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UK TV and Radio News

2009: July-Sept

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28th September   

Stereotypical Censors...

BBC whinges at Graham Norton lesbian quip
Link Here

The BBC has reprimanded Graham Norton's chat show for perpetuating potentially offensive stereotypes of lesbians.

The corporation upheld a complaint about a show in which the star made comments about a patent application. Referring to a woman used to illustrate the application, Norton said: I don't know why they've got some strange lesbian to be the model.

After the comments, guest Ruth Jones, the star and co-writer of sitcom Gavin and Stacey, scolded Norton, saying: She may not be a lesbian, come on now . She went on to say people should not be judged by their appearance, asking the host: What does a lesbian look like?

Indicating the illustration, Norton replied: That . He also stressed: Anyway, there's nothing wrong with being a lesbian .

One viewer complained to the BBC about the episode, broadcast on BBC Two in March.

The BBC's Editorial Complaints Unit agreed with their comments: Although the initial references might have been inoffensive if considered on their own, they prompted an exchange with one of the programme's guests which gave the references the appearance of perpetuating or reinforcing a potentially offensive stereotype. The programme team were reminded of the need to avoid any possibility of being seen to endorse offensive sexual stereotypes.


25th September   

Censorship Foretold...

Armstrong and Miller debate whether the word 'gypsy' is ok on the BBC for comedy
Link Here

The BBC has stepped in to stop the word gipsies being used in a TV comedy sketch for fear of being seen as racist.

Ben Miller, one half of the comedy duo Armstrong and Miller, said he had a debate with TV bosses over plans to use the word in a sketch poking fun at racist attitudes in Britain in the 1970s.

Miller's claims appeared in the latest issue of FHM magazine and it appears that the BBC had won the day. Miller told the Daily Mail he and partner Alexander Armstrong had now dropped plans to use the word gipsies in the sketch.

After discussions they had decided to use a different word so that the target of the joke was clearer and it was funnier, he said.

Miller told the November issue of FHM: We're having a debate at the moment with the BBC over whether we can say gipsies, because they say gipsies is a racist term, and you think "Yes it is but that's the point that we're making, that we were more racist in the 70s than we are now".

But following a request to explain his comments further, the comedian appears to have backed down.

A BBC spokesman said: There are no banned words on the BBC; gipsy isn't a banned word: This wasn't about the word itself, but about the sketch as a whole and the potential to cause offence. As with all comedy, it's about context, and in this particular case we felt there were less offensive ways of making the same joke.


23rd September   

Update: More Trouble in Thailand...

Big Trouble in Thailand programme maker flees to the UK
Link Here

A British producer cameraman has had to flee Thailand after filming a sequence in which British Royal Marines were held at gunpoint by Thai mafia after hiring a Jet Ski on a Phuket beach.

The cameraman Gavin Hill was today back in London, after fleeing Bangkok, as his Thai crew faced up to a year in jail. They stand accused of assisting in the filming of a sequence which could damage the country's image .

A battle with the Thai authorities has raged for two weeks. Hill said : I've made a tactical withdrawal and am in London to discuss how we can help our Thai colleagues. But yes, I did not wish to argue my case from prison.

We filmed the mafia but suddenly we are the criminals apparently. The atmosphere is a little bit hysterical. The Marines are behind me thank god.


19th September   

Update: Bigger Trouble in Tourist Thailand...

Thai authorities to prosecute TV company for revealing Phuket scams
Link Here

The Thai television company responsible for producing the Big Trouble in Tourist Thailand series, which featured footage of an alleged jet-ski scam on Phuket, is to be prosecuted, the Bangkok Post has reported.

The managers of Black Sheep Productions, which produced the show, could face 12 months in jail and fines of up to a million baht (£18,000), the report said.

The first episode of the series showed a Patong jet-ski operator, Winai ‘JJ' Naiman, extracting 35,000 baht (£630) from a group of British Royal Navy Marines in compensation for ‘damage' to one of his vehicles. At one point, Winai was shown holding an air rifle as he argued aggressively with the men, who denied damaging the jet-ski.

As well as being broadcast on British TV, the show has been uploaded to YouTube, causing uproar among those who say jet-ski scamming is rife on Phuket's beaches.

In today's Bangkok Post report, Wanasiri Morakul, director of the Thailand Film Office, is quoted as saying those responsible for the show had violated Article 34 of the motion picture law by failing to submit the footage to the Tourism and Sports Ministry for approval before its broadcast abroad.

Director-general of the Office of Tourism Development, Seksan Nakawong, reportedly said the film-makers had violated Article 23 of the same law for making a film damaging to Thailand's reputation.

Gavin Hill, the British producer of the series, denies the allegations, saying the show was neither fake nor stage-managed.

Meetings at Patong Municipality offices are ongoing with the aim to hammer out details of a compulsory insurance scheme for the island's jet-ski industry. It is hoped such a scheme will put a stop to rip-offs and disputes on the island's beaches.


16th September   

Mainly Unfair, Stormy and Rough over Fuckall...

Radio 4 Shipping Forecast announcer apparently sacked
Link Here

Radio 4 has replaced a continuity announcer known as the voice of the Shipping Forecast a month after he accidentally swore on air.

Peter Jefferson, who worked for the BBC for 45 years, swore after mixing up his words as he tried to complete a sentence before the famous "pips" at the top of the hour on Radio 4. The 64-year-old has been told by BBC managers that his services are no longer needed.

The Corporation received two complaints after Jefferson's accidental outburst during the 8pm pips on 18 August. He was reading a continuity announcement when he mixed up his words, causing him to almost talk over the beginning of the pips.

Although he managed to finish just in time he could then be heard muttering 'fuck' between the second and third pips, mistakenly believing he had turned the microphone off.

The BBC offered a swift apology and said at the time it would discuss the issue with Jefferson.

Last night, the Corporation claimed that the decision to end his freelance work as a Radio 4 continuity announcer was unrelated to the incident and part of a wider plan to open up opportunities for newcomers. It said Jefferson would still feature on the station's panel game Quote Unquote.


15th September   

Big Trouble in Tourist Thailand...

Thailand tries to stop Bravo TV series highlighting tourist scams in Thailand
Link Here

The  second episode in the controversial Big Trouble in Tourist Thailan d television series has just been broadcast in Britain on Bravo - but Thai authorities are now trying to prevent the rest of the eight-part series from being completed.

Producer-director Gavin Hill says the Thailand Film Office has sent a letter asking the British production company, Bravo, not to screen any more episodes.

Episode Three, being edited in Britain, is in rough-cut form. The show can only go on with permission from all the people shown on-screen. That includes Winai ''JJ'' Naiman, the now-notorious Phuket jet-ski operator, who signed a release form so that his actions could be displayed to viewers with his approval.

Hill said tonight's second episode does not reflect badly on Thailand. That was never the intention of Big Trouble in Tourist Thailand, he added.

I don't know what's going to happen now with the series, he said. The Thailand Film Office has 'pulled all the releases and permissions that are required to complete the series. He has been told there is the likelihood of a complaint being made to the British embassy. At least one volunteer expat tourist policeman in Pattaya had also expressed concern.

In some ways, it's very positive for Thailand, he said: The young lady who was in trouble on Koh Phangan in the first episode is fined 50 pounds, she gets her bail money back, and she is allowed to go, with the only real penalty being an extra three weeks in Thailand.

By coincidence, authorities on Koh Phangan have announced a plan to make the island, noted for expat full moon rave parties, drug-free as fast as possible.

Episode One of Big Trouble screened last week, revealing footage of what appeared to be an extortion bid by ''JJ'' with a gun in hand, and it came just before a planned summit on jet-ski scams on Phuket. The Jet Ski operators demand enormous compensation for unlikely damage to the jetski.

Nationwide, crackdowns are underway on crimes against tourists at Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok as part of a push against corruption by the Prime Minister.

The jet-ski crackdown on Phuket came after the Deputy PM met with the Australian ambassador. Other ambassadors later echoed their increasing concerns about jet-ski scams to the Phuket Governor, Wichai Praisa-nob.


13th September   

Update: Bollox TV Strong Language Survey...

The Telegraph counts the words and provides Beyer with a platform
Link Here
Full story: Strong Language on TV...Whinging about strong langauge on TV

In 25 post-watershed programmes monitored last week, 'serious' expletives – 'fuck', 'shit' and 'piss' – were used a total of 155 times. When a similar monitoring exercise was carried out a year ago, the words were used only 127 times.

Of the programmes monitored last week, the one with the most swearing was Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares USA , in which the 'fuck' was used 63 times and other 'serious' expletives 18 times. There were a total of 103 swear words used. Other major 'offenders' were the film Stripes starring Bill Murray on Channel 5, which had 14 uses of 'serious' expletives, BBC1's Traffic Cops , with 12, and BBC2's The Last Days of Lehman Brothers , with 11.

John Beyer, the director of Mediawatch-UK, said: Broadcasters are not really responding to the public concern about swearing on television. What happened last year was largely thanks to The Sunday Telegraph. A lot of the comments made by Michael Grade and Jana Bennet were responding to the public concern there was. What your results show is broadcasters have paid lip service, made all the right noises, but they haven't actually done anything to reduce the level of swearing.

He accused the Government and industry regulator Ofcom of ignoring the situation: With the government not prepared to intervene and with Ofcom failing to really enforce its code on swearing, there's little that an ordinary viewer, who continues to be offended by this language, can do. I just think it's a situation that's out of control.

A spokesman for the regulator said: We regularly carry out research on viewers' attitudes, including to swearing on TV and radio. The results have not varied much in recent years. Most people on balance are reasonably satisfied about the amount of swearing on TV and radio, with older viewers and listeners more concerned and younger ones less so.

Channel 4 defended the use of swear words, saying it had an alternative public service remit and at times will transmit content of a stronger nature which may not appeal to all viewers and that people knew what to expect from notoriously foul-mouthed chef Gordon Ramsay.

A spokesman for the channel said: Channel 4 strives to reflect social reality and strong language is part of that reality; potentially offensive language can feature when scheduled responsibly, preceded by a warning and justified by context; strongest language is not broadcast before the watershed. We are confident that our target audience and regular viewers have the right expectations of Channel Four content, and we have a strong track record on compliance.

The BBC also said swearing had a place on television. For the BBC, it is not about quotas or stopping the judicious use of strong language, but rather avoiding gratuitous use and looking hard at context in terms of channel, genres of programme, time slot and audience expectation, a spokesman for the corporation said.


11th September   

Double Compliance...

ITV in show fear of the 'light touch' TV censor
Link Here

Independent producers commissioned by ITV will have their content vetted for compliance by the commercial broadcaster, following moves by Ofcom which beef up the fines the network faces for breaches of the broadcasting code.

In a statement, ITV said that the decision to adopt double compliance reflected a lack of confidence in the compliance procedures of its subsidiary Channel Television. Channel TV currently vets most of the network's indie-produced content..

Previously, only the ITV network that had authorized compliance was able to be fined by the watchdog for breaches of the code. It meant that Ofcom could only fine Channel TV up to £200,000 for a breach.

Under the changes, the whole of the ITV network can be liable to pay up to 92% of any content breaches, with the cost capped at 5% of the total network revenue - meaning fines could easily top millions of pounds for a breach.

As a result, ITV plc is now obliged to take steps to protect itself from exposure to sanctions arising from compliance processes in respect of which it currently has no control, and little visibility, the statement said.


8th September   

Channel 4 Highlights...

Monthly whinge report
Link Here

Channel 4 received 200+ complaints last month.

The Kevin Bishop Show regularly attracts whingers on taste grounds, though in C4's round-up of August's complaints log, the broadcaster chose to illustrate the 107 criticisms with a comment slating its quality rather than its standards.

One viewer said that it was poor, adding: The jokes are non-existent, the impersonations are lame and to be frank it's just not funny.

A skit on chat show Alan Carr: Chatty Man in which Britain's Got Talent judge Amanda Holden joined the host to lampoon Susan Boyle generated 75 complaints, while 34 felt Charlie Brooker overstepped the line with a rant about God in an edition of You Have Been Watching .

How the Other Half Live, which pairs a rich and poor family, was the most praised show last month, with 34 messages of support, but 42 criticised what one viewer termed a self indulgent PR exercise on the part of the richer participants.


6th September

 Offsite: Is 'Compliance' Fucking Up TV?...

Link Here
If I watch a crime show on TV, will it make me break the law?

See article from


31st August   

Filthy Fun...

Nutters get wound up by Jimmy Carr
Link Here

Comedian Jimmy Carr is in trouble with stopwatch wielding nutters for swearing once every 60 seconds in his 90-minute stand-up show.

He used the F word 36 times and the C word four times in the first hour of the Channel 4 show.

Jimmy Carr In Concert was broadcast an hour after the 9pm watershed on August 22 and caused further nutter 'outrage' by containing jokes about the Paralympics, incest and homosexuality.

A spokesman for the watchdog group Mediawatch-UK (identified as John Beyer on the Mediawatch-UK website) said: This is a disgrace. It is typical of Channel 4 not to take any notice of guidance surrounding bad language.

Carr also defended his friend Jonathan Ross as a national treasure after the presenter was suspended for making obscene prank phone calls to actor Andrew Sachs.

Conservative MP Ann Widdecombe  said last night: His idea of wit is just a barrage of filth.

Carr has previously refused to apologise for his material. He said: It's not for the easily offended. It's not even for people that are difficult to offend. It's for people who are without a moral compass.

A spokesman for Channel 4 said the show had been broadcast after the watershed and contained a strong language warning.


28th August   

Quickstep to Retirement...

MediaWatchWatch report that Beyer will waltz off at the end of September
Link Here

MediawatchWatch report:

With “Massah” John Beyer stepping down as director of Mediawatch-UK at the end of September, it is left to us to sadly savour the last words of The Dail Mail's favourite rent-a-gob, as we would savour the final drops at the bottom of a glass of fine malt whisky.

The latest “row” conjured up by a reporter's phone call to the Sage of Ashford concerns the BBC's choice of Martina Hingis as a contestant in the popular show Strictly Come Dancing.

Hingis tested positive for cocaine in 2007 – although she has always protested her innocence.

Beyer's whinge was not one of his brightest moments:

This is a family show that is targeted at a family audience.

The danger is that this decision would tend to minimise the seriousness of her drug-taking, which resulted in a ban on her playing.

The BBC could have put in many other personalities who I'm sure would love to take part in the show and they could have chosen someone without that record. The question is whether it sets a good or bad example.

Let's hope Beyer spends his last month in office coming up with a better swansong. He has excelled in the past eg for suggesting that all bog standard porn owners should be put in prison for 3 years. And don't forget his classic call for an AntiSocial Behaviour Order (ASBO) for TV


28th August   

Update: None of Our Effing Business...

Government responds to Mediawatch-UK petition against swearing on TV
Link Here
Full story: Strong Language on TV...Whinging about strong langauge on TV

John Beyer of Mediawatch-UK initiated a petition on the 10 Downing Street website against swearing on TV:

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to make urgent representation to the Broadcasting regulator, Ofcom, the broadcasting institutions operating in the UK and film regulators, asking them to stop the use of unnecessary swearing and bad language in their productions (including those available for downloading from websites) and to urge providers of user-generated content to take similar action.

Beyer explained further:

Concern about the volume and nature of swearing on television made headlines when in November 2008 Michael Grade, the Executive Chairman of ITV, observed that swearing had become “unrestrained” and “indiscriminate”. He also stated that people do not want to hear those words.

In May 2008 the Radio Times conducted an opinion poll, which found that 69% of people believed there is too much swearing on TV. In November 2008 the Sunday Express launched a Clean Up TV Crusade focusing on the excessive use of swearing and the Sunday Telegraph conducted a poll which found that 56% of people thought the f*** word should never be used on TV.

The Office of Communications (Ofcom) in its Communications Market reports for 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007 found that the majority of people believe there is too much swearing on TV.

mediawatch-uk believes that swearing on TV has reached such proportions that it is threatening the English language, that it is undermining the Government's policies on Education to improve communication skills and hindering initiatives to restore respect and civility to our society.

The petition closed with 5917 signatures and therefore received a response from the government:

The Government believes that it is important that we have high standards across our broadcasting sector particularly in public service broadcasting. However, it is a long-standing principle that the Government does not interfere in programme matters, either on arrangements for scheduling or on content, as it is important to maintain the principle of freedom of expression which political interference could undermine.

For this reason, Ofcom, the BBC Trust and S4C are independent of the Government and are responsible for safeguarding the public interest in broadcasting. They set out the rules and guidance with which broadcasters must comply. Within this framework, it is the broadcasters' job to make judgements about what individual programmes should contain and the time at which they are broadcast.


7th August   

Repeat Whinges...

20% of older viewers frustrated at violence and strong language but 60% at repeats
Link Here

  This whinge was first aired on
1st July 1967

Research by media regulator Ofcom found that 46% of older viewers think that content quality and the range of programmes that channels offer has worsened. More than 20% of pensioners claimed that falling standards were the result of broadcasters screening more violence and bad language in their shows.

And of the 2,000 over-65s surveyed, the majority of 62% cited the steady rise in the number of repeats being screened on mainstream TV as a key reason for their frustration.

John Beyer, director of lobby group Mediawatch-UK, said:

Ofcom's findings show how strongly people feel about issues of taste, harm and offence.

Over the past few years we have seen TV audiences increasingly state their dissatisfaction with the broadcast output - and it seems no one is doing anything about it.

I am calling on Ofcom to take seriously their own research and the complaints, and show they are listening to viewers' concerns.

Comment: Haven't They Got a Remote Control

From Dan

So people over the age of 65 don't like the swearing and violence that comes out of programmes that young people watch.

Can they not find something more to their tastes or is TV going to have to be censored in order to please the moaning old fogey mob?


6th August   

Update: Close to Home...

Jeremy Clarkson spoof car advert winds up a few whingers
Link Here
Full story: Top Gear and the Grand Tour...Top Gear and Jeremy Clarkson wind up whingers

A spoof advertisement for the VW Scirocco TDI shown on Top Gea r has reportedly received a number of complaints from viewers.

The clip features scenes of panic in Warsaw as residents seemingly rush to leave the country, before a final screencard bears an image of the car and the tagline Volkswagen Scirocco TDI. Berlin to Warsaw in one tank.

A number of viewers are believed to have complained to the BBC, with others reportedly contacting the TV censor Ofcom.

Comment: Proportionate Offence

7th August 2009. From David

The actual number of complaints is 43. The other eight and a half million people who saw it presumably thought it was hilarious


28th July   

Jeremy Kyle Show Judged as Exploitative...

Confrontational TV spills over into violence
Link Here

ITV has defended The Jeremy Kyle Show after it was criticised in court. Judge Sean Enright claimed that the programme contained an element of cruelty and exploitation as he presided over a case involving two former Kyle guests this week.

Peterborough Crown Court heard that Jamie Juste, had attacked his partner Rebecca Langley after they appeared on the daytime show and took lie detector tests. Juste, who believed that Langley had been unfaithful, was jailed for two years.

Summing up the case, Enright commented: I have not seen this show, which I believe is classified as light entertainment, but there is plainly an element of cruelty and exploitation in what takes place. [The couple] must have both suffered considerable mortification and embarrassment.

Responding to the criticism, an ITV spokeswoman told The Guardian: With respect to the judge, we are surprised at his remarks given that he pointed out that he has not seen our programme, and we absolutely refute the notion that it involves cruelty and exploitation.

Jamie Juste and Rebecca Langley approached the production team requesting an appearance on the show to resolve problems within their relationship. As well as discussing these issues in the studio they were given advice from our aftercare team about dealing with their difficulties and offered counselling sessions prior to this incident.


14th July   

Beyer's Watercolour Bollox...

Having a whinge at nude posing for Life Class
Link Here

Ofcom received dozens of complaints after fashion model Kirsten Varley was seen posing for artist Gary Hume on Channel 4 at lunchtime

She stripped off and posed for artist Gary Hume in the programme Life Class: Today's Nude .

The programme saw the camera lingering on the model's naked form as the artist talked through the process of drawing her. But the show which was filmed at Hume's studio has sparked a 'backlash' from nutters.

John Beyer, of TV pressure group Mediawatch UK, questioned showing the programme at lunchtime.

He has referred the matter to media regulator Ofcom after being contacted by 'concerned' parents: I have had complaints about this. Obviously people feel this is not really suitable for daytime TV when they have got children at home. One was particularly incensed because his child was at home and thought it was not appropriate. It's a pity Channel 4 cannot revive its Watercolour Challenge show.

One viewer who was in her sick bed watching daytime TV, said: It nearly gave me a relapse. It was adult viewing, not for screening in the middle of the day.

Channel 4 has defended the programme, insisting it was not gratuitous and saying it was meant to help artists capture the beauty of the human body.


10th July   

Update: Bad...

Complaints about too much Michael Jackson TV coverage
Link Here
Full story: Big Brother...Whinging about Channel 4's Big Brother

The BBC has been criticised over the extent of its coverage of Michael Jackson's funeral and memorial service in Los Angeles.

One online complaint said: The coverage of Jackson's death has been far too extensive. The BBC has developed a cult of personality in line with the rest of the new media and have great pleasure in over reporting celebrities. Once it was the channel to watch for news, now it is not. The argument for the licence fee is founded on its impartiality and capability. Both can seriously be questioned.

The BBC News channel and the international BBC World News outlet screened the memorial with coverage fronted by Rajesh Mirchandani in Los Angeles. However, BBC Two also cleared its early evening schedule to broadcast live from the memorial from the Staples Centre.

Last week, the BBC received 748 complaints over its wall-to-wall coverage of the death of the singer.

Mary Hockaday, head of the BBC newsroom, posted a blog entry on BBC website defending the coverage. She said: We've had a number of complaints about our coverage, the main charge being that we simply did too much: that his death didn't justify the prominence and scale of our reporting through Friday and into the weekend. The story was certainly very prominent, with extensive reporting on our domestic and global news channels and it was the lead story on our television and radio bulletins and on the web. But this wasn't to the exclusion of other important stories domestically and internationally.


9th July   

Update: Whinge TV...

Whinge count for Big Brother 10 stands at 290
Link Here
Full story: Big Brother...Whinging about Channel 4's Big Brother

TV censor Ofcom has received almost 300 complaints about Big Brother in the past week, with the majority about an incident broadcast on Friday in which one of the housemates threatened another.

Ofcom said it had received 290 complaints about a variety of issues connected to the show in the week up to Monday 6 July.

The largest proportion of more than 200 complaints was about an argument between housemates Marcus Akin and Sree Dasari, which occurred on Thursday.

A Big Brother spokeswoman said: Big Brother intervened and took immediate and appropriate action relating to the argument between Sree and Marcus.

Marcus received a formal warning following his use of threatening language during his argument with Sree. Threatening language and behaviour is not acceptable in the Big Brother house. Big Brother monitors the welfare, language and behaviour of housemates at all times and will continue to monitor this situation.

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