Russia's international propaganda channel RT will not lose its UK broadcasting licence
according to information reported by the Telegraph.
Ofcom has been investigating the news channel for continuously casting doubt about the Russian connection in the attempted murder of ex spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury.
Perhaps it is rather bizarre that a news content censors should be tasked with something that could lead to consequences such as retaliatory action and a further escalation of an already tense relationship with Russia. Surely when such risks are
involved, diplomats and the Foreign Office should be taking the lead.
Perhaps Ofcom were thinking along these lines in taking the decision not to ban the channel. In a legal document entitled Update on the RT service , Ofcom has now said:
States sometimes commit, or will have committed, acts which are contrary to these values. In our judgment, it would be inappropriate for Ofcom always to place decisive weight on such matters in determining whether state-funded broadcasters were
fit and proper to hold broadcast licences, independently of their broadcasting record.
If we did, many state-funded broadcasters (mostly those from states which may not share UK values) would be potentially not fit and proper. This would be a poorer outcome for UK audiences in light of our duties on plurality, diversity and freedom
Ofcom were a bit more bullish at the start of the investigation saying:
Should the UK investigating authorities determine that there was an unlawful use of force by the Russian State against the UK, we would consider this relevant to our ongoing duty to be satisfied that RT is fit and proper, the regulator said at
Also it is a little strange to note that the Telegraph's story has not been picked up by other newspapers. The Express initially published the story but withdrew it a little later.
Update: Tit for tat
24th May 2018. From the FT
Ofcom have jsut announced that that 3 further programmes on the Russian propaganda channel RT will be investigated after an Ofcom move to continuously monitor the station's output. In response, Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova
has informed reporters that relevant Russian structures have begun closely studying the content of the materials of the British mass media that are represented in the Russian Federation.
Frankie Boyle has accused BBC television producers of editing out comments he made about last
week's Palestinian deaths on the Gaza border and his joke about Israel being an Apartheid state.
The outspoken comic called out the censorship after he was screened discussing left-wing antisemitism with guest David Baddiel on last Friday's episode of his New World Order chat show series on BBC2.
Responding to criticism from viewers that he had failed to address the deaths of over 60 Palestinians following demonstrations in Gaza, Boyle tweeted:
There were, of course, various jokes in this weeks's New World Order monologue about the situation in Gaza, and about Israel being an Apartheid state. Edited out for reasons nobody has yet explained to me, despite assurances to the
Ok. Happy to quote this sentiment, which I've had from literally hundreds of people, that anti-semitism in Britain should not be discussed while Israel commits warcrimes. The idea that Jewish people have collective responsibility for Israel is
racist. Have a great day
Da Ai TV has canceled its new soap opera Jiachang's Heart, reportedly due to criticism from Chinese
officials two days after the show's pilot aired, sparking concerns about the reach of Chinese censorship.
The show was inspired by the story of Tzu Chi volunteer Lin Chih-hui, now 91, who was born in the Japanese colonial era and served as a Japanese military nurse in China during World War II.
The show's trailer was panned by Chinese media, and local media reported that China's Taiwan Affairs Office sent officials to the foundation's office in Taiwan to investigate the show soon after the pilot aired on Thursday last week.
China's Global Times newspaper published an opinion piece by a Chinese official saying:
It is clear from the 15-minute trailer that the first half of the series is kissing up to Japan.
The show was duly pulled and Da Ai media development manager Ou Hung-yu explained:
The channel decided that the show's depiction of war is contrary to its guideline of purifying human hearts and encouraging social harmony.
The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) has barred one of China's most popular TV channels from
airing the Eurovision song contest after it censored LGBT elements of the competition.
Mango TV was criticised for blurring rainbow flags and censoring tattoos during Tuesday's first semi-final. It also decided not to air performances by the Irish and Albanian entries.
The EBU said the censorship was not in line with its values of diversity:
It is with regret that we will therefore immediately be terminating our partnership with the broadcaster and they will not be permitted to broadcast the second Semi-Final or the Grand Final.
The Irish entry, Ryan O'Shaughnessy, told the BBC that he welcomed the EBU's decision. He will perform at the final in Lisbon on Saturday with a song about the end of a relationship. He was accompanied by two male dancers during the performance
that was apparently censored by Mango TV.
The Saudi Arabia government has apologised to its citizens after supposedly indecent images appeared on big screens during a
world wrestling event in the kingdom, Daily Mail reported.
A statement was released by the Saudi General Sports Authority on Twitter, which apologised for the scenes of indecent women that featured in an ad before one of the matches. The statement came a day after a promotional ad featuring female
wrestlers aired at the World Wrestling Entertainment Co's Greatest Royal Rumble in Jeddah.
The authority said there were shots of women who were indecent and it also said it will not show matches involving female wrestlers.
Men in the audience though cheered on the broadcast of the images during the transmission at the King Abdullah Sports City stadium.
Wrestling News reported that the video during which the indecent images aired was promoting WWE Network's upcoming dual-branded PPV Best of Both Worlds show, and showed women in wrestling attire.
Ofcom 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.
US media has a bit of a downer on Donald Trump so they had great fun reporting Trump's less than diplomatic description of African states as 'shithole countries'.
Politico reporter John Hendel has revealed that US TV censors of the Federal Communications Commission have received complaints from at least 162 people about the uncensored, bleep-free coverage of Trump's colourful phrase by news organizations.
Many of the viewer complaints over the controversy implored the FCC to take action against one of Trump 's favorite targets: CNN, but unfortunately for them, CNN is a cable station and is not bound by FCC strong language rules.
However this doesn't stop the FCC reporting the complaints. In a complaint report the FCC cited complaints about specific CNN journalists, such as Don Lemon and Jim Acosta, and called the network fake news. One suggested most members of the media
hate Trump and his voters and said the use of such indecent language is 'responsible for the growing animosity that leads to riots and other crimes and is in fact tearing our country apart'.
A well-placed source told me recently that late last year the BBC pulled plans to show the Oscar-winning film American Beauty on BBC1. Why? Because it stars Kevin Spacey, who had at that point just been accused of sexually inappropriate
Spacey, who is now seeking treatment for his problems, has not been convicted in court of any of the offences levelled at him but the BBC seems to have decided it must shield licence fee payers from works of fiction he has appeared in anyway. No
film involving Spacey has been broadcast by the BBC -- or any other terrestrial TV channel -- for months.
The same goes for Woody Allen. In 1992 he was accused of sexually molesting his adopted daughter, Dylan.
The writer asked the main TV companies for their comments but they weren't willing to say anything worthwhile. Channel 4 was the only company even willing to allude to #MeToo reaction. A spokesman said:
Channel 4 and Film4 are always mindful of current events when scheduling films for broadcast. We select films on a case by case basis, taking into account the nature of the films and the likely impact their broadcast might have on our audiences
given current events.
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
Talking 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
Brit Awards viewers were left baffled after parts of rap star Kendrick Lamar's performance were muted by ITV.
What's the point in having Kendrick Lamar perform on #BRITS if you're going to mute him every other word? tweeted JP, voicing the discontent of many.
Many assumed that Lamar's songs Feel and New Freezer were muted due to bad language. But it seems the main issues were references to drugs and oral sex. Some muted sections featured mentions of bad dope and cocaine white.
The US rapper himself actually changed the most overt bad language in his lyrics - but fell foul of the censor's button for the drug words and oblique slang references to oral sex.
Lamar's performance at the Brit Awards in London was broadcast on ITV on Wednesday almost an hour past the 9pm watershed. Yet the decision was made to mute the audio 10 times during his performance .
Asked about the decision to mute parts of the songs, ITV said the ceremony was broadcast to a wide audience. A spokeswoman said:
We have always used a short time delay and audio muting to deal with language viewers may consider unsuitable.
Lamar's performance also included a man taking a baseball bat to the windshield of an expensive-looking sports car.
On Thursday morning, TV censor Ofcom said it had received 74 complaints from viewers about Lamar's segment - some of whom feared this might incite criminal behaviour and property damage, and some complaining about implied bad language.
BBC music reporter Mark Savage described the car stunt as the evening's biggest metaphor failure, explaining:
His intention was to make a statement about the emptiness of status symbols and the trappings of fame. But, with most viewers unable to hear his lyrics, it came off as 'I'm so rich I can afford to smash up this very expensive car live on TV.'
Update: Ofcom not interested
5th March 2018.
Ofcom noted a final tally of 89 complaints but were not interested in taking matters further.
One of the most watched TV shows in the world has broken the most basic of PC rules by featuring a sketch that had Asian actors
in blackface and black actors dressed as monkeys.
The annual Chinese Lunar New Year gala by CCTV is a four-hour event and is watched by some 700 million people each year. This year, one of the many comedy routines featured throughout the show was one intended to depict China's relationship with
There were plenty of 'outraged' tweets published from those that know the rules.
US network TV is very strict about strong language and the basic cables channels have generally followed suit. However some
of the more late night programming on basic cable has started to care less and less about tiptoeing around language.
In fact, SyFy and USA, both networks owned by NBC Universal, are now throwing caution to the wind and have been letting fly with 'fuck' since earlier this year.
Previously, swearing on SyFy and USA stuck to the guidelines laid out by the Federal Communications Commission, but as a basic cable channel, their Standards and Practices division was not actually beholden to follow those rules strictly. In fact
the only thing holding back basic cable networks from using what is considered to be more vulgar language is their advertisers who traditionally don't like it.
To keep things clean, they usually dip the audio of either the f or the k whenever fuck is said in an episode. But according to Buzzfeed, USA and SyFy have worked that all out because their stance now is when language 'fuck' specifically is deemed
important to the style or plot of a show, Syfy and USA now allow it. Such language results in a TV-MA rating so audiences know it's intended for mature audiences only.
However, basic cable channels have started to push the envelope. The word shit has been thrown around a lot more on networks like FX, AMC, and Comedy Central. The latter was even the first to bring uncensored usage of fuck to basic cable by
creating their late night programming block called The Secret Stash, which began with the airing of the R-rated film adaptation South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut. They don't have that block anymore, but their late night programming still airs
the uncensored versions of movies and stand-up specials.
Fans of The Magicians on SyFy might have already noticed this change. Ever since the third season premiered on SyFy back in January, they've been dropping f-bombs uncensored.
Now doubt the US moralist campaigners will be reaching for their mageaphones.
Piers Morgan secured the first international interview with Donald Trump last week.
However the interviewer came across as bit arse lickey. The BBC's Mash Report concurred and broadcast a cartoon to illustrate the point.
Piers Morgan launched a blistering on the BBC after it aired a cartoon depicting the British journalist with his nose up President Trump's backside. Morgan accused the corporation of double standards. He wrote:
Amusing though this image may be to many people, can you imagine the BBC broadcasting it if the President was Hillary Clinton or the interviewer was a woman?
The BBC thinks this is OK to broadcast. But if it depicted high profile women, there would be outrage. Why the double standard? If they did it to Hilary Clinton and Laura Kuenssberg - somebody WOULD be sacked.
Surely a valid point but it hardly deflects the humour. US columnist and television personality Perez Hilton agreed and retweeted Morgan, adding: Solid point from Piers.
A BBC spokesperson said:
The BBC has a rich heritage of satire and The Mash Report takes a satirical and surreal look at the week's big stories. This brand of humour is well known to BBC Two audiences who tune in to watch the programme.
The Islamabad High Court has ordered the constitution of a high-level committee to stop proliferation of pornography in the
Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, hearing a petition for the implementation of the court judgment against blasphemous material on social media case, also directed the federal government to appoint Pakistan Telecom Authority (PTA) chairman and member
(finance) within a fortnight.
In his three-page judgment, Justice Siddiqui said, Let a committee, consisting of interior, information technology, religious affairs and information and broadcasting secretaries, with the special participation of Pemra and PTA chairmen, and
headed by the cabinet division secretary, be constituted. He added:
The committee shall examine the issue of pornography , its availability through different devices to identity the areas and suggest immediate, short-term and long-term measures to be taken to stop this menace against the society.
The committee shall also examine the movies coming from foreign countries and take concrete steps to ban them if they are found against any law of Pakistan, moral values, Islamic teachings and Pakistani culture.
Regarding TV shows, Justice Siddiqui observed:
There are serious complaints that different channels through these shows are involved in such activities as are against the decency, morality, values of Islam and cultural heritage of Pakistan.
He directed the Pemra to submit a report in this regard and take immediate steps to prevent telecast of such contents, and if any channel failed to follow the instructions, penal action should be taken against it.
Update: Pakistan blames Hollywood for its own terrorism problem
The court case also hosted a bit of debate blaming Hollywood for the violence and terrorism that is omnipresent in Pakistan.
The US Pentagon has long accused Pakistan of serving as a sanctuary for terrorists who are killing and injuring American troops in neighboring Afghanistan, a charge that Islamabad denies. And now the U.S. President Donald Trump has ramped up
pressure on Pakistan to stop supporting terrorists, suspending up to $1.9 billion in aid until Islamabad takes decisive action against the groups.
Pakistan denies the US accusations and this was touched on in the curt case. Justice Siddiqui declared:
The biggest hub of pornography and terrorism is Hollywood and Los Angeles. Hollywood plays a central role in inciting of crimes, and then our madrassas (seminaries) are blamed.
All video games for children are based on crimes. How planes are hijacked and how to commit murders--everything is taught comprehensively.
China has banned hip-hop culture and actors with tattoos from appearing on television.
The country's TV censor, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television of the People's Republic of China (SAPPRFT), has banned actors with tattoos and programmes featuring hip hop culture and anything else considered
non-mainstream culture or dispirited culture.
Gao Changli, director of the censor's publicity department, outlined four new rules:
Absolutely do not use actors whose heart and morality are not aligned with the party and whose morality is not noble
Absolutely do not use actors who are tasteless, vulgar and obscene
Absolutely do not use actors whose ideological level is low and have no class
Absolutely do not use actors with stains, scandals and problematic moral integrity
The ban follows recent 'outrage' at several Chinese rap stars. Prominent rapper GAI was ejected from Hunan TV's Singer a hit competition show. Wang Hao, aka PG One, another well-known rapper, was forced to apologize earlier this month after
one of his songs, Christmas Eve, was criticized for promoting drug culture and insulting women. Rapper Mao Yanqi, aka VaVa, was recently cut from the variety show Happy Camp.
The comedian Hari Kondabolu has produced a TV documentary titled The Problem with Apu that claims that the Simpson's stereotypically Indian shopkeeper character, Apu, has a negative impact.
for the upcoming truTV documentary The Problem with Apu shows Kondabolu's conversations with a number of South Asian actors and comedians, including Kal Penn, Hasan Minhaj, and Sakina Jaffrey, all talking about how the character has affected their
personal and professional lives.
Offsite comment: In defence of Apu
Don't let offence-takers kill off The Simpsons shopkeeper.
The Egyptian Supreme Council for the Administration of the Media established in December a specialized committee to monitor TV series and weed out the
ones that it considers to be against the country's customs and traditions. The decision raised criticism and concern within Egyptian artistic and cultural circles, as well as questions about the future of Egyptian drama.
At the committee's third meeting on 3rd January, participants agreed that the TV channels will not sign a contract or broadcast any drama productions that have not previously received a permit from the TV censors of the General Directorate for the
Censorship of Artistic Works, a body that reviews the scripts of films and drama series and gives them permits to shoot.
In the past, the directorate had expressed dissatisfaction that the satellite channels did not care whether the series they aired had this permit or not, as the censorship body has no legal authority over the channels.
According to Ahmed Salim, the secretary-general of the Supreme Council for the Administration of the Media, the new committee will set standards for drama producers in Egypt to abide by during the series-filled season of Ramadan 2018. Salim said
that the committee, studying the TV series aired during the last Ramadan, observed many violations such as offensive words and topics that are contrary to Egyptian customs and traditions. He claimed that these series ruined Egypt's image and that
is why the committee, which consisted of art critics, directors and members of the film sector's professional organizations, was formed to control these series.
Salim also stressed that the committee would not seek to censor the work of writers but cooperate with the TV channels to ensure that the drama series that violate the committee's criteria will not be aired. We aim to provide a clean screen that
will preserve the customs and traditions of Egyptian homes. We do not want any scenes of violence, drug use or any other bad examples, he said.
The Supreme Council for the Administration of the Media, formed in April 2016 by a presidential decree of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, is authorized to fine or suspend broadcasts or temporarily close down TV channels that broadcast materials it
classifies as immoral or in violation of professional standards. In 2017, it suspended several TV programs and advertisements, some of which criticized the current regime's policy, including one that draws attention to difficulties of finding
clean water .
Trinidad and Tobago's media censor has banned a trivial calypso song from radio and TV.
The Telecommunications Authority Of Trinidad and Tobago (TATT) has banned the chutney song Rowlee's Mudda Count by Nermal 'Massive' Gosein being played by the country's radio and television stations.
TATT caution broadcasters over the song being played as it was deemed inappropriate and denigrating to women, with particular reference to mothers.
Many have come to Gosein's defence following the release of the song including Former CEO at the Caribbean New Media Group (CNMG) Ken Ali who said he could not recall such an intervention from the regulator of the electronic media in the 43 years
he has been a media practitioner.
He noted that the song was e as a too-thinly-veiled odious and divisive commentary whose street popularity stems directly from the inverse disapproval for the national leadership of its subject. Presumably referring to prime minister Keith Rowley.
He stressed that radio stations have always been guided by their own standards and values, the laws of the land, its publics and the guidelines of their respective licences.
TATT Chairman Senior Counsel Gilbert Peterson, has since denied that there was any ban on Gosein's now infamous song ...BUT.. He is quoted as saying that there was no political interference, and broadcasters were urged to pay due
regard to the obligations of your concession and the conditions within the Draft Broadcasting Code and take appropriate action in the interest of ethical and moral standards.