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2018: Oct-Dec

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Top 10...

Ofcom publishes its 2018 list of the TV programmes earning the most complaints

Link Here26th December 2018
Celebrity Big Brother was the television programme that earned the most viewer complaints to TV censor Ofcom in 2018.

During 2018, Ofcom received almost 56,000 complaints about programmes from viewers and listeners. The 'top 10' most complained about television shows together prompted more than 47,000 audience complaints to Ofcom.

  • Celebrity Big Brother on Channel 5 attracted the most complaints in 2018 (27,602). The majority related to an allegation of physical abuse made by Roxanne Pallett against Ryan Thomas.
  • Loose Women on ITV attracted the second highest volume of complaints this year (8,002). The majority related to an interview with guest Kim Woodburn.
  • Sky News : 4,251 complaints (of which 3,462 noted the bias in the editing of Tommy Robinson in an interview (27 Sept); and 592 related to comments by Kay Burley's comparing Simon Weston's injuries to a woman wearing a burqa (7 Aug)).
  • Love Island : 4,192 complaints (of which 2,644 related to Dani Dyer's reaction when shown a video of boyfriend Jack reacting to his former partner entering Casa Amour (1 July); 632 raised concerns about the emotional wellbeing of contestant, Laura Anderson (10 July); and 540 related to perceived unfair editing of contestant, Samira Mighty (12 July)).
  • Coronation Street : 1,098 complaints (of which 214 related to the storyline involving the date-rape of David Platt and its aftermath (16,19 March); 211 related to Billy Mayhew taking drugs in a church (26 Feb); and 95 related to Pat Phelan's murder of Luke Britton (5 Jan)).
  • Emmerdale : 759 complaints (of which366 complaints related to an acid attack storyline (8 Feb); and 116 related to the murder of Gerry Roberts (17 May)).
  • Good Morning Britain : 548 complaints (of which 86 considered that Piers Morgan displayed bias in favour of President Trump during an interview with Ash Sarkar (12 July); and 74 related to Adil Ray's introduction of the show as "Good Morning Asian Britain" (13 August)).
  • This Morning : 402 complaints (of which 133 raised concerns that a guest who featured in a segment about breastfeeding was not sufficiently expert (12 Sept); and 30 related to a discussion about donor breastmilk which complainants considered did not support breastfeeding and promoted formula milk (12 Apr).
  • I'm a Celebrity...Get me Out of Here: 335: The majority of these complaints (180) related to the use of animals in Bushtucker trials.
  • The X Factor : 286 complaints (of which 104 related to Cheryl's routine (18 Nov); and95 related to sound issues affecting the performances of Danny Tetley and Anthony Russell (3 Nov)).



Sincere apologies in order...

Ofcom fines local radio station for hate speech directed at the Ahmadi community

Link Here24th December 2018

Ofcom has imposed a £10,000 fine on Radio Ikhlas Limited for failing to provide adequate protection for listeners.

The service -- a community radio station which is targeted towards the Asian (primarily Pakistani) community and other smaller ethnic communities in the Normanton area of Derby -- broadcast hate speech and material containing abusive treatment of the Ahmadiyya community

Under the Broadcasting Code, licensees must not broadcast material which contains uncontextualised hate speech and abusive treatment of groups, religions or communities.

After an investigation, Ofcom concluded that the serious nature of the breaches of the Broadcasting Code warranted the imposition of statutory sanctions. These include a financial penalty and a direction to the broadcaster to broadcast a statement of Ofcom's findings on a date and in a form to be determined by Ofcom.

The fine of £10,000 will be paid by Radio Ikhlas Limited to HM Paymaster General.

The original Ofcom investigation found:

The presenter described Ahmadi people as: dangerous; liars; enemies of Islam, enemies of Pakistan, and enemies of our religion; hypocrites who frequently engage in propaganda to defame Muslims; and, people who have inflicted the greatest damage to Islam and to the believers of Islam. The presenter referred to the founder of the Ahmadi faith as being a liar and described the religious beliefs of Ahmadi people as very dangerous beliefs and filthy beliefs which shatter the true faith and promote untruths. He used the simile of filling a bottle of holy Zamzam water with alcohol to convey his view that the Ahmaddiyya community is a polluting influence on Islam. He also said that when the members of the community preach to others about their beliefs they rob them of their faith 206That is what they try to do. In the context of these criticisms, the presenter said: we will have to identify them with our ranks, Protect yourself from them and asked how can we tolerate one who uses the title Muslim, which represents Muslims?.

We considered these statements were expressions of hatred based on intolerance of the Ahmadiyya community's religious beliefs and their broadcast spread, encouraged and incited such hatred among listeners. Therefore, it is Ofcom's Decision that this was hate speech as defined by the Code.



Censorship, propaganda and diplomacy...

Ofcom decides that the Russia Today propaganda channel is liable for sanctions for one sided news reports...but surely it is the government that should decide on measures that may escalate global tensions

Link Here21st December 2018

Ofcom writes:

Ofcom has today found that the RT news channel broke broadcasting rules by failing to preserve due impartiality in seven news and current affairs programmes over a six-week period.

Earlier this year, Ofcom launched a number of investigations into RT to determine whether certain programmes broadcast on the channel had complied with broadcasting rules requiring due impartiality.

Having examined the programmes and all available evidence, including written and oral representations made by RT, we have concluded that the following seven programmes, which aired between 17 March 2018 and 26 April, broke due impartiality rules:

  • Sputnik, RT, 17 March 2018, 19:30;

  • News, RT, 18 March 2018, 08:00;

  • Sputnik, RT, 7 April 2018, 19:30;

  • Crosstalk, RT, 13 April 2018, 20:30;

  • Crosstalk, RT, 16 April 2018, 20:30;

  • Crosstalk, RT, 20 April 2018, 08:30; and

  • News, RT, 26 April 2018, 08:00.

Three further programmes were found not in breach of our due impartiality rules.

Taken together, the seven breaches represent a serious failure of compliance with our broadcasting rules. We have told RT that we are minded to consider imposing a statutory sanction. The broadcaster now has an opportunity to make representations to us, which we will consider before proceeding further.

The Guardian explained a little more:

Two of the breaches related to Sputnik , a programme hosted by the former MP George Galloway, a regular presenter on the channel, who cast doubt on the link between the Salisbury poisonings and Russia.

Other breaches include incidents where presenters failed to challenge interviewees over contentious topics and instead appeared to agree with their guest, and programmes and reports about the conflict in Syria that took a resolutely pro-Russian viewpoint without representing alternative views.

Potential punishments include forcing RT to broadcast corrections, imposing financial fines or, applicable in extreme cases, the removal of a broadcasting licence, which would essentially force the channel off air in the UK. However, the latter course of action is considered unlikely given that any punishment has to be proportionate and previous impartiality breaches, even on this scale, have not resulted in channels being forced off air.

In its submissions to Ofcom, RT argued it did not breach the rules of due impartiality, in part because its viewers already expected to hear a pro-Russian viewpoint that challenged the predominant narrative of the UK government on issues such as the war in Syria and the Salisbury attacks.

It said any attempt to censor RT, which is one of three news channels available to Freeview viewers, was an affront to freedom of speech.

The BBC reported that the censorship of the channel may result in a diplomatic incident:

Russia's media censor will now check the output of BBC World News and BBC websites, in what the Kremlin calls a response to the UK TV censor Ofcom. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said many questions had arisen about the BBC's coverage of Russia.

He said the questions concerned BBC coverage of events in Russia and in Syria, where the Russian military is backing President Bashar al-Assad's forces.

On Facebook, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, said monitoring of the BBC by Roskomnadzor, the Russian state regulator, was long overdue. She accused the UK government of crude interference in the activities of Russian media (constant propaganda against the RT TV channel, attempts to discredit our journalists, etc). That interference, she said, leaves no other choice but a mirror response.

The BBC said that BBC News in Russia was fully compliant with the country's laws and regulations.



Board content updated...

Ofcom appoints a new TV censor

Link Here10th December 2018

Ofcom has appointed Stephen Nuttall to its Content Board.

Ofcom's Content Board is a committee of the main Ofcom Board. It has advisory responsibility for a wide range of content issues, including the regulation of television, radio and video-on-demand quality and standards.

Stephen Nuttall has more than thirty years' experience working as a senior executive and a consultant in the sports, media and digital industries. Stephen's previous positions include Senior Director at YouTube EMEA and Group Commercial Director at Sky.



Serious issues...

Ofcom investigates a complaint about a Chinese propaganda channel broadcasting a confession said to be extracted under duress.

Link Here25th November 2018
A British corruption investigator has asked the UK's TV censor Ofcomr to revoke Chinese state media's broadcast license for helping to stage his allegedly forced confession and subsequent jailing in China.

Peter Humphrey was arrested for his work in pursuing corruption in the pharmaceutical sector. He was sentenced to over two years in prison by a Shanghai court in 2014. He served hi time and was then deported.

He has now submitted a complaint to Ofcom about China Central Television (CCTV) for its alleged role in the episode. He said that CCTV journalists cooperated with police to extract, record, make post-production and then broadcast his confession worldwide through its international propaganda channels.

Humphrey accuses Chinese authorities of drugging him and locking him in a chair inside a small metal cage to conduct the confession saying:

China Central Television (CCTV) journalists then aimed their cameras at me and recorded me reading out the answers already prepared for me by the police, his complaint added.

A spokesman for Ofcom confirmed it had received a complaint which we are assessing as a priority. Ofcom has previously taken action against the broadcast of 'confessions' extracted under duress.



Allowing pay TV to compete with Netflix whilst disadvantaging free to air...

Ofcom will allow TV channels to broadcast post watershed content during the daytime if the channel has a mandatory PIN access mechanism

Link Here 5th November 2018

Ofcom has published a statement setting out its decision to make changes to the rules about the use of mandatory PIN codes in Section One of the Broadcasting Code.

We publicly consulted on our proposals to update the mandatory daytime PIN rules in March 2018, and the statement concludes our review.

Section One of the Code currently allows for 15-rated films to be broadcast during the daytime on subscription film channels and up to 18-rated films on pay per view film channels, provided a mandatory PIN is in place. Mandatory PIN protection cannot be removed by the user and restricts access solely to those authorised to view.

The statement sets out Ofcom’s decision to extend the application of the mandatory PIN rules in Section One of the Code to permit scheduled television channels to show programmes, which can currently only be shown after the 9pm watershed, before this time, but only if mandatory daytime protection is in place.

We consider mandatory daytime protection to complement the existing 9pm watershed in providing a strong level of protection for children against programmes on broadcast services which might be unsuitable for them.

The changes to the rules include a requirement for broadcasters to clearly explain the new mandatory PIN systems in place to all users, and to provide clear guidance information with programmes to assist adults in assessing whether content is suitable for children.

The revisions to the relevant rules to extend mandatory daytime protection beyond premium film content will come into force on 1 January 2019.

We expect broadcasters and platform providers who intend to make use of mandatory daytime protection to inform their viewers about the new regime, and about the importance of parents setting strong PIN codes in advance.



A new censor onboard...

Ofcom appoints Sophie Morgan to its Content Board

Link Here27th October 2018

Ofcom has appointed Sophie Morgan to its Content Board.

Ofcom's Content Board is a committee of the main Ofcom Board. It has advisory responsibility for a wide range of content issues, including the regulation of television, radio and video-on-demand quality and standards.

Sophie joins the Content Board on a three-year term.

Sophie is a television presenter, campaigner, artist and entrepreneur. She is lead presenter of live Paralympic sport on Channel 4, and has presented events including the 2016 Rio Paralympics and the 2017 Winter Paralympics. Sophie has also presented a range of other programmes such as Unreported World , Tricks of the Restaurant Trade and Best Laid Plans .

Sophie, who was paralysed from the chest down aged 18, has twice been voted one of the top 100 most influential people with a disability in the UK. An active campaigner, Sophie is a patron of the charity Scope and an ambassador for Human Rights Watch.

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