Archive for the ‘Ofcom TV Censor’ Category

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Ofcom logo Ofcom has published a prospectus angling for a role as the UK internet censor. It writes:

Ofcom has published a discussion document examining the area of harmful online content.

In the UK and around the world, a debate is underway about whether regulation is needed to address a range of problems that originate online, affecting people, businesses and markets.

The discussion document is intended as a contribution to that debate, drawing on Ofcom’s experience of regulating the UK’s communications sector, and broadcasting in particular. It draws out the key lessons from the regulation of content standards 203 for broadcast and on-demand video services 203 and the insights that these might provide to policy makers into the principles that could underpin any new models for addressing harmful online content.

The UK Government intends to legislate to improve online safety, and to publish a White Paper this winter. Any new legislation is a matter for Government and Parliament, and Ofcom has no view about the institutional arrangements that might follow.

Alongside the discussion paper, Ofcom has published joint research with the Information Commissioner’s Office on people’s perception, understanding and experience of online harm. The survey of 1,686 adult internet users finds that 79% have concerns about aspects of going online, and 45% have experienced some form of online harm. The study shows that protection of children is a primary concern, and reveals mixed levels of understanding around what types of media are regulated.

The sales pitch is more or less that Ofcom’s TV censorship has ‘benefited’ viewers so would be a good basis for internet censorship.

Ofcom particularly makes a point of pushing the results of a survey of internet users and their ‘concerns’. The survey is very dubious and ends up suggesting thet 79% of users have concerns about going on line.

And maybe this claim is actually true. After all, the Melon Farmers are amongst the 79% have concerns about going online: The Melon Farmers are concerned that:

  • There are vast amounts of scams and viruses waiting to be filtered out from Melon Farmers email inbox every day.
  • The authorities never seem interested in doing anything whatsoever about protecting people from being scammed out of their life savings. Have you EVER heard of the police investigating a phishing scam?
  • On the other hand the police devote vast resources to prosecuting internet insults and jokes, whilst never investigating scams that see old folks lose their life savings.

So yes, there is concern about the internet. BUT, it would be a lie to infer that these concerns mean support for Ofcom’s proposals to censor websites along the lines of TV.

In fact looking at the figures, some of the larger categories of ‘concern’s are more about fears of real crime rather than concerns about issues like fake news.

Interestingly Ofcom has published how the ‘concerns’ were hyped up by prompting the surveyed a bit. For instance, Ofcom reports that 12% of internet users say they are ‘concerned’ about fake news without being prompted. With a little prompting by the interviewer, the number of people reporting being concerned about fake news magically increases to 29%.

It also has to be noted that there are NO reports in the survey of internet users concerned about a lack news balancing opinions, a lack of algorithm transparency, a lack of trust ratings for news sources, or indeed for most of the other suggestions that Ofcom addresses.

I’ve seen more fake inferences in the Ofcom discussion document than I have seen fake news items on the internet in the last ten years.

See also an article from vpncompare.co.uk which concurs with some of these concerns about the Ofcom survey.

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sharon whiteSharon White, the CEO of Ofcom has put her case to be the British internet news censor, disgracefully from behind the paywalled website of the The Times.White says Ofcom has done research showing how little users trust what they read on social media. She said that only 39% consider social media to be a trustworthy news source, compared with 63% for newspapers, and 70% for TV.

But then again many people don’t much trust the biased moralising from the politically correct mainstream media, including the likes of Ofcom.

White claims social media platforms need to be more accountable in how they curate and police content on their platforms, or face regulation.

In reality, Facebook’s algorithm seems pretty straightforward, it just gives readers more of what they have liked in the past. But of course the powers that be don’t like people choosing their own media sources, they would much prefer that the BBC, or the Guardian , or Ofcom do the choosing.

Sharon White, wrote in the Times:

The argument for independent regulatory oversight of [large online players] has never been stronger.

In practice, this would place much greater scrutiny on how effectively the online platforms respond to harmful content to protect consumers, with powers for a regulator to enforce standards, and act if these are not met.

She continued, disgracefully revealing her complete contempt of the British people:

Many people admit they simply don’t have the time or inclination to think critically when engaging with news, which has important implications for our democracy.

White joins a growing number of the establishment elite arguing that social media needs cenorship. The government has frequently suggested as much, with Matt Hancock, then digital, culture, media and sport secretary, telling Facebook in April:

Social media companies are not above the law and will not be allowed to shirk their responsibilities to our citizens.

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russia today international logoOfcom has today opened seven new investigations into the due impartiality of news and current affairs programmes on the RT news channel.

The investigations (PDF, 240.5 KB) form part of an Ofcom update, published today, into the licences held by TV Novosti, the company that broadcasts RT.

Until recently, TV Novosti’s overall compliance record has not been materially out of line with other broadcasters.

However, since the events in Salisbury, we have observed a significant increase in the number of programmes on the RT service that warrant investigation as potential breaches of the Ofcom Broadcasting Code.

We will announce the outcome of these investigations as soon as possible. In relation to our fit and proper duty, we will consider all relevant new evidence, including the outcome of these investigations and the future conduct of the licensee.

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Family At War - Complete Series - uncut full length Box Set A Family At War
Talking Pictures TV, 19 November 2017, 20:15

Talking Pictures TV is an entertainment channel broadcasting classic films and archive programmes.

A Family At War was a British period drama series made between 1970 and 1972, about the experiences of a family from Liverpool during the Second World War. The episode Hazard was produced in 1971 and showed one of the main characters, Philip Ashton, serving in the British army in Egypt in 1942, focusing on his encounter with another soldier, Jack Hazard.

We received a complaint about offensive language in this episode, as follows:

  • in a scene set in an army mess in the Egypt desert, Hazard, a white British soldier, ordered some drinks and asked the barkeeper to get a waiter to bring the drinks over to where Hazard and Ashton were sitting by saying: “Send the wog over with them, will you?”. When the Egyptian waiter brought the drinks to Hazard and Ashton’s table, Hazard said to him, “And how’s the war going for you, Ahmed, you thieving old wog…you old thief…you thieving old sod?”;

  • in a scene set in Hazard and Ashton’s tent on their army base, Hazard asked Ashton to accompany him to the army bar by saying: “Let’s go down to the woggery, there’s bound to be a fair bit of skirt out of bounds… Or perhaps Ahmed could fix us up with a female wog? [laughs] I bet he rents out his kid sister”; and

  • in a later scene set in Hazard and Ashton’s tent Hazard said the following to Ashton: “You know what I think I’ll do on my next leave? I’ll pay a visit to the wog tattooist”.

Ofcom considered rule 2.3:

“In applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context…”.

Talking Pictures said that it believed the inclusion of the potentially offensive racist language in this episode was justified by the context. It explained that the creator of the series, John Finch, had intended it to challenge the 1970s audience’s understanding of the Second World War by being honest to the realities of the war time period206 shocking as that may be, and broadcast within the constraints and conventions of the time.

Talking Pictures said that it had suspended any further broadcast of this episode. It also said that it had contracted a third-party expert to conduct a review of all content containing racial language to complement its existing compliance system

Ofcom Decision: Breach of rule 2.3

We first considered whether the language had the potential to cause offence. Ofcom’s 2016 research on offensive language makes clear that the word wog is considered by audiences to be a derogatory term for black people and to be among the strongest language and highly unacceptable without strong contextualisation.

We considered that the word wog was used in a clearly derogatory way towards an Egyptian character Ahmed, both directly to Ahmed’s face and later when he is not present. The Licensee argued that some of Hazard’s offensive statements related to actual Second World War references, namely the term WOG [which] was originally ‘Working on Government Service’ before it became an ethnic and racial slur. We understand that the derivation of wog is contested, but irrespective of its origins, and as acknowledged by Talking Pictures, the term today is considered highly offensive.

We acknowledged that the Licensee’s audience would have recognised that they were watching a programme made several decades ago when attitudes to language were different. However, we considered that the repeated use of highly offensive racist language without direct challenge carried a high risk of causing significant offence today.

It is Ofcom’s view that the broadcast of this offensive language exceeded generally accepted standards, in breach of Rule 2.3 of the Code.

Talking Pictures was previously found in breach of the Code for the broadcast of racially offensive language without sufficient contextual justification on 9 January 20173 and 8 January 20184 (for material broadcast on 24 August 2016 and 13 September 2017 respectively). Ofcom is requesting Talking Pictures to attend a meeting to discuss its

A little background about Talking Pictures

24th February 2018. See  article from express.co.uk

talking pictures tv logoTalking Pictures TV, a family-owned, father and daughter-run station with only three members of staff, launched on Freeview less than three years ago but it already has over two million viewers.

Its unashamedly nostalgic diet of mainly old black-andwhite films, documentary shorts and TV series of yesteryear has proved a huge hit with the public and – we are informed – the Queen.

Alas not everyone is happy about the great service to film and vintage TV buffs that the channel is providing. Media regulator Ofcom has summoned Talking Pictures TV managing director Sarah Cronin-Stanley and her father Noel to a meeting to discuss compliance issues after the channel was found in breach of rules regarding the broadcasting of offensive language.  Sarah commented:

There are some films that are too horrible to show. But our view of context is different to Ofcom’s. The word used in A Family At War is one that quite rightly we don’t use today but it was one the character – who wasn’t very likeable – would have used at the time in which the drama was set, which is why we didn’t censor it. He was in Egypt during the war and was talking to squaddies.

The Express writer commented:

It’s also worth bearing in mind that A Family At War was hugely popular when first shown on ITV in the 1970s.

The Ofcom intervention raises serious issues about censorship and attempts to rewrite history. The fact is that terms we regard as offensive today were used by people every day in the past.

Ofcom can’t censor British TV history – surely we are meant to learn from the past

Daily Mail logo24th February 2018. See  article from dailymail.co.uk

And of course a few colourful comments from the Daily Mail. See  article from dailymail.co.uk

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al arabiya logoAl Arabiya News is an Arabic language news and current affairs channel licensed by Ofcom.

Mr Husain Abdulla complained to Ofcom on behalf of Mr Hassan Mashaima about unfair treatment and unwarranted infringement of privacy in connection with the obtaining of material included in the programme and the programme as broadcast on Al Arabiya News on 27 February 2016.

The programme reported on an attempt made in February and March 2011, by a number of people including the complainant, Mr Hassan Mashiama, to change the governing regime in Bahrain from a Kingdom to a Republic. It included an interview with Mr Mashaima, filmed while he was in prison awaiting a retrial, as he explained the circumstances which had led to his arrest and conviction.

The interview included Mr Mashaima making confessions as to his participation in certain activities. Only approximately three months prior to the date on which Al Arabiya News said the footage was filmed, an official Bahraini Commission of Inquiry had found that similar such confessions had been obtained from individuals, including Mr Mashaima, under torture. During Mr Mashaima’s subsequent retrial and appeal, he maintained that his conviction should be overturned, as confessions had been obtained from him under torture.

Ofcom’s Decision is that the appropriate sanction should be a financial penalty of £120,000 and that the Licensee should be directed to broadcast a statement of Ofcom’s findings, on a date to be determined by Ofcom, and that it should be directed to refrain from broadcasting the material found in breach again.

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good morning britainThe Scotsman has published Ofcom’s top 10 most complained about TV programmes for 2017:1. Good Morning Britain, ITV, 5 September (1,142 complaints)

Dr Michael Davidson described homosexuality as a “sin” and “a socially constructed concept”.

2. Press Preview, Sky News, 20 June (1,063 complaints)

British journalist Melanie Phillips suggested that amongst the world’s Muslim population “there are millions of people to try to kill others.”

3. Britain’s Got Talent, ITV, 1 June (665 complaints)

Presenter Amanda Holden offended the easily offended with a sexy dress.

4. Coronation Street, ITV, 27 October (541 complaints)

The murderous Pat Phelan was a little too nasty for some viewers.

5. Comic Relief 2017, BBC 1, 24 March (339 complaints)

Comedian Russell Brand said ‘fuck’ before the watershed and former Shooting Stars presenter Vic Reeves flashed a fake penis at

6. Emmerdale, ITV, 6 March (275 complaints)

Aaron Dingle suffered homophobic abuse from fellow prison inmates before being beaten up.

7. I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! ITV, 7 December (243 complaints)

Iain Lee and ex-footballer Dennis Wise became embroiled in a bullying row.

8. This Morning, ITV, 13 November (181 complaints)

Guest Andrea Williams of the Christian Legal Centre. Williams referred to the transgender identity as “a fad”.

9. Good Morning Britain, ITV, 20 June (176 complaints)

Good Morning Britian was criticised for hosting right-wing figure Tommy Robinson who made commented about the Qur’an as a violent and cursed book.

10. Benidorm, ITV, 3 May (137 complaints)

The sitcom Benidorm received a number of complaints following comments towards a character with a cleft lip.

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terry burnsTerry Burns is set to become the new chairman of Ofcom in January 2018. As part of the approval process he was asked to appear before parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee. And the topic of conversation was internet censorship, in particular censorship of social media.He was asked his thoughts on whether social media platforms such as Facebook should be recognised as publishers and therefore regulated. He responded:

I think it’s a very big issue. It’s becoming more and more difficult to distinguish between broadcasting and what one is capable of watching on the internet.

However, I think in many ways the main issue here is in terms of legislation and it is an issue for parliament rather than Ofcom.

I’ve been following this issue about platforms versus publishers… There must be a question of how sustainable that is.  I don’t want to take a position on that at this stage. As far as I’m concerned the rules under which we are working at the moment is that they are defined as platforms.

There will be an ongoing debate about that, for the moment that’s where they are. I find it difficult to believe that over time there isn’t going to be further examination of this issue.

Asked whether there was a role for Ofcom to monitor and check social media, Lord Burns said:

I don’t see any reason why if parliament wanted Ofcom to do that it shouldn’t [do so]… I’m not quite sure who else would do it.