Ofcom broadcast bulletin - Casualty, Bravo and Galaxy 102 found in breach
Ofcom has today published its latest broadcast bulletin and upheld complaints against the BBC's hospital drama 'Casualty' - for being too graphic too close to the watershed; Bravo's 'Dangerous Sex Games' for broadcasting adult material without encrypting it and Manchester radio station Galaxy 102 for broadcasting an offensive 'off air' remark in error.
In relation to Casualty, the ruling highlights that it is as much the context of the overall programme as the specific time the content goes out that has to be considered. While mostly watched by adult viewers, the programme is broadcast at a time when younger viewers may still be watching and graphic images of intestinal injuries and an amputation were deemed to be excessive. Ofcom appreciated that illustrating the experience of junior doctors and what they have to face was integral to the storyline but did not consider adequate warning was given as to the graphic nature of the content. The regulator reminded broadcasters that the 9pm watershed was a guideline and did not mean that it was permissible to shift to very graphic content just because a programme goes out after that time. It concluded that "Broadcasters must comply with the requirements ofthe Code that material must be appropriately scheduled and that images of the effects of violence must be appropriately limited and justified by context." The programme was held to be in breach of clauses 1.3 and 1.11 of the CODE.
Dangerous Sex Games broadcast by Bravo was found to be in breach of 1.24 - adult material should be broadcast under encryption - and 2.1 and 2.3 of the code - that deal with harm and offence. The token bit of chat around what were basically sex scenes did little to convince Ofcom that the programme was anything other than porn. Ofcom stated that:
"Taking into account all the circumstances (including the style and
focus of the camerawork on the actors’ bodies, the considerable duration of the sex
scenes, and the clear predominance of sex scenes compared to narrative scenes),
the primary purpose of the film appeared to be the sexual arousal/stimulation of the
audience. The content overall amounted in Ofcom’s view to a series of strong and
prolonged sex scenes joined together by limited narrative."
Meanwhile Galaxy 102 came under fire for broadcasting offensive language and comments. A 'technical error' meant that the presenter's comments that were meant to be 'off air' were actually broadcast and contained the following: “…I reckon every spacker in Manchester could go to Toys'R'Us….meanwhile I am having to walk fucking miles with me kids in the rain…”. This was in breach of clause 1.4 of the code - material that is unsuitable for children. While the radio station did put out an apology this wasn't until the broadcast the following week. For Ofcom this was too distant from the actual offending broadcast and did not provide enough evidence of controls to prevent and respond to such incidents.
The broadcast bulletin also considered an admission of mistake by game show The Great Big Quiz on iPlay/Play to Win TV. Sky Sports coverage of the Ricky Hatton press conference and Goals on Sunday also came under scrutiny for offensive language - though Sky did its best to get round the colourful expletives of its colourful characters.
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