Archive for the ‘BBC’ Category

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BBC logoThe BBC is currently overhauling its complaints system after Ofcom took over censorship duties in April, replacing the BBC Trust. However there is still a part of the process where viewers have to complain to the BBC first before seeking recourse with Ofcom.

The Countryside Alliance has clashed with BBC bosses over the new framework which the group believes does not improve the process and only allows viewers to go to Ofcom after a three stage process. In a letter to the corporation, Tim Bonner, the alliance’s chief executive, said this process could take several months and urged a rethink. He wrote:

Given the timescales for responding, it is likely that it could take several months before a complaint could be seen by Ofcom if the complainant were unhappy with the responses received from the BBC. We are not satisfied that this provides the expected level of oversight which Ofcom was intended to have in the new Charter.

The Countryside Alliance, a group lobbying for hunting and shooting, previously came off worse when complaining that Springwatch presenter Chris Packham referred to them as the ‘Nasty Brigade’ in a BBC magazine article. Presumably they feel that when they did not get what they wanted from the BBC Trust then they would like to give Ofcom a shot.

Bonner said that the alliance had submitted a number of complaints to the BBC and BBC Trust over the past 18 months which have not been upheld.  He added:

We would have welcomed the opportunity to pursue our complaints with Ofcom at the earliest possible opportunity in order for an external regulator to review the complaints independently.

The BBC’s royal charter specifically allows the BBC to try to try to resolve complaints in the first instance before they are passed to Ofcom.

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Ofcom logoEffective from 3 April 2017, Ofcom has become the BBC’s first external TV censor.The BBC Trust has therefore ceased to be. The remaining governance functions carried out by the BBC Trust will move to the new BBC unitary board.

Ofcom’s proposals

Programmes made for UK audiences: The BBC’s spending on brand new UK commissioned programmes fell 30% in real-terms between 2004 and 2015. Therefore, we are proposing quotas for first-run UK originations programmes to be shown on BBC One, BBC Two, CBeebies and CBBC.

Under our plans, three quarters of all programme hours on the BBC’s most popular TV channels should be original productions, commissioned for UK audiences. During peak viewing time 203 from 6pm to 10.30pm 203 at least 90% of programmes on BBC Two should be original, matching the current requirement for BBC One (see table below).

News and current affairs: We plan to increase the previous requirements for news and current affairs 203 including for BBC One and BBC Two 203 where they have been exceeded, to safeguard this important genre. During peak listening periods, Radio 2 would be required, for the first time, to air at least three hours of news and current affairs per week, and Radio 1 to broadcast an extended news bulletin in peak-time listening each weekday. Neither station currently has these obligations during peak listening hours.

Music: The BBC plays a unique role in showcasing musical talent and genres to people across the country. Our rules would mean a significant proportion of the new music played by Radio 1 and Radio 2 should be from new and emerging UK artists. Radio 3 should continue to play a central role in supporting the UK’s classical music scene, commissioning at least 25 new musical works each year, and developing relationships with non-BBC UK orchestras, opera companies and festivals.

Arts and learning: Our plans would mean that BBC One and BBC Two would have tougher requirements for showing arts, music and religious programmes, including new requirements to show some during peak viewing times.

Children: New rules would require CBBC to show at least 400 hours 203 and CBeebies at least 100 hours 203 of brand new UK commissioned programming each year. CBeebies would have to provide content in a number of genres that support pre-school children’s learning.

Sport: The BBC should provide distinctive sports coverage for fans in all the UK’s nations. Ofcom’s research found that people want the BBC to cover a wide range of sports. So we will require Radio 5 Live to provide live commentary, news and programmes covering at least 20 sports, to help support those that are not getting the attention they deserve.

Reflecting the whole UK: Ofcom wants all parts of the UK to be reflected, and invested in, by the BBC. So we are introducing minimum quotas for each UK nation. This means the BBC must spend the same on programmes, per head, in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, as well as ensuring that at least half of all programmes shown nationally and produced in the UK are made outside of London.

Also, we will soon review our guidance on programmes made outside London, to ensure these productions make a genuine contribution to the creative economies of the UK’s nations and regions, which could include greater programme making or investment in these areas.

There would be a new Diversity Code of Practice to set how the BBC will commission programmes that authentically portray the whole UK population. And the BBC will have to report annually on how it has reflected, represented and served the diverse communities of the whole UK 203 focusing on age, gender, disability and race, among other characteristics.

High programme standards: To hold the BBC’s programmes to the highest standards, Ofcom has today published updates to the Broadcasting Code 203 the rulebook for UK broadcasters which sets standards for the content of programmes. Today’s changes will see that, for the first time, the Code applies in full to BBC broadcasting services and the iPlayer.

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Ofcom logoThe BBC is refusing an order to pay £9 million a year to the TV censor Ofcom, in a behind-the-scenes row over the cost of the corporation’s new censorship regime.

Ofcom, which will take on responsibility for censoring the BBC in April, is locked in a private battle after warning BBC executives that it wants to appoint double the number of staff the BBC Trust, the broadcaster’s current ruling body, currently employs to censor the broadcaster.

The move will add more than £5 million to the regulatory bill currently footed by the licence fee payer, roughly equivalent to what the BBC spends on a six-part drama series .

The corporation is understood to have appealed to Karen Bradley, the culture secretary, to force Ofcom to reduce its fees. Sue Owen, permanent secretary at the DCMS, is understood to have written to Sharon White, the chief executive of Ofcom, calling on her to cut the planned fees, but White is said to have argued that the proposed charges are ‘reasonable’.

The corporation is said to be particularly annoyed that Ofcom has demanded £6.5 million for the past financial year, which covers a period before the broadcaster assumes its full regulatory duties.

Ofcom insists that it will have a more wide-ranging role than the Trust, and will have to hold the BBC to account on new political correctness issues such as diversity targets.

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BBFC logoThe Belfast Telegraph reports that the BBFC wants to get rid of five of its current examiners by the end of the year and replace them with younger, less experienced, cheaper compliance officers.The trade union Unite has responded with the unlikely claim that the staff economies would risk material slipping through the censorship process. Unite’s general secretary Len McCluskey has written to the BBFC’s president Patrick Swaffer about the planned staff changes. He wrote:

It has always been my impression that the BBFC has maintained the trust of the public, particularly in relation to its child protection responsibilities, through the recruitment of mature and experienced individuals who have come from a variety of backgrounds, both personal and professional.

It seems to me that to replace those individuals with young, inexperienced graduates is both unfortunate in terms of the BBFC’s public persona, and, quite possibly, a case of age discrimination.

Furthermore, I do not believe the public’s trust, and especially that of many parents, will be enhanced by the knowledge that the BBFC is willing to lose the few examiners who view material on a day-to-day basis who are themselves parents, a status that brings an unimpeachable knowledge and understanding of child development.

The examiners are being given a choice of leaving on voluntary severance terms or being redeployed as compliance officers with a reduction in status and £20,000-a-year drop in salary.

Unite is arguing that the cost savings are not necessary because the BBFC’s most recent accounts revealed an operating surplus of more than £1.2 million and that turnover is up by 2%, and operating costs down by the same amount. The union’s regional officer Rose Keeping said:

You can’t put a price on protecting children and young people from the tidal wave of sexually explicit and very violent films and videos that are available in 2016.

With less experienced examiners, there is an increased possibility that an unacceptable sex scene and/or one of extreme violence sneaking past the censors’ net – this would be detrimental to the promotion of child protection that the Government is actively supporting.

We are also investigating whether what the BBFC is proposing for our members contravenes the age discrimination provisions in the 2010 Equality Act.

The BBFC responded in a press release saying:

The BBFC’s classification standards protect children and empower families.

In making classification decisions, the BBFC has in place a structure that ensures consistency of approach and is based on published Classification Guidelines that are founded on large-scale public consultation.

The BBFC is currently in consultation with Unite in relation to this phase of the reorganisation of its examining and compliance functions, which began in 2013. The BBFC must respect the privacy of the ongoing formal consultation process.

Ofcom press censors…The government and Ofcom discuss censorship powers for text based internet news

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bbc news website logo Under the BBC’s new 11-year operating agreement, known as its royal charter, its governing body — the BBC Trust — will be axed next year and censorship powers will be handed to Ofcom.But industry sources have told us that this has presented a dilemma around online news, which has become a focus of recent discussions between the BBC, government, and Ofcom.

Abolishing the BBC Trust will effectively create a loophole in censorship powers, meaning the BBC will not be accountable to an independent body for the text articles it publishes on bbc.co.uk/news. Ofcom does not have the power to regulate online news text and, in the case of the BBC, is reluctant to do so. It has no experience of regulating online text and is only set up to regulate video content.

Sources also said that Ofcom has made clear to the government that taking on this task for the BBC could set a tricky precedent. They expressed concern that if Ofcom begins regulating bbc.co.uk/news, the door is then open for these powers to be extended to other broadcasters and publishers. Would you end up with Ofcom regulating Mail Online? asked one person with knowledge of the matter.

Discussions are ongoing and no decisions have been made. An Ofcom spokesman said: We’re still in discussions with the government on how the content of the white paper will be delivered.

A Department for Culture Media & Sport (DCMS) spokesman said the BBC’s draft charter will make clear how we are addressing this issue when it is published later this month.

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dont tell the bride Don’t Tell the Bride
BBC3,25 January 2016 (8.00pm): Finding by the Editorial Complaints Unit

In an exchange between the bride and her elder sister, the word twat was used. A viewer complained that this was inappropriate before the watershed, and should at least have been preceded by a warning.

Outcome: Complaint Upheld

Although not among the terms characterised by the Editorial Guidelines as the strongest language (which must not be used on television before the watershed), the word twat is unusual in having an innocent meaning for some viewers but an obscene meaning for others. On this occasion it was used in an affectionate context and without any sense of aggression, but this was not sufficient to mitigate the offence it is capable of causing to a segment of the audience.

The finding was widely discussed and debated by senior editorial figures in BBC Television and has been noted.

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midsummer nights dream 2016 Russell T Davies revealed this week that he removed one of Helena’s lines from his version of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream because he considers it irresponsible to transmit today.

Davies cut a declaration from Helena that she would be willing to die for love, in case, he said, it romanticised the idea of suicide.  He told the Hay literary festival:

I’m deliberately hoping to get young girls watching this and I will not transmit lines in which women are so much in love that they are threatening to commit suicide.

He also removed a line in which Helena asked a man to treat me as your spaniel ; it is not known if this was on the grounds of misogyny or animal rights.

See the article from theguardian.com for additional examples of BBC censorship including changing the character name Titty to Tatty in Swallows and Amazons