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Ofcom vs Sky...

Ofcom find that violent scuffles, commonplace in the Jerry Springer show, are not suitable for daytime TV

Link Here20th June 2014

Jerry Springer
Pick TV, 27 January 2014, 13:00

Jerry Springer is a long running talk show shown on a number of Ofcom licensed channels including Pick TV. The licence for Pick TV is held by Sky.

A complainant alerted Ofcom to the unacceptable level of violence shown in this programme.

Ofcom noted that the broadcast was preceded by the following on-screen message: The Jerry Springer Show may contain adult themes or strong language. Parents are cautioned this program may not be suitable for children .

We noted that over the course of its 55 minute duration violent altercations broke out on 12 separate occasions during the programme.

Ofcom noted in particular:

  • hApproximately six minutes into the programme two women, Chameer and her friend, TJ, began to fight. TJ struck Chameer around the side of the head and the two women continued to try to hit one another as security staff attempted to keep them apart. After around 10 seconds, the two women were separated. At this point, TJ removed her shoes, ran at Chameer, and tackled her to the ground.

  • Around 32 minutes into the programme, Monique walked out onto the stage and passionately kissed another guest on the programme, Lauren. She then briefly flashed her bare breasts at the studio audience (although her breasts were pixelated in the broadcast). A fight then broke out between Lauren and Monique, and a third woman, Jessica. Jessica tried to land blows on Lauren and Monique but security staff intervened. The three women then grappled with each other, predominantly by pulling at one another's hair. Jessica then pulled Monique onto the ground and dragged her along by her hair. After the women were finally separated by security staff, Jessica was shown to drop a clump of Monique's hair onto the studio floor.

  • Later, Jessica grabbed Monique by her hair once more. Security staff intervened as another fight broke out between the three women. A member of security picked up Lauren in an attempt to pull her away and Lauren appeared to try and kick out at Jessica. All three women also pulled at one another's hair both before and after they fell to the floor. Jessica was again seen dropping a clump of Monique's hair on to the studio floor.

There were a further five incidents where participants in the programme landed single punches or slaps on others before security had the opportunity to intervene. Many of these violent acts were also repeated in recaps and teasers at the beginning and end of each part.

Ofcom considered:

Rule 1.11: Violence, its after-effects and descriptions of violence, whether verbal or physical, must be appropriately limited in programmes broadcast the watershed (in the case of television)â?¦and must also be justified by the context.

Rule 2.3: In applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context (see meaning of context below). Such material may include, but is not limited to, offensive language, violence, sex, sexual violence, humiliation, distress, violation of human dignity, discriminatory treatment or language (for example on the grounds of age, disability, gender, race, religion, beliefs and sexual orientation). Appropriate information should also be broadcast where it would assist in avoiding or minimising offence.

Sky denied there was any breach of the Code as it believed that given likely audience expectations the level of violence in the programme was within the bounds of acceptability . Sky said that Jerry Springer is a very well established programme and has been broadcast to UK viewers for a considerable number of years. In addition, the Licensee said that the programme format has remained consistent over this time with each episode featuring feuding families, partners or friends airing their grievances. Sky also highlighted that this episode of Jerry Springer had been broadcast on other channels without being the subject of an adverse finding by Ofcom .

Ofcom Decision: Breach of Rules 1.11 and 2.3

In Ofcom's view, the cumulative effect of these very frequent violent altercations (including, on two occasions, particularly vicious fighting that resulted in clumps of a guest's hair being pulled out) resulted in a programme that contained a significant level of violence.

In this case, although the broadcast was during the day while children were at school, there was clearly the potential for some children to be available to view this programme which contained a large number of violent, and in some cases very violent, altercations. Taking all the factors into consideration, Ofcom concluded that the cumulative level of real violence featured within the programme was not justified by the context. The programme was therefore in breach of Rule 1.11

We concluded that in the particular circumstances of this programme the violent content was not justified by the context. Therefore generally accepted standards were not applied and this programme was in breach of Rule 2.3.

This Decision relates to the content of this particular episode and not the programme Jerry Springer in general. Having viewed other episodes, Ofcom is aware that while the nature of the material is broadly similar, the strength of the content, and particularly violent content, can differ between episodes. Ofcom reminds broadcasters of the potential for individual episodes of well-established series to raise potential issues under the Code and the need to comply episodes on a case by case basis.

Breaches of Rules 1.11 and 2.3



New Fat Cats...

New TV censors join Ofcom's Board

Link Here6th June 2014

Ofcom has announced the appointment of three new non-executive members to its Board.

Sheila Noakes will join as Ofcom's Deputy Chairman, together with Stephen Hill and Graham Mather, who will each join as non-executive directors. Sheila Noakes and Graham Mather will take up their positions from 1 June and Stephen Hill from 1 October each for a period of four years.

Baroness Sheila Noakes is a qualified chartered accountant and previously headed KPMG's European and International Government practices. She has also been President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. Baroness Noakes was appointed to the House of Lords in 2000. She is an experienced non-executive director and her current directorships include the Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc, where she chairs its Risk Committee.

Stephen Hill has held various senior board positions including Chief Executive of the Financial Times, Chief Executive of Betfair, and a non-executive director of Channel 4. He is currently Chairman of the UK charity Action on Hearing Loss and Chairman and Chief Executive of D'Aval Limited, a private investment company.

Graham Mather was a member of Ofcom's Consumer Panel from 2004 to 2008. He served as a member of the Monopolies and Mergers Commission and, between 2000 and 2012, was also member of the Competition Appeal Tribunal, the body that deals with appeals from the UK regulators. Graham is currently the President of the European Policy Forum and Chairman of its Regulatory Best Practice Group.



Turmoil In Thailand...

Coverage of Thai political protests (before the latest coup) found to be too violent for the BBC News at One

Link Here20th May 2014

BBC News at One
BBC 1, 18 February 2014, 13:00

On 18 February 2014, the BBC News at One reported on the clashes between police and anti-government protesters in Bangkok, Thailand, as police tried to re-take government ministries that had been occupied by anti-government protesters.

Ofcom received 15 complaints about this news report broadcast. The complainants alerted Ofcom to the inclusion in the report of scenes showing graphic and disturbing images, which the complainants did not consider to be appropriate for the time of transmission.  We noted that it was the school half-term holidays.

The item was introduced by BBC News at One presenter Sophie Raworth who presented a pre-recorded news report on this story by BBC's South East Asia correspondent, Jonathan Head. The presenter introduced the report by saying:

At least three people have been killed and dozens of others wounded in clashes between police and anti-government protesters in Thailand's capital, Bangkok. Violence erupted when riot police.. This was accompanied by a studio background of a screen showing the text Thailand in Turmoil , set against an image of Thailand's flag.

The item included clips showing how the confrontation escalated from peaceful protests to violence between the two opposing sides and included an image of an injured policeman, with blood on his face, being carried into an ambulance on a stretcher. The footage was accompanied by the reporter explaining the growing tensions between the riot police and protesters, and giving details of the injuries sustained by both groups. Our concern focused on a particular sequence of footage broadcast at about 13:22. The first shot featured a group of riot police officers, formed in a line, crouched down behind their protective shields, in the middle of the street. An additional police officer was shown running to join the front of the group. This was accompanied by the reporter stating: Then this. A grenade arched into the police line, landing at their feet . As the police officer crouched down beside his fellow officers, behind his protective shield, a grenade could be seen landing immediately in front of the policemen's shields.

The reporter said: One officer realised the danger . The next shot showed one police officer stand up, break away from the line of shields and aim a kick at the grenade. At the point the police officer's boot was about to make contact with the grenade, it exploded. The footage then showed what appeared to be a boot, falling from a cloud of smoke caused by the explosion. A very brief shot of the boot hitting the ground followed, accompanied by the reporter's voiceover stating: but too late . The reporter stated: Four were injured. One lost his leg . He said these words as the cloud of smoke, caused by the explosion, dispersed to reveal a police officer lying on the ground and rolling over and a shot of another police officer lying still on the ground. Although the shots of the police officers were brief and rather unclear it was evident that the police officer had injured his leg.

Ofcom considered Rule 1.3 which states:

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

Ofcom Decision

Ofcom noted that the news report included footage of a police officer's attempt to kick a grenade away from a group of fellow police officers. Although the shot was brief the impact of the explosion could be seen and heard at the point the police officer was about to make contact with the grenade. The footage showed a boot falling from a cloud of smoke caused by the explosion and a police officer lying on the ground after the explosion. We noted that the reporter provided details of the results of the violence, for example: One [policeman] lost his leg . The commentary of the reporter compounded the already distressing image of the explosion, by reinforcing the dangerous and violent nature of the protests.

We therefore considered that the news report contained distressing material unsuitable for children.

We noted that the BBC said in its representations that the manner in which the report was introduced provided information to viewers to expect sequences showing violence and the effects of violence . In Ofcom's view the information provided was too general and indirect, and did not provide a clear warning in advance about the distressing nature of the violent images relating to the grenade incident included in the report. Also the news report was broadcast on a Tuesday at 13:20 during the school half-term holidays, when it was more likely that children were available to view.

For these reasons this content exceeded audience expectations, and therefore on balance was not appropriately scheduled and Rule 1.3 was breached.

However, we noted that the BBC acknowledged that this report contained unsuitable material which should have been (but which was not) recognised before transmission. Further, the BBC took immediate steps to alert teams preparing news programmes across the BBC's channels to the content so it would not be used again without appropriate context.

In these circumstances, we considered this matter resolved.



Update: Omnipresent Ofcom...

TV censor warns religious broadcasters that it is watching over them

Link Here9th May 2014
Full story: Ofcom on Religion...ofcom keep religious extremism in check
Ofcom announced in its latest complaints bulletin that it would be keeping a beady eye on religious broadcasters:

Targeted monitoring exercise: religious programming

Recent sanctions and investigations by Ofcom into religious programming have highlighted concerns around the compliance of religious content with the Broadcasting Code.

Ofcom therefore formally notifies broadcasters that we are conducting a targeted monitoring exercise of television services which broadcast religious programmes.

Broadcasters are put on notice that any serious or repeated failings in this area will result in Ofcom taking further regulatory action, for example, the consideration of the imposition of statutory sanctions.



Proposal to renew censorship arrangements for broadcast advertising...

TV censor Ofcom lays out the rules for continuing to work the advert censor, ASA

Link Here 7th May 2014
Under the Communications Act 2003, Ofcom has a duty to set broadcast standards in advertising and to prevent the inclusion of advertising in licensed services that may be misleading, harmful or offensive.

In 2004, Ofcom contracted out certain functions relating to the regulation of broadcast advertising content under co-regulatory arrangements with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). Those arrangements expire later this year.

Ofcom now proposes to renew the existing arrangements with minor changes for a further ten year period. The basis for possible renewal is set out in a  letter [pdf] and Memorandum of Understanding [pdf] to Lord Smith, Chairman of the ASA.

Ofcom invites comments on our proposal to renew the existing co-regulatory arrangements and is keen to hear from all interested parties. Comments should be submitted by 17:00 on Friday 30 May 2014, addressed to:

Daniel Maher Content Standards, Licensing & Enforcement Operations Manager Riverside House 2a Southwark Bridge Road London SE1 9HA or submitted by email:



Update: 66 Whinges...

Ofcom resume whingeing about daytime babes on Studio 66 TV

Link Here17th April 2014
Full story: Babe Channels...Ofcom have it in for free to air babe channels

Studio 66 TV Days Studio 66 TV 1, 25 December 2013, 06:30 to 07:30
Studio 66 TV Days Studio 66 TV 1, 26 December 2013, 06:30 to 07:30
Studio 66 TV Days Studio 66 TV1, 4 January 2014, 14:15 to 15:15

Studio 66 TV Days Studio 66 TV2, 1 January 2014, 05:30 to 05:38

Studio 66 TV Days are babe channel segments of interactive adult chat and daytime chat advertising content broadcast on the service Studio 66 TV 1. Viewers are invited to contact on-screen presenters via premium rate telephony services ( PRS ). During daytime chat , all dress and behaviour should be non-sexual in tone and apparent intent. The licence for Studio 66 TV 1 is owned and operated by 914 TV Limited

Following complaints regarding the content of these daytime chat channels, Ofcom reviewed the material and noted the following example: 25 December 2013, 06:30 to 07:30

The female presenter was wearing a light pink, tight-fitting short dress which was considerably cut-away across her front, revealing the majority of her breasts. Only thin strips of material covered her nipples and the remainder of her breasts appeared oiled. For the majority of the broadcast the presenter lay on her side to camera. While lying in this position, the presenter also repeatedly pulled up her dress over her buttocks to reveal a skimpy thong, and rubbed and stroked her hips, bottom and thighs and touched her breasts. She also briefly touched her crotch area. At one point, she took a drink from a glass and licked the straw up and down. Several times throughout the broadcast, the presenter licked her lips and stuck out her tongue to reveal her tongue piercing.

Ofcom considered BCAP Code Rule 32.3, which states:

Relevant timing restrictions must be applied to advertisements that, through their content, might harm or distress children of particular ages or that are otherwise unsuitable for them.

914 TV stated in its response that it had assessed the content, and agreed that the material complained of did not meet the standards set out in its internal guidelines, or Ofcom's Guidance on advertising of telecommunications-based sexual entertainment services (July 2013). The Licensee apologised for this. It added that in all three circumstances, the content fell short of the standards that the Licensee aimed to achieve in its advertising content.

However, 914 TV stated that it did not consider that the content: was of a level that would, or could, cause harm or distress to children of particular ages watching, which, in its view, the Licensee described as being the the overriding intention of Rule 32.3.

Ofcom Decision: Breach of Rule 32.3

Ofcom published its revised Guidance on advertising of telecommunications-based sexual entertainment services in July 2013. The Chat Service Guidance clearly sets out what Ofcom considers to be acceptable for broadcast on daytime chat services pre-watershed. For example, the guidance explicitly states that daytime chat broadcasters should:

  • Ensure that presenters are wearing appropriate clothing, that adequately covers their bodies, in particular their breasts, genital areas and buttocks; and

  • not broadcast images of presenters mimicking sexual intercourse by rocking and thrusting their bodies, or otherwise adopting sexual poses..

Re 25 December 2013, 06:30 to 07:30:

Ofcom noted that the female presenter was wearing clothing that did not adequately cover her breasts and buttocks, in particular: a tight fitted top with a significant cut-away area, exposing a large amount of her breasts and cleavage, and a dress that rode up on several occasions, revealing the presenter's underwear. While wearing this outfit, the presenter acted in a sexualised manner. Prominence was given to her breasts and she also rubbed her bottom and thighs throughout the advertising content. Her body was therefore not adequately covered and the cumulative effect of her outfit and movement was to create a sexualised tone. Given the time of broadcast, Ofcom concluded that this material was unsuitable for children.

These broadcasts were therefore in breach of BCAP Code Rule 32.3.

The Licensee for Studio 66 TV 1, 914 TV, and the Ofcom licensee 965 TV Limited ( 965 TV , which controls the services Studio 66 TV 2, Studio 66 TV 3 and Studio 66 TV 4) both share the same shareholder and director. According to Ofcom's records, all four channels also have the same individual responsible for compliance. 914 TV and 965 TV both recently had breaches of BCAP Rule 32.3 recorded against them in issue 235 of Ofcom's Broadcast Bulletin in August 2013

At that time Ofcom required the individual responsible for compliance for 914 TV and 965 TV to attend a meeting at Ofcom to discuss compliance arrangements. Despite the assurances given to Ofcom at that time, Ofcom is extremely concerned that the Licensee has breached BCAP Rule 32.3 again. Ofcom will consider further regulatory action should similar advertising content be broadcast on this service again.



Internet Censorship Plans...

Ofcom announce plans to assess ISP's shoddy internet website blocking systems

Link Here1st April 2014
Ofcom has published its 2014/15 Annual Plan, confirming its strategy and work programme for the next financial year.

On the subject of TV and internet censorship Ofcom outline the following tasks:

Maintain audience confidence in broadcast content.

Ofcom will work with industry and other regulators to develop a consistent approach to media standards regulation.

Ofcom will also support work to help keep children safe online. This will include reports for the Government:

  • on parental controls and

  • an assessment of protection measures put in place by internet service providers.

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