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Poster Abominable 2019 Jill Culton and Todd Wilderman Abominable is a 2019 China / USA  children’s cartoon comedy by Jill Culton and Todd Wilderman (co-director).
Starring Chloe Bennet, Albert Tsai and Tenzing Norgay Trainor. IMDb

Three teenagers must help a Yeti return to his family while avoiding a wealthy man and a zoologist who want it for their own needs.

The new animated children’s movie Abominable, a co-production between the American studio DreamWorks and the Chinese company Pearl Studio,  seems innocent enough. A Chinese girl finds a yeti, a mythical creature also known as the Abominable Snowman.

But in Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia, the abomination in the movie is not the yeti but an image of a map of the South China Sea. And on that map, there’s a U-shaped dotted line that encompasses almost the entire South China Sea. It’s known as the Nine-Dash Line.

Under international agreements, China does not have exclusive rights to the entire South China Sea. But Beijing has just simply ignored that and called it an illegitimate ruling. Now at every opportunity China presents its claims as fact.

This claim is not OK with other countries in the region:

  • The image of the map caused Vietnam to remove the movie from theaters, according to a Vietnamese official.
  • The Philippines Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. proposed to cut out the said contentious scene and even suggested a universal boycott of all @Dreamworks productions from here on. Other politicians have called for a ban but so far this has not happened
  • Malaysia’s film censor has ordered the China map to be cut
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nicky morgan Nicky Morgan, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, issued a written statement cancelling the government’s current plans to require age verification for porn. She wrote:

The government published the Online Harms White Paper in April this year. It proposed the establishment of a duty of care on companies to improve online safety, overseen by an independent regulator with strong enforcement powers to deal with non-compliance. Since the White Paper’s publication, the government’s proposals have continued to develop at pace. The government announced as part of the Queen’s Speech that we will publish draft legislation for pre-legislative scrutiny. It is important that our policy aims and our overall policy on protecting children from online harms are developed coherently in view of these developments with the aim of bringing forward the most comprehensive approach possible to protecting children.

The government has concluded that this objective of coherence will be best achieved through our wider online harms proposals and, as a consequence, will not be commencing Part 3 of the Digital Economy Act 2017 concerning age verification for online pornography. The Digital Economy Act objectives will therefore be delivered through our proposed online harms regulatory regime. This course of action will give the regulator discretion on the most effective means for companies to meet their duty of care. As currently drafted, the Digital Economy Act does not cover social media platforms.

The government’s commitment to protecting children online is unwavering. Adult content is too easily accessed online and more needs to be done to protect children from harm. We want to deliver the most comprehensive approach to keeping children safe online and recognised in the Online Harms White Paper the role that technology can play in keeping all users, particularly children, safe. We are committed to the UK becoming a world-leader in the development of online safety technology and to ensure companies of all sizes have access to, and adopt, innovative solutions to improve the safety of their users. This includes age verification tools and we expect them to continue to play a key role in protecting children online.

The BBFC sounded a bit miffed about losing the internet censor gig. The BBFC posted on its website:

BBFC logo The introduction of age-verification on pornographic websites in the UK is a necessary and important child protection measure. The BBFC was designated as the Age-verification Regulator under the Digital Economy Act 2017 (DEA) in February 2018, and has since worked on the implementation of age-verification, developing a robust standard of age-verification designed to stop children from stumbling across or accessing pornography online. The BBFC had all systems in place to undertake the role of AV Regulator, to ensure that all commercial pornographic websites accessible from the UK would have age gates in place or face swift enforcement action.

The BBFC understands the Government’s decision, announced today, to implement age-verification as part of the broader online harms strategy. We will bring our expertise and work closely with government to ensure that the child protection goals of the DEA are achieved.

I don suppose we will ever hear the real reasons why the law was ditched, but I suspect that there were serious problems with it. The amount of time and effort put into this, and the serious ramifications for the BBFC and age verification companies that must now be facing hard times must surely make this cancelling a big decision.

It is my guess that a very troublesome issue for the authorities is how both age verification and website blocking would have encouraged a significant number of people to work around government surveillance of the internet. It is probably more important to keep tabs on terrorists and child abusers rather than to lose this capability for the sake of a kids stumbling on porn.

Although the news of the cancellation was reported today, Rowland Manthorpe, a reporter for Sky News suggested on Twitter that maybe the idea had already been shelved back in the summer. He tweeted:

When @AJMartinSky and I broke the news that the porn block was being delayed again, we reported that it was on hold indefinitely. It was. Then our story broke. Inside DCMS a sudden panic ensued. Quickly, they drafted a statement saying it was delayed for 6 months

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womens aid logo The campaign group Women’s Aid is working with the BBFC on a consultation with victims of domestic abuse about how scenes of domestic abuse are classified and the warnings we see before we watch scenes of domestic abuse.The BBFC will be working with a research company and Women’s Aid to set up focus groups in London and Manchester to discuss the issues raised by a variety of film and media content. Participants will be asked to view three or four feature films, in advance of attending the focus groups, and will then discuss those films as well as some supplementary clips.

The research will be conducted by an independent market research company called Goldstone Perl Research. The focus groups will take place in January.

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OFLC New Zealand logo New Zealand’s government is doubling the funding for its film censors. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the Government is doubling the funding for its Office of Film & Literature Classification so it can crack down on terrorist content alongside child exploitation images.The package is the main domestic component of Ardern’s more globally-focused Christchurch Call. The Call is a set of pledges and practices she is promoting following the Christchurch terror attack of March 15.

The $17m funding boost will go towards the Chief Censor and the Censorship Compliance Unit and will see about 17 new censors employed.

The announcement came with a bit of a barb though as it was noted that it took two days for the chief censor to rule that the livestream of the Christchurch mosque attack was objectionable, something the officials said could be sped up with new funding for his office.

Stuff.co.nz commented that the prime minister has invested serious time and political capital into her Christchurch Call program and noted that it met its first real test last week after another racist attack was livestreamed from the German city of Halle. That video was deemed objectionable by the censor and the shared protocol created by the Christchurch Call was put into action. Presumably this time round it took less than two days to decide that it is should be banned.

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south park banned in china South Park’s latest episode Band in China mocked Hollywood for shaping its content to please the Chinese government.Beijing responded by deleting all clips, episodes and discussions of the Comedy Central show from all Chinese streaming services, social media and even fan pages.

On Monday afternoon, creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone issued a statement with a faux apology about the ban:

Like the NBA , we welcome the Chinese censors into our homes and into our hearts, the statement reads. We too love money more than freedom and democracy. Xi doesn’t look like Winnie the Pooh at all. Tune into our 300th episode this Wednesday at 10! Long live the great Communist Party of China. May the autumn’s sorghum harvest be bountiful. We good now China?

The Band in CHina episode featured a pair of storylines about China. One involves Randy getting caught attempting to sell weed in China and getting sent to a work camp similar to those Beijing has been using in Xinjiang Province to hold up to a million Chinese Muslims. While he’s at the work camp, Randy runs into an imprisoned Winnie the Pooh.

A second plot follows Stan, Jimmy, Kenny and Butters forming a metal band, which becomes popular and attracts the attention of a manager who wants to make a film about them. But then the script keeps changing so that the film can safely be distributed in China.

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studio 66 Studio 66 TV
Studio 66, 15 April 2019, 10:00
Studio 66, 28 April 2019, 18:30
Studio 66, 8 May 2019, 11:10
Studio 66, 20 May 2019, 10:00
Studio 66, 23 May 2019, 10:00

Studio 66 TV is interactive daytime chat advertising broadcast on the service Studio 66, which is available as part of a standard satellite subscription package. The content consists of presenters inviting viewers to contact them via premium rate telephony services (PRS). Studio 66 is available without mandatory restricted access and is situated in the adult section of Sky’s electronic programme guide (‘EPG’). The licence for the service is held by 914 TV Limited.

Ofcom received five complaints, each about a different broadcast. In each case, the complainant considered that the presenters were not wearing suitable clothing, their bodies were inadequately covered, and in some instances their behaviour was sexualised.

Having viewed the material, Ofcom identified five examples: eg on 15 April 2019, 10:00 The presenter lay on her side wearing a small black dress, which on several occasions was hitched up at the bottom partially exposing her thigh and buttock; and on several occasions, the presenter stroked and thrust her buttocks.

Ofcom considered Rule 32.3:

Relevant timing restrictions must be applied to advertisements that, through their content, might harm or distress children of particular ages or that are otherwise unsuitable for them.

Ofcom Decision: Breach of Rule 32.3

Ofcom’s published guidance on the advertising of PRS ‘daytime chat’ services (“the Chat Service Guidance”) sets out what Ofcom considers to be acceptable to broadcast on these services.

The Chat Service Guidance requires ‘daytime chat’ services to be placed within the ‘adult’ or similarly identified section of EPG listings. It also states that the “presentation of daytime chat should always be suitable for wide audiences, that is for audiences including children and young persons…should they come across it unawares”. It requires that “all dress and behaviour should be non-sexual in tone and apparent intent”, and specifically that ‘daytime chat’ broadcasters should:

• “ensure that presenters are wearing appropriate clothing, that adequately covers their bodies, in particular their breasts, genital areas and buttocks”;
• “not broadcast images of presenters touching or stroking their bodies in a suggestive manner, in particular avoiding breasts, thighs, crotches and buttocks”; and
• “not broadcast images of presenters mimicking sexual intercourse by rocking and thrusting their bodies, or otherwise adopting sexual poses.”

Ofcom considered the content across these five broadcasts did not reflect the elements of the Chat Service Guidance listed above. It featured presenters who were positioned and dressed in such a way that resulted in significant exposure of their buttocks, thighs or breasts. Further, in some cases, the presenters:

• touched and stoked their buttocks and breasts in a sexual way; and
• repeatedly thrust or gyrated their breasts or buttocks, mimicking sexual activity.

In light of the above, Ofcom considered that in all five cases, the presenters’ clothing and behaviour were sexual in tone and apparent intent.

On 8 April 2019, in Issue 376 of its Broadcast and On Demand Bulletin, Ofcom recorded a breach of Rule 32.3 against the Licensee for the pre-watershed broadcast of content featuring three presenters who behaved inappropriately and were inadequately dressed. While we acknowledged the Licensee’s apology and recognition that the material was non-compliant, we are very concerned that a further breach of this nature occurred just seven days later, and then on four further occasions across a matter of five weeks.

Ofcom considers these repeated breaches to be serious and we are therefore putting the Licensee on notice that we will consider these cases for the imposition of a statutory sanction.

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nicky morgan House of Commons, 3rd October 2019.

The Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Nicky Morgan):

THon. Members will be aware of our ongoing work to keep people safe online and our proposals around age verification for online pornography. I wish to notify the House that the standstill period under the EU’s technical services and regulations directive expired at midnight last night. I understand the interest in this issue that exists in all parts of the House, and I will update the House on next steps in due course.