Archive for the ‘Ofcom TV Censor’ Category

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hannity fox newsHannity
Fox News, 31 January 2017, 06:15

Fox News is a news channel from the US shown on UK TV. Although the channel has ceased to broadcast and is no longer a licensed television service falling under Ofcom’s jurisdiction, Ofcom has decided that publication of this short form decision is appropriate to ensure there is a complete compliance record and to facilitate public understanding of the Code.

This case concerns “due impartiality”.

In reaching this Decision, we have taken into account the fact that Fox News is a US news channel, directed at US audiences, which is available in the UK. The people who watch it in the UK are aware that it is a US channel and their expectations are different. It is not a main source of news in the UK. However, we were also mindful that, in our view, this particular programme dealt with major matters relating to current public policy that, as well as being of international significance, were of particular relevance and significance to UK viewers.

Hannity is a current affairs discussion programme. On 31 January 2017, it covered President Donald Trump’s Executive Order issued on 27 January 2017 restricting travel from seven majority-Muslim countries. Ofcom considered the programme under Code rules:

  • 5.9 (adequate representation of alternative views in ‘personal view’ or discussion programmes),

  • 5.11 (due impartiality on matters of major political and industrial controversy and major matters relating to current public policy) and

  • 5.12 (inclusion of an appropriately wide range of significant views when dealing with matters of major political and industrial controversy and major matters relating to current public policy).

Ofcom considered the Order to be a “major” matter. There was intense international and UK interest in it at the time. Although a domestic US policy, its application was likely to impact non-US citizens, including in the UK. It also attracted scrutiny as an early signal of how the Trump Administration would approach domestic and international affairs. On the day before the broadcast thousands of people joined protests in several UK cities against the travel ban, MPs held an emergency debate at Westminster and more than 1.5 million people had signed a petition calling for Mr Trump’s state visit to the UK to be cancelled.

We went on to consider if due impartiality had been preserved by ensuring alternative viewpoints were sufficiently reflected. The opening monologue featured several video clips of public figures reacting critically to the Order. However, these views were briefly represented in pre-recorded videos and repeatedly dismissed or ridiculed by the presenter without sufficient opportunity for the contributors to challenge or otherwise respond to the criticism directed at them. During the rest of the programme, the presenter interviewed various guests who were all prominent supporters of the Trump administration and highly critical of those opposed to the Order. The presenter consistently voiced his enthusiastic support for the Order and the Trump Administration.

Ofcom acknowledged that viewers were likely to expect Hannity to address controversial issues from a perspective that is generally more supportive of the US Republican Party. However, the likely audience expectations did not provide sufficient contextual justification to outweigh the numerous highly critical statements made about people who had opposed the Order, coupled with the clear support being expressed for the policies of President Trump.

Breaches of Rules 5.9, 5.11 and 5.12

Ofcom cited a second example of Fox News one sided reporting, criticising Tucker Carlson Tonight for a programme about Islam, child abuse and terrorism.

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patricia hodgsonThe chairman of the media censor Ofcom has said she believes internet businesses such as Google and Facebook are publishers, and so should be regulated by the state.Patricia Hodgson also revealed that the board of Ofcom discussed how the internet could be regulated in the future at a strategy day last week, although she said this was ultimately a matter for the government.

Hodgson was speaking to MPs at a hearing of the digital, culture, media and sport committee. Asked about the rise of fake news and whether internet companies should face greater regulation, Hodgson said:

Those particular distribution systems [Facebook, Google, Twitter etc] are not within Ofcom’s responsibility but we feel very strongly about the integrity of news in this country and we are totally supportive of steps that should and need to be taken to improve matters.

My personal view is I see this as an issue that is finally being grasped — certainly within the EU, certainly within this country — and to my amazement and interest, being asked in the United States as a result of the potential Russian scandals. My personal view is that they are publishers but that is only my personal view, that is not an Ofcom view. As I said, Ofcom is simply concerned about the integrity of news and very supportive of the debate and the steps that are being taken.

Theresa May’s spokesman said Hodgson’s comments were a matter for her as an independent regulator, but indicated that ministers were sympathetic.

Sharon White, the chief executive of Ofcom, said she was wary of regulating internet companies. We feel strongly that the platforms as publishers have got more responsibility to ensure the right content, she said. I don’t think it’s a question of regulation, which I think has a fuzzy boundary with censorship, but I think we feel strongly that the platforms ought to be doing more to ensure their content can be trusted.

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Ofcom logoThe BBC is facing a court battle after it defied Ofcom orders to publish figures on complaints about its shows.

Channel 4 and ITV already disclose the numbers, and release detailed information about objections to their programmes every two weeks. But the BBC nsists on keeping that information a secret. Perhaps this more about revealing political accusations of bias rather than trivial whinges by the ‘easily offended.

Now TV censor Ofcom has waded in and told the BBC it has no choice but to become more transparent. Ofcom insiders have also made it clear that they are prepared to go to court over the matter if the BBC digs its heels in. Sharon White, Ofcom’s chief executive, regards it as an important point of principle.

Kevin Bakhurst, an Ofcom director and a former BBC news boss, has told Corporation executives they need to comply. In a strongly worded letter, seen by the Mail, he said:

The greater transparency we propose is necessary to build and maintain public confidence in the operation of the BBC… and to provide public accountability.

Ofcom has given the BBC until the November 19 to comply with orders and publish fortnightly complaints bulletins that go into the same level of detail as Ofcom’s reports about Channel 4, ITV, Five, Sky and other broadcasters.

BBC bosses will then have to publish the exact number of complaints the Corporation receives about every programme that registers 100 or more objections. Every time a complaint sparks an investigation, it will also be forced to disclose full details of the complaints, the points of principles at stake and the outcome of its probe.

A BBC spokesman has responded:

The BBC is already the most transparent broadcaster on complaints, including publishing data every month and responding on our website, and numbers are often influenced by orchestrated political campaigns but of course we are considering Ofcom’s letter.

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Ofcom logoTV and internet censors Ofcom have introduced the concept of reduced fines for those censorship rule breakers who admit their guilt. Ofcom explains:

On 28 June 2017, following consultation, we published new Enforcement guidelines for regulatory investigations. Among other things, these documents set out a new process for settlement of an investigation falling within the scope of the Guidelines and the Procedures. Settlement is a voluntary process in which the regulated body admits it has breached relevant regulatory requirements and accepts that the remainder of the investigation will follow a streamlined administrative procedure. In successful settlement cases, Ofcom will apply a discount to the level of the penalty in light of the resource savings involved in following a streamlined administrative procedure.

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britains got talentTV censor Ofcom has provided Trusted Reviews with figures that reveal which television items have received the most viewer complaints over the past year:10. Benidorm (ITV) — 137 complaints

9. Celebrity Island with Bear Grylls (Channel 4) — 153 complaints

8. Good Morning Britain (ITV) — 181 complaints

7. Sky News (Sky News) — 190 complaints

6. Emmerdale (ITV) — 275 complaints

5. Coronation Street (ITV) — 303 complaints

4. Comic Relief (BBC 1) — 340 complaints

3. Emmerdale (ITV) — 448 complaints

2. Coronation Street (ITV) — 473 complaints

1. Britain’s Got Talent (ITV) — 663 complaints

… Read the full article from trustedreviews.com

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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 logoOfcom has published an annual report exploring UK adults’ attitudes and opinions towards television and radio broadcasting, and related areas such as programme standards, advertising and regulation. It summarises the findings set out in a series of charts.

The research findings from Ofcom’s Media Tracker study provide a valuable source of information on consumers’ attitudes, and help inform Ofcom’s work on broadcasting standards.

Under the Communications Act 2003, Ofcom has a duty to draw up, and from time to time revise, a Code for television and radio services, covering programme standards. This includes the protection of under-18s, the application of generally accepted standards to provide adequate protection from the inclusion of harmful or offensive material, sponsorship, product placement in television programmes, and fairness and privacy.

Ofcom recognises that people’s views on what are generally accepted standards are subject to change over time, and so should be explored by ongoing consumer research. This report is one of a range of sources that Ofcom uses in undertaking its broadcasting standards duties.