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Ofcom Watch

2013: Oct-Dec

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Offsite Article: Ofcom's draft work programme for 2014/15...

Link Here23rd December 2013
Ofcom launch public consultation on what should be censored next. Perhaps a surprising lack of new ideas for the censorship of internet or TV content

See article from



Update: Public Interest...

UK news broadcasters cleared by Ofcom over bloody interview with Lee Rigby murderer

Link Here21st December 2013
Broadcasters including the BBC, ITV and Sky News are understood to have been cleared of breaking TV censorship rules by airing graphic footage of soldier Lee Rigby's murder.

TV censor Ofcom received nearly 700 complaints about TV news coverage of the Woolwich attack in which Rigby died on 22 May, which included graphic footage filmed by a member of the public on a mobile phone of one of the assailants with blood on his hands.

Michael Adelbolajo and Michael Adebowale were convicted of murdering Rigby thsi week at the Old Bailey.

Ofcom had been waiting on the end of the trial before announcing their decision whether to uphold complaints about the news coverage. It is now understood that Ofcom has cleared all the broadcasters on the basis that showing the footage was in the public interest.

A spokesman for Ofcom said:

Ofcom plans to publish the full and detailed outcome of its investigations under the broadcasting code in its regular broadcast bulletin, with the next one due out early in the new year.

Update: Sentenced

27th February 2013. See  article from

The two terrorists who murdered British soldier Lee Rigby on a south London street fought with guards in the dock of the court yards from the grieving family of the soldier they butchered as a judge sentenced the mastermind of the attack to die in prison.

Michael Adebolajo who hacked at Rigby's head, was sentenced to a whole-life term for leading the first al-Qaida- inspired terrorist attack on British soil to claim a life since the 7 July bombings eight years ago. The sentence means he is unlikely to ever be released.

His accomplice, Michael Adebowale, who stabbed at the soldier's torso, was ordered to serve a minimum of 45 years in jail. Both men had been convicted unanimously by a jury in December.

The men disrupted sentencing at the Old Bailey, with the dead soldier's family sitting nearby, as the judge, Mr Justice Sweeney, branded them traitors to their religion. The judge began sentencing for the sickening and pitiless attack by saying that Adebolajo and Adebowale were converts to Islam who became radicalised and extremists.

Adebolajo had claimed his act of butchery was a military strike commanded by God and that he was a soldier of Allah.



New TV Censor...

Patricia Hodgson is named as next Ofcom Chairman

Link Here20th December 2013

The Government announced Patricia Hodgson as the next Chairman of Ofcom.

This follows the Culture, Media and Sport Committee pre-appointment hearing on 17 December and the confirmation from Secretary of State Maria Miller on the appointment.

Hodgson will replace current Ofcom Chairman Colette Bowe when she steps down at the end of March 2014 after serving her full term.

Hodgson joined the Ofcom Board in July 2011 and became Deputy Chairman in January 2012.



Top TV Personality of 2013: Archbishop Rowan Atkinson...

Ofcom reveal their top 10 TV programmes of 2013

Link Here17th December 2013
Full story: Rowan Atkinson...Offending the easily offended
Ofcom have revealed their top programmes for 2013 as judged by their whingeometer.
  1. Comic Relief: Funny for Money BBC1 487

    A Comic Relief sketch in which Rowan Atkinson played a fictional archbishop of Canterbury and compared One Direction to Jesus's disciples. It featured Atkinson's archbishop saying praying doesn't work and a gag about 'loving your neighbour' not meaning ' shagging your neighbour'

    Ofcom summarily dismissed the whinges without doing its longwinded 'investigation'

  2. The X Factor Results Show ITV 317

    The offending episode featured Lady Gaga cavorting on stage in flesh-coloured underwear and a bra made out of a pair of shells. Ofcom weren't interested in the complaints though and didn't initiate a detailed response.

    The X Factor scored 734 whinges for several broadcasts that offended the easily offended over the year.

  3. Big Brother (June) Channel 5 305

    This episode featured Big Brother housemate Jemima Slade's commenting that she likes dark-skinned Mediterranean men but not black men.

    Big Brother totalled 965 whiinges over several broadcasts during the year.

  4. ITV News ITV 278

    The coverage of the murder of soldier Lee Rigby scored well for ITV News.
  5. Downton Abbey ITV 246

    A storyline featuring rape got plenty of press coverage, but did not cause much consternation at Ofcom
  6. Big Brother (Aug) Channel 5 244

    Complaints that Gina Rio had bullied fellow housemate Hazel O'Sullivan.

  7. Emmerdale ITV 193

    Compaints were about the murder of character Gennie Sharma. Serial killer Cameron Murray was shown smothering her with his bare hands but Ofcom ruled the coverage was not in breach.

  8. Big Fat Quiz of the Year 2012 Channel 4 182

    New year's Eve banter inspired a few complaints, but only after being heavily promoted by the Daily Mail
  9. Big Brother (July) Channel 5 166

    Complaints about boxer Daley Ojuederie fighting with O'Sullivan.
  10. Britain's Got Talent Results ITV1 162

    The was about a sexy dance performance by Jennifer Lopez. But it wasn't sexy enough to perturb Ofcom



A Few More Viewers Driven to Foreign Websites...

ATVOD and Ofcom crow about British adult website being banned due to unviably strict child protection rules

Link Here24th November 2013
An internet porn website operator has been barred from running any video on demand services in the latest move by censors seeking to restrict hardcore porn on-line.

This is the first time the censorship sanction has been used against any on-demand operator, who become liables to criminal prosecution if they defy the order.

J P Media were operating the website Jessica Pressley , an internet service offering hardcore porn. A second porn supplier, S Hilder, operator of the website Pleasuring Herself has also been the subject of enforcement action.

Both services have closed following action by the Authority for Television On Demand ( ATVOD ). The video on demand censor found the services were in breach of its rules in failing to keep explicit videos or still images beyond the reach of children. The services offered access to explicit hardcore porn videos which could be viewed on-demand. Yet the content of the videos was equivalent to that which in Britain could be sold only to adults in licensed sex shops if supplied on DVD.

The services each broke the statutory rules in two ways. Firstly, they allowed any visitor free, unrestricted access to hardcore pornographic video promos/trailers or still images featuring real sex or masturbation in explicit detail. Secondly, access to the full videos was open to any visitor who paid a fee. As the services accepted everyday payment methods -- such as debit cards -- which occasionally can be used by under 18's, ATVOD ruled that each service had also failed to put in place effective access controls in relation to the full videos.

The Pleasuring Herself service closed after receiving an enforcement notification from ATVOD requiring the provider of the service to either restrict access to explicit images to those who were know to be at least 18, or remove such images from the service.

However, the Jessica Pressley service did not comply with a similar enforcement notice and was closed only after ATVOD asked Ofcom to impose a statutory penalty. Ofcom examined the service and agreed with ATVOD's findings, concluding that this was a serious breach of statutory requirements.

Under 368K(3)(a) of the Communications Act 2003, Ofcom directed J P Media that their entitlement to provide the Jessica Pressley service or any other on-demand programme service was suspended. The suspension took immediate effect and continues indefinitely. This is the first time such a direction has been used in regard to a video on demand service.

The end result of ATVOD's rules are that British companies aren't allowed to sell to the many people who don't happen to hold a credit card. And smaller websites find it unsurprisingly difficult to sell their product without being able to show a sample to customers.

And as for the idea of verifying people's ages by them supplying personal identity information. This is a disgraceful charter for scammers and phishers.

The net result is that British viewers simply find their porn elsewhere. No less porn is consumed, and no less porn is seen by children. The unilateral action just means that Britain takes one more step towards bankruptcy, as business is stifled by miserablists, moralists, PC extremists, censors, health freaks, red tape addicts, bureaucrats and politicians.



Updated: Downton Abbey In Need of a Little Livening Up...

As a rape story line livened up the Daily Mail and a couple of easily offended campaigners

Link Here5th November 2013
The Daily Mail writes that:

Downton Abbey was accused yesterday of using a 'sickening' rape as a 'gratuitous' plot device to liven up the ITV drama's script.

A controversial scene on Sunday night in which a housemaid was subjected to a 'brutal' assault by a valet sparked nearly 100 complaints from 'disgusted' viewers.

Katie Russell from the campaign Rape Crisis said ITV should have made it clear the episode contained sexual violence so rape victims could switch off. She said:

They had a warning about violence before the programme but it wasn't an explicit warning about sexual violence.

The scene was clearly an implied rape, and that can trigger terrible memories in rape survivors. Content like that can be very traumatic.

Author and anti-rape campaigner Bidisha ShonarKoli Mamata claimed the show's author Julian Fellowes had added the attack simply to enliven a dull storyline:

You can't just insert a scene like this into a cosy drama. You have to treat rape sensitively, rather than use it as a plot device

And of course the Daily Mail rounded up a few trivial tweets, but none are worth re-telling

Ofcom said it had received 30 complaints yesterday and was assessing whether to hold a full investigation. But of course this will be no where near breaking any rules and the investigation will soon end up as a one liner, no case to answer, in the Ofcom complaints bulletin.

Another 60 complained directly to ITV.

Update: No Case to Answer

See  article from . See  article from . Thanks to Nick

And indeed TV censor Ofcom has said that it will not formally investigate Downton Abbey' s controversial rape storyline.

ITV received 200 complaints from viewers and Ofcom a further 244.

A warning had been aired before the broadcast, which an Ofcom spokesperson confirmed had been taken into account, as had the fact that the attack took place off screen. The scene was also broadcast after the 9pm watershed.

It was not investigated as together with other complaints after careful assessment, Ofcom has decided not to pursue because they did not raise issues warranting investigation .



Bleeping and Blurring is Not Enough...

Censor cops issue caution to Movie Mix for airing an episode of Cops featuring bared boobs at Mardi Gras

Link Here28th October 2013
Movie Mix, 22 June 2013, 09:00'

Movie Mix is a general entertainment service and is owned and operated by Square 1 Management Ltd. Cops is a documentary series that follows law enforcement officers in America.

This episode featured officers policing the Mardi Gras festival in New Orleans. A complainant alerted Ofcom to graphic scenes in this broadcast.

Ofcom noted the following content: [eg]

  • The episode, which aired at 09:00, was preceded by the verbal and visual warning, "due to the graphic nature of this programme, viewer discretion is advised"

  • In the opening title sequence, there was a montage of clips of the Mardi Gras festival, including three women on a balcony pulling up their tops to reveal their breasts (which had been blurred) to onlookers

  • A woman gave her account to police in the aftermath of a fight with another woman. While language was audibly bleeped there was no blurring of the subject's mouth: she [bleep] started hitting me for no reason..

Ofcom considered Rule 1.3 which states:

Children protected by appropriate scheduling from material that is unsuitable for them.

Square 1 said that because all shots of nudity and swearing had been blurred and bleeped in this particular episode, it was considered suitable for daytime broadcast, but not in daytime schedules at the weekend or during school holidays. Due to a mistake, this restriction was not marked on this episode and the programme was broadcast at 09:00 on a Saturday. The Licensee apologised for the error and said that as a result of this incident all daytime episodes of this series were being reviewed and checked.

Ofcom Decision: Breach of Rule 1.3

Ofcom first assessed whether this episode contained material unsuitable for children. We considered that the images and implied language (as set out in the Introduction), when assessed individually, were not necessarily unsuitable. In Ofcom's view, however, the cumulative effect of this material conveyed an adult tone unsuitable for child viewers.

Ofcom concluded that the material was in breach of Rule 1.3.

Ofcom considered the broadcast of this material was a significant failure in compliance by Square 1. We noted a recent case1 involving the broadcast of content on Movie Mix that was unsuitable for children in the early evening on a week day. We were therefore concerned that a similar issue of inappropriate daytime scheduling should arise so soon after the previous compliance failure. We are putting Square 1 on notice that should similar compliance issues arise Ofcom may take further regulatory action.



Unfair Speculation...

Ofcom finds that Newsnight and This Morning unfairly implicated Robert McAlpine in a child abuse scandal

Link Here24th October 2013

The TV censor Ofcom has upheld complaints against episodes of Newsnight and This Morning which led to Robert McAlpine being wrongly implicated in child sex abuse allegations.

Newsnight broadcast allegations against an unnamed leading Conservative politician from the Thatcher years . McAlpine was not named, but was the subject of internet speculation. Days later the prime minister was handed a list of alleged abusers, which named the peer, on ITV's This Morning.

On the day of the broadcast it had been widely discussed on the internet, with McAlpine's name linked to it. It later became widespread speculation he was the subject of the allegations.

Ofcom ruled broadcasting the allegations in this context had led to McAlpine being incorrectly identified. ITV accepted this was an uncharacteristic lapse in editorial judgement on the part of the programme's editorial team .

Ofcom ruled both programmes had breached the broadcasting code and had treated Lord McAlpine unfairly, causing him distress and embarrassment.

Both the BBC and ITV subsequently apologised to Lord McAlpine and paid substantial libel damages.



Still Concerned About Erotic Cave Paintings...

Ofcom whinges at ExGirlfriends for 5 minutes of softcore shown unencrypted at 10pm

Link Here13th October 2013

4 June 2013, 22:00

ExGirlfriends is a channel broadcasting on the digital satellite platform which transmits softcore adult sex material content from 22:00 until 05:30 with mandatory restricted access. For the remainder of the time pre-recorded advertising content is shown without mandatory restricted access. The licence for this channel is owned by Playboy TV UK/Benelux Limited.

Ofcom received a complaint that softcore adult sex material was broadcast without the required mandatory restricted access on the channel from 22:00 on 4 June 2013.

The service then played a clip without mandatory restricted access which lasted around five minutes. This featured a woman on a bed. At the beginning of the clip, she was wearing a skirt and a top. During the sequence, she:

  • pulled up her skirt, presenting her buttocks towards the camera and also showed her genitals. She then moved her body as though to mime she was having sex;
  • rubbed her genital area through her knickers;
  • pulled up her top to reveal her breasts and stroked her nipples while looking towards the camera;
  • removed her skirt, again positioning her buttocks towards the camera, and pulled aside her knickers to show her genitals and anus;
  • removed her underwear, with the camera zooming in on her genitals and anus; and
  • removed her top, fully exposing her breasts, as she lay on her back, spread her legs, and rubbed her genital area.

Ofcom considered that the programme raised issues warranting investigation under Rule 1.18 of the Code, which states:

Adult sex material that contains images and/or language of a strong sexual nature which is broadcast for the primary purpose of sexual arousal or stimulation must not be broadcast at any time other than between 2200 and 0530 on premium subscription services and pay per view/night services with mandatory restricted access...

Playboy TV said that this was an unfortunate and rare incident, resulting from a number of unprecedented changes at the company, such as a reduction in the number of its channels, restructuring, the relocation of staff overseas, and the outsourcing of technical departments. The Licensee explained that new checks have been introduced to ensure listings are now correctly married to schedules prior to broadcast.

Ofcom Decision: Breach of Rule 1.18

Graphic images of a woman taking off her clothes and masturbating, and close-up shots of her genital and anal areas were broadcast at 22:00. Ofcom considered this was clearly adult sex material , i.e. it contained images of a strong sexual nature which were broadcast for the primary purpose of sexual arousal or stimulation. We noted the representations of the Licensee that this material was broadcast unencrypted as a result of human error, and that it has taken action to prevent such errors from happening again. The content was however in breach of Rule 1.18.



Update: We've Decided but we're not going to tell you yet...

Ofcom waiting for end of Woolwich murder trial before announcing their findings about rather bloody news reports about the murder

Link Here1st October 2013
  Ofcom has completed its investigation into the broadcast coverage of the killing of Fusilier Rigby on 22 May 2013. However, due to ongoing criminal proceedings, Ofcom is delaying the publication of its decisions.

Ofcom will publish its decisions on completion of the criminal proceedings.



Failing to Think...

Politicians ludicrously lambast internet censor, Ofcom, for a tiny amount of accesses to 'porn' websites

Link Here1st October 2013

Official figures indicate that over the course of three months, there have been just 4,000 attempts made to access online porn by employees working at UK TV and internet censor Ofcom. So who the bloody hell is going to regulate the regulators?, argues the conservative think tank Parliament Street.

But as Ofcom has about 750 staff then the average accesses per employee per month is 2. And hopefully both of those are to read, which is classified as porn by negligently bad blocking algorithms.

And then there is the small matter that it is Ofcom's job to access porn websites to keep tab on ATVOD's overzealous censorship and also to follow up complaints about websites associated with UK adult broadcasters.

I think the think tank should think about learning some basic arithmetic.

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