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Ringing off...

The censor for premium rate phone services will disband in 2023 and hand over censorship duties to Ofcom


Link Here25th May 2022
The Phone-paid Services Authority (PSA), the censor for premium rate services (PRS) in the UK is to hand its responsibilities over to telecoms censor Ofcom by late 2023.

Subject to approval from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) , the PSA will then cease to operate as an independent body. The PSA says that it anticipates Ofcom will assume responsibility for regulation in the second half of 2023, with PSA staff transferring to Ofcom. Ofcom will look to retain the key components of Code 15 to continue regulation in the consumer interest. PSA rules and Code 15 will remain in place until the transfer.

The PSA Chairman, David Edmonds said:

The work of the PSA in recent years has reduced risks to consumer to historically low levels. We introduced in April this year a new set of regulations which further protect consumers. And the industry -- both phone companies and service providers -- is increasingly conscious of its own responsibility to ensure dubious services are not operated. Complaints to the PSA are down by over 90%. We are also conscious of market trends and as a result the Board decided that future regulation of an industry increasingly dominated by larger players would be better served by an organisation with the capacity and breadth of Ofcom rather than a free-standing body. We already work closely with Ofcom who designate the PSA to deliver the day-to-day regulation of the market, by approving our Code of Practice. We look forward to working with them on this transition.

This proposed transfer of responsibilities has already been approved by the Ofcom board.

 

 

War censorship...

UK internet censor Ofcom orders ISPs, social media sites and app stores to block Russian propaganda channels RT and Sputnik


Link Here6th May 2022
Full story: Russia Today Propaganda TV...Russia Today, English language international propaganda channel

As part of the Government’s package of sanctions following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, on Wednesday 27 April 2022, the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs made new regulations imposing restrictions on the provision of certain internet services to, or for the benefit of, designated persons. Currently the Secretary of State has named TV-Novosti (RT) and Rossiya Segodnya (Sputnik) as designated persons for these purposes.

The Regulations relate to the provision of internet access services, social media services and application stores. They were laid before Parliament and came into force on Friday 29 April 2022.

The Regulations require different actions to be taken depending on the nature of the services that are offered:

  • Providers of internet access services must take reasonable steps to prevent users of the service in the United Kingdom from accessing, by means of that service, an internet service provided by TV-Novosti or Rossiya Segodnya.

  • Providers of social media services must take reasonable steps to prevent content that is generated directly on the service, or uploaded to or shared on the service, by TV-Novosti or Rossiya Segodnya being encountered by a user of the service in the United Kingdom.

  • Providers of application stores through which an application for an internet service may be downloaded or otherwise accessed must take reasonable steps to prevent users of the application store in the United Kingdom from downloading or otherwise accessing, by means of that service, an internet service provided by TV-Novosti or Rossiya Segodnya.

For these purposes, internet services provided by TV-Novosti include rt.com; internet services provided by Rossiya Segodnya include sputniknews.com.

The Regulations appoint Ofcom as the enforcement authority responsible for ensuring compliance, including granting us information gathering powers, and additional powers to impose monetary penalties of up to £1,000,000 in relevant circumstances. Were it necessary for Ofcom to take enforcement action, we would follow the general processes and procedures set out in our regulatory enforcement guidelines.

 

 

Russia is not fit and proper to broadcast to the UK...

Ofcom formally bans the Russian propaganda channel RT


Link Here20th March 2022
Full story: Diplomatic Censorship at Ofcom...Ofcom get caught up in international relations

Ofcom has revoked RT's licence to broadcast in the UK, with immediate effect.

We have done so on the basis that we do not consider RT's licensee, ANO TV Novosti, fit and proper to hold a UK broadcast licence.

The decision comes amid 29 ongoing investigations by Ofcom into the due impartiality of RT's news and current affairs coverage of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. We consider the volume and potentially serious nature of the issues raised within such a short period to be of great concern -- especially given RT's compliance history, which has seen the channel fined £200,000 for previous due impartiality breaches.

In this context, we launched a separate investigation to determine whether ANO TV Novosti is fit and proper to retain its licence to broadcast.

This investigation has taken account of a number of factors, including RT's relationship with the Russian Federation. It has recognised that RT is funded by the Russian state, which has recently invaded a neighbouring sovereign country. We also note new laws in Russia which effectively criminalise any independent journalism that departs from the Russian state's own news narrative, in particular in relation to the invasion of Ukraine. We consider that given these constraints it appears impossible for RT to comply with the due impartiality rules of our Broadcasting Code in the circumstances.

We recognise that RT is currently off air in the UK, as a result of sanctions imposed by the EU since the invasion of Ukraine commenced. We take seriously the importance, in our democratic society, of a broadcaster's right to freedom of expression and the audience's right to receive information and ideas without undue interference. We also take seriously the importance of maintaining audiences' trust and public confidence in the UK's broadcasting regulatory regime.

Taking all of this into account, as well as our immediate and repeated compliance concerns, we have concluded that we cannot be satisfied that RT can be a responsible broadcaster in the current circumstances. Ofcom is therefore revoking RT's licence to broadcast with immediate effect.

 

 

Om my god...

ASA dismisses whinges about a Salesforce advert for offending spiritual meditators


Link Here9th October 2021

A Video on Demand ad for Salesforce, seen on All4 on 4 May 2021, began with a voiceover, stating, And now, a mini meditation. It then featured a woman working from home, trying to focus on her job despite her noisy home environment. The voiceover continued, Inhale serenity, exhale whatever's happening here. Now bring your focus back to your customer, Tom. The woman was then shown starting to levitate off her chair, in the lotus position, saying the name Tom in an extended fashion, with a long Om sound. The still-levitating woman then drifted out of the house, to a peaceful woodland setting, to carry on communicating with her customer online.

Three complainants, who believed that the ad mimicked a spiritual practice, in particular through the use of the elongated Om sound within the name Tom, challenged whether it was likely to cause serious or widespread offence.

Salesforce told us the ad was intended to be a humorous, non-religious portrayal of yoga and meditation, and was not intended to depict any specific religious group. They said they did not believe the ad would cause serious or widespread offence to viewers in general, or viewers of a particular faith.

In relation to the use of the elongated Om sound, Salesforce said that their research and understanding of the word indicated that it had been widely adopted as the unofficial symbol of yoga, and was increasingly associated with yoga, meditation and the wellbeing movement. They told us that they believed the use of the Om sound to be a common practice in non-religious yoga lessons. Salesforce said that they do not view the use of Om in their ad as depicting a sacred symbol or tenet of any faith, but rather as an aid to meditation, which they considered to be part of everyday usage of the word.

ASA Assessment: Complaints not upheld

The ASA noted that the ad was set in the context of a busy home-working environment, and considered viewers would understand that the character was attempting to relieve her stress and combat distraction by using techniques widely associated with yoga and meditation.

We acknowledged the complainants' concerns that some people might have objected to the depiction of meditation and the use of the Om sound in the context of the ad. However, we considered that viewers would be likely to interpret the ad as being a humorous representation of meditation practices which were widely associated with non-religious wellness or mindfulness techniques, used to help combat stress and maintain focus, and as a way of dealing with the pressures of working from home.

In that context, we considered that viewers were unlikely to find the use of the elongated Om sound in the name Tom to mimic or mock a specific spiritual practice, and we considered that the ad was unlikely to be seen as being derogatory to any specific religion. We therefore concluded that the ad was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence, and did not breach the Code.


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