Doctors writing for British Medical Journal open have issues a strong criticism of Ofcom for not implementing a total ban on junk food advertising before the 9pm watershed. Ofcom had a more nuanced restriction only targeting pre-watershed adverts in
programmes that appeal to children.
The doctors have no gone further and suggested that public health officials should take over Ofcom's TV censorship powers related to health.
In a new study published in the journal BMJ Open, the campaigners
said that the industry has unduly influenced the regulations for TV advertising of unhealthy foods to children. Hence, they said that since Ofcom's duty is to protect commercial broadcast interests, they should not be responsible for a public health
Instead, the doctors argue, that public health doctors should be the ones to decide on this matter, noting that they are more credible in making decisions regarding health. The researchers based their conclusions on a thematic analysis of
responses from stakeholders to the public consultation on proposals, which became effective in 2009. The proposals aimed to emphasize rules on TV advertising of foods for children and even teens.
The doctors say that Ofcom may have prioritized
commercial considerations over the health of the children. This fact has led to questioning of the conflict of interests of the regulatory body, if protecting broadcasting interests should be a reason for not allowing it to lead a public health
They added that Ofcom should have banned adverts of high-sugar, high-fat, and salty food before 9 p.m. when children are still watching programs like evening shows with their parents. Despite banning junk food advertisements during
shows watched by children aged 4 to 15 years old, it did so after two years. It banned the adverts only after industry representatives told it to do so.
The Music Marathon is a music programme on Gold which is broadcast on AM radio in Manchester, London, Derby and Nottingham and nationally on DAB. The licences for these services are
held by Global Radio Limited.
Ofcom received a complaint about offensive language (“yellow Chinkies”) in the music track Melting Pot, a song from 1969 by Blue Mink . No introduction to the track was broadcast, or any
other content discussing it. The track included the following lyrics:
“Take a pinch of white man, Wrap him up in black skin, Add a touch of blue blood, And a little bitty bit of Red Indian boy. Oh,
Curly Latin kinkies, Mixed with yellow Chinkies, If you lump it all together And you got a recipe for a get along scene; Oh what a beautiful dream If it could only come true, you know, you know.
What we need is
a great big melting pot, Big enough to take the world and all it’s got And keep it stirring for a hundred years or more And turn out coffee-coloured people by the score”.
We considered that references in
the lyrics (including “yellow Chinkies”, “Red Indian boy”, “curly Latin kinkies” and “coffee-coloured people”) raised potential issues under Rule 2.3 of the Code:
Rule 2.3: “In applying generally accepted standards
broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context...Such material may include, but is not limited to, offensive language…discriminatory treatment or language (for example on the grounds of…race…) Appropriate
information should also be broadcast where it would assist in avoiding or minimising offence”.
Global Radio said that it understood some of the lyrics in this song had the potential to cause offence but said that the
other lyrics and the context of the time it was written and released mitigated the potential for offence. It said that the offensive language was not intended to be used in a derogatory fashion in the song. It said that the term yellow Chinkies was not used as an insulting term directed at a person of Chinese origin. The Licensee said that it is clear from the lyrics of the song that the message of the song is racial harmony, inclusivity and equality
The Licensee said that following the complaint notification from Ofcom, it had permanently removed the track from Gold's playlist.
Ofcom decision: Resolved
We considered that the
use of the term yellow was a derogatory reference to the skin colour of Chinese people. We therefore considered that the phrase yellow Chinkies had the potential to be highly offensive.
Ofcom's research does not provide
direct evidence for the offensiveness of the terms Red Indian boy , curly Latin kinkies and coffee-coloured people . However, Ofcom considered that Red Indian is generally understood to be a pejorative term in modern speech
and is frequently replaced with Native American . Although the terms curly Latin kinkies and coffee-coloured people are not widely understood to be racial slurs in modern society, unlike the terms Chinky and Red Indian , we considered that they had the potential to cause offence because they could also be considered derogatory references to particular ethnic groups.
In our view, the potential offence caused by these lyrics may have been heightened by the cumulative effect of the repeated use of this language during the verse and chorus
In considering the context of the
broadcast, Ofcom took into account that Melting Pot was released in 1969 by Blue Mink, and reached number three in the UK Singles chart and number 11 in Ireland in 1970. We considered that, although this song was popular at the time, the passage of time
(nearly 40 years) may have not made it sufficiently well-known today to mitigate the potential for offence.
Ofcom also considered Global's argument that any offence was mitigated in this case by the positive intention of the song,
which was a message of racial harmony.
We did not agree that this provided sufficient context to mitigate the potential for offence. The title Melting Pot, which may have provided an indication of the track's overall message, was
not broadcast, nor was the song introduced with any contextual information that would have highlighted its overall message to listeners. There was also no other context provided to justify the broadcast of the offensive language.
For all of the reasons above, Ofcom's Decision is that this potentially offensive material was not justified by the context.
However, we took into account the steps taken by the Licensee following notification of the complaint from Ofcom. We acknowledged that it said it had removed the track permanently from Gold's playlist.
Decision therefore, is that this case is resolved.
Content from previous decades can be broadcast under the Code. However generally accepted standards clearly change significantly over time, and audience expectations of older
content may not be sufficient to justify its broadcast. Where older material contains content, such as language, which has the potential to cause offence to today's audiences, broadcasters should consider carefully how to provide sufficient context to
comply with Rule 2.3 of the Code.
Update: Please leave it alone. I just think it's ridiculous
Sixties band Blue Mink has blasted a radio station's decision to drop their racial harmony promoting song Melting Pot from its playlist.
TV censor Ofcom made a politically correct decision to ban the song after one listener complained
about the lyrics when the song was played on Gold.
African-American lead singer Madeline Bell said:
It took years to suddenly decide in this politically correct time that we live in that it was an offensive and
racist record. We're worrying about the lyrics of a protest song about making coffee-coloured people. The song is 50 years old. Please leave it alone. I just think it's ridiculous.
Bell, ho performs Blue Mink songs as part of
her solo routine, has vowed to continue performing Melting Pot.
Ofcom has fined the news channel RT £200,000 for serious failures to comply with our broadcasting rules -- and required the channel to broadcast a summary of our findings to its viewers.
Ofcom has rules in place requiring
broadcast news to be presented with due impartiality.
Our investigation found that RT failed to preserve due impartiality in seven news and current affairs programmes between 17 March and 26 April 2018.
Taken together, these breaches represented serious and repeated failures of compliance with our rules. We were particularly concerned by the frequency of RT's rule-breaking over a relatively short period of time.
The programmes were mostly in relation to major matters of political controversy and current public policy -- namely the UK Government's response to the events in Salisbury, and the Syrian conflict.
decided to impose a financial penalty of £200,000; and direct RT to broadcast a summary of Ofcom's findings, in a form and on dates to be determined by Ofcom. We consider this sanction to be appropriate and proportionate. It takes into account the
additional steps that RT has taken to ensure its compliance since we launched our investigations; and that we have not recorded any further breaches of our due impartiality rules against RT to date.
Ofcom will await the conclusion
of RT's application for judicial review of our breach decisions before enforcing the sanction.
Kitaab-ut-Tawheed, Part 59, Peace TV Urdu, 22 November 2017, 09:00
Strengthening Your Family: The Valley of the Homosexuals Episode 9, Peace TV, 1 1 March 2018, 11:30
Media and Islam, War or Peace?, Peace TV, 13 November 2017, 07:30 and 14:00
Better Half or Bitter Half, Peace TV, 13 November 2017, 18:30
Umdatul Akhaam, Part 162, Peace TV, 13 November 2017, 22:30
This Bulletin sets out Ofcom's Decisions on the five programmes above.
Peace TV Urdu's licence is held by Club TV Ltd. Peace TV's licence is held by Lord Production Inc Ltd. Both licensees are
majority controlled by Universal Broadcasting Corporation Limited1.
Through monitoring, Ofcom identified content raising issues under the Code in four of these programmes. We received a complaint about the other
In accordance with our published procedures, Ofcom watched all the programmes and took careful account of all the relevant information, including the individual facts of each case and the representations
made by the licensees.
Ofcom has decided that four of the five programmes breached the Code, and one did not. The reasons are set out in full in each of the corresponding decisions which follow this summary. We have
notified the relevant licensees that we will consider the breaches in two of the programmes, Kitaab-ut-Tawheed and Valley of the Homosexuals, for the imposition of statutory sanctions.
Kitaab-ut-Tawheed: A religious scholar gave a view on the practice of magic. The programme breached Rule 3.1 (incitement to crime), Rule 3.2 (hate speech), Rule 3.3 (abusive treatment) and Rule 2.3 (offence).
Strengthening Your Family: The Valley of the Homosexuals. The presenter discussed a religious perspective on homosexuality. The programme breached Rules 3.2 (hate speech), Rule 3.3 (abusive treatment) and Rule 2.3
Media and Islam, War or Peace?: The presenter gave a religious view on the punishment for apostasy. The programme breached Rules 3.2 (hate speech), Rule 3.3 (abusive treatment) and Rule 2.3
Better Half or Bitter Half: The presenter gave a religious view on child marriage. The programme breached Rule 2.3 (offence).
Part 162: The presenter discussed specific religious texts on prescribed punishments. We did not consider this programme was in breach of our rules.
Written ministerial statement by the Secretary of State Jeremy Wright updating the House on Ofcom's statutory duty to share information with Government in advance of publication, introduced under section 24A of the Communications Act 2003:
I would like to update the House on Ofcom's statutory duty to share information with Government at least 24 hours before publication, introduced under section 24A of the Communications Act 2003, inserted by the Digital
Economy Act 2017. This early access to information from Ofcom is important in supporting the Government's wider policy responsibilities in safeguarding and improving the delivery of essential communications services on which consumers rely.
To commence the duty I must specify by regulations what categories of information will be exempt from this duty, following consultation with Ofcom. Our consultation with Ofcom has now concluded and I can inform the House of our
intention to proceed with the implementation of the duty via a negative Statutory Instrument later in the Autumn.
The categories of information to be listed as exempt in these regulations include broadcasting content standards and
broadcasting licensing enforcement. This is to ensure that there can be no accusations or perceptions that the Government has had inappropriate prior knowledge or been involved in these functions. Corporate functions will also be excluded. Other types of
information Ofcom proposes to publish, which fall outside of the above exemption regulations, will need to be shared with the Government at least 24 hours before publication by Ofcom once the duty comes into force, unless there are exceptional
circumstances or prior agreement is reached.
Ofcom has directed Trace UK World Ltd to broadcast a statement of findings in relation to antisemitic content broadcast by CSC Media Group (CSC), a subsidiary of Colombia Pictures.
The service Starz -- a UK satellite television
channel which broadcasts music videos alongside texts and photographs submitted by viewers -- broadcast a viewer-submitted antisemitic caricature.
In this case, an image submitted by a viewer was shown, which depicted a cartoon
caricature of a man wearing what appeared to be a prayer shawl (or tallit) which was decorated with a blue Star of David and blue and white stripes. The man was caricatured as having a large hooked nose and drooping eyelids. Set against a backdrop of
gold coins, he was smiling widely and had his hands flat against his cheeks framing his open mouth.
Viewers pay for the broadcast of submissions and Ofcom therefore treats them as advertisements. Under the UK Code of Broadcast
Advertising (BCAP Code), advertisements must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to the audience and to society. Advertisements must also not cause serious or widespread offence against generally accepted moral, social or cultural standards. Nor
must they condone or encourage harmful discriminatory behaviour or treatment. Advertisements must not prejudice respect for human dignity.
After an investigation, Ofcom concluded that the serious nature of the breaches warranted
the imposition of a statutory sanction. As a sanction, Ofcom directed that a statement of Ofcom's findings should be broadcast on a date and in a form to be determined by Ofcom.