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UK TV and Radio News

2018: Oct-Dec

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Top 10...

Ofcom publishes its 2018 list of the TV programmes earning the most complaints

Link Here26th December 2018
Celebrity Big Brother was the television programme that earned the most viewer complaints to TV censor Ofcom in 2018.

During 2018, Ofcom received almost 56,000 complaints about programmes from viewers and listeners. The 'top 10' most complained about television shows together prompted more than 47,000 audience complaints to Ofcom.

  • Celebrity Big Brother on Channel 5 attracted the most complaints in 2018 (27,602). The majority related to an allegation of physical abuse made by Roxanne Pallett against Ryan Thomas.
  • Loose Women on ITV attracted the second highest volume of complaints this year (8,002). The majority related to an interview with guest Kim Woodburn.
  • Sky News : 4,251 complaints (of which 3,462 noted the bias in the editing of Tommy Robinson in an interview (27 Sept); and 592 related to comments by Kay Burley's comparing Simon Weston's injuries to a woman wearing a burqa (7 Aug)).
  • Love Island : 4,192 complaints (of which 2,644 related to Dani Dyer's reaction when shown a video of boyfriend Jack reacting to his former partner entering Casa Amour (1 July); 632 raised concerns about the emotional wellbeing of contestant, Laura Anderson (10 July); and 540 related to perceived unfair editing of contestant, Samira Mighty (12 July)).
  • Coronation Street : 1,098 complaints (of which 214 related to the storyline involving the date-rape of David Platt and its aftermath (16,19 March); 211 related to Billy Mayhew taking drugs in a church (26 Feb); and 95 related to Pat Phelan's murder of Luke Britton (5 Jan)).
  • Emmerdale : 759 complaints (of which366 complaints related to an acid attack storyline (8 Feb); and 116 related to the murder of Gerry Roberts (17 May)).
  • Good Morning Britain : 548 complaints (of which 86 considered that Piers Morgan displayed bias in favour of President Trump during an interview with Ash Sarkar (12 July); and 74 related to Adil Ray's introduction of the show as "Good Morning Asian Britain" (13 August)).
  • This Morning : 402 complaints (of which 133 raised concerns that a guest who featured in a segment about breastfeeding was not sufficiently expert (12 Sept); and 30 related to a discussion about donor breastmilk which complainants considered did not support breastfeeding and promoted formula milk (12 Apr).
  • I'm a Celebrity...Get me Out of Here: 335: The majority of these complaints (180) related to the use of animals in Bushtucker trials.
  • The X Factor : 286 complaints (of which 104 related to Cheryl's routine (18 Nov); and95 related to sound issues affecting the performances of Danny Tetley and Anthony Russell (3 Nov)).



Censorship, propaganda and diplomacy...

Ofcom decides that the Russia Today propaganda channel is liable for sanctions for one sided news reports...but surely it is the government that should decide on measures that may escalate global tensions

Link Here21st December 2018

Ofcom writes:

Ofcom has today found that the RT news channel broke broadcasting rules by failing to preserve due impartiality in seven news and current affairs programmes over a six-week period.

Earlier this year, Ofcom launched a number of investigations into RT to determine whether certain programmes broadcast on the channel had complied with broadcasting rules requiring due impartiality.

Having examined the programmes and all available evidence, including written and oral representations made by RT, we have concluded that the following seven programmes, which aired between 17 March 2018 and 26 April, broke due impartiality rules:

  • Sputnik, RT, 17 March 2018, 19:30;

  • News, RT, 18 March 2018, 08:00;

  • Sputnik, RT, 7 April 2018, 19:30;

  • Crosstalk, RT, 13 April 2018, 20:30;

  • Crosstalk, RT, 16 April 2018, 20:30;

  • Crosstalk, RT, 20 April 2018, 08:30; and

  • News, RT, 26 April 2018, 08:00.

Three further programmes were found not in breach of our due impartiality rules.

Taken together, the seven breaches represent a serious failure of compliance with our broadcasting rules. We have told RT that we are minded to consider imposing a statutory sanction. The broadcaster now has an opportunity to make representations to us, which we will consider before proceeding further.

The Guardian explained a little more:

Two of the breaches related to Sputnik , a programme hosted by the former MP George Galloway, a regular presenter on the channel, who cast doubt on the link between the Salisbury poisonings and Russia.

Other breaches include incidents where presenters failed to challenge interviewees over contentious topics and instead appeared to agree with their guest, and programmes and reports about the conflict in Syria that took a resolutely pro-Russian viewpoint without representing alternative views.

Potential punishments include forcing RT to broadcast corrections, imposing financial fines or, applicable in extreme cases, the removal of a broadcasting licence, which would essentially force the channel off air in the UK. However, the latter course of action is considered unlikely given that any punishment has to be proportionate and previous impartiality breaches, even on this scale, have not resulted in channels being forced off air.

In its submissions to Ofcom, RT argued it did not breach the rules of due impartiality, in part because its viewers already expected to hear a pro-Russian viewpoint that challenged the predominant narrative of the UK government on issues such as the war in Syria and the Salisbury attacks.

It said any attempt to censor RT, which is one of three news channels available to Freeview viewers, was an affront to freedom of speech.

The BBC reported that the censorship of the channel may result in a diplomatic incident:

Russia's media censor will now check the output of BBC World News and BBC websites, in what the Kremlin calls a response to the UK TV censor Ofcom. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said many questions had arisen about the BBC's coverage of Russia.

He said the questions concerned BBC coverage of events in Russia and in Syria, where the Russian military is backing President Bashar al-Assad's forces.

On Facebook, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, said monitoring of the BBC by Roskomnadzor, the Russian state regulator, was long overdue. She accused the UK government of crude interference in the activities of Russian media (constant propaganda against the RT TV channel, attempts to discredit our journalists, etc). That interference, she said, leaves no other choice but a mirror response.

The BBC said that BBC News in Russia was fully compliant with the country's laws and regulations.



Offsite Article: What have gays and homophobes got in common?...

Link Here19th December 2018
They are both equally intolerant of those that transgress from their own moral code. Complaining about a lesbian character on Coronation Street not doing what lesbians should

See article from



Serious issues...

Ofcom investigates a complaint about a Chinese propaganda channel broadcasting a confession said to be extracted under duress.

Link Here25th November 2018
A British corruption investigator has asked the UK's TV censor Ofcomr to revoke Chinese state media's broadcast license for helping to stage his allegedly forced confession and subsequent jailing in China.

Peter Humphrey was arrested for his work in pursuing corruption in the pharmaceutical sector. He was sentenced to over two years in prison by a Shanghai court in 2014. He served hi time and was then deported.

He has now submitted a complaint to Ofcom about China Central Television (CCTV) for its alleged role in the episode. He said that CCTV journalists cooperated with police to extract, record, make post-production and then broadcast his confession worldwide through its international propaganda channels.

Humphrey accuses Chinese authorities of drugging him and locking him in a chair inside a small metal cage to conduct the confession saying:

China Central Television (CCTV) journalists then aimed their cameras at me and recorded me reading out the answers already prepared for me by the police, his complaint added.

A spokesman for Ofcom confirmed it had received a complaint which we are assessing as a priority. Ofcom has previously taken action against the broadcast of 'confessions' extracted under duress.



Comment: BBC pro-religion bias...

National Secular Society responds to a consultation on the BBC's guidelines establishing new restrictions on the criticism of religion

Link Here16th November 2018

The National Secular Society has urged the BBC to treat free expression as a positive value as it raised concerns that new guidelines defer excessively to religious sensitivities.

In response to a consultation on the draft guidelines the NSS warned that the corporation risked curtailing free speech by placing an excessive focus on avoiding offence when handling religion.

The NSS said the BBC should defend and uphold the principle of free expression. The society warned that the BBC's current position risked exacerbating a climate of self-censorship and acquiescing to de facto blasphemy codes.

The NSS said in places the guidelines gave religions protections which were otherwise only afforded to people. The society also questioned a section which appeared to place a particular premium on depictions of the Islamic prophet Muhammad.

Much of the NSS's criticism focused on the excessive deference given to religious sensitivities. In a statement of the BBC's values, the guidance says: In exercising freedom of expression, we must offer appropriate protection to vulnerable groups and avoid causing unnecessary offence.

The guidance also says the BBC should take care to avoid unjustified offence because religious beliefs are central to many people's lives and arouse strong views and emotions. It says this despite suggesting there is no longer an offence of blasphemy or blasphemous libel in any part of the UK.

The NSS said these lines risked acquiescing to de facto blasphemy codes and placed an unjustified focus on the feelings of the religious.

The society suggested a replacement section which would say the BBC should take care not to create a de facto blasphemy law. It also pointed out that the BBC's statement on blasphemy is factually incorrect, as Scotland and Northern Ireland both have blasphemy laws.

Elsewhere the NSS said the guidelines risked creating a double standard concerning treatment of religion, with critics of religion facing additional and unjustified burdens and restrictions.

The BBC's guidance says content dealing with religion which is likely to cause offence to those with religious views and beliefs must be referred to a senior editorial figure.

It also says producers of religious programmes and related content must ensure religious views and beliefs206 are not subject to abusive treatment, adding contributors should not be allowed to denigrate the beliefs of others.

The NSS said robust debate and exchanges of views should not be beyond the bounds of what is reasonable, provided such exchanges are measured and not abusive or insulting.

The NSS welcomed the fact that the guidance no longer contains a specific prohibition on depictions of the Islamic prophet Muhammad but questioned the inclusion of a section dedicated specifically to that subject.

The guidance says the BBC must have strong editorial justification for publishing any depiction of the Prophet Muhammad. It adds that any proposal to do so must be referred to a senior editorial figure, who should normally consult Editorial Policy. It says many Muslims regard any depiction of Muhammad as highly offensive.

The NSS described this as an improvement on previous guidance which forbade any depiction of Muhammad. But it added that the section suggested a particular taboo which added to a climate of censorship brought on by the unreasonable and reactionary views of some religious extremists.



Allowing pay TV to compete with Netflix whilst disadvantaging free to air...

Ofcom will allow TV channels to broadcast post watershed content during the daytime if the channel has a mandatory PIN access mechanism

Link Here 5th November 2018

Ofcom has published a statement setting out its decision to make changes to the rules about the use of mandatory PIN codes in Section One of the Broadcasting Code.

We publicly consulted on our proposals to update the mandatory daytime PIN rules in March 2018, and the statement concludes our review.

Section One of the Code currently allows for 15-rated films to be broadcast during the daytime on subscription film channels and up to 18-rated films on pay per view film channels, provided a mandatory PIN is in place. Mandatory PIN protection cannot be removed by the user and restricts access solely to those authorised to view.

The statement sets out Ofcom’s decision to extend the application of the mandatory PIN rules in Section One of the Code to permit scheduled television channels to show programmes, which can currently only be shown after the 9pm watershed, before this time, but only if mandatory daytime protection is in place.

We consider mandatory daytime protection to complement the existing 9pm watershed in providing a strong level of protection for children against programmes on broadcast services which might be unsuitable for them.

The changes to the rules include a requirement for broadcasters to clearly explain the new mandatory PIN systems in place to all users, and to provide clear guidance information with programmes to assist adults in assessing whether content is suitable for children.

The revisions to the relevant rules to extend mandatory daytime protection beyond premium film content will come into force on 1 January 2019.

We expect broadcasters and platform providers who intend to make use of mandatory daytime protection to inform their viewers about the new regime, and about the importance of parents setting strong PIN codes in advance.



Messing around the fans...

Sky Sport has developed technology to mute football crowds from chanting 'Sky TV is fucking shit'

Link Here2nd November 2018
Leeds United football fans are a little pissed off at Sky TV for messing around with kick off times to suit TV viewers rather than the football fans attending the matches. Leeds fans seem more displeased than most due t the number of their matches televised.

From September 28 to November 10, seven of their eight matches have been, or are scheduled to be, televised. Of Leeds's 15 league matches so far this season, only four have kicked off at 3pm on a Saturday, often creating transport problems for supporters.

The fans have found a way of giving voice to their complaints by chanting "Sky TV is fucking shit" during televised matches.

Sky Sports have now responded by using technology to mute the chants. During last Saturday's fixture with Nottingham Forest at Elland Road, the chants were hushed by the broadcaster on more than one occasion using a process known as dampening.



More miserable than the EastEnders...

Anti-alcohol campaigners call for TV soaps to be broadcast after the watershed

Link Here27th October 2018
Full story: Drinking Restrictions...Drinking becomes the target of killjoy politicians
Anti-alcohol campaigners from the Centre for Alcohol and Tobacco Studies has urged the Advertising Standards Agency and Ofcom to ban all alcohol imagery before the 9pm time slot, claiming it has harmful effects on young people. The campaigners also complain about breaks in Coronation Street, which sometimes feature alcoholic drinks.

The group claims that alcoholic imagery on the TV shows and advertisements correlates directly with the number of viewers over 15 years old who drink alcohol. According to Alexander Barker: '

There is strong evidence that viewing alcohol advertising or imagery has an uptake on subsequent alcohol use in young people.

The Nottingham University-based group analyzed 611 shows and 1,140 advertisement breaks between 6pm and 10pm and say that approximately half of the content broadcast featured alcoholic imagery.



Generation Porn...

Channel 4 commissions a negative sounding documentary series

Link Here5th October 2018

Generation Porn , a landmark Channel 4 documentary trilogy from the award-winning producers at Story Films, will explore the influence of the modern internet porn epidemic through the people who watch it, star in it and control it.

The cyber porn industry has exploded. Online giant Porn Hub reported that in 2017 it catered to 28.5 billion visitors - or 800 searches per second. In fact, online porn sites create more internet traffic than Netflix and Twitter combined.

How did we get here? And what is the impact of porn on our attitudes and relationships?

This bold and timely series weaves present tense narratives from across the world showing the growing impact that free, easy-to-access porn is having on the lives of adults and kids.

As well as those who watch porn, we'll meet those who work in the industry and learn how the new porn world is rapidly changing what producers demand from porn stars.

The series will also meet those trying to cash in on the porn Gold Rush and the on-line giants dominating an industry said to be worth $100bn globally.

Series Director, Philippa Robinson said: Through the characters we meet, the juxtaposition of stories and the key exchanges Generation Porn will illustrate how the porn industry exploded and the consequences for all of us.



Falsely accused...

BBC responds to complaints about violence in an EastEnders prison storyline

Link Here3rd October 2018
BBC One, September 2018


We have received complaints from some viewers who were unhappy with scenes of violence in the Mick Carter prison storyline.


We're aware that any scenes of violence and unpleasantness can sometimes be upsetting for some of our audience but occasionally it's necessary to the narrative. EastEnders has a long established relationship with its audience who have come to expect big dramatic moments such as these and as our regular viewers will know, the scenes in question were part of an ongoing storyline which has seen Mick pushed to his limits after he was falsely imprisoned.

We are always extremely mindful of the content within an episode and the time slot in which it is shown. All of our content, including language must be editorially justified and we're always careful to film and edit scenes in such a way that they do not exceed reasonable expectations for the programme -- with much of the violence being implied rather than explicit.

It's also important to note that EastEnders is a fictional drama but, like society, it's made up of many different character types. We feel the scenes in question are crucial aspects of the overall storyline of Mick's time in prison, and that they were not included gratuitously.



Political censorship...

Tommy Robinson threatens to sue Sky News over misleading editing of questions and answers in a broadcast news interview

Link Here3rd October 2018

Tommy Robinson has accused Sky News of editing their interview with him to make it seem like he said he didn't mind inciting fear of Muslims, a sentiment which was reported in the press, including by RT.

Robinson, with supporting videos published on YouTube showing the full interview, notes that the statement was made to a different question about a Dutch public service video warning children about the dangers of grooming. Robinson's comments were about whether the video incited fear of Mulsims, and was not about Robinson's actions inciting fear.

In a response video titled: Exposing Sky News lies and propaganda I will take them to court for this, Robinson states :

[The] headline that's gone all around the world says that Tommy Robinson says he doesn't care if he -- as in me -- incites fear against Muslims.

Jason Farrell wrote a piece for Sky News defending his interview, not on the grounds of its selective editing but rather over criticism that it provided a platform for Robinson and his views:

Are we not interested then in quizzing him about who he is now, and how he justifies his more recent words and actions?



A bit of rivalry for the BBFC...

Sky decides to use US rating service Common Sense Media for parental advice information

Link Here1st October 2018
Sky TV has decided to partner with the US media rating service, Common Sense Media to introduce a detailed rating system that will help parents make smarter choices about what their children watch on Sky. The new service will launch in the UK in 2019.

Since its founding in 2003, Common Sense has built the largest library of independent age-based reviews for everything kids watch, play, read and learn. The service, which will be available on Sky Q, will include in-depth information on the prevalence of specific types of content. This includes the educational value of the show, positive messages, use of positive role models, bad language, violence, sex and drink and drugs. Each is rated on a scale of one to five depending on how applicable it is to each show.

Jeremy Darroch, Group Chief Executive, Sky, said:

As a parent I know how reassuring it is that the Sky platform offers a safe, highly-regulated, family-friendly environment 203 but we know we can always do more.? Our partnership with Common Sense will help give parents greater peace of mind, helping them make smarter viewing choices for their children.

Later this year Sky Kids Safe Mode will launch on Sky Q, helping parents hand pick and ring-fence the content they want their children to watch and password protect any content they feel is unsuitable.

Sky also offers Sky Kids app which re-launched earlier this year with improved safety controls, and the network level internet blocking system, Sky Broadband Shield.

The announcement does not mention how this will effect Sky's relationship with the BBFC, presumably this is a bit of a snub to cinema and video ratings provided by the BBFC.

As an example of Common Sense Media I compared their comments on the Marvel superhero Venom with the more detailed BBFC advice:

MPAA Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for language.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Venom is a sci-fi action movie based on an antihero/villain from the Marvel universe. Photo journalist Eddie Brock's (Tom Hardy) life is disrupted for good when he becomes host to an alien parasite. The alien symbiote is able to take over Brock's body, giving him superpowers but also a dark alter ego called Venom. As his worried girlfriend, Anne (Michelle Williams), watches, Brock struggles with whether to escape the destructive being taking over his body or to give in to its dangerous power. This movie looks darker than most of the Marvel films; expect intense, graphic violence, strong language, and lots of scares.

Rated 15 for strong threat, horror, violence

VENOM is a US sci-fi action fantasy in which alien organisms are brought back to Earth.


There are a number of sequences in which people are threatened and attacked by the alien organisms, or by people into whose bodies the aliens have entered.

Horror sequences include the alien organisms entering people's bodies, causing their limbs to distort and their bones to crack. There is sight of injury detail, including protruding bones


Stronger moments of violence include people being impaled by the alien organisms, sometimes with bloody detail, and people being eaten by the aliens. There is also moderate action violence throughout, including heavy punches, kicks and other blows as well as use of tasers.

There is also infrequent strong language ('f**k'), alongside milder bad language (eg pussy, shit'). There are sequences in which live animals appear to be eaten but no animals were harmed in the making of the film.

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