murder, shown to a cross section of UK audiences .

The total number of people who took part in the screenings and in-depth discussions numbered 300 and ranged from aged 11 to 75. A BBC spokesman said anyone under 18 was not shown clips but instead took part in moderated focus groups. The sample of 300 was completely robust and nationally representative in terms of demographics, he added.

Guidance for BBC programme makers on violence in drama and news is to be released this autumn.

 

10th June   

Update: How Offensive is That?...

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Ofcom publish research grading strong language
Link Here  full story: Strong Language on TV...Whinging about strong langauge on TV

Ofcom logoOfcom have produced a report titles: Audience attitudes towards offensive language on television and radio. In it they write:

Ofcom recognises that the use of language changes over time. Likewise the impact of the offence it may cause also changes over time.

In the five years since Ofcom last published research on attitudes to offensive language, we have received complaints about the use of terms which may not have previously been considered potentially offensive. In addition some words are now considered of heightened sensitivity and are seldom broadcast, while other terms are considered less offensive than in previous years.

Therefore the purpose of Ofcom commissioning independent research by Synovate, was to provide an up to date understanding of public attitudes to offensive language in order to inform Ofcom, viewers, listeners and broadcasters.

The research was qualitative in nature. This means it explored the views of a range of participants across the UK, and provided insights into their opinions based on a variety of examples of broadcast material. It was not a quantitative study, so the results do not seek to provide a definitive measure of the proportion of the UK population who hold specific opinions.

They found:

Amongst the words explored in this research, participants thought that some words were considerably stronger than others.

The mildest words were considered acceptable in most situations (e.g. arse , damn , tits'), whereas considerable care was seen to be necessary over the use of stronger words. In terms of strong language, most participants found the words 'cunt , fuck , 'motherfucker', pussy , cock and twat unacceptable pre-watershed and also wanted care to be taken over the use of the words bitch , bastard , bugger , dick , wanker , 'shag', slag and shit .

Post-watershed, cunt and motherfucker were considered the least acceptable words discussed in the research.

There were mixed views on the use of the word fuck which was considered more acceptable by some participants (e.g. younger people and male participants) but less acceptable by others (e.g. participants aged 55-75).

Most participants also wanted some care to be taken over the use of the word pussy post-watershed. The other words listed were seen to be acceptable postwatershed by most participants.

In terms of discriminatory language, nigger and Paki were seen as the most offensive words. Some participants thought it was acceptable to use them in some specific contexts (e.g. for educational use), whereas some thought they should not be used on television or radio in any context. The word spastic was also generally considered unacceptable.

Some discriminatory language polarised responses, particularly 'retarded', gyppo , pikey , gay and cripple as participants' familiarity with and interpretation of, these words varied greatly, both within the general UK sample, and between the general UK sample and the minority groups.

Overall, most potentially offensive words were not seen to be unacceptable in principle, as context was a key factor in determining whether language was seen as generally acceptable or unacceptable. The exception to this was some potentially discriminatory language (particularly Paki , nigger and spastic') which some participants considered unacceptable in any context. Some participants considered offensive language to be unacceptable when used too frequently, even if its use was thought to be broadly acceptable in relation to all of the other principles outlined in this report.

 

10th June   

Offsite: Jonathan Dimbleby...

BBC's culture of compliance is extremely damaging
Link Here

jonathan dimblebyThe presenter who divided industry over his Prince of Wales Camilla interview criticises UK libel laws and the role of the BBC Trust.

The Any Questions host identifies a greater culture of compliance in direct response to the Ross/Brand saga – which in itself was extremely damaging for the BBC. And he is worried.

Everyone is in the same boat. To me it is peculiar that I do a live radio programme every week but six months ago the BBC decided I have to have the live trail on Friday's Today programme cleared because it is prepared in advance. But I can give this interview and say what I like. It seems a consequence of the Brand/Ross scandal but one wonders whether it was intentional or a result of drift. It risks creating a climate of caution. People are in danger of not thinking for themselves.

The safety-first culture inhibits personal response or judgment. People think something will be referred and they wonder how it will be interpreted if it goes to the very top, to the trust. The risk of that is an infantilisation of very serious, very talented people. I wonder whether such a detailed process of compliance is a useful way of spending time.

...Read full article

 

19th May   

We Are Not Amused...

BBC local radio DJ announces the death of the Queen as a joke
Link Here

danny kellyThe BBC has apologised after a radio DJ joked live on air that the Queen had died.

Danny Kelly began playing the national anthem and sombrely told up to a quarter of a million listeners he had some astonishing news to deliver. He then said: Queen Elizabeth II has now died .

The DJ had been half-way through his two-hour afternoon show on the local BBC WM station which broadcasts to the West Midlands from Birmingham.

Within seconds, producer Mark Newman jumped in, telling him: You can't say that .

Kelly then clarified that he had been referring to a friend on his show's Facebook page who went by the name Queen Elizabeth II , but who had vanished from the site.

Vivianne Patterson, chairman of nutter group Mediawatch-UK, said Kelly's remark was incredibly ill-conceived and added: It's a bit sick actually. I think because it's the Queen and they treated it like a big announcement it makes things worse. It's the BBC we are talking about here and there's a certain expectation from them. The use of the national anthem is a problem here as well - I really think it's pushing things.'

A BBC spokesman said: We can confirm that Danny Kelly made an inappropriate remark about the Queen during his radio show on BBC WM today. Although made as part of a light-hearted piece about social media friends, and corrected on air immediately after it was made, this comment was entirely inappropriate and the BBC apologises unreservedly for it. There was no intention to offend. BBC WM takes these comments very seriously. Action is being taken.

Ofcom said it had not received any complaints about the joke.

 

17th May   

Updated: Boyling Over...

Frankie Boyle writes to BBC Trust over their cowardice against well drilled lobbying
Link Here  full story: Frankie Boyle...Whinges about Frankie Boyle and Mock the Week

My Shit Life So Far Comedian Frankie Boyle has written an open letter slamming the BBC governing body's cowardly rebuke of his jokes about Palestine.

The BBC Trust's editorial standards committee apologised earlier this week over comments made by Boyle two years ago, comparing Palestine to a cake being punched to pieces by a very angry Jew .

In his letter, the former Mock The Week star said he had been moved to tears after watching a documentary about life in Palestine and had promised himself he would do something.

He said that the BBC wished to deliver the flavour of political comedy with none of the content , and also slammed the BBC's decision not to air a charity appeal for aid to Gaza last year. He said: It's tragic for such a great institution, but it is now cravenly afraid of giving offence and vulnerable to any kind of well-drilled lobbying.

Boyle made the remarks on Radio 4 show Political Animal. He said: I've been studying Israeli Army martial arts. I now know 16 ways to kick a Palestinian woman in the back.

Update: Open Letter to the BBC Trust

17th May 2010. See article from mpacuk.org

Obviously, it feels strange to be on the moral high ground but I feel a response is required to the BBC Trust's cowardly rebuke of my jokes about Palestine.

As always, I heard nothing from the BBC but read in a newspaper that editorial procedures would be tightened further to stop jokes with anything at all to say getting past the censors.

In case you missed it, the jokes in question are: I've been studying Israeli Army Martial Arts. I now know 16 ways to kick a Palestinian woman in the back. People think that the Middle East is very complex but I have an analogy that sums it up quite well. If you imagine that Palestine is a big cake, well…that cake is being punched to pieces by a very angry Jew.

I think the problem here is that the show's producers will have thought that Israel, an aggressive, terrorist state with a nuclear arsenal was an appropriate target for satire. The Trust's ruling is essentially a note from their line managers. It says that if you imagine that a state busily going about the destruction of an entire people is fair game, you are mistaken. Israel is out of bounds.

The BBC refused to broadcast a humanitarian appeal in 2009 to help residents of Gaza rebuild their homes. It's tragic for such a great institution but it is now cravenly afraid of giving offence and vulnerable to any kind of well drilled lobbying.

I told the jokes on a Radio 4 show called Political Animal. That title seems to promise provocative comedy with a point of view. In practice the BBC wish to deliver the flavour of political comedy with none of the content. The most recent offering I saw was BBC Two's The Bubble. It looked exactly like a show where funny people sat around and did jokes about the news. Except the thrust of the format was that nobody had read the papers. I can only imagine how the head of the BBC Trust must have looked watching that, grinning like Gordon Brown having his prostrate examined.

The situation in Palestine seems to be, in essence, apartheid. I grew up with the anti apartheid thing being a huge focus of debate. It really seemed to matter to everybody that other human beings were being treated in that way. We didn't just talk about it, we did things, I remember boycotts and marches and demos all being held because we couldn't bear that people were being treated like that.

A few years ago I watched a documentary about life in Palestine. There's a section where a UN dignitary of some kind comes to do a photo opportunity outside a new hospital. The staff know that it communicates nothing of the real desperation of their position, so they trick her into a side ward on her way out. She ends up in a room with a child who the doctors explain is in a critical condition because they don't have the supplies to keep treating him. She flounders, awkwardly caught in the bleak reality of the room, mouthing platitudes over a dying boy.

The filmmaker asks one of the doctors what they think the stunt will have achieved. He is suddenly angry, perhaps having just felt at first hand something he knew in the abstract. The indifference of the world. She will do nothing, he says to the filmmaker. Then he looks into the camera and says, Neither will you .

I cried at that and promised myself that I would do something. Other than write a few stupid jokes I have not done anything. Neither have you.

Frankie Boyle

 

15th May   

A Big Burley Bully...

1500 complaints about aggressive post-election interviews on Sky News
Link Here

Kay BurleyTV censor Ofcom has received almost 1,500 complaints about Adam Boulton's on-screen clash with Alastair Campbell and Kay Burley's interview with electoral reformist David Babbs.

Burley's interview with Babbs, of electoral reform campaigning group 38 Degrees, attracted 722 complaints. The complainants accused Burley of bias and aggressive behaviour in the interview. The interview resulted in the presenter being heckled by protesters saying sack Kay Burley and a Twitter campaign.

Ofcom has also received 696 complaints about Sky News political editor Adam Boulton's on-screen row with former Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell. Most of the complainants are understood to have objected to what they viewed as unprofessional behaviour by Boulton, who appeared to lose his temper after Campbell accused him of being upset that David Cameron is not prime minister .

Update: 2600 complaints

20th May 2010. See article from guardian.co.uk

TV censor Ofcom has received a total of 2,600 complaints about Sky News's coverage of the general election.

Adam Boulton, the Sky News political editor, attracted 1,605 complaints. A total of 936 viewers complained about an interview between Boulton and Campbell last Monday, 10 May. Ofcom is also assessing 669 complaints that Boulton allegedly heckled Clegg about his expenses during the second leaders' debate, which was hosted by Sky News.

The media regulator also received 832 complaints about Burley's interview with electoral reformist David Babbs on Saturday, 8 May.

In addition, 163 called Ofcom received 163 joint complaints about the Burley and Boulton interviews.

 

5th May   

Daily Mail Vampires...

Feeding on the lifeblood of entertaining TV
Link Here

dr who vampiresThe Daily Mail seemed to have gone a little over the top with a particularly sad rant about Dr Who .

Paul Revoir wrote:

It is billed as one of the BBC's most popular family shows. But Doctor Who fans have accused the corporation of cynically trying to sex up the programme to attract more adult viewers.

Dozens have complained about an overtly sexual scene in last Saturday's episode, which saw the Time Lord being propositioned by his new assistant Amy Pond. Sexed up? The Doctor will face a group of scantily-clad vampires in this week's episode

Karen Gillan's character was shown lying seductively on a bed, before lunging at the Doctor, trying to undress him against the Tardis and kissing him.

She then joked about how long it had been since the 907-year-old Time Lord last had sex and claimed she didn't mind if they had a one-night-stand.

Afterwards, a trailer for a forthcoming episode, to be screened on Saturday, revealed the plot centres around a group of young women vampires, scantily dressed in low-cut nightdresses.

Last night, fans reacted angrily to what they claim is the sexualisation of the show, saying the material was totally inappropriate for a family drama.

Even the inevitable trivial sound bite from Mediawatch-UK didn't exactly support the Daily Mail nonsense:

Vivienne Pattison, of pressure group Mediawatch UK, who watched last Saturday's episode, which went out at 6.25pm on BBC1, said: I have to say the scene was slightly out of place in a children's programme. I thought it sailed pretty close to the wind.

But the Daily Mail can always fall back on a few internet forums to find a bit of nutter 'outrage':

One viewer told the BBC's messageboard: I wish to complain about the overtly sexual scene. This programme is designed as a family series, so showing Amy Pond trying to get the Doctor into bed was wholly inappropriate. As a life-long fan I thought the series was above all that. I trust this is not a trend that will continue.

Another added: Amy Pond literally wanted to have sex with the Doctor, on the bed, right there and then. It is totally inappropriate for what is essentially children's TV.

Viewers have also posted messages on parents' website Mumsnet criticising the episode. One read: Just watched this on tape and am very disappointed. Why on earth do they have to have her asking him for casual sex?

And at east the BBC get a chance to add a little perspective:

A BBC spokesman confirmed it had received 43 complaints, saying: Millions of Doctor Who fans watched and enjoyed last Saturday's episode, including the lighthearted and humorous scene in which Amy kissed the Doctor.

 

29th April   

Update: Crummy Censors...

BBC apologise over Frankie Boyle's quip at Israel beating up Palestine
Link Here  full story: Frankie Boyle...Whinges about Frankie Boyle and Mock the Week

My Shit Life So Far The BBC Trust's editorial standards committee has issued an apology over a joke made by Frankie Boyle which compared Palestine with a cake being punched to pieces by a very angry Jew .

The committee, which acts as a final arbiter of appeals if complainants are unhappy with the response from BBC management, upheld a previous finding that the comment was inappropriate and offensive.

But it said that no further action is needed in the case.

Boyle made the remark on Radio 4 comedy sketch show Political Animal , broadcast almost two years ago in June 2008.

The Scottish comedian said: I'm quite interested in the Middle East, I'm actually studying that Israeli army martial arts. And I know 16 ways to kick a Palestinian woman in the back. It's a difficult question to understand. I've got an analogy which explains the whole thing quite well: If you imagine that Palestine is a cake - well, that cake is being punched to pieces by a very angry Jew.

A complainant wrote to the BBC Executive branding the comment disgusting and anti-Semitic.

Dissatisfied with the broadcaster's response, the complainant went to the editorial complaints unit, which is the next stage of the BBC's complaints process. But the complainant then went to the editorial standards committee as he felt that the remark had gone through the editorial process without ringing any alarm bells.

 

8th April   

Update: Gutter TV...

Ofcom not impressed by complaints about video game discussion bias
Link Here  full story: Alan Titchmarsh Show...Audience groomed to boo video games defender

alan titchmarsh games video An edition of ITV's Alan Titchmarsh Show featuring a biased discussion of violent video games has attracted 131 complaints - but will not be investigated by Ofcom.

The show, which aired on 19 March, saw host Titchmarsh debate the perils of violence in computer games with former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie, actress Julie Peasgood and computerandvideogames.com editor Tim Ingham.

Broadcast understands that viewers felt the discussion was not impartial, portraying an overly critical view of video games.

An Ofcom spokeswoman said it would not be investigating the issue.

 

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