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2013: July-Sept

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Ofcom Threatens Broadcasters...

TV violence warning issued and research commissioned after censuring Channel 4 for fatal fight in Hollyoaks

Link Here28th August 2013
Ofcom published the following statement in the latest complaints bulletin:

Violence in pre-watershed programmes

Ofcom reminds television broadcasters of the need to ensure that all material broadcast pre-watershed which features violent scenes is appropriately limited. Broadcasters should consider whether individual acts of violence within a programme are suitable, as well as where the overall tone is malevolent, menacing and threatening, that this also remains suitably limited.

Given the lack of recent detailed studies specifically into viewers' attitudes to violence on television, Ofcom has commissioned new independent research on this subject. This research will further inform us about the level of concern about violence included in television programmes scheduled before and immediately after the watershed, and any areas of particular concern to viewers e.g. specific types of violence or genres of programme. The research should be complete this year and Ofcom plans to publish the results as soon as possible in 2014.

The statement was related to Ofcom's censure of a fight scene in Hollyoaks.

Channel 4, 19 March 2013, 18:30

Hollyoaks is a long running British television soap drama set in a fictional suburb of Chester called Hollyoaks. It features a large cast of characters primarily aged between 16 and 35. Its main target audience is teenagers and young adults. The programme is broadcast each weekday evening on Channel 4.

Hollyoaks regularly deals with controversial storylines such as sexual abuse, domestic violence and drugs. A complainant alerted Ofcom to a scene in this programme, in which one of the main characters was violently killed by a speeding train. The viewer considered this scene was unsuitable for broadcast before the watershed, particularly as children might have been watching. The scene in question marked

The scene in question marked the conclusion of a long running revenge storyline between two characters: the former undercover policeman, Walker, and the former drug dealer, Brendan. Walker believed Brendan was responsible for the death of his brother Cam, who had died from taking drugs supplied by Brendan. This scene was broadcast at 18:54. From the point at which the characters first made physical contact with one another to the immediate aftermath of the train collision was one minute and nine seconds in duration.

Although the intention was clearly to show an intense fight between these characters, Ofcom particularly noted that, overall, where punches and kicks were exchanged the movements of arms, fists and legs were tightly edited to avoid showing any shots of the actual impact and the use of fast paced music gave the scenes a stylised tone.

In addition, there were no images depicting the impact of the train as it hit Walker, or its aftermath.

Ofcom considered, however, that the cumulative effect of the violent fight scene taken together with Walker being hit by the train, broadcast well before the watershed, raised issues warranting investigation under:

  • Rule 1.3: Children protected by appropriate scheduling from material that is unsuitable for them.

  • Rule 1.11: Violence, its after-effects and descriptions of violence, whether verbal or physical, must be appropriately limited in programmes broadcast before the watershed...and must also be justified by context.

Ofcom Decision: Breach of Rules 1.3 and 1.11

This episode featured a particularly aggressive fight sequence, ending with one character being pushed into the path of an oncoming train and so to his violent death. The fight sequence itself was carefully edited not to show the actual point of impact of most of the numerous punches and kicks. However, it was clearly intended to leave viewers with the impression that both characters experienced violent punches to the head and the body, as was evident from the blood on their faces as a result of these blows, the impact sounds of the physical contact between the characters, and the groans and moans from the characters as a result of the violence.

In this case it is Ofcom's view that this scene was both violent and shocking and had the potential to distress younger viewers as well as raise concerns about the level of violence amongst parents watching with their children regardless of the editorial context presented or the signposting provided.

For all these reasons Ofcom considered that it was unsuitable for children. Ofcom then went on to consider whether this material was appropriately scheduled. We have set out above in some detail the nature of the violent content in this programme that Ofcom considered unsuitable for children. Ofcom also assessed the nature of the violent scenes as part of its consideration of whether they were appropriately scheduled.

In summary, Ofcom's view was that while the fight sequence was limited in duration it was intense and the climactic scene where Walker was pushed into the path of a speeding train was both shocking and unexpected.

Ofcom acknowledged that the Licensee took steps in attempt to ensure that this sequence complied with the Code. These measures were however on balance insufficient. Ofcom concluded that cumulatively the violent content in this sequence exceeded viewers' expectations for a drama transmitted long before the watershed when young children were available to view and in this case were watching in large numbers. Ofcom, therefore, concluded that the episode was in breach of Rule 1.3.

In summary, Ofcom's view was that the cumulative effect of the violence in the final scene was not sufficiently limited for this time of the evening, nor was it justified by context given that a significant number of younger children were viewing and available to view. Ofcom therefore concluded that this episode was in breach of Rule 1.11.

Breaches of Rules 1.3 and 1.11

Comment: Mediawatch-UK soundbite

29th August 2013. See article from

Vivienne Pattison, director of Mediawatch-uk, said there was a concern that because of the success of late-night dramas such as The Fall and Ripper Street, which deal with serial killers, there were signs that violence was beginning to be seen as more acceptable before the 9pm watershed. She added:

I think it is good that Ofcom are coming in now and reminding broadcasters that violence is not acceptable, but I just hope that when broadcasters are found in breach Ofcom can show its teeth



Offsite Article: If Music Be the Food of Love...

Link Here22nd August 2013
Nigel Kennedy noted of a group of Palestinian musicians: 'We all know from the experience of this night of music that giving equality and getting rid of apartheid gives a beautiful chance for things to happen'

See article from



The Daily Mail Recommends...

Summer Nights on Radio4 at 11pm featuring discussions about sex

Link Here15th August 2013
To replace Today in Parliament, which is off air during the summer recess, BBC Radio4 has aired the first instalment of a ten-part series called Summer Nights , featuring discussions of swinging, orgasms, and sex toys.

According to the Daily Mail, listeners complained the scheduling was completely inappropriate , branding Summer Nights a porno You and Yours after the station's regular consumer affairs programme.

Opening the show, at 11pm on Monday, Woman's Hour presenter Jane Garvey told listeners it would be different to their usual fare, saying it would contain a frank discussion of sex and sexual behaviour .

An expert panel, including a sex activist and a psychotherapist, discussed masturbation and sexual positions, while drinking red wine. One panellist claimed people experience pleasure during rape while another described violent sexual fantasies. Listeners were also given a detailed account of what to expect in a vanilla porn film. Psychotherapist Susie Orbach also described a sex craze among young people called mag and bag in which a woman's face is covered during sex while her partner looks at a woman in a magazine instead.

The BBC received four official complaints about the programme and a few listeners took to Twitter in 'outrage', calling it awful

The BBC was also received a handful of complaints for airing the drama How To Have A Perfect Marriage at 10.45am on Radio 4 despite its adult theme. The short play featured a wife who discovers her husband uses the internet to procure gay sex. The character also finds out her mother has bought Viagra for her father. The drama received five official complaints.

A BBC spokesman said:

Programmes were commissioned and scheduled with audience expectations in mind. The Woman's Hour drama often tackles challenging issues and Summer Nights is a late night discussion programme covering numerous topics -- and in both instances the nature of the content was clearly flagged to listeners before broadcast so that they could decide whether to continue listening.




BBC apologise after showing rude doodle on a picture of Prince William

Link Here2nd August 2013

The BBC has apologised after an image of Prince William with a rude doodle drawn on his head was shown on BBC Breakfast .

It was spotted by viewers who then tweeted a freeze frame of the image. A statement from the BBC said the image was shown fleetingly within a comedy promotional video:

We failed to spot the offending material within it. We apologise for this.

The video, provided by humorous barbershop group Barbershopera, was shown during a segment promoting their appearance on the programme.



Mini Outrage...

Tabloid nonsense trying to raise a little 'outrage' over a top Gear gag about caravaners and dogging

Link Here30th July 2013
Full story: Top Gear and the Grand Tour...Top Gear and Jeremy Clarkson wind up whingers

A few outraged tweeters have whinged at a Top Gear sketch in which Jeremy Clarkson and James may alluded to caravaners being dogging fans.

A segment on mini 4x4s used to tow caravans included a scene where the Top Gear presenters were seen in a darkened car park filled with doggers driving 4x4s.

Clarkson was seen flashing his interior lights while May was seen vigorously polishing his steering wheel.

Viewer Matthew Urquhart tweeted: The feature about caravaning was disgusting and offensive. Ian Gritt posted a non-complaint: My 11yr old son is watching #TopGear. I'm pleased to say the dogging scene left him looking baffled.

An Ofcom spokesman said they had received a small number of complaints . Presumably this means two, which will be promptly ignored.



Update: Murder in the Water Shed...

A few complaints about a murder in the soap, Emmerdale

Link Here28th July 2013
Full story: Emmerdale...Viewer whinges about ITV soap

TV censor Ofcom has confirmed receiving 'tens of' [sounds like outrage speak for 20] complaints about a murder scene in the ITV soap Emmerdale .

The scene depicted the death of Gennie Sharma, at the hand of evil Cameron Murray before the 9pm watershed and some viewers complained that their children were watching as Gennie's head was seen hitting a window as her car rolled downhill.

The new mum had been run off the road by her nemesis after she found out his secrets and after her car crashed, he then smothered her with his bare hands until she died.



The Wrong Type of Balance...

Ofcom to investigate UK TV news programmes giving airtime to religious extremist

Link Here17th July 2013

BBC, ITV and Channel 4 are to be investigated by the TV censor Ofcom over their decision to give airtime to the extremist muslim Anjem Choudary in the wake of the Woolwich attack.

Ofcom has launched an investigation into interviews with Choudary aired on Channel 4 News , BBC2's Newsnight and ITV's Daybreak in the days following Lee Rigby's murder on 22 May, after viewers complained that his comments were offensive.

Ofcom received more than 20 complaints about the interviews across the three broadcasters, and has decided there are grounds to look at whether the broadcasting code has been breached.

Lady Warsi, the Conservative peer and minister for religion, and Labour's shadow defence secretary, Jim Murphy, both criticised the media for giving too much airtime to Choudary's extremist views



The White Queen...

BBC TV drama heavily censored for Britain yet uncensored for the US

Link Here15th July 2013

It must be a bit confusing for the BBC to deal with amusingly inconsistent Daily Mail. If they include a little nudity they get lambasted for 'gratuitous sex' yet if they don't they get lambasted for censorship.

The White Queen is a co production by the BBC and the US Starz cable channel. It is based on Philippa Gregory's The White Queen, The Red Queen and The Kingmaker's Daughter and is set against the backdrop of the turbulent War of the Roses

The Daily Mail explains:

Few countries can compete with the UK when it comes to television costume dramas . . . but American audiences, it seems, prefer our dramas without the costumes.

A raunchy alternative version of the ten-part BBC1 series The White Queen has been created for screening in the US -- including graphic sex and nude scenes which don't appear here.

Bedroom scenes in which actors appear in the BBC version partly clothed are sexed-up for the American market -- and the actors complete the scenes naked.

As lead actor Max Irons put it: There's the BBC cut and the Starz cut. You get a lot more arse in the Starz version -- the cameras kept rolling after the BBC stopped the scene.

Eg, in episode two Queen Elizabeth, played by Rebecca Fergusson, was seen wearing a nightdress for her love scene with Edward IV, played by Max Irons. But when the clinch is broadcast on American television later this summer, the same actress will be shown first topless and then completely naked in the marital bed.

Episodes one, two and three of the American version all contain nudity and the first programme includes at least four shots of the Queen's breasts and a scene showing her younger sister topless in a bath. By contrast, the BBC version doesn't include any nudity until episode three, and even then only fleetingly.



Updated: The Twitter Championship of Easy Offence...

Competing for the best 'outrage' over BBC commentator who noted that tennis player was no looker

Link Here10th July 2013

The BBC has apologised after one of its senior presenters suggested the women's Wimbledon champion was never going to be a looker .

John Inverdale made the remark on the broadcaster's Radio 5 live programme shortly after French player Marion Bartoli won the competition. Inverdale sparked a Twitter todo when he told listeners:

Do you think Bartoli's dad told her when she was little, 'you're never going to be a looker, you'll never be a Sharapova, so you have to be scrappy and fight?

The comments sparked 'outrage' on Twitter where one user branded the presenter a sexist dinosaur and another called for Inverdale to be stripped of his job.

The BBC later apologised for the comments. A spokesman said:

We accept that this remark was insensitive and for that we apologise.

Update: Tally

9th July 2013. See review from

The BBC has received 674 complaints over John Inverdale's comments about Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli's appearance.

In response to Inverdale's comments, Bartoli said:

I am not blonde, yes. That is a fact. Have I dreamt about having a model contract? No. I'm sorry. But have I dreamed about winning Wimbledon? Absolutely, yes.

Update: BBC Response

10th July 2013. See  article from


We received complaints from listeners who were offended by comments made by John Inverdale about Marion Bartoli's appearance.

The BBC's response

John Inverdale is one of our most experienced presenters, however we do accept that in the run-up to Saturday's Wimbledon Ladies' Final John made an insensitive comment regarding Marion Bartoli. John has apologised for this remark and acknowledges that it was clumsy . Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live subsequently, John went on to explain that, The point I was trying to make, in a rather ham-fisted kind of way, was that in a world where the public perception of tennis players is that they are all six feet Amazonian athletes, Marion, who is the Wimbledon Champion, bucks that trend and she is a fantastic example to all young people that it's attitude and will and determination, together obviously with talent, that does in the end get you to the top . John has also written a personal apology to Marion Bartoli to express his regret if any offence was caused.

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