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29th November   

A Pig's Ear of a Complaint...

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Rebecca Loos' infamous televised pig insemination was today given the all-clear by the media watchdog despite dozens of complaints that it amounted to "bestiality".

Ofcom rejected 37 complaints about the incident, in which Loos was shown masturbating a boar on Five's reality TV series, The Farm. We don't believe that the scene was degrading or harmful to the boar, Ofcom said in its programme complaints bulletin. The task performed by Rebecca Loos is one that occurs regularly on UK farms.It was properly supervised by qualified veterinary surgeons and was carried out for a genuine purpose - to artificially inseminate the pigs on the celebrity farm.

The scenes caused a tabloid sensation and boosted ratings for the Five reality programme. 'Dispigable' was the headline in the Sun, while the News of the World branded it 'Loos Behaviour'.


29th November   

Addressing Censorship...

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Ofcom declared that ITV West evening news had breached the programming code when it broadcast the internet address of a pornographic website on its 6pm news bulletin.

The website appeared in a late breaking story about the conviction of a Bristol city councillor for vote rigging and downloading pornography.


8th October   

No Time for Adults...

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Channel 4 and five have joined the calls against Ofcom’s plan to introduce a tiered watershed, saying it could threaten challenging and innovative programming.  In a joint submission to the regulator’s consultation on the proposed new broadcasting code, the broadcasters echoed the BBC’s concern over the introduction of a potential “triple watershed”. 

This encroaches on the adult audience’s right to see more challenging material especially if you are innovating as the law requires us to do,” said C4 controller of legal compliance Jan Tomalin.  Ofcom’s proposal to stagger the watershed by age could potentially jeopardise the transmission of strong drama on ITV and serious documentaries on 4 after 9.00pm, she added.

The BBC also responded  to Ofcom's consultation and argued that a clause requiring children be protected from "psychological harm" could hit Bambi because it scares some children.

In what the corporation describes as a "detailed and considered response" to the proposed code, it complained rules would have a "chilling effect" on broadcasters' freedoms. It believes the code's section on broadcasting to children has the "potential to severely restrict the programme choice accessed by adults in the UK".

Programmes featuring religious content - such as Songs of Praise - may have to carry a warning, which the BBC said could "severely restrict" its religious coverage.

A recommendation that adult scenes be shown "well after" the 2100 watershed, seemed excessive when the majority of households do not have children, the corporation added.

The BBC argues that a phrase in the code that under-18s must be protected from "potential or actual moral, psychological or physical harm" is too vague. Many programmes and films can disturb and distress children, like Schindler's List or even news coverage on a subject like the Soham murders, it continued.

A suggestion that violence "easily imitated by children" should not be shown before the watershed is also too restrictive, the BBC said. The broadcaster said: Children enjoy a good deal of violence in action-packed films and drama, both real life and animation. Is it intended to prevent such broadcasts in the future?

The proposed code says demonstrations of exorcism or the occult must not be shown before the watershed - but BBC asked where this left the likes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Harry Potter.

The Ofcom consultation closed this week and the regulator is expected to publish the finished version of the code by the end of the year.


21st September   

Short Cuts for the Streets...

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A new video by The Streets has been banned from TV because of its shocking sex, drugs and violence content.

Radio stations have also censored the explicit lyrics in Blinded by the Light, which tells the story of a drink and drug-fuelled night at a friend's wedding reception.

The video shows Streets frontman Mike Skinner drinking and taking drugs before he's beaten up and left in a pool of blood. His friend is shown using a mobile phone to film himself receiving oral sex.

TV watchdog Ofcom reckon the graphic scenes are far too explicit to pass their strict guidelines, says The Sun.

Top Of The Pops and CD:UK say it might only be possible for them to show a few seconds of the video at a time. And they are having to rely on Mike making live appearances with an edited version if they want to play the song.

Satellite station MTV have sidestepped some of the tough regulations on condition they play the video after 11pm.

Radio 1 can't play the song on the breakfast show or during their afternoon drive time slot - when kids are most likely to be listening.


20th July   

New BBC Complaints...

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The BBC has unveiled a new complaints procedure to make it easier for members for members of the public to raise problems with output on TV, Radio and the Internet.  The BBC says complaints will be approached “with the presumption that the licence payer is right, not wrong”.  The procedure will be more transparent, with the establishment of a website listing complaints received and publishing any corrections. 

The BBC has rewritten its rules saying it has a “greater willingness to admit errors”.  The Hutton Report found BBC management at fault for failing to investigate the Government’s complaints and the changes announced today follow recommendations made in the Neil Report which inquired into lesson to be learned. 

The BBC is bringing in a new code of practice to ensure the public know the standards to expect when they complain.  There will be two routes available – direct to BBC Information or to the relevant programme itself – and there will be a further appeal process.  The BBC considered the establishment of an ombudsman but rejected the idea believing the role would duplicate that of the Governors.


9th July   

Well Fuck Me, Blow Jobs on Sky...

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I set my sky plus to record Baise Moi the other night, just to see how horribly cut it would be, and was very surprised to find that the only parts that were cut were the rape scene near the start, which is understandable I suppose. The only other part noticably cut was the 2 ejaculation scenes, which I believe were also cut in the BBFC version. Congratulations to sky movies for showing blow jobs and shagging on television. Whatever will we get next? Proper porn on the subscription channels?

It does beggar belief that they can show this sort of material on a normal movie channel, but will not let stronger material on subscription porn channels. Something is going to have to give soon


21st June   

What's Free to Air for Free to Air...

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I have a query and I was wondering if any Melon Farmers could help me out. It's something that I've been looking to find out about for the longest time. I've done some pretty exhaustive searches on the internet and I've yet to find any satisfactory information.

Babestation has been broadcasting on Game Network for about a year and a half, and in the last few months it has been joined by other shows such as Babecast, Get Horny, Overload Babes, and its sister show, Babestation 2. What I'd like to know is this - what exactly are they allowed to show on these shows. I'd thought that, because of the way that things are in the UK at the moment, casual full-frontal nudity was allowed. God knows how many full-frontal nudes scenes I've seen in my television watching career. However, the presenters of these shows have said on several occassions, in response to texters queries to 'show more', that they're not allowed to. However, I can think of several occassions where certain presenters have done the 'full monty' and, on rare occassions, gone that bit further, the most recent of which was last night on the Get Horny show. On one of the small screens that surrounded the main screens, one of the presenters was clearly shown to be fully nude and was digitally penetrating herself. She then proceeded to lubricate a dildo, with the obvious intention of using it to pleasure herself. However, at that juncture it was replaced by one of the 'lesser' presenters, which was to be expected.

Another occasion was the launch night for the Babecast show, where the presenters did the whole show bottomless. Additionally, the other presenters were seen to remove the panties on quite a few occasions.

The other occasion that I can think of was on the 'Private Babe' strand of Babestation wherein the presenter spent the whole show digitally penetrating herself, both anally and vaginally.

Now as you can imagine, I am finding the standards governing satellite broadcasting to be very confusing, especially considering that Sky Movies only recently showed Baise-Moi and FilmFour have shown Ai No Corrida (In the Realm of the Senses) and Walerian Borowczyk on occasion.

I would appreaciate any information or internet addresses you may have on my query. Many thanks.


2nd June   

Rating TV...

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Television programmes could be rated according to the levels of sex and violence they contain, under proposals set out by regulators yesterday. Broadcasters are being asked to consider whether a "labelling system", similar in principle to that used in cinemas, could be adopted for the small screen.

Ofcom, the media regulator, said yesterday it had an open mind about whether it was desirable or even practicable to introduce such a scheme, but pointed out that some broadcasters already labelled certain programmes according to their content.

The most widely used content label is the watershed, which states that programmes shown before 9pm should be suitable for children. It is well-understood by viewers, enjoying a 92% recognition rate. But as technology advances, viewers are likely to watch more programmes outside the time they are broadcast, either through digital recorders such as Sky Plus or downloading from the internet, making it more important for parents to be aware of their content.

Ofcom said yesterday it wanted to establish a working party with the main broadcasters and other relevant organisations, such as internet service providers and the BBFC which runs the film rating system, to look at the issues.

The consultation is likely to throw up a number of complications: different episodes of programmes in the same series could attract different ratings; it may also be hard to find agreement about who should decide the labels and who should police the scheme.

But Ofcom pointed out that Five and Sky already used cinema-style ratings on their films, and the BBC had also been looking into the possibility of developing a labelling scheme.

Tim Suter, partner for content and standards at Ofcom, said: It made sense for us to see whether this is one of the sorts of places where we could add value. We will need to see whether it is desirable, and if it's desirable, whether it's feasible. Suter acknowledged that existing labelling schemes were not entirely comparable with each other

Ofcom said the consultation would examine whether it is possible to establish a "common framework" that would encompass and expand on existing systems that exist in the film and computer game industries. Information is the key. People need information about what they are getting - it's something that viewers value and broadcasters are increasingly providing it,   Suter said.

A BBC spokesman said the corporation had already done some preparatory work that was at an "early stage", and said that if a scheme was eventually introduced, it would be desirable to have a single industry standard.

There have been suggestions that Ofcom has displayed expansionary ambitions since assuming its powers in January, but Suter said any new labelling scheme would not detract from anything that already existed. We are not seeking to replace or supplant or take away from anything that's already there, he said.

The consultation, which will run until September, also encompasses broader issues of "media literacy" - the public understanding of new forms of media. Tessa Jowell, the culture secretary, warned yesterday against the creation of an "underclass that are shut off from the realities of how the modern media operates".

She added: Media literacy is the check against this. It will give us the tools to understand and decode the messages we are constantly bombarded with, making us more empowered consumers.


12th April   

The Adult Channel Gets Harder...

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Did anyone see The Adult Channel last night (8th April) around 12:08am, after the Freeview? It was the hardest content I have ever seen on British TV before, I was amazed Some of the programmes got swapped around, and they were showing Ally Mcsqueel , think that's what it was called. Also when showing this they dropped there logo for the whole programme. I'm not sure how much I can explain on here without getting into trouble, but it was quite graphic with Vegetables

And from Kit on The Melon Farmers Discussion Page

Did anyone catch the Adult Channel last night? (11th April) They showed an explicit version of an episode of 00 Heaven. Although it is hardly the most hardcore of shows, it was well beyond the normal content and I am guessing that it was the R18 version. I wonder if this was shown in error or whether they are testing the water by showing this episode. The response of Ofcom on this will be interesting as they generally seem to have been putting the issue of content on the back burner (I presume they will find out about this broadcast). This must surely force them to make some kind of decision. With the financial backing the Adult Channel have from Playboy they would be able to challenge any adverse decision by Ofcom in the courts. The rest of the night was the usual dull Adult Channel stuff but it will be interesting to see what they show in the next few days.


4th April   

Four Abortion...

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Graphic footage of a live foetus being aborted is to be screened by Channel 4 in a documentary to be broadcast this month

The programme made by Julia Black - whose father is the chief executive of the pro-abortion Marie Stopes International - shows a woman who is four weeks pregnant having a "vacuum pump" abortion.

Filmed from the side, the footage shows the foetus being sucked into a syringe then placed into a Petri dish. The procedure took place at a Marie Stopes clinic in London and the woman is unidentified.

The programme, entitled My Foetus, also shows images of foetuses aborted at 10, 11 and 21 weeks, when limbs and a face can be seen clearly.

Ms Black, who is 34, had an abortion in her early 20s but recently gave birth to a girl. She said that the programme was pro-abortion: The foetus has been hijacked by the anti-abortion groups. As someone who was, and still is, pro-choice, I too want to engage with the foetus over abortion.

Marie Stopes opened the first family planning clinic in Britain in 1921. Dr Tim Black, took over in the mid-1970s and developed it into Marie Stopes International. He is now the chief-executive of the company and Julia is his daughter.

Channel 4, the BBC and ITV all refused to show similar images which were part of the anti-abortion Pro-life Alliance's party political broadcast in 2001. The Alliance went to the Court of Appeal over the ban and a version purged of the images was eventually passed for broadcast.

Last night Channel 4 faced accusations of hypocrisy and political bias. Julia Millington, the Pro-life Alliance's political director, supported showing the images. She said: There is an element of hypocrisy. When pro-lifers want to show these images, their freedom of speech is curtailed by both broadcasters and the courts. But these are the images that we want people to see.

A spokesman for Channel 4 defended its decision. He said: "The [Pro-life Alliance's] anti-abortion film was a graphic series of completely uncontextualised images, whereas we show images carefully contextualised throughout the film."

The programme will be accompanied by a pre-transmission warning when it is shown on April 20 at 11pm


28th March   

Death Wish 2 More...

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Just thought you might be interested to know that newish sky channel FX (channel no 289) has been frequently broadcasting the uncut version of Death Wish 2. As I'm sure you're aware all previous UK tape releases and TV screenings have been heavily cut. Is this the first time the uncut version has been shown on British TV? Poor James Ferman will be turning in his grave


11th March   

Swearing that Advertising Works...

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FilmFour is to screen a controversial ad that features the use of the most controversial swear word nine times as Channel 4's onscreen talent reveal their favourite curse words.

The ad is part of Channel 4's Twenty Questions branding campaign, which features a host of the channel's celebrities such as Jamie Oliver, Jon Snow and Davina McCall responding to personal questions such as "When did you lose your virginity?" and "What angers you the most?".

Celebrities in the latest screening respond to the question: "What is your favourite swear word?".

The short promo film was originally planned to run in the cinema with the forthcoming release of Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill: Volume 2 . The channel thought it would be impossible to offend an audience that had enjoyed the first instalment of the film and had returned for more. However, the Cinema Advertising Association felt differently and rejected the ad. Channel 4 is now removing references to the offending word and hopes to get it cleared by the CAA.

The unedited film will be screened on FilmFour at 10.25pm on March 15. The channel has a history of screening provocative material such as A Clockwork Orange , Ai No Corrida and Sam Peckinpah's Straw Dogs .

Bill Griffin, Channel 4's head of marketing, said:
There isn't a single person within the channel who has seen this ad and found it anything other than highly amusing. We can understand however, why the CAA felt they had to turn it down -- it does contain the highest number of expletives ever featured in an ad as far as we're aware. We're delighted to play it on the FilmFour channel and confident that it will be received by subscribers in the spirit in which it was intended.

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