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The 2023 Ofcom Top 10...

Ofcom publishes its list of most complained about TV


Link Here28th December 2023
Ofcom has published an end of year review. Ofcom writes:

Over the course of the last year, we received 69,236 complaints about 9,638 cases. That's nearly twice as many complaints as we dealt with in 2022

In 2023, we published 23 Broadcast and On Demand Bulletins which announced 57 new broadcast standards investigations, as well the outcome of 46 investigations. We found a total of 35 programmes in breach of our broadcasting rules and are working to conclude the others as quickly as possible. We also published 15 adjudications on complaints from individuals and organisations that complained to us that they had been treated unfairly and/or had their privacy unwarrantably infringed in TV and radio programmes.

We imposed sanctions on four broadcasters for content breaches, including a 40,000 fine to the Islam channel and 10,000 to Ahlebait TV , both for broadcasting antisemitic content.

We also found GB News in breach of our rules on five occasions after our investigations found it broke our rules that protect audiences from harm twice and our due impartiality rules three times.

Most complained about programmes of 2023

  • Dan Wootton Tonight, GB News, 26 September 2023 -- 8,867 complaints

    Viewers objected to the misogynistic comments made by Laurence Fox about journalist Ava Evans.

    Ofcom's investigation of this programme under our rules on offence is ongoing.
     

  • King Charles III: The Coronation, ITV1, 6 May 2023 -- 8,421 complaints

    The majority of complaints related to a comment made by actress Adjoa Andoh during the live broadcast, which focused on the 'whiteness' of the Royal Family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.

    While we understand some viewers had strong feelings about this comment, after careful consideration we concluded that the comment was a personal observation which was part of a wide-ranging panel discussion which also touched on other diversity-related topics, and which contained a range of viewpoints.
     

  • Good Morning Britain, ITV1, 17 October 2023 -- 2,391 complaints

    We carefully assessed complaints about the presenter's line of questioning towards MP Layla Moran.

    We considered his live, unscripted remarks were potentially offensive. However, taking the entire interview into account, and in particular a preceding discussion about Hamas using civilians as human shields, we considered the question sought to explore whether civilians were aware of a potential escalation in hostilities, rather than suggesting that Ms Moran or her family were aware of specific plans for the Hamas attack on 7 October 2023. In her response, Ms Moran spoke about her surprise at the scale and sophistication of the attack. In light of this, we will not be pursuing further.
     

  • Jeremy Vine, Channel 5, 13 March 2023 -- 2,302 complaints

    We carefully considered complaints from viewers about a discussion on the junior doctors' pay dispute.

    While we recognise that some references about progression timelines and corresponding pay-scales were not strictly accurate, we do not consider that the errors were sufficient to have materially misled viewers so as to cause harm.
     

  • Breakfast with Kay Burley, Sky News, 23 November 2023 -- 1,880 complaints

    We carefully considered complaints about the presenter's line of questioning during an interview with Israeli spokesperson, Eylon Levy.

    Taking account of Mr Levy's forceful challenge to the premise of the question about the value of Israeli versus Palestinian lives, and the context of the wider discussion about the terms of the temporary ceasefire, we will not be pursuing further.
     

  • Lee Anderson's Real World, GB News, 29 September 2023 -- 1,697 complaints

    Complaints related to Lee Anderson's interview with Suella Braverman, on the grounds that they are both Conservative MPs.

    We published our assessment of this programme which found that it included an appropriately wide range of significant views on immigration and border control which were given due weight.
     

  • Breakfast with Kay Burley, Sky News, 10 October 2023 -- 1,640 complaints

    Complainants alleged Kay Burley misrepresented comments made by the Palestinian ambassador.

    We are assessing the complaints, before we decide whether or not to investigate.
     

  • Naked Education, Channel 4, 4 April 2023 -- 1,285 complaints

    We understand that some viewers were concerned about this programme, which included pre-watershed nudity.

    In our view, the programme had a clear educational focus, and the young participants reflected positively on their involvement. We also took into account that there were warnings to the audience before the programme aired.
     

  • This Morning, ITV, 18 December 2023, 1,092 complaints

    Complaints related to comments made by Vanessa Feltz about coeliac disease.

    We are assessing the complaints, before we decide whether or not to investigate.
     

  • Love Island, ITV2, 9 July 2023 -- 992 complaints

    The majority of complaints about this episode related to bullying against Scott.

    We carefully assessed complaints about this series on a range of issues including alleged bullying, homophobia and racism.

    We recognise that emotionally charged or confrontational scenes can upset some viewers. But, in our view, negative behaviour in the villa was not shown in a positive light. We also took into account that the format of this reality show is well-established and viewers would expect to see highs and lows as couples' relationships are tested.

    Viewers also complained about a contestant being voted off and returning to the programme, but this was an editorial decision for the broadcaster.

 

 

Updated: Sanctioned...

A suicide forum seems to be first in the cross hairs of the new UK internet censor Ofcom


Link Here11th November 2023
Ofcom is threatening to block a suicide website linked to 50 UK deaths after it said it would refuse to abide by new online censorship laws.

The website, Sanctioned Suicide is described by wiki as an internet forum known for its open discussion and encouragement of suicide and suicide methods. The forum was created in 2018 after the subreddit r/SanctionedSuicide was banned by Reddit. As of September 2022, the forum has over 25,000 members, receiving nearly 10 million page views that same month.

The BBC have been investigating the forum and reported:

We have discovered that at least six coroners have written to government departments demanding action to shut the forum down. Collating inquest reports, press articles and posts on the forum itself, we have identified at least 50 UK victims. We have learned that at least five police forces are aware of the forum, and have investigated deaths linked to it, but have been unable to take action.

The Online 'Safety' Bill, passed by Parliament last month, is due to get royal assent this week, investing Ofcom with immediate powers to take action against errant social media firms. Ofcom is due to set out its legally-enforced code of practice for firms to combat illegal harms including promoting suicide next month.

An Ofcom spokesman said:

Sites that failed to prevent users coming across such illegal material would face fines of up to 10% of their global turnover and bosses who persistently ignored warnings and requests for information could face up to two years in jail .

Operators of the site could also face up to 14 years in jail under laws against encouraging or assisting suicide including through online platforms. Because there are victims in the UK, the company bosses could be prosecuted in the UK and brought to the UK to face trial through an extradition request to the US.

Ofcom will also have powers to take out court orders that would enable it to prevent the company from gaining any access to UK users. ISPs would be then required by laws to block access to a service in the UK.

It could also order platforms hosting the site to no longer do so and require search engines and social networks to deny it any presence when users look for it.

We expect tech companies to be fully prepared to comply with their new duties when the time comes. It's a serious concern if companies say they are going to ignore the law. If services don't comply, we'll have a broad range of enforcement powers at our disposal to ensure they're held fully accountable for the safety of their users.

The forum responded to UK criticism from the BBC and Ofcom by displaying the front page message:

Hello Guest,

We will not be following or complying with the Online Safety Bill that was recently signed into law in the UK. This bill will not affect the operations of the site, nor do we have a presence in the UK to receive notice or fines that the UK Government may impose.

We would highly recommend that all users from the UK get some sort of VPN, and you should petition your lawmakers to let them know how you feel about this piece of draconian legislation.

 

Update: Blocked by Sky

31st October 2023. See article from bbc.co.uk

Sky's ISP has added the Sanctioned Suicide website to its voluntary blocking list. It is not clear what level of blocking and what blocking category the website falls into.

Sky vaguely says the forum will automatically be barred if home users are using its standard filters. The company said it had moved as quickly as possible and blocked the online forum with immediate effect.

A second ISP, TalkTalk, said the webssite had now been added to its list of inappropriate content and could also be blocked by users. TalkTalk told the BBC the site would now be blocked for any customer with its HomeSafe safety filter activated. It said it was unable to automatically block the site.

 

 Update: Self blocked

11th November 2023. See article from bbc.co.uk

A pro-suicide forum has decided to block itself from users in the UK following pressure from the British internet censor, Ofcom.

The Sanctioned Suicide forum was previously available online without any restrictions. But now the forum can now only be viewed by UK users already signed up as members.

Anyone visiting the site is now met with a banner saying content that violates the UK's new Online Safety Act will not be viewable to the British public.

It is unclear whether new users from the UK can still apply for membership. Existing members in the UK do still have access.

It will be interesting to see how many sites respond to British internet censorship by blocking themselves to British users.

 

 

Offsite Article: "You Don't Belong Here!"...


Link Here11th November 2023
Full story: Online Safety Act...UK Government legislates to censor social media
With 1500 pages outlining a mountain of suffocating red tape in the name of internet regulation, Ofcom delivers a message to small British internet companies

See article from webdevlaw.uk

 

 

Online Censorship Act...

The Online Unsafety Bill gets Royal Assent and so becomes law


Link Here29th October 2023
Full story: Online Safety Act...UK Government legislates to censor social media
The Online Safety Bill received Royal Assenton 26th October 2023, heralding a new era of internet censorship.

The new UK internet Ofcom was quick off the mark to outline its timetable for implementing the new censorship regime.

Ofcom has set out our plans for putting online safety laws into practice, and what we expect from tech firms, now that the Online Safety Act has passed. Ofcom writes:

The Act makes companies that operate a wide range of online services legally responsible for keeping people, especially children, safe online. These companies have new duties to protect UK users by assessing risks of harm, and taking steps to address them. All in-scope services with a significant number of UK users, or targeting the UK market, are covered by the new rules, regardless of where they are based.

While the onus is on companies to decide what safety measures they need given the risks they face, we expect implementation of the Act to ensure people in the UK are safer online by delivering four outcomes:

  • stronger safety governance in online firms;

  • online services designed and operated with safety in mind;

  • choice for users so they can have meaningful control over their online experiences; and

  • transparency regarding the safety measures services use, and the action Ofcom is taking to improve them, in order to build trust .

We are moving quickly to implement the new rules

Ofcom will give guidance and set out codes of practice on how in-scope companies can comply with their duties, in three phases, as set out in the Act.

Phase one: illegal harms duties

We will publish draft codes and guidance on these duties on 9 November 2023, including:

  • analysis of the causes and impacts of online harm, to support services in carrying out their risk assessments;

  • draft guidance on a recommended process for assessing risk;

  • draft codes of practice, setting out what services can do to mitigate the risk of harm; and

  • draft guidelines on Ofcom's approach to enforcement.

We will consult on these documents, and plan to publish a statement on our final decisions in Autumn 2024. The codes of practices will then be submitted to the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, and subject to their approval, laid before Parliament.

Phase two: child safety, pornography and the protection of women and girls

Child protection duties will be set out in two parts. First, online pornography services and other interested stakeholders will be able to read and respond to our draft guidance on age assurance from December 2023. This will be relevant to all services in scope of Part 5 of the Online Safety Act.

Secondly, regulated services and other interested stakeholders will be able to read and respond to draft codes of practice relating to protection of children, in Spring 2024.

Alongside this, we expect to consult on:

  • analysis of the causes and impacts of online harm to children; and

  • draft risk assessment guidance focusing on children's harms.

We expect to publish draft guidance on protecting women and girls by Spring 2025, when we will have finalised our codes of practice on protection of children.

Phase three: transparency, user empowerment, and other duties on categorised services

A small proportion of regulated services will be designated Category 1, 2A or 2B services if they meet certain thresholds set out in secondary legislation to be made by Government. Our final stage of implementation focuses on additional requirements that fall only on these categorised services. Those requirements include duties to:

  • produce transparency reports;

  • provide user empowerment tools;

  • operate in line with terms of service;

  • protect certain types of journalistic content; and

  • prevent fraudulent advertising.

We now plan to issue a call for evidence regarding our approach to these duties in early 2024 and a consultation on draft transparency guidance in mid 2024.

Ofcom must produce a register of categorised services. We will advise Government on the thresholds for these categories in early 2024, and Government will then make secondary legislation on categorisation, which we currently expect to happen by summer 2024. Assuming this is achieved, we will:

  • publish the register of categorised services by the end of 2024;

  • publish draft proposals regarding the additional duties on these services in early 2025; and

  • issue transparency notices in mid 2025.


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