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UK TV and Radio News

2010: July-Sept

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16th September   

Illusory Complaints...

A few complaints about Derren Brown's railway escapology stunt
Link Here

The TV censor Ofcom is investigating illusionist Derren Brown's latest show over a scene which showed a man in a strait jacket, chained to a rail track.

The Channel 4 programme, Hero at 30,000 Feet , followed a volunteer with an unconfident character as Brown built up his courage, enabling him to take on a series of personal challenges.

The scene in question saw him escaping from an oncoming train in the scene.

Ofcom received 11 complaints from viewers about the safety of the stunt.

The media regulator is investigating the show, broadcast on  8th September, to see if it breaches broadcasting regulations. It will consider whether the scene condones or glamorises violent, dangerous or seriously antisocial behaviour and is likely to encourage others to copy such behaviour or breaches generally accepted standards in broadcasting.

A spokesman for Channel 4 said: The railway track challenge was one of many confidence-building experiences within the show which prepared Matt for the finale. For all the experiences, the programme-makers have procedures in place to ensure the contestant's welfare was protected.


4th September   

Going Soft...

BBC's HARDtalk cancels interview with embattled Malaysian blogger
Link Here

The BBC has denied dropping controversial blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin from its Hardtalk segment due to political pressure.

Raja Petra Kamaruddin (popularly known as RPK) was originally scheduled for a Sept 1 interview with Hardtalk .

Malaysia Today had previously alleged that the BBC had cancelled RPK's interview because it would upset the Malaysian government and expose the station to legal action.

The suggestion that the item was dropped due to political pressure is untrue, said Peter Connors, BBC global news senior press officer in an e-mail statement. Citing editorial reasons , Connors told FMT that it was normal for certain news or current affairs stories not to be aired on the BBC's channels.

It became clear in our research that any comprehensive interview with RPK would prominently feature issues that are currently the subject of a current court case in Malaysia, Connors said.

He also added that a meeting with the controversial blogger would raise issues of defamation. Connors did not specify which court case he was referring to.


23rd August   

Nutters Freaked Out...

Mediawatch-UK have a whinge at Beauty and the Beast
Link Here

Channel 4 is creating a reality show that will see two people, one attractive and the other physically disfigured, share a house.

Beauty and the Beast intends to expose the different ways in which they are treated because of their appearance. In each episode a different pair will be followed by the cameras. The show will follow them at home and when they are out and about.

Vivienne Pattison, the director of the nutter group MediaWatch, said: It sounds like an extraordinary freak show and Channel 4 pledged an end to this kind of voyeuristic programming when they announced the end of Big Brother. She said putting a disfigured person in a mirrored house in the name of entertainment was not healthy .

But the six-part series is being made with the co-operation of disfigurement charity Changing Faces. The programme makers are understood to be in talks with a number of high-profile people who have suffered some form of disfigurement to take part and discuss the issues faced.


19th August   

Repeat Whinges...

TV standards have been falling every year since broadcasting began
Link Here

More than half of older viewers believe television has deteriorated in the past year because of the soaring number of repeats, bad language and violence.

TV censor Ofcom found that 53% of over-65s believe standards have fallen and the quality and range of programmes have worsened.

Almost two thirds of those surveyed said part of their dissatisfaction was down to the increased number of repeats on screens, while a quarter were unhappy with the level of bad language and the variety of shows available.

Violence was another reported problem, with 15% saying programmes were using endless fight scenes in a gratuitous manner.

Last year, the five main channels broadcast 30,485 hours of original programming - down almost 8 per cent on 2008, and the lowest level for more than seven years.

For the BBC, EastEnders was one of the most complained about programmes in 2009. Hundreds whinged about its violence.

ITV has repeatedly come under fire for its reliance on big talent search reality shows such as Britain's Got Talent , The X Factor and Dancing on Ice at the expense of original drama and comedy.

Vivienne Pattison, director of nutter group MediaWatch-UK, said: There has been an erosion of the watershed in recent years, with people seeing more and more inappropriate scenes before 9pm.


18th August   

Finger Trouble...

Weatherman gives the finger in banter with news anchor
Link Here

Since joining the BBC a decade ago, the Polish-born meteorologist Tomasz Schafernaker has outraged the Scots by describing the Outer Hebrides as nowheresville and collapsed into fits of giggles after predicting muddy shite for a rain-lashed Glastonbury.

Schafernaker's latest exploit on the rolling News Channel was yesterday earning him thousands of hits on the internet after he was caught delivering a one-fingered salute to the BBC news anchor Simon McCoy after McCoy's bantering ironic suggestion that his forecast would be 100 per cent accurate and provide you with all the details you could possibly want .

Schafernaker is seen flipping the presenter the bird and then appears to hide his hand in his mouth, as if trying to destroy the evidence, as McCoy's co-presenter Fiona Armstrong squeals in dismay. McCoy tries to gloss over the incident remarking: Every now and again there's always a mistake and that was it.

A BBC spokesman said the Corporation was sorry if anyone had been upset by the brief incident: Tomasz was not aware that he was on air, and whilst the gesture was only shown for a second, it was not acceptable. The News Channel presenter live in the studio acknowledged a mistake had been made, and we apologise for any offence caused.


14th August   

Update: A Crack at EastEnders...

350 complaints about a drug related story line
Link Here
Full story: Eastenders...Eastenders TV programme complaints

Hundreds of viewers have complained to the BBC about scenes featuring EastEnder Phil Mitchell using crack cocaine which were shown before the watershed.

The plotline has the character, depressed after his family broke up, bingeing on the class-A drug.

Viewers saw Mitchell surrounded by litter in a smoky room, clutching a whisky bottle. Obviously high and drunk, he asked a friend for another pipe , while in a later scene he was accused of being off his head on crack .

The troubled character, played by actor Steve McFadden, goes wild on a crack binge with fellow drug addict Rainie Cross (Tanya Franks) after losing custody of his daughter Louise.

More than 350 people made formal complaints about the half-hour episode which went out at 8pm, while scores more inundated online message boards to voice their 'disgust.' Critics said scenes showing drugs and drug paraphernalia were not appropriate before the watershed, when there could be children watching.

A spokesman for the show said: EastEnders has a history of tackling social issues. 'We are working closely with drug and alcohol charities, including Addaction and DrugScope, to make sure that we sensitively reflect this difficult issue.

The episodes do not in any way glamorise or encourage the use of drugs and details of a BBC helpline were provided at the end of the episode for any viewers affected by the issue.

Such storylines can really help in promoting an understanding about drugs and the problems they cause. In no way is it a glamorous portrayal. Instead, it shows the damage drug use can have on a person, their family and their friends.'


14th August   

Isle of Sleight...

Emma Thompson winds up Isle of Wight politicians with TV jokes
Link Here

Emma Thompson has upset residents of the Isle of Wight by joking that they stone and flog homosexuals.

The actress also told US television viewers that Irish and Scottish visitors to the island are tortured and shot.

Appearing on The Late Late Show, Thompson engaged in a conversation about holiday destinations. Craig Ferguson, the presenter, said he was visiting Catalina, an island off the California coast.

It's kind of like the Isle of Wight, Ferguson explained, to which Thompson replied: Oh, so they stone homosexuals there? Nice.

To roars of laughter from the audience, she went on: I think they are still allowed to flog them, which of course some of them enjoy. I think they are allowed to shoot Irish or Scottish people if they arrive on the island - it is still in the rules. They are allowed to torture people. It's lovely, you should go.

David Pugh, council leader on the island, said: It's a great shame that someone with her profile should make such ridiculous claims. Presumably Emma Thompson made these comments to get some laughs on the chat show. Her claims are much ado about nothing and as outlandlish as some of the fiction in the Harry Potter films she has been working on. If there was a Golden Globe award for Best Fictional Claims on a Chat Show, Emma Thompson would win it hands down.

Isle of Wight Tory MP Andrew Turner also weighed in to the debate. The Isle of Wight is known as a friendly and welcoming tourist destination and if Emma Thompson had ever been here she would know that. I hope she said this in a light-hearted way and it will be taken that way because it's clearly rubbish.


4th August   

A Bit of a Nanny Thing Going On...

Philip Glenister speaks of nannying getting in the way of good TV programmes
Link Here

Ashes to Ashes actor Philip Glenister has criticised the BBC and ITV for interfering too much in programme-making, saying there's a bit of a nanny thing going on . The actor said he thought self-censorship sometimes got in the way of making good programmes.

He said: It's just something I think the BBC and ITV need to look at, to see that ultimately it's about making the best show we can. A lot of it is about self-censorship as well, we're grown up and big enough to know when we're pushing the boundaries.


27th July   

Update: A Question of Taste...

Parliamentary questions about increasing pornography on television
Link Here
Full story: Sexualisation...Sexualisation as reported by Linda Papadopoulos

The purchase of Channel 5 by Richard Desmond of TVX fame resulted in a couple of parliamentary questions to the Culture, Media and Sport minister.

John Whittingdale (Maldon, Conservative):

Does the Secretary of State agree that the relatively low price for which Richard Desmond has acquired Channel 5 is a further indication of the continuing difficulties affecting all traditional television companies, and that it also shows that successful companies are likely to have to operate across several different media in future? Given that, does he have any plans to look again at the current rules that govern cross-media ownership and cross-promotion?

Jeremy Hunt (Secretary of State, Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport; South West Surrey, Conservative)

I thank my hon. Friend for a thoughtful question, as ever, on the topic. He is absolutely right that media companies of the future will have to operate on different platforms. That is why one of my first decisions was to accept a recommendation by Ofcom to remove the regulations on cross-media ownership locally to allow local media operators to develop new business models that let them take product from newspapers to radio to TV to iPods to iPads and so on.

We do not currently have any plans to relax the rules on cross-promotion. Indeed, the regulations on taste, decency and political impartiality on Five remain extremely tight, but we are aware of the need to lighten regulations in general because, if we are to have a competitive broadcasting sector, we must have one in which independent players can also make a profit.

Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield, Labour)

The Secretary of State knows that Richard Desmond and Rupert Murdoch have huge pornography empires. Does he share my concern that children have increasing access to pornography on television? What can he do about it? It is a curse, and I hope that he shares my desire to do something about it.

Jeremy Hunt

The hon. Gentleman makes an important point. Our real concern on this side of the House is about the sexualisation of young people in particular; we take a liberal view of adults' ability to make decisions about what they see on television. I do not want to pretend that there is an easy answer, because traditional linear viewing, which allowed the watershed, made it possible to be much more definite about what would be seen by children and what would be seen by adults. To answer the hon. Gentleman's question directly, we have no plans to relax any of the taste and decency regulations on terrestrial broadcasts.


27th July   

Pattison's Piles...

Emmerdale shopping list gets the nutter treatment
Link Here

Eagle eyed viewers may have sniggered - or gasped in 'outrage' - when a list flashed up on screen in Emmerdale's Marlon's cottage, featuring jam rags .

Under the innocuous terms such as rice and apples , was another surprising entry - pile cream .

Vivienne Pattison, director of campaigning group Mediawatch, has slammed the decision to screen the list.

She said: I think it's vulgar and inappropriate. 'Pile cream' I can deal with. It was the use of 'jam rag' that got me. I can't imagine a woman writing that. It's really vulgar and unnecessary.

Media watchdog Ofcom has so far registered no complaints about the list.

But ITV1 has apologised for any offence caused, saying in a statement: A shopping list featured in the background of a scene on Friday's episode of Emmerdale which included colloquial terms that some viewers considered inappropriate. We are looking into the matter and we apologise to any viewers if they were offended.

Update: A Red Rag to Middle England Whingers

28th July 2010. Based on article from , Thanks to Nick

Sadly, the ITV apology came a bit too late for Middle England, which was already shaken to the decent, upstanding foundations on which it rests. Traumatised Staffordshire mum-of-two Jean Walker recounted: I was stunned when my son, who is only seven, turned around and asked me what a jam rag was. It's not the kind of thing you want your kids seeing, so it was disappointing to see it on a programme like Emmerdale just after dinner.

You hear phrases like that used in the street or in the pub sometimes, but to use it in front of millions as part of a TV soap is a pretty silly thing to do.

An equally-rattled Sharon Kennedy, of Brum, reported: I couldn't believe my eyes when it appeared on screen - it's not the kind of language you expect to appear in one of our oldest soaps. I had to cover my young son's eyes because I didn't want to have to explain that kind of crass language to him at such a young age.

Maybe it was some kind of prank played on the cast by members of the production staff. If that was the case, I didn't find if particularly funny.


20th July   

Doing an Impression of a Tub of Lard...

Eamonn Holmes whinges at the Impressions Show
Link Here

Eamonn Holmes threatened the BBC with legal action after a comedy programme made jokes about his weight.

Holmes, who presents This Morning and Sky News , ordered his lawyers to send a letter to the BBC after a series of sketches were performed about him by Jon Culshaw on The Impressions Show.

Using the catchphrase, I was fierce hungry, so I was , three separate skits showed Holmes presenting his show after apparently eating a sofa, Frankie Dettori the jockey, and finally the gardens at the Chelsea Flower Show.

In the last sketch when asked where the flowers at the Chelsea Flower Show had gone Holmes said: Oh the big salad that was there, yes. But blow me down if I couldn't eat the whole thing again.

Following the legal letter the BBC has apologised to Holmes and assured him that he will not be appearing as an object of fun in any further series of the show.

Holmes's spokesman said: Eamonn has got the highest regard for Jon Culshaw but he felt that in this instance it was a joke that went too far. It was just playing to a stereotype.

The programme was aired in November 2009 and Holmes even interviewed Culshaw and his co-star Debra Stephenson on This Morning to promote the programme.


14th July   

Update: Twisted Version of the Christian Faith...

Eastenders winds up the nutters with a crazed killer preacher storyline
Link Here
Full story: Eastenders...Eastenders TV programme complaints

Hundreds of angry Christians have blasted the BBC over the storyline in long-running soap, Eastenders , which sees Pentecostal preacher Lucas Johnson turn into a crazed killer.

Viewers have complained that the plot is offensive to their faith, with others questioning whether the channel would air a similar storyline with a Muslim cleric.

They story has seen devout Lucas fail to help dying ex-wife Trina, strangle love rival Owen to death and most recently, murder his wife, Denise after confessing all transgressions to her.

A BBC spokesman has called the plot challenging but said: There's no suggestion Lucas' behaviour is connected to those of the Christian faith. The BBC said on it's website: Lucas is a very damaged and dangerous individual who has created a twisted version of the Christian 'faith' in his mind.


4th July   

Update: Distorted, Silenced or Beeped?...

Glastonbury on iPlayer
Link Here
Full story: Strong Language on TV...Whinging about strong langauge on TV

I have been listening to some of the BBC Glastonbury recordings on iPlayer.

Last year, the BBC's swear word lyric solution was to apply some weird kind of filter, presumably in an attempt to remove the swear word without you noticing, but in practice it resulted in some horrid distortion, that left you thinking it was a flaw in the performance or production, and only after a while did I realise it was intentionally added by the BBC due to swear words.

This year they've gone for the classic of turning the sound down altogether. It's as if John Beyer himself is controlling your volume knob for you, so you don't hear anything he doesn't want you to hear.

Bring back the bleep I say - at least it's honest. Everyone knows it's being bleeped because someone else might be offended.

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