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arse liquor advert Ten products produced by independent brewer Direct Beers Ltd have been found to breach the Portman Group’s Code of Practice on the Naming, Packaging and Promotion of Alcoholic Drinks.

The Independent Complaints Panel ruled that Cat Piss, Dog Piss, Bullshit, Dandelion & Birdshit, Big Cock, Arse Liquor, Puke, Shitfaced, Yellow Snow and Knobhead , all beers, breached the provisions of the Code.

All of the products were found to contravene Paragraph 3.2(h) of the Code, which states that drinks, packaging or promotional material should not have particular appeal to under-18s.

In addition, Puke, Shiitfaced and Knobhead were deemed to encourage illegal, irresponsible, or immoderate consumption (contrary to Paragraph 3.2f). Big Cock and Knobhead were found in breach for suggesting an association with sexual activity (contrary to Paragraph 3.2d); whilst Shitfaced and Yellow Snow were found in breach for suggesting an association with bravado, violence, aggression, or anti-social behaviour (contrary to Paragraph 3.2b).

Complaints to the Panel regarding Direct Beers’ Grumpy Git and Lazy Sod products, however, were not upheld.

All of the complaints about Direct Beers were submitted by the Public Health Team at Newcastle City Council.

Direct Beers asserted that none of its products were intended to appeal to under-18s, and explained that the vast majority of its drinks were sold in person at retail events, where it operated a Challenge 25 policy.

The Panel was concerned, however, that frequent references to scatological humour, defecation, urination, genitalia, vomiting and other bodily functions could prove particularly attractive to under-18s. It also noted that this appeal was exacerbated by the cartoon illustrations shown on a number of the products.

Henry Ashworth, Secretary to the Independent Complaints Panel, said:

It is vitally important that alcohol producers ensure that their drinks do not in any way appeal to children, encourage violence, anti-social behaviour or immoderate drinking, or make references to sexual activity. There is a place for humour in alcohol marketing, as the Panel’s decisions on Grumpy Git and Lazy Sod show — but it is important to know where to draw the line.”

Direct Beers has not yet confirmed whether it will make any amendments to its products.

Read more Ofcom Watch at MelonFarmers.co.uk

deadly women saeson 6 Deadly Women
Investigation Discovery, 16, 18 & 20 August 2013 at various times during the day

Deadly Women is a true-life crime series about female killers. Each episode, which had a scheduled duration of 60 minutes, relayed the crimes of three different murderers through dramatic reconstructions of specific crimes and interviews with experts in criminal behaviour, including forensic pathologists. It is TV-14 rated for US TV.

A complainant alerted Ofcom to graphic depictions of violence contained within an episode broadcast at 09:00 on 20 August 2013. Ofcom assessed this episode, along with another seven episodes shown between 06:00 and 17:00 on 16 and 18 August 2013. We noted that each episode was preceded by variations of the following warnings:

  • The following programme contains scenes of a violent nature which some viewers may find disturbing ; or

  • The following programme contains scenes of murder or violent crimes that have been re-enacted.

We had concerns about a large number of the dramatic reconstructions included within the series.

Ofcom considered rules:

  • Rule 1.3: Children must…be 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 (in the case of television)…and must also be justified by the context .

  • Rule 2.3: In applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context… .

Discovery apologised for the broadcast of this content. The Licensee stated that: We accept that some of the content in these episodes was beyond the expectations of a daytime audience, even on a specialised crime channel such as [Investigation Discovery]. The Licensee also said that upon being alerted to the original complaint in this case, the content was reviewed and then immediately taken out of the daytime schedule.

It said that all the programmes in this case had been from series six of Deadly Women and none of these programmes were intended for transmission in daytime . While all the other series of Deadly Women had been correctly certified as post watershed , Discovery said that this had not happened in the case of series six. The Licensee stated that this deeply unfortunate incident had occurred as a result of an error of judgement by a less experienced member of the re-versioning team during the certification process for series 6 [which] meant that it was accidentally certified as suitable for audiences with a low child index .

Initial Ofcom Decision: Breach of rules 1.3, 1.11 and 2.3

Ofcom considered that these programmes were unsuitable for children, and that a number of the episodes would have been likely to have greatly troubled younger viewers in particular.

Ofcom reminds all broadcasters to ensure they are adequately resourced to ensure all their programming complies with the Code. Further they must have sufficient resources and appropriate arrangements in place to monitor as necessary output as it is broadcast to ensure that if, as here, a compliance mistake is made the licensee has a reasonable opportunity to spot the error and correct it before broadcast. In this case, the Licensee was seemingly unaware that it had broadcast wholly unsuitable material before the watershed until it was alerted by Ofcom.

We considered that the repeated broadcast during the daytime of very violent material in the form of prolonged and disturbing dramatic reconstructions of torture, mutilation and murder resulted in serious contraventions of the Code. Ofcom therefore put the Licensee on notice that it would consider these breaches of the Code for the imposition of a statutory sanction.

The Sanction Decision

First, Ofcom found the breaches of the Code by the Broadcasts were serious principally because of the graphic and extended depictions of extreme violence which they contained and which were transmitted at various times before the watershed in the school holidays. The Broadcasts were unsuitable for children and highly likely to have caused distress to any children in the audience.

Second, the breaches were repeated in that this unsuitable content was spread across 8 episodes of the series Deadly Women, shown on 16, 18 and 20 August 2013. 12.

Last, the pre-watershed broadcasts were made in error and, by the Licensee’s own admission, in an entirely inappropriate time-slot . The errors were blatant and repeated over a period of 5 days. Ofcom considered that the breaches in this case demonstrated that the Licensee failed to ensure that it had robust compliance procedures in place.

In arriving at its Decision of the appropriate type and level of sanction, Ofcom also took account of the Licensee’s recent compliance record. Prior to the Broadcasts, the Licensee did not have a history of contraventions on the Investigation Discovery service. However, it operates a centralised compliance unit for all 73 of its licensed broadcasting services. Ofcom has found the Licensee in breach of the Code in relation to broadcasts on other licensed services, most recently, in relation to the programme Embarrassing Bodies (TLC Poland6, 25 July 2013, 14:00). This was found in breach of Rule 1.3 as the programme, which contained full screen images of an invasive vaginal examination, was unsuitable for children and had not been appropriately scheduled.

Ofcom’s Decision is that the appropriate sanction should be a financial penalty of £100,000. Ofcom also considers that the Licensee should be directed to broadcast a statement of Ofcom’s findings, on a date and in a form to be determined by Ofcom.

Read more MPAA News at MelonFarmers.co.uk

Boyhood DVD Patricia Arquette Boyhood is a 2014 USA drama by Richard Linklater.
Starring Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke. YouTube icon IMDb US : Rated R (17A) for language including sexual references, and For teen drug and alcohol use.

UK : Rated 15 uncut for strong language, sex references, drug use

The USA lacks a rating for mid teens. There is a PG-13 rating for young teens but the next step is an R rating which is in UK terms a 17A rating. So movies that are 15 rated in the UK have to be overrated with a 17 rating in the US. It is often cited as a criticism of the US system that something as trivial as a couple of ‘fucks’ tips a movie from a 13 rating to a 17 rating. One such example is Richard Linklater’s Boyhood.

Richard Linklater’s Boyhood was given an R-rating, despite the fact that it quite realistically charts the growth of a contemporary suburban child up until his college years. Naturally, the MPAA wants to protect any kid who might actually watch something that, critics say, accurately depicts their own lives. But distributor IFC Films isn’t having it.

In response to the R-rating, IFC tweeted about Boyhood , which is playing at the IFC Center in New York, as well as five other locations:

Though the MPAA has rated BOYHOOD R, we feel the film is appropriate for mature adolescents & will be admitting teenagers at our discretion. — IFC Center (@IFCCenter) July 11, 2014

The indie film from director Richard Linklater follows a young boy named Mason, who makes it through a rocky childhood with an alcoholic father (Ethan Hawke) and, eventually, a single mother (Patricia Arquette) as he attempts to define his identity over the course of twelve years. Boyhood carries an R-rating attached to crude language, including sexual references, and teen drug and alcohol usage. There are several implications of spousal abuse as well as domestic unrest, which are no doubt intense for the viewer. Which is sort of the point: it’s almost as if the MPAA is penalizing Linklater’s movie for being honest.

Read more UK Internet Censorship at MelonFarmers.co.uk

rdi logo The Registered Digital Institute is a trade group which promotes digital installation and digital service providers directly to the consumer. The institutes explains its role in setting up a standard for internet website blocking for public WiFi:

During his 2013 NSPCC speech on online safety, David Cameron announced that an agreement was in place with the UK’s main Wi-Fi providers to commit to applying a level of filtering across all of their standard public Wi-Fi services, which are easily accessed by children and young people. Mr Cameron also highlighted the need to develop an industry-recognised and trusted symbol, which businesses could display to show customers that their public Wi-Fi is properly filtered. Discussions around the development of such a scheme and symbol began 12 months ago, when the RDI were asked to work in collaboration with The UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS), the Government and the UK’s main Wi-Fi Providers, to design, develop and launch the UK-wide Friendly WiFi scheme that we see today.

RDI have also outlined the level of blocking that has been implemented and how the BBFC have been involved in the censorship process:

BBFC logo During meetings with DCMS and the UK’s main Wi-Fi providers who we worked collaboratively with to design the online safety initiative, it was suggested that we contact the BBFC. We were introduced to the BBFC’s Assistant Director, David Austin who kindly offered to assist us in the build of our specification for online content filtering. David hosted an initial meeting at the BBFC’s London offices and provided what can only be described as an eye-opening view of how the BBFC operates and independently scrutinises films and video to ensure the highest possible level of protection and empowerment.

We learned how the BBFC had been appointed by the Mobile Broadband Group to provide an independent framework to underpin the Mobile Operators’ code of practice that was set up in 2004 for the self-regulation of content on mobiles. The Classification Framework defines content that is unsuitable for customers under the age of 18 and is based on the BBFC’s Classification Guidelines for film and video. The Classification Framework is also used to calibrate the filters used by the Operators to restrict access to internet content via mobile networks by those under 18. This was a major step forward to restrict content accessed via mobile networks and protect children from viewing inappropriate material whilst operating their mobile devices.

Although the specified level of content filtering within the Friendly WiFi scheme is below that which underpins the Mobile Operators code of practice, it is important that we were guided by the same technical expertise of the BBFC to support our development and advise us on future updates. The BBFC has contributed specific definitions and guided us in the use of correct and appropriate terms relating to the filtering of pornography. This is to make sure we are able to communicate the terms correctly and have the confidence that our specification is in line with what our Customers, Industry and Public expects.

The level of content filtering agreed by the main WiFi providers for their standard public WiFi offerings is the same level which has been included within the Friendly WiFi scheme. The level of filtering as follows:

  1. The standard public Wi-Fi offering will automatically filter the IWF list and participate in the IWF Self Certification process.

  2. The standard public Wi-Fi offering will also include filters to block pornography and will use generally recognised list providers to filter pornography.

No doubt the use of ‘generally recognised list providers’ means that the block on actual pornography will include a block on news and information websites that happen to include a few porny words in their text.

Any UK business wishing to join the Friendly WiFi scheme must meet the level of filtering standards described above. Once approved they will be authorised to display the scheme Friendly WiFi logo at their venues. At RDI, we will be working on a number of initiatives to support our Friendly WiFi customers and the Industry. As part of our service to Licensees of our scheme, we will manage consumer enquiries and deal with issues in relation to content viewed over public WiFi services. These may include reports of over blocking and under blocking. We are delighted that the BBFC have agreed to work with us by offering their support to handle enquiries of this nature. Their independent and technical expertise is essential and we look forward to a strong relationship and us working together to evolve the scheme.

ATVOD Recommends that British porn sites relocate to the Netherlands…Annual Report published for 2013-14

Read more ATVOD Watch at MelonFarmers.co.uk

atvod annual report 2014 ATVOD’s press release reads

The Authority for Television On Demand, co-regulator of editorial content in UK video on demand services, has published its annual report detailing steps taken by ATVOD in the year to 31 March 2014 to protect children from hardcore porn on regulated video on demand ( VOD ) services.

This included action against a service run by JP Media which resulted in the first ever use of powers to suspend the right to provide a VOD service. The porn video site operated by JP Media had failed to ensure that under 18s could not access hardcore porn content on the UK operated websites.  The JP Media service was among 16 services, operating across 20 websites – found to be in breach of the statutory rules in 2013-14 because they featured hardcore porn material which could be accessed by under 18′s.

Of the 16 services, 14 acted to make changes to bring the service into compliance or closed. The remaining two were transferred to the control of a company based in The Netherlands. Although regulated under the same EU Directive, the Dutch regulatory authority does not share ATVOD’s view that hardcore pornography might seriously impair under 18s and so on-demand services provided from that jurisdiction are not required to have in place the sort of age verification and access control systems required by ATVOD in the UK.

ATVOD Chief Executive Pete Johnson said :

We have made good progress in ensuring that UK operators of regulated VOD services comply with rules designed to protect children from harmful content, but we are not complacent and will continue to monitor relevant services and act as required.

Our enforcement activity has sent a clear message that UK providers of hardcore pornography on demand must take effective steps to ensure that such material is not accessible to under-18′s. Asking visitors to a website to click an ‘I am 18′ button or enter a date of birth or use a debit card is not sufficient, if they are going to offer explicit sex material they must know that their customers are 18, just as they would in the ‘offline’ world.

[However the ATVOD mandated child protection measures as so onerous that it is almost impossible for businesses to survive after implementing them. An interesting statistic in the report rather illustrates this. In a survey of internet access ATVOD found that only 1 of 1266 adult sites visited by members of a 45,000 strong survey was a British site working within ATVOD censorship rules].

ATVOD Chair Ruth Evans said:

ATVOD will continue to discuss with policy makers further options for reducing the exposure of children to pornography and other potentially harmful VOD material on websites based outside the UK . We strongly support initiatives designed to improve the take up of parental control software and have worked with the Department for Culture Media and Sport on the drafting of legislation which will prohibit on UK based VOD services any material which would not be classified for sale on a DVD.

In addition to the 16 breaches relating to the provision of hardcore pornography, the authority also details in its Annual Report a further 56 breaches of the statutory rules, giving a total of 72 breaches during 2013-14, an increase of 200% on the previous year.

Another interesting statistic that ATVOD failed to mention was that ATVOD spent £510,900 in the report period so each of the 72 breaches of the code cost on average, £7095 to process.

Surely this money would be better spent commissioning a practical national ID scheme administered by trusted parties rather than handing over highly personal ID date to dodgy porn sites with easy potential for identity theft. This would then allow British websites to compete whilst children would be better protected by a scheme that was acceptable and practical for everybody.

Read more BBFC News at MelonFarmers.co.uk

bbfc annual report 2013 British Board of Film Classification see digital growth, measure public trust and launch new education resources in 2013

The BBFC’s voluntary regulation services grew significantly in 2013. In September the BBFC became the regulator of internet content delivered via mobile networks. Meanwhile, content classified for video-on-demand under the BBFC’s Watch & Rate service increased by 200% in 2013, with 34 new companies submitting content for classification. BBFC ratings can be found on iTunes, BT Vision, Talk Talk, BlinkBox, FilmFlex, Sainsbury’s, PlayStation and XBox. They are available for customers building Ultraviolet collections and can be seen on the seatback entertainment systems on Virgin and British Airways flights.

Education for younger children was an area where the BBFC expanded on its existing outreach programme by launching a new website for children and their parents, http://www.cbbfc.co.uk , in September. The website features child friendly interactive content, including classification information for the latest film releases rated U to12A; timelines explaining the history of film classification; the popular rate a trailer activity; and a page dedicated to understanding 12A. The website launched with a competition for children, which challenged them to draw pictures representing the correct audiences for each age rating. The winning illustrations, selected from over 130 entries, feature on a poster resource and leaflet which is available as a free resource for schools.

The BBFC’s research effort in 2013 was dominated by the large scale public consultation into the BBFC’s Classification Guidelines. Involving more than 10,000 adults and teenagers, the results of the consultation fed directly into the BBFC’s latest Classification Guidelines, published in January 2014. The research showed strong public trust in the classification system. 89% of film viewers rated classification as important and 92% of recent film viewers agreed with BBFC age ratings for films and videos they had seen recently.

BBFC Director David Cooke said:

2013 was a year of key firsts for the BBFC. We began working to provide a classification framework for mobile operators, trailblazing new ways in which the BBFC’s research and expertise in content classification can be applied. We also spoke to teenagers for the first time as part of our Guidelines Consultation exercise, finding that 76% consider classification to be important. Meanwhile our new website for younger children aims to ensure they too learn how to navigate age ratings and, alongside their parents, make informed choices about what they watch at the cinema, on DVD and on VoD platforms.

Mobile Operators in the UK began to use the Mobile Classification Framework designed by the BBFC to filter video and website content available via mobile networks on 2 September 2013. The framework is used to filter internet content available via mobile networks and is a key component of the Mobile Operators’ code of practice, established in 2004, and was previously devised by the Independent Mobile Classification Board (IMCB).

Another area of growth for the BBFC involved international partnerships. Working with the Dutch media regulator, NICAM, the BBFC designed a user generated content rating tool that can be used to provide ratings for content uploaded to video sharing websites. The tool allows viewers to rate content themselves with the ratings adapted to suit the requirements and expectations of the country in which they are viewing the video. The tool is currently being trailed by the Italian media company Mediaset on their video sharing platform 16mm.

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Poster Hercules 2014 Brett Ratner Hercules is a 2014 USA action adventure by Brett Ratner.
Starring Dwayne Johnson, John Hurt and Ian McShane. YouTube icon BBFC link IMDb UK: Passed 12A for moderate violence, bloody images, moderate sex references, strong language after pre-cut for:

  • 2014 cinema release

TheBBFC commented:

  • This film was originally seen for advice in an incomplete form. The company was informed that it was likely to be classified 15, but that their preferred 12A could be achieved by reducing some bloody detail in three scenes. When the finished version was submitted for formal classification, those moments had been addressed.

For comparison, the US version, presumably uncut was rated PG-13 for epic battle sequences, violence, suggestive comments, brief strong language and partial nudity.

Summary Notes

Fourteen hundred years BCE, a tormented soul walked the earth that was neither man nor god. Hercules was the powerful son of the god king Zeus, for this he received nothing but suffering his entire life. After twelve arduous labours and the loss of his family, this dark, world-weary soul turned his back on the gods finding his only solace in bloody battle. Over the years he warmed to the company of six similar souls, their only bond being their love of fighting and presence of death. These men and women never question where they go to fight or why or whom, just how much they will be paid. Now the King of Thrace has hired these mercenaries to train his men to become the greatest army of all time. It is time for this bunch of lost souls to finally have their eyes opened to how far they have fallen when they must train an army to become as ruthless and blood thirsty as their reputation has become.