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Om my god...

ASA dismisses whinges about a Salesforce advert for offending spiritual meditators


Link Here9th October 2021

A Video on Demand ad for Salesforce, seen on All4 on 4 May 2021, began with a voiceover, stating, And now, a mini meditation. It then featured a woman working from home, trying to focus on her job despite her noisy home environment. The voiceover continued, Inhale serenity, exhale whatever's happening here. Now bring your focus back to your customer, Tom. The woman was then shown starting to levitate off her chair, in the lotus position, saying the name Tom in an extended fashion, with a long Om sound. The still-levitating woman then drifted out of the house, to a peaceful woodland setting, to carry on communicating with her customer online.

Three complainants, who believed that the ad mimicked a spiritual practice, in particular through the use of the elongated Om sound within the name Tom, challenged whether it was likely to cause serious or widespread offence.

Salesforce told us the ad was intended to be a humorous, non-religious portrayal of yoga and meditation, and was not intended to depict any specific religious group. They said they did not believe the ad would cause serious or widespread offence to viewers in general, or viewers of a particular faith.

In relation to the use of the elongated Om sound, Salesforce said that their research and understanding of the word indicated that it had been widely adopted as the unofficial symbol of yoga, and was increasingly associated with yoga, meditation and the wellbeing movement. They told us that they believed the use of the Om sound to be a common practice in non-religious yoga lessons. Salesforce said that they do not view the use of Om in their ad as depicting a sacred symbol or tenet of any faith, but rather as an aid to meditation, which they considered to be part of everyday usage of the word.

ASA Assessment: Complaints not upheld

The ASA noted that the ad was set in the context of a busy home-working environment, and considered viewers would understand that the character was attempting to relieve her stress and combat distraction by using techniques widely associated with yoga and meditation.

We acknowledged the complainants' concerns that some people might have objected to the depiction of meditation and the use of the Om sound in the context of the ad. However, we considered that viewers would be likely to interpret the ad as being a humorous representation of meditation practices which were widely associated with non-religious wellness or mindfulness techniques, used to help combat stress and maintain focus, and as a way of dealing with the pressures of working from home.

In that context, we considered that viewers were unlikely to find the use of the elongated Om sound in the name Tom to mimic or mock a specific spiritual practice, and we considered that the ad was unlikely to be seen as being derogatory to any specific religion. We therefore concluded that the ad was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence, and did not breach the Code.

 

 

Sticks and stones can break my bones and words can hurt me more!...

Ofcom finds that people are more likely to be more easily offended by racial slurs than swear words


Link Here 7th October 2021

Viewers and listeners have told Ofcom they are generally more relaxed about most swearing on TV and radio, particularly if it is accidental and an apology swiftly follows, according to our latest in-depth research study.

Audiences say they still want broadcasters to consider carefully when, and how, offensive language is used. But many people recognise that, in the right context, it can play an important role in programmes.

Participants in the study felt that, in line with freedom of expression, offensive words can be used to create dramatic impact, bring humour, reflect real life, or even to inform and educate. In 2020, only 1% of total broadcasting complaints were about swearing. 8% of complaints were about racial discrimination.

They had limited concerns so long as the strongest language was broadcast after the watershed and parents were given sufficient warnings and information to help them decide what their children see and hear.

Timely, genuine apologies were also important to viewers and listeners in cases where offensive language was accidentally broadcast live on-air. Discriminatory language and stereotypes

By comparison, audiences told us they had more serious concerns about discriminatory language on TV and radio -- particularly around race.

In our focus groups, viewers and listeners pointed to the underlying attitudes that discriminatory language reflects, and had higher expectations about this being avoided, including during live broadcasts. Audiences said that, when strong forms of discriminatory language do appear in programmes, they expect broadcasters to do all they can to carefully put it into context and so protect viewers and listeners from the offence it can cause.

Opinions on older programmes containing potentially problematic content and language were mixed. Many participants said that they did not want to see these types of programmes disappear from screens completely -- arguing that history should not be censored or sanitised and that audiences would be aware they were from a different era.

Other participants suggested that older programmes containing outdated views could cause unnecessary offence and reinforce stereotypes. Most participants agreed, however, that clear and specific warnings about the type of language and content that might cause offence were important in helping audiences make an informed choice.

Adam Baxter, Director of Standards and Audience Protection said:

People's views on offensive language can change significantly over time. So to ensure we're setting and enforcing our rules effectively, it's essential we keep up to date with how viewers and listeners think and feel.

Broadcasters' and audiences' right to freedom of expression is important. These findings will help us to strike the right balance between protecting audiences -- and children in particular -- from unjustified offence, while still allowing broadcasters the creative freedom to reflect real life in their programmes.

This year, we've engaged with a larger and more diverse selection of viewers and listeners than ever before. This included more than 600 people of all ages and backgrounds, living throughout the UK, as well as those from a range of minority groups and communities. We also expanded our focus groups to include dedicated sessions with members of the Jewish and Chinese communities for the first time.

There is no absolute right not to be offended by things broadcast on TV and radio. Consistent with rights to freedom of expression, broadcasters can include material in their programmes that is potentially offensive -- but, to stay within our rules, they must make sure they provide sufficient context and adequate protection to audiences.

These findings will help broadcasters to better understand audience expectations about the use of potentially offensive language in their programmes, and what steps they may need to take to protect viewers and listeners.


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