Archive for the ‘Ofcom TV Censor’ Category

So how will notorious censors respond to being censored themselves?

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cgtn logo China 24, News Hour
CCTV News, 27 August 2013, 12:00 and 14 July 2014, 21:002

CCTV News broadcast China 24, a news programme which reported on the arrest of Peter Humphrey and included footage of him appearing to confess to a criminal offence. It then broadcast a follow up report during News Hour, which reported on Mr Humphrey’s subsequent conviction and included footage of him apologising for having committed the offence. He was named in both programmes, although his face was blurred.

Ofcom found that:

  • The programmes included footage of Mr Humphrey which had the potential materially and adversely to affect viewers’ perception of him. The Licensee did not take sufficient steps to ensure that material facts had not been presented, omitted or disregarded in a way that was unfair to Mr Humphrey.

  • The Licensee had not provided Mr Humphrey with an appropriate and timely opportunity to respond to the allegations of wrongdoing being made about him in the programmes as broadcast.

  • Mr Humphrey had a legitimate expectation of privacy in relation to the filming and subsequent broadcast of the footage of him without his consent. In the circumstances, Mr Humphrey’s legitimate expectation of privacy was not outweighed by the broadcaster’s right to freedom of expression and the audience’s right to receive information and ideas without interference. The Licensee had therefore unwarrantably infringed Mr Humphrey’s privacy in respect of the obtaining of the material included in the programmes and in the programmes as broadcast.

Ofcom also considers that the breach of Rules 7.1 and 8.1 of the Code is serious. We are therefore putting the Licensee on notice that we intend to consider the breach for the imposition of a statutory sanction.

Ofcom acknowledge that David Icke has a right to express silly theories about 5G and decide not to fine London Real

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the evil of 5g technology Ofcom has decided not to impose any further sanction on ESTV Ltd after an interview with David Icke on its local television channel London Live included potentially harmful content about the coronavirus pandemic. It has already been required to broadcast a summary of Ofcom’s findings

Our investigation found David Icke expressed views which had the potential to cause significant harm to viewers in London during the pandemic. We were particularly concerned by his comments casting doubt on the motives behind official health advice to protect the public from the virus.

These claims went largely unchallenged during the 80-minute interview and were made without the support of any scientific or other evidence. While we acknowledge that David Icke has a right to hold and express these views, they risked causing significant harm to viewers who may have been particularly vulnerable at the time of broadcast.

Ofcom stresses that there is no prohibition on broadcasting views which diverge from or challenge official authorities on public health information. However, in broadcasting David Icke’s unsubstantiated views without sufficient challenge or context, ESTV failed in its responsibility to ensure that viewers were adequately protected. As a result, we directed London Live to broadcast a summary of our findings on 22 April 2020 at 22:00.

Ofcom subsequently considered whether imposing any further sanction in addition to the direction would be appropriate in this case. Ofcom concluded that the direction it had already imposed on ESTV to broadcast a statement of its findings was sufficient in remedying potentially significant harm to viewers and that any further sanction would not be appropriate in this case. Ofcom’s decision not to impose any further sanction on ESTV was published on 8 June 2020.

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cgtn logo It seems strange that a TV censor should get involved in a very tense global situation with China vs the western world. One would have thought that this should be better handled by diplomats and the Foreign Office. Perhaps Ofcom have been working with the government behind the scenes.Anyway Ofcom has published a series of decisions against news reports from China’s propaganda channel CGTN. Ofcom said that news reports broke thier rules with biased coverage of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

Ofcom said it was minded to formally sanction CGTN, the English-language rolling news channel owned by the Chinese government, for a serious failure of compliance after it failed to represent anti-Beijing viewpoints as protests raged across Hong Kong in late 2019.

Ofcom noted that CGTN often focused on violence by protesters against police officers, while downplaying attacks by the authorities on the public. Its output also parroted the views of the pro-Beijing Hong Kong government without giving sufficient airtime to people with alternative views, while focusing on economic disruption to businesses rather than the reason they were being disrupted.

It remains to be seen how China will respond to the sanctions. In March, Beijing revoked the visas of many American journalists after Donald Trump restricted the activities of CGTN and other Chinese outlets in the US.

CGTN said viewers understood it was representing a different view and the channel was simply serving its purpose to inform our international audiences of the Chinese perspective, which is often alternative to the mainstream western media.

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loveworld uk logo Ofcom has today imposed a sanction on the licensee Loveworld Limited, which broadcasts the religious television channel Loveworld, after a news programme and a live sermon included potentially harmful claims about causes of, and treatments for, Covid-19.

Our investigation found that a report on Loveworld News included unsubstantiated claims that 5G was the cause of the pandemic, and that this was the subject of a global cover-up. Another report during the programme presented hydroxychloroquine as a cure for Covid-19, without acknowledging that its effectiveness and safety as a treatment was clinically unproven, or making clear that it has potentially serious side effects.

A sermon broadcast on Your Loveworld also included unsubstantiated claims linking the pandemic to 5G technology; as well as claims which cast serious doubt on the necessity for lockdown measures and the motives behind official health advice on Covid-19, including in relation to vaccination. These views were presented as facts without evidence or challenge.

Ofcom stresses that there is no prohibition on broadcasting controversial views which diverge from, or challenge, official authorities on public health information. However, given the unsubstantiated claims in both these programmes were not sufficiently put into context, they risked undermining viewers’ trust in official health advice, with potentially serious consequences for public health.

Given these serious failings, we concluded that Loveworld Limited did not adequately protect viewers from the potentially harmful content in the news programme and the sermon, and the news reports were not duly accurate. We have directed Loveworld Limited to broadcast statements of our findings and are now considering whether to impose any further sanction.

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sunshine radio logo Paul Ellery in the Morning
Sunshine Radio
16 September 2019, 07:45

Sunshine Radio is a local radio station serving Hereford and Monmouthshire with music, speech, local news and information.

Paul Ellery in the Morning is a daily light-entertainment programme that includes discussions of news of the day.

Ofcom received a complaint that a presenter talked in a mocking manner about singer Sam Smith coming out as non-binary. After playing a Sam Smith track during the programme, the presenter Paul Ellery said:

I can’t get over this that he [Sam Smith] says he doesn’t identify with being male or female, so in future we have to call him ‘they’. And I heard somebody on — I think it was on BBC News Channel over the weekend — saying, the easiest way to find out, Sam, if you’re male or female or they, is to take your clothes off — there we go you’re definitely a boy!.

We considered Rule 2.3:

In applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context…Such material may include, but is not limited to, offensive language, violence, sex, sexual violence, humiliation, distress, violation of human dignity, discriminatory treatment or language (for example on the grounds of age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation, and marriage and civil partnership). Appropriate information should also be broadcast where it would assist in avoiding or minimising offence.

Sunshine FM described the programme as a live, unscripted one man show and stated that there was no production team or backroom staff involved in its broadcast. In response to Ofcom’s Preliminary View, which was to record a breach of Rule 2.3, the Licensee said that the presenter had resigned from Sunshine Radio.

Ofcom Decision: Breach of rule 2.3

In this case, the comments made by the presenter about Sam Smith were brief, which may have limited the potential for offence to some extent. However, they did not form part of a serious or considered discussion about issues related to gender identity and, at no point were his comments challenged, scrutinised or otherwise contextualised. Furthermore, the tone of the presenter’s comments was mocking, dismissive and flippant towards Sam Smith’s announcement that they were identifying as non-binary.

Noting that we only received one complaint from listeners about the presenter’s comments, we considered that the above factors established the potential for the comments in question to cause offence.

Given the strength of the presenter’s views on gender reassignment which had the potential to cause offence to listeners, and in particular, to members of the trans community, we considered that these comments were likely to have exceeded listeners’ expectations of content on this local radio station. We therefore considered that there was insufficient context to justify the potentially offensive references to Sam Smith’s gender.

We acknowledged the Licensee’s position that the comments were not intended to offend listeners, and the presenter’s acknowledgement that they were misjudged. However, regardless of the intent, in our view the comments had the potential to cause offence for the reasons set out above.

Ofcom was concerned by Sunshine FM’s submission that other than the presenter, no other members of a production team or backroom staff were involved in the broadcast of the programme. We acknowledged the steps the Licensee has taken to improve compliance prior to the presenter’s resignation, including the presenter undertaking compliance training and attending daily meetings to review content.

However, given all of the above, our Decision was that the content exceeded generally accepted standards, in breach of Rule 2.3 of the Code.

Crowds have been silenced so now players have to be silenced too…

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Ofcom logo Premier League matches could be shown without pitch-side atmosphere after Project Restart, as broadcasters must find a way to block out players’ swearing.Games are set to be played behind closed doors but with no fans in stadium, pitch-side microphones, which add sounds of the ball being kicked and normally muffled instructions, would also broadcast footballers’ foul-mouthed shouts.

OFCOM enforces pedantic censorship rules against the likes of Sky and BT Sports allowing obscenities in their coverage, forcing TV bosses to consider removing pitch-side microphones.

The Evil of 5G Technology…

Posted: 10 April, 2020 in Ofcom TV Censor
Tags: , ,

Ofcom to investigate David Icke interview in which he waves his hands to explain 5G conspiracy theories

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the evil of 5g technology The UK TV censor is looking into a TV network’s broadcast of an interview with conspiracy theorist David Icke about supposed links between 5G transmitters and coronavirus.Ofcom said it was assessing this programme as a priority, following London Live’s screening of the programme on Wednesday evening. The London Live interview appeared in part on YouTube titled The Evil of 5G Technology.

The conspiracy theory is more about the dangers of 5G than coronavirus. It is based on noting that 5G uses the high frequency end of the radiowave spectrum which is up there with microwaves, which when transmitted at high power can indeed sizzle your sausage.

It is hard to believe that David Icke will have convinced many viewers about these theories as Icke doesn’t seem to be very knowledgeable about the claims. He is just passing on a Chinese whispers style rumour waving his hands and embellishing it with a few unconvincing analogies.

The coronavirus extension seems to be that the virus is doing most damage in big cities. Rather than the more obvious correlation with high density and multi occupancy housing, the conspiracists are claiming that the correlation is with the recent introduction of 5G.

The government has expressed concern about the programme with Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden saying:

I would be expecting Ofcom to take appropriate action. Clearly they are independent but I will be in touch with them to understand what action they are taking in respect to that.

Ofcom has now received 19 complaints about the programme.

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how to steal pigs How to Steal Pigs and Influence People
Channel 4, 14 January 2020, 22:00


How to Steal Pigs and Influence People followed vegan and ex-vegan influencers who used social media to spread their message to a mass online audience. One of the people featured in the programme was shown stealing pigs from farms and then uploading self-shot video footage to his social media channels.

Ofcom received 388 viewer complaints about this programme 203 377 of which objected it condoned criminal activity and had the potential to encourage crime and disorder. Several complainants specifically objected to the title of the programme and its pre-broadcast publicity, describing it as glamorising illegal activity.

While the programme showed scenes which contained criminal activity, we considered its overall narrative neither glamorised nor condoned this activity. In our view, the actions taken by those featured and their motivations were not portrayed positively. In our view, their behaviour was challenged by the narrator, or by the inclusion of other points of view, and the programme depicted the negative consequences of the criminal activity.

We therefore considered the portrayal of criminal activity was editorially justified by the context of this programme. For these and for the other reasons set out in detail below, we have concluded that the complaints do not warrant further investigation.

Ofcom Decision

While criminal activity was shown during this programme, we considered the overall narrative was to explore the possible motivations of the influencers, rather than focusing on the criminal activity itself. The programme highlighted these individuals’ desire to gain wealth or online fame from their activism. For example, Wes was shown attempting to earn a living from being an influencer and motivated by a desire to get donations.

The programme also made clear that, to achieve fame online, influencers had to generate increasingly controversial content. When Wes decided to steal a newborn piglet, the narrator explained it was to up the ante. These actions were presented negatively and portrayed to be escalating in extremity to increase likes or followers on social media, rather than solely being motivated by their beliefs or to further their cause.

In our view, there were also several instances where the individual’s criminal activity was challenged or portrayed as antisocial either by the narrator or through the inclusion of other points of view. For example, the narrator challenged Wes immediately after his theft of a piglet: What gives you the right to take this baby away from its mum? Prem, the former vegan, also strongly criticised the activists’ behaviour. The programme also depicted the negative potential consequences of carrying out these crimes, particularly on the animals, through the inclusion of several videos which showed piglets had died as a direct result of being removed from farms. The programme raised the prospect that the piglet Wes stole might have also died as a result of being removed from his mother. This was reinforced by the unidentified farmer who pointed out the piglet would die in six months without its mother. Similarly, the farmer who was the victim of the activists’ criminal activity, robustly challenged and condemned the activists’ behaviour, explaining they had caused the animals significant distress. We considered the inclusion of this narrative highlighted the stark reality of the potential consequences associated with these criminal activities and the negative impact on both the people and animals involved.

For all the reasons outlined above, in our view, the overall narrative and context of the programme did not condone, glamorise or encourage the crimes which were shown. Given the programme sought to explore and to question the motivations of activists who believe their criminal acts are justified on moral and public interest grounds, we considered there was a strong editorial justification for showing these people carrying out their criminal activity.

While the programme showed Wes successfully stealing pigs, the fact that this behaviour was antisocial and criminal was made clear throughout. There was a warning that the programme contained criminal activity and the offence of stealing pigs was referred to as a crime throughout the programme. The inclusion of archive news footage also showed the activist had previously been convicted and served a community sentence for similar offences.

We acknowledged the programme suggested the actions taken by Wes had inspired other activists to undertake similar offences, but it was made clear this had been prompted specifically by Wes’ social media activity. As the programme showed other pigs had died after being stolen, we considered it reiterated the potential negative consequences of copying these offences and did not describe them in a way which condoned them.

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ofcom audienc exxpectations Ofcom commissioned Ipsos MORI to conduct research to help them understand how audience expectations of audio-visual content are evolving in a digital world. The research explored participants’ changing attitudes towards content standards and their experiences of programmes across platforms including: TV, radio, catch-up, subscription and video sharing services.

Participants thought people should be largely responsible for deciding what they watch and listen to. They wanted regulators and broadcasters to ensure content is in line with people’s expectations, so audiences can make informed choices.

There was limited awareness of the detail of current regulation and some confusion about how this applies, particularly for catch-up, subscription and video sharing sites. There was also confusion about whether UK rules applied to channels that broadcast content produced outside of the UK or not in English, including among some participants from a minority ethnic background.

Having been introduced to the Broadcasting Code including definitions of harmful content, offensive content and freedom of expression1, participants thought all the rules were important and there was little appetite for changing them:

• Participants overwhelmingly agreed it was essential to protect children from inappropriate content and wanted rules to cover this. However, parents were seen as having primary responsibility for the content accessed by children.
• Participants felt there were challenges around applying the rules for offensive content given its subjective nature. They focused on people knowing what to expect so they can make informed choices, for example, by having access to clear information about the content in programmes.
• Despite this, there was widespread agreement across participants that societal norms around offence have shifted in recent years and this should be reflected in the way Ofcom regulates offensive content. Participants prioritised addressing discrimination aimed at specific groups over other types of offensive content.
• Harmful content was considered more serious than offensive content, with strong concerns about the impact of harmful content on attitudes and behaviours. As discussions progressed, participants increasingly felt that adults (specifically vulnerable adults) and society overall could be affected by audio-visual content. This challenged their initial view that adults should decide for themselves what to consume.
• The potential for harm was often discussed when considering the different rules in the Broadcasting Code. In particular, rules around crime, disorder, hatred and abuse were very important to participants and strongly linked to potential harm. They emphasised how content which incited hatred or crime should be prioritised by Ofcom, even if this was on smaller channels or stations.

There was some acceptance that different rules could apply to different platforms. Attitudes were influenced by the extent to which participants felt in control:

• There was a strong desire to maintain the current rules for TV and radio because participants felt audiences were more likely to come across content by accident on these platforms.
• Many participants were more comfortable with catch-up and subscription services having fewer rules than broadcast TV and radio. This was because they felt they had an active choice in selecting content and were therefore more in control on these platforms. However, they assumed that if a programme had previously been broadcast on TV or radio, it would follow the same rules when accessed online.
• There were concerns about a perceived lack of rules on video-sharing sites, where participants were worried about accidentally coming across inappropriate or upsetting content. Rolling playlists, pop-ups, and unchecked user-generated content were common worries. However, there was concern about the feasibility of increasing regulation online.

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the sex business T he Sex Business: Me and My Sex Doll
The Sex Business: OAPs on the Game
The Sex Business: Teens Selling Sex

17 June 2019, 22:00,
18 June 2019, 22:00 and
19 June 2019, 22:00

The Sex Business is an observational documentary series on Channel 5 investigating people’s sexual choices.

Ofcom received 44 complaints about the third series1 of The Sex Business

The programmes included interviews with: (i) sex workers and images of real sexual activity between the sex workers and their clients; (ii) adults who participate in pornographic films and images of real sex acts; and (iii) people working in the sex doll industry and images of real sexual activity between adults and sex dolls. In summary, the complainants considered that the sexual activity shown in these episodes was unsuitable for broadcast on Channel 5 at 22:00.

Ofcom considered:

  • Rule 2.3: “In applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that
    material which may cause offence is justified by the context”; and

  • Rule 1.19: “Broadcasters must ensure that material broadcast after the watershed, … which contains images and/or language of a strong or explicit sexual nature, but is not ‘adult sex material’ [as defined in Rule 1.184…], is justified by the context”.

Ofcom’s decision: Breach of rules 2.3 and 1.19

Ofcom considered that the content featured in the three episodes and detailed in the Introduction was of a strong and explicit sexual nature. Channel 5 also accepted the programmes contained challenging material. The programmes featured real (not simulated) sex acts, including: oral sex, sex with sex dolls and between sex workers and clients, anal sex and masturbation. In addition, the episodes included images of female genitals, erect penises and anal areas as well as sexually explicit language.

Ofcom considered that this was strong sexual content that had the clear potential to cause offence. We therefore went on to consider whether the broadcast of this content was justified by the context

Ofcom considered Channel 5’s representations, that very careful consideration was given to the footage to be included in the series and the way in which it should be included. The Licensee said that the more extreme footage obtained was not included in the episodes. In addition, it said that blurring and other devices, such as footage shot at a distance, had been used to minimise offence. However, in Ofcom’s view, none of the images were shot at a sufficient distance or angle so as to limit their graphic nature. In addition, the images were not adequately masked with blurring and genital and anal areas and ejaculate were clearly visible. In some cases, no masking was applied at all, resulting in close-up images of female genital areas and erect penises. Furthermore, some of the footage included was filmed by the sex workers or contributors as they were engaged in sexual acts. In Ofcom’s view this resulted in clear close-up point of view images showing the actual penetration of the male genitals into the sex dolls and a sex worker performing oral sex on a client’s erect penis.

Given the strength of the graphic sexual content broadcast in this series, Ofcom disagreed that scheduling at 22:00 was necessarily appropriate for the broadcast of such strong sexual material, particularly on a freely available public service channel. Ofcom’s research Attitudes towards sexual material on television showed that stronger sexual material became more acceptable after 22:00 but especially after 23:00. This indicates that the more explicit the sexual material is, the greater requirement there is for careful contextualisation, which may include later scheduling.

In Ofcom’s view the sexual images and language in this documentary were of a very strong sexual nature. The insufficient masking of the images and the inclusion of close-up and mid-range shots resulted in this sexual content being of a graphic and explicit nature. Some of the more graphic images, such as the ejaculate and oral masturbation of an erect penis, were also shown twice within the episode. Although the documentary genre provided editorial justification for the broadcast of sexual material, this was strong and explicit sexual material, broadcast on a public service channel without mandatory restricted access. Ofcom therefore concluded that these episodes were likely to have exceeded the expectations of the audience at this time, even for an observational documentary dealing with sexual themes with a serious and observational editorial purpose. Therefore, viewers were likely to have considered that this stronger sexual material required the strongest contextual justification and broadcasting the series later in the schedule after 23:00 could have helped to provide such justification.

Our Decision is therefore that the offensive content in these programmes exceeded generally accepted standards and was not justified by the context, in breach of Rule 2.3.

It was Ofcom’s view that by scheduling strong sexual material at 22:00, Channel 5 had not ensured appropriate protection was provided to under-eighteens and had not reduced the likelihood of children viewing content that was unsuitable for them. For the reasons above, it is therefore Ofcom’s Decision that the content also breached Rule 1.19

In light of the previous breaches relating to the second series, and our Decision in this case of breaches of Rules 1.19 and 2.3 in this third series, Ofcom intends to request that Channel 5 attends a meeting to discuss its compliance approach to the scheduling of sexually explicit content