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2021: April-June

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Comment: Vague rules defined so that the censors can then arbitrarily dictate what we are allowed to say...

Ofcom's vague censorship rules will encroach on free speech says the National Secular Society


Link Here9th May 2021
Full story: Online Harms White Paper...UK Government seeks to censor social media

Proposed rules which would protect users from material likely to incite hatred on video sharing platforms (VSPs) risk unduly encroaching on freedom of expression, the National Secular Society has said.

The internet censor Ofcom is currently consulting on draft guidance for VSP providers, which is designed to protect consumers from viewing harmful content.

The NSS has responded to the consultation to express concern that Ofcom has not ensured adequate protection for freedom of expression.

The guidance says providers must ensure appropriate measures are in place to protect children from material that might impair their development; and to protect the public from criminal content and material likely to incite hatred.

The NSS said it was reasonable for Ofcom to require VSPs to moderate restricted material, but warned that rules around material likely to incite hatred were too vague.

The guidance requires moderation of material likely to incite hatred on various grounds, including religion or belief and political or any other opinion. It only defines incitement to hatred by saying it should be understood as having its usual meaning in everyday language.

The NSS said hatred was a largely subjective term and different individuals would have different interpretations of its meaning. The society raised concerns that the guidance would enable religious censorship, and highlighted examples of religious groups attempting to use claims of inciting hatred to censor critical or satirical material .

The NSS also said platforms would be incentivised to err on the side of censorship. The guidance includes significant penalties for permitting content that violates the rules, while there are no equivalent penalties for failing to uphold freedom of expression.

The NSS also said the guidance could unreasonably curb religious groups' freedom of expression.

The society said the guidance should include clearer instruction on VSPs' duty to have due regard for freedom of speech and freedom of religion or belief. It added that it should include more comprehensive explanations about what does not constitute material that is considered likely to incite hatred with regard to religion or belief.

 

 

Updated: Religious nonsense...

Ofcom fines Loveworld religious TV channel for broadcasting nonsense theories about coronavirus


Link Here20th April 2021
Full story: Ofcom on Religion...ofcom keep religious extremism in check
Ofcom has imposed a fine of 125,000 on Loveworld Limited after a programme broadcast on its religious service Loveworld Television Network featured inaccurate and supposedly potentially harmful claims about the Coronavirus without providing adequate protection for viewers. This was the second time in a year that the broadcaster rules on accuracy in news, and harm in its coverage of the Coronavirus.

Ofcom considered these breaches to be serious, repeated and reckless, warranting the imposition of a statutory sanction beyond the direction to broadcast a statement of our findings that Ofcom issued in its Decision published 15 January 2021.

Ofcom's investigation found that the 29-hour programme, Global Day of Prayer , included statements claiming that the pandemic is a planned event created by the deep state for nefarious purposes, and that the vaccine is a sinister means of administering nanochips to control and harm people. Some statements claimed that fraudulent testing had been carried out to deceive the public about the existence of the virus and the scale of the pandemic. Others linked the cause of Covid-19 to the roll out of 5G technology.

Ofcom was particularly concerned that this breach followed previous, similar breaches in 2020 during the investigation of which, Loveworld Limited gave Ofcom a number of assurances as to how it would improve its compliance procedures.

Update: Ofcom jabs don't work

20th April 2021.  See article from ofcom.org.uk

Twice Ofcom has jabbed at Loveworld over silly coronavirus theories but clearly this hasn't worked as Ofcom have been offended again. Ofcom writes:

Ofcom has found Loveworld Limited in breach of broadcasting rules on its religious service, Loveworld for a third time. Ofcom found that during two episodes of a current affairs programme, Full Disclosure , presenters made a number of materially misleading and potentially harmful statements about the coronavirus pandemic and vaccines, which were made without scientific or other credible basis, and which went without sufficient context or challenge. Ofcom's investigation has found these programmes breached Rules 2.1 and 2.2 of the Broadcasting Code .

It is legitimate for broadcasters to discuss and scrutinise the public health response to the coronavirus pandemic -- including the potential side effects of vaccinations -- and it is in the public interest to do so. But Loveworld's presentation of misleading claims without sufficient challenge or context risked potential serious harm to viewers, particularly at a time when people were likely to be seeking reliable information relating to the UK's vaccination programme.

This is the third time that harmful coronavirus-related content on Loveworld has broken Ofcom's rules. We recently imposed a 125,000 fine on the channel for a breach which also related to claims about the coronavirus pandemic. We have directed Loveworld to broadcast a summary of Ofcom's decision, and are now considering whether to impose any further sanctions.

 

 

Propaganda victory...

Chinese propaganda channel CGTN works round Ofcom's ban and will now again be available across Europe


Link Here10th April 2021
Full story: Diplomatic Censorship at Ofcom...Ofcom get caught up in international relations
China's state propaganda channel CGTN could soon be back on British TV screens, as French authorities have agreed to regulate, so overriding a decision by the UK TV censor Ofcom to ban the channel.

Ofcom decided to pull CGTN off air in February after finding it unacceptable that the channel is editorially controlled by the Chinese Communist party.

France does not have rules that prohibit state-controlled broadcasters from airing in the country.

But now that the channel is officially regulated by another Council of Europe country, then Ofcom is bound by treaty to accept that CGTN can now broadcast to Britain.

The treaty between members of the Council of Europe, a 47-member organisation that is separate from the EU and therefore not affected by Brexit, mandates that an international broadcaster can beam into the territories of signatories as long as it falls under the jurisdiction of one member.

Saying that, it is not yet clear whether Sky will be including the channel in its package. However Sky currently carries the channel on its networks in Italy and Germany.


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