600 whinges about Channel 5's Big Brother have triggered an investigation by the TV censor Ofcom.
Big Brother, which is regularly one of UK television's most-complained-about shows, prompted another Ofcom inquiry after contestants Laura Carter and Marco Pierre White Jr were involved in scenes of sex play. Pierre was shown putting his hand
down his fellow housemate's knickers, pulling up her top and asking her to choke him with a belt.
Ofcom said it had received 634 complaints about the scenes which were broadcast on the 9pm show, just after the watershed, on 12 June. A spokesperson said:
We're investigating whether sexual scenes in this episode of Big Brother exceeded generally accepted standards for its time of broadcast.
The first lesbian kiss on British television is to be shown again for the first time in more than forty years, after a tape of the BBC play, Girl , was unearthed in a forgotten archive.
Girl, a BBC Two drama about lesbian love in the army, made headlines in 1974 after Alison Steadman and Myra Frances were shown locked in a passionate embrace.
Unfortunately the recording quality was not good, but the BBC has now digitised the film, and will make it available for download via the BBC Store.
Steadman said she had been quite nervous about taking the part. She recalled:
I thought my mum would be a bit embarrassed by comments from neighbours, but they took it well.
The film will form part of a collection chronicling gay milestones on the BBC, released to coincide with London's Pride festival. The Prejudice and Pride Collection is available on bbcstore.com from Thursday 16th June.
Don't Tell the Bride
BBC3,25 January 2016 (8.00pm): Finding by the Editorial Complaints Unit
In an exchange between the bride and her elder sister, the word twat was used. A viewer complained that this was inappropriate before the watershed, and should at least have been preceded by a warning.
Outcome: Complaint Upheld
Although not among the terms characterised by the Editorial Guidelines as the strongest language (which must not be used on television before the watershed), the word twat is unusual in having an innocent meaning for some viewers
but an obscene meaning for others. On this occasion it was used in an affectionate context and without any sense of aggression, but this was not sufficient to mitigate the offence it is capable of causing to a segment of the audience.
The finding was widely discussed and debated by senior editorial figures in BBC Television and has been noted.
schnittberichte.com is pointing out that a January showing of I Spit on Your Grave wasn't actually a BBFC approved version. The website concludes that the Horror Channel did its own edit which although cut, was stronger than the BBFC version.
Ofcom have issued the following announcement in the latest complaints bulletin
On 4 May 2016 Ofcom published changes to the rules in Section Three of the Broadcasting Code, and accompanying guidance, to ensure they are as clear as possible for broadcasters.
We publicly consulted on our proposals to revise Section Three of the Code in January 2016.
Section Three relates to crime. It prohibits the broadcast of material likely to encourage or to incite the commission of crime, or to lead to disorder. It also helps to provide adequate protection for members of the public from the inclusion in
services of harmful and/or offensive material. Ofcom has updated the title of the Section from Crime to Crime, Disorder, Hatred and Abuse and introduced two additional rules which apply to content containing hate speech and abusive
or derogatory treatment.
Presumably the new rules are:
Section Three: Crime, Disorder, Hatred and Abuse
Hatred and Abuse
3.2 Material which contains hate speech must not be included in television and radio programmes except where it is justified by the context.
3.3 Material which contains abusive or derogatory treatment of individuals, groups, religions or communities, must not be included in television and radio services except where it is justified by the context. (See also Rule 4.2).
I bet some religious people will be celebrating, not quite realising that it will be themselves who will get caught out by the new rules when they inevitably insult other religions.
Any by way of examples, the latest Complaints Bulletin chastises:
the islamic channel Noor TV for spreading hatred of jews.
the christian channel SonLife Broadcasting Network for insulting muslims
A few Radio 4 listeners have complained about a BBC radio comedy which mocked the Queen's sex life on her 90th birthday.
Comic Russell Kane's gag about Her Majesty's private anatomy on the Radio 4 panel show Don't Make Me Laugh wound up a few listeners. There were also jokes about the monarch using the toilet.
Host David Baddiel later apologised for the jokes and blamed the BBC for rescheduling it to go out on the Queen's birthday. He said the pre-recorded comedy had been lined up for next week, but bungling schedulers moved it forward to the day the
Queen celebrated her 90th birthday.
One round of the panel game, broadcast at 6.30pm challenged guest comics to speak on the subject: There's nothing funny about the fact the Queen must have had sex at least four times. Kane said:
For me this is just a quadruple representation of why inherited power is so dangerous.
Four times we have to think of republicanism as we imagine four children emerging from Her Majesty's vulva.
The Queen having had sex at least four times is no laughing matter whatsoever because we're forced to imagine Prince Philip and his work in the creation of those children.
Around 120 people had complained to the BBC who published an official response:
While BBC Radio 4 comedy is a broad church and often pushes boundaries, we would like to apologise for this broadcast of Don't Make Me Laugh. We never intended for the scheduling of the programme to coincide with The Queen's birthday and are
sorry for the offence caused by its timing and content.
Ofcom is considering whether to update rules in the Broadcasting Code (“the Code”) relating to the protection of children. Specifically, Ofcom is considering whether broadcasters should be allowed to show a wider variety of content more suitable
for adults before the watershed, provided that a mandatory PIN protection system is in place.
Through this Call for Inputs we are seeking the views of industry and consumers on these potential changes to the rules. We will take responses into account before publishing any proposals for changes to the Code later this year.
Ofcom invites written comments on the questions raised in this consultation, to be submitted to Ofcom by 5pm on 21 April 2016 . Ofcom strongly prefers to receive responses in electronic format. This web form will allow you to indicate your data
protection preferences and send your views to the team responsible for this consultation.
Question 1: To what extent do you think allowing a wider range of post-watershed content to be shown during the daytime behind a mandatory PIN would benefit audiences? :
Question 2: Are there likely to be any negative impacts on the user experience for viewers accessing channels or programmes where the content is restricted behind a mandatory PIN? For example, if a viewer had to enter a mandatory PIN every time
they change between a restricted channel or programme, or if a viewer is unable to update to a new PIN system?:
Question 3: If you are a broadcaster, would you be likely to change your output following any revision to Ofcom's rules to allow post-watershed content to be broadcast pre-watershed behind a mandatory PIN, and what genre of material might you
wish to broadcast during the daytime as a result? :
Question 4: What, if any, are the technological difficulties associated with showing post-watershed content during the daytime behind a mandatory daytime PIN? What impact would these technological difficulties have on affected broadcasters
(please provide evidence or estimates)? How might these technological difficulties be overcome?:
Question 5: Are there practical or cost issues with consistent implementation of PIN protection across a variety of set-top-boxes or receivers?:
Question 6: How effective is mandatory restricted access in providing protection to children from unsuitable broadcast content? Do you think allowing a wider range of post-watershed content to be shown in the daytime behind a mandatory PIN
still offers sufficiently robust protection for children?:
Question 7: Do you think allowing a wider range of post-watershed content to be shown in the daytime behind a mandatory PIN could have an adverse impact on the 21:00 watershed or dilute its effectiveness for audiences?:
Question 8: If Ofcom were to amend the Code to allow a wider range of post-watershed content to be shown in the daytime behind a mandatory PIN, are there any particular obligations that should be placed on broadcasters providing content behind
mandatory PIN during the daytime (e.g. additional information to parents and carers)?:
Question 9: What effect might any revision of the Code to allow a wider range of post-watershed content to be shown in the daytime behind a mandatory PIN have on competition between broadcast services, and also between linear broadcast and
on-demand services? :
Question 10: Are there any other issues, factors or information you think should be considered as part of our review on mandatory restricted PIN access?:
Watership Down has a place in censorship history as one of the most complained about classification decision. It is U rated, but only just. The bunny rabbits are distinctly more violent than perhaps you would expect fictional bunny rabbits to
Channel 5 decided to air the 1978 animated film on Easter Sunday afternoon, when lots of chocolate-filled kids were watching.
And inevitably a few whingers took to twitter to complain, eg:
Who the hell thought it a good idea to put Watership Down on Easter Sunday? 'Hey kids let's watch dead Easter bunnies!'
Watership Down: traumatising children since 1978 #Channel5 #EasterSundayProblems
Based on Richard Adams' novel, Watership Down follows a group of rabbits as they escape the brutal destruction of their warren and attempt to begin a new life. The story has been described as an allegory of the struggle between the individual and
society, tyranny and liberation and reason and emotion.
Not everyone had an angry reaction to its Easter broadcast, with many praising Channel 5 for showing the film and criticising parents for being too protective of their children, eg:
Watership Down is one of the finest of children's books & a good film. Far better for developing kids than chocolate bunnies.
David Austin, the new head of the BBFC commented that Watership Down would be classified PG were it released today. He added the film also contains language that would be unacceptable in a film rated U under 2016 criteria:
Standards were different then. The film has been a U for 38 years, but if it came in tomorrow it would not be.
For it to receive a different rating, however, it would have to be re-submitted to the BBFC - something Austin said would only happen if the title was acquired by a new distributor who wished to re-release it.
Offsite Comment: Of course kids should watch Watership Down