Melonfarmers.co.uk
 

 UK News

 2008



30th December   

Offsite: Extreme Opposition...

Independent previews the Dangerous Pictures Act
Link Here

CAAN logo Section 63 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 comes into force on 26 January and makes owning extreme porn pictures a criminal offence punishable by up to three years' imprisonment.

An image is deemed to be extreme if it is grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise of an obscene character and portrays in any way an act which threatens a person's life, or which results or appears likely to result in serious injury to someone's genitals or breasts.

Members of Britain's BDSM (bondage, domination and sado-masochism) community, as well as those in the gothic and alternative scenes, complain that they are being unfairly targeted. I firmly agree that images of non-consensual activities which involve violence should be criminalised but this is a badly worded law that risks criminalising thousands of ordinary people, said Claire Lewis, a 35-year-old disabled rights activist from Manchester who has set up the Consenting Adult Action Network (Caan). The Government seems to be convinced that if people like us look at pictures for too long we'll end up turning into abusers. That's outrageous.

Caan campaigners plan to burn their pornography collections outside Parliament. A second group, Backlash, is hiring lawyers from the leading human rights firm Bindmans to contest cases when they come to court.

Myles Jackman, Backlash's legal adviser, said: Ultimately it will be up to a magistrate and a jury to decide what constitutes extreme pornography but the wording is so impossibly vague it could constitute anything. Take the phrase 'life-threatening'. There is, I understand, a genre of porn known as 'smoking pornography' which you could argue combines pornography with a potentially life threatening act.

Its supporters include the photographer Ben Westwood, eldest son of the fashion designer Vivienne. He fears some of his pictures, which often show images of people bound and gagged, could be outlawed in the new year. I simply don't believe it is the Government's business to interfere in people's sexuality. What particularly offends me is that these laws were brought in without any consultation whatsoever with the people they affect. That is not a democracy.

The law is a significant change in direction for policing pornography in Britain because it shifts the burden of guilt from those making the pornography to those viewing it.

Enthusiasts of gothic horror and burlesque shows – which often feature pseudo-violence such as fake knives and participants covered in mock blood, say they are concerned that their artistic creativity will be stifled.

There are also concerns about how the law will be policed. Caan has taken a dossier of images to three major police forces: not one could yet say which pictures would be deemed illegal. One month ahead of the legislation being enacted, the Association of Chief Police Officers has yet to draw up any guidelines on how it is to be policed.

...Read full article

 

27th December   

Update: Shameful UK Government...

This is not a campaign against free speech...BUT...We are going to censor the internet
Link Here  full story: Minister of Nasty Cultures...Andy Burnham as UK government internet censor

Andy Burnham Internet sites could be given cinema-style age ratings as part of a Government crackdown on freedom online to be launched in the New Year, the Culture Secretary says.

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Andy Burnham says he believes that new standards of decency need to be applied to the web. He is planning to negotiate with Barack Obama's incoming American administration to draw up new international rules for English language websites.

The Cabinet minister describes the internet as quite a dangerous place and says he wants ISPs to offer parents child-safe web services.

Giving film-style ratings to individual websites is one of the options being considered, he confirms. When asked directly whether age ratings could be introduced, Burnham replies: Yes, that would be an option. This is an area that is really now coming into full focus.

ISPs, such as BT, Tiscali, AOL or Sky could also be forced to offer internet services where the only websites accessible are those deemed suitable for children.

Burnham said: If you look back at the people who created the internet they talked very deliberately about creating a space that Governments couldn't reach. I think we are having to revisit that stuff seriously now. It's true across the board in terms of content, harmful content, and copyright. Libel is [also] an emerging issue.

There is content that should just not be available to be viewed. That is my view. Absolutely categorical. This is not a campaign against free speech, far from it; [...BUT...] it is simply there is a wider public interest at stake when it involves harm to other people. We have got to get better at defining where the public interest lies and being clear about it.


Burnham reveals that he is currently considering a range of new safeguards. Initially, as with copyright violations, these could be policed by internet providers. However, new laws may be threatened if the initial approach is not successful: I think there is definitely a case for clearer standards online. More ability for parents to understand if their child is on a site, what standards it is operating to. What are the protections that are in place?

He points to the success of the 9pm television watershed at protecting children. The minister also backs a new age classification system on video games to stop children buying certain products.

Burnham also wants new industry-wide take down times. This means that if websites such as YouTube or Facebook are alerted to offensive or harmful content they will have to remove it within a specified time once it is brought to their attention.

He also says that the Government is considering changing libel laws to give people access to cheap low-cost legal recourse if they are defamed online. The legal proposals are being drawn up by the Ministry of Justice.

Burnham admits that his plans may be interpreted by some as heavy-handed ...BUT... says the new standards drive is utterly crucial . Mr Burnham also believes that the inauguration of Barack Obama, the President-Elect, presents an opportunity to implement the major changes necessary for the web: The more we seek international solutions to this stuff – the UK and the US working together – the more that an international norm will set an industry norm.

 

22nd December   

Offsite: For how much longer?...

Will the UK media and bloggers be able to freely investigate policeman Bob Quick and his family wedding cars business?
Link Here

Spy Blog logo The Mail on Sunday has been delving a little into the business dealings of the controversial Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick, now in charge of the Metropolitan Police Service Counter Terrorism Command, formerly the Chief Constable of Surrey.

Given the new "thought crime" provisions brought in by the Labour government, through the recent Counter-Terrorism Act 2008, will such investigative journalism, or any further analysis by bloggers etc., which mentions current or former military, intelligence agency or police personnel, be legally possible in the future?

Bob Quick complained to the media about the intrusion into his family life, claiming some sort of, unspecified "security risk"

...Read full article

 

19th December   

Update: Fit for Lords...

Fitna to be screened at the House of Lords
Link Here

Fitna The UK's House of Lords will show Geert Willders' controversial Islam film Fitna . So says Wilders following the European Parliament's refusal to show the short film.

The European Parliament rejected a request by the UK MEP Gerard Batten of the anti-European Independent Party to allow Fitna to be shown in Strasbourg to MEPs and journalists. Wilders called the ban "censorship" and compared the European Parliament to Saudi Arabia.

Wilders has recently shown Fitna at meetings in Jerusalem and New York. He said the film will also be on view in the House of Lords in January.

Christian democratic MEP Maria Martens was pleased by the decision not to show Fitna in the EP. The film has nothing to do with freedom of expression. This freedom does not give the right to offend.

Conservative MEP Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert on the other hand called the banning of Fitna unbelievably stupid because the film does fall within the boundaries of the law and Wilders has now got more publicity and attention than if he had been able to show his film.

 

18th December   

Update: Libel Tourism...

Britain shamefully used as book censors by the rich and famous
Link Here  full story: Libel Tourism...UK prosecutions of books published abroad

Funding Evil book Lawyers and judges have been accused by MPs of using Soviet-style English libel laws to help the rich and powerful to hide their secrets.

The Saudi financier Khalid bin Mahfouz was condemned as a libel tourist for persuading a London judge to award damages against an American author over a book never sold in Britain.

Bridget Prentice, the Justice Minister, told MPs that the Government would announce a consultation on libel and the internet, and the high cost of defamation proceedings.

The Labour MP Denis MacShane, said in Westminster Hall: The practice of libel tourism, as it is known – the willingness of British courts to allow wealthy foreigners who do not live here to attack publications that have no connection with Britain – is now an international scandal. It shames Britain and makes a mockery of the idea that Britain is a protector of core democratic freedoms.

The US Congress is proposing a law to stop English courts pursuing American writers for fines over books freely available in the United States. The case arises from the Kafkaesque position of the writer Rachel Ehrenfeld, whose book, Funding Evil, examined the flow of money towards extremist organisations that preach the ideology of hate associated with Wahhabism and other democracy-denying aspects of fundamentalist Islamic ideology,   MacShane said.

Ms Ehrenfeld's book, published in America, not Britain, named a Saudi billionaire called Khalid bin Mahfouz. Although the book was published in the United States, and was not on sale in any British bookshop, he found lawyers to sue in Britain. A British judge imposed a fine and costs on Ms Ehrenfeld, and said that her book should be destroyed, even though she was not in the court. No American court would have entertained such overt censorship.

Comment: Background

Thanks to Alan

Damages were awarded against Rachel Ehrenfeld, who had refused to appear because British courts gave her less protection than the first amendment to the US constitution. Judgment was consequently given in default.

The author is now refusing to pay and American congress people are pushing for a specific US law to prevent any attempt to enforce British libel judgments across the pond.

 

17th December   

Reminder...

Porn Law Commencement Date 26th January 2009
Link Here

Undelete 5 software The possession of extreme porn will become illegal on 26th January 2009.

CANN have produced a short summary of what people may consider deleting to stay within the law:

There is still understandably a lot of panic and fear both around what to delete and how to delete it. Hopefully we'll have a detailed guide to ‘How to delete your porn' on the website in the new year. But as a rough guide…

What Should you Delete?

We just don't know for sure, and neither does anyone else (including lawyers we have spoken to), so here's the rough overview:

  1. Images have to be realistic. (photographs, unrated films, clips from rated films, good cgi, photorealistic art)
     
  2. AND images need to be pornographic. (but context on your computer, or in a collection, can MAKE it deemed to be pornographic/used for sexual arousal).
     
  3. AND the image needs to show some level of ‘serious' harm to breasts anus or genitals that isn't qualified exactly, or a life threatening activity (ie involving threat with a weapon)…and we presume things like asphyxiation.
     
  4. AND the image needs to be judged “grossly offensive” by a jury.

The definitional detail just won't start to evolve until there have been instances tried in court.

If you want to be sure not to fall foul of this act… delete everything you have that has any level of violence or threat in it… we all have to make our own judgement call on this.

How Do You Delete It?

For images in your computer:

  • If you are non-techy just delete the stuff.
  • If you are techy, you need to delete stuff beyond your own abilities to retrieve it.

 

16th December   

PEN and Index...

PEN and Index on Censorship inquire into UK's libel legislation
Link Here  full story: Libel Tourism...UK prosecutions of books published abroad

English PEN logo English PEN has joined forces with fellow freedom of speech organisation Index on Censorship to launch a public inquiry into the UK's libel legislation. The two groups are calling upon publishers, writers, editors, journalists and lawyers to submit examples of restrictive UK laws being used and abused to stifle...and chill free expression of all kinds. They will host round-table discussions with the aim of leading to a major conference next spring.

One of the major issues the two groups wish to look at is libel tourism, in which something published outside of the UK is still subject to the laws of the land if read in the country.

Sir Geoffrey Bindman, a human rights lawyers, said: There is a difficult balance to be struck between freedom of expression and the protection of the innocent from damaging falsehoods and invasion of legitimate privacy. In Britain, the pendulum has swung too far towards censorship. This comprehensive review of the law by two highly respected organisations is therefore very welcome.

PEN and IoC said the inquiry coincided with increasing concern about the issue within the House of Commons, highlighting an investigation which has been launched by the Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport. An adjournment debate, which has received cross-party support, has also been secured for 17th December in Westminster Hall.

 

15th December   

Purnell May Hatemen Too...

Theresa May has a whinge at job centre adverts for sex related posts
Link Here

Job Centre Plus logo Rules that allow jobcentres to advertise sex related opportunities are being reviewed by the Government, Commons Leader Harriet Hatemen said today.

Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell is looking into guidelines that allowed more than 350 sex industry jobs to be advertised in Jobcentre Plus offices across the country last year.

Shadow Commons leader Theresa May said jobs included topless semi-nude bar staff and nude cleaners.

During exchanges on future Commons business, May told MPs of Harman's quest to stop local newspapers advertising the sex trade.

She told Harman: Pity you can't persuade the Work and Pensions Secretary to join your campaign. A new report shows that Jobcentre Plus advertised 351 vacancies in the adult entertainment industry last year, including adverts for topless semi-nude bar staff and nude cleaners.

Two jobseekers complained - they were asked to perform sexual services after contacting an employer about a vacancy advertised at Jobcentre Plus.

May demanded an end to this hypocrisy within Government.

Harman, who is also Women's Minister, said: I absolutely agree with you that there is no way that job centres should be used as a place for advertising jobs for sexual services, for lap dancing, for sex encounter establishments. I raised this with the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions - he is reviewing the situation. We don't want any of those sorts of jobs in our jobcentres.

 

13th December   

Offsite: Misleading Ministry of Injustice...

IWF rethinks its role over extreme porn
Link Here

IWF logo Consenting Adult Action Network (CAAN) has been seeking official guidance for individuals uncertain whether material in their possession would fall foul of the extreme porn law,

Both police and the Ministry of Justice have told concerned individuals to send such material to the IWF for assessment.

However, the IWF poured cold water on this idea, pointing out that such material was wholly outside their remit. A spokeswoman for the IWF said: Our role is that of an assessment and takedown body: we are not there to provide classification advice for the public.

In respect of indecent material featuring child abuse, our remit covers sites hosted both in the UK and overseas. We will refer sites hosted here to the police for further action, and where we deem sites hosted abroad to contain potentially illegal material, they will be added to the list of blocked sites that we provide to ISPs.

That is not the case with Obscene material: nor will it be the case with extreme porn. With those categories, our remit will only go so far as to refer sites hosted in the UK to the appropriate authorities.

...Read full article

[Presumably the list of blocked sites is limited so as to not overly impact download times. I guess that the IWF don''t want to see valuable slots in the list taken up by adult consensual material].

 

12th December   

Swearing Banned in Preston...

Preston wants to put a stop to it's anti-social behaviour problem
Link Here

Preston Council People are being urged to keep Preston free of litter, dog fouling and anti-social behaviour as part of the Safer Preston Partnership's latest campaign.

The campaign, called Respect Our City , begins on Monday 8 December and will run throughout the Christmas period and beyond. It will see eye-catching signs placed on buses, lampposts, litter bins, shops, restaurants, and pubs and clubs across Preston.

These signs will contain the Rules round town , which set out that anti-social behaviour such as swearing, spitting, dropping litter, dog fouling and aggressive behaviour will not be tolerated in Preston - and that anyone caught breaking these rules could be arrested or face a fixed penalty fine.

Councillor Kate Calder, cabinet member for community safety and community engagement, said: We want to put a stop to anti-social behaviour such as fighting, littering and swearing around town so that everyone can enjoy a happy, safe Christmas. We're spreading the message in shops, pubs, restaurants and on buses and streets across the city.

 

12th December   

Offsite: Naked people and toilets...

Scandalous album covers
Link Here  full story: IWF Block Wikipedia...IWF block Scorpion's Virgin Killer album cover

Electric Ladyland cover The international controversy surrounding the banning of the German heavy-metal band Scorpions' cover art for their 1976 album 'Virgin Killer' from Wikipedia is nothing new. Rock and roll has always been a form of rebellion challenging societal norms. Album cover art has often served a similar function, pushing the envelope of what people find too lewd, repulsive, or indecent.

...Red full article from welt.de (warning includes uncensored Virgin Killer cover)

Why the IWF was wrong to lift its ban on a Wikipedia page

See article from out-law.com

The Internet Watch Foundation faced a storm of criticism this week over its decision to add a Wikipedia entry to a blacklist of pages that ISPs block. Under pressure, the IWF removed the image from its blacklist. That decision was a mistake.

...Read full article

Update: Blocking Free

17th December 2008

the Melon Farmers Forum

Non IWF ISPs

http://www.freedom2surf.net
http://www.aaisp.net.uk/kb-broadband-realinternet.html
http://www.zen.co.uk/broadband

 

11th December   

Update: Political Suicide...

Gordon Brown tells MPs that Ofcom will decide about Right to Die? programme
Link Here

Right to Die? Prime Minister Gordon Brown has told MPs that the broadcast of the assisted suicide of a terminally ill man would have to be judged by Ofcom.

Speaking in Prime Minister's Questions, Brown said he hoped broadcasters would handle such matters with care but that programme Right to Die? , on Sky Real Lives , would be considered by Ofcom.

I think it is important that these issues are dealt with sensitively and without sensationalism and I hope broadcasters will remember that they have a wider duty to the general public. Of course, it will be a matter from the TV watchdog when the broadcast is shown.

He was responding to Liberal Democrat MP Phil Willis who asked whether the Prime Minister regarded the programme as being in the public interest or simply distasteful voyeurism.

Brown acknowledged there were different views about assisted dying but stated he was opposed to legislation making it lawful.

He added: I think it is necessary to ensure there is never a case in the country where a sick or elderly person feels under pressure to agree to an assisted death or somehow feels it is the expected thing to do. That is why I have always opposed legislation for assisted death.

Update: No Complaints

13th December 2008. See article from telegraph.co.uk

The documentary featuring the final moments of a man who opted for assisted suicide received 12 complaints.

The Sky Real Lives programme, Right To Die?, was watched by 222,000 people, the channel's highest ever audience.

 

10th December   

Update: King's Clothes...

Internet censors remove their ban on album cover
Link Here  full story: IWF Block Wikipedia...IWF block Scorpion's Virgin Killer album cover

IWF logo IWF posted the following statement on their website about the blocking of the original cover art for Scorpion's Virgin Killer album:

A Wikipedia webpage was reported through the IWF's online reporting mechanism on 4 December 2008. As with all potentially illegal online child sexual abuse reports we receive, the image was assessed according to current UK legislation and in accordance with the UK Sentencing Guidelines Council. The content was considered to be a potentially illegal indecent image of a child under the age of 18, hosted outside the UK. As such, in accordance with IWF procedures, the specific webpage was added to the IWF list. This list is provided to ISPs and other companies in the online sector to help protect their customers from inadvertent exposure to potentially illegal indecent images of children.

Following representations from Wikipedia, IWF invoked its Appeals Procedure and has given careful consideration to the issues involved in this case. The procedure is now complete and has confirmed that the image in question is potentially in breach of the Protection of Children Act 1978. However, the IWF Board has today (9 December 2008) considered these findings and the contextual issues involved in this specific case and, in light of the length of time the image has existed and its wide availability, the decision has been taken to remove this webpage from our list.

Any further reported instances of this image which are hosted abroad, will not be added to the list. Any further reported instances of this image which are hosted in the UK will be assessed in line with IWF procedures.

IWF's overriding objective is to minimise the availability of indecent images of children on the internet, however, on this occasion our efforts have had the opposite effect. We regret the unintended consequences for Wikipedia and its users. Wikipedia have been informed of the outcome of this procedure and IWF Board's subsequent decision.

Offsite Comment: Scorpions tale leaves IWF exposed

'Look, that regulator isn't wearing any clothes'

See article from theregister.co.uk by John Ozimek


Image Censored
by the IWF
 
The Boy King's Clothes!

According to the IWF, no one has ever questioned its judgements before. No doubt this would continue to be the case, so long as it confined its attentions to sites and imagery that are clearly produced by child abusers for child abusers.

Unfortunately, it cannot pick and choose who to take on. The Children Act penalises the production and possession of indecent images of children. The bulk of images against which the IWF acts are categorised as level one, involving some element of sexual posing of a child. This is both the least serious category, and the category where there is likely to be most public debate as to whether an image actually is indecent.

Some images - shock, horror - are neither clearly one thing nor another.

So the scene was set for the IWF to take a fall. Gone is its record for 100% undisputed blocking. Gone, too, is its reputation for being the undisputed good guy. Many people have looked at the image in question and have taken the view that it is not porn, or indecent, or abuse. Having made that judgement, they have started to ask questions about other imagery that the IWF has sought to block.

...Read full article

 

10th December   

Emotional TV...

Death by assisted suicide to be shown on UK TV
Link Here

Right to Die? A documentary that appears to show the moment when a man dies after going through with an assisted suicide was strongly criticised yesterday by anti-euthanasia campaigners and Mediawatch-UK.

The film, which is being screened on the Sky Real Lives channel tonight, seems to show the moment when 59-year-old Craig Ewert, who had motor neurone disease, died. It is believed this would be the first time the instant of the a person's death in an assisted suicide has been shown on British television.

Both the documentary maker, Oscar winner John Zaritsky, and Sky insisted that the film, Right to Die? - which is being shown at 9pm - is an important contribution to a vital debate.

Ewert, a retired university professor from Harrogate, Yorkshire, travelled to Dignitas, the organisation in Zurich that helps people to die, because he did not want to spend the rest of his days in a living tomb.

The documentary shows Ewert and his wife, Mary, exchanging a last kiss. He says: I love you sweetheart - so much. Have a safe journey. I will see you some time.

Ewert is then given a liquid and told he will die if he drinks it. He drinks through a pink straw, then asks for some apple juice and music. Shortly before his eyes close, he says: Thank you.

Dr Peter Saunders, a director of the Care Not Killing alliance, branded the film macabre death voyeurism. This is taking us a little further down the slippery slope. It seems there is a macabre fascination in this death tourism.

Dominica Roberts, of the Pro-Life Alliance, said the programme sent out the message that some people's lives are worthless , adding: It is both sad and dangerous to show this kind of thing on the television.

John Beyer, director of Mediawatch-UK, said: This subject is something that is quite an important political issue at the moment and my anxieties are that the programme will influence public opinion.

Barbara Gibbon, head of Sky Real Lives, said: This is an issue that more and more people are confronting and this documentary is an informative, articulate and educated insight into the decisions some people have to make. I think it's important that broadcasters give this controversial subject a wider airing.

 

9th December   

Update: A Censor's Responsibility...

Internet censors review the over cautious ban on album cover
Link Here  full story: IWF Block Wikipedia...IWF block Scorpion's Virgin Killer album cover

IWF logo The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) is reviewing its decision to list as child pornography the image on one version of the album Virgin Killer by the rock band The Scorpions hosted on Wikipedia – and might yet add Amazon US to its list of blocked sites for hosting the picture.

The initial decision to block the image, taken on Friday, prevented UK contributors from editing the site, and blocked some people from seeing the site at all (although they were still able to view it through Google's cache).

The decision to ban the page, which was taken after consultation with the UK's Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) agency, is now being reviewed, Robertson said. The assessment was done in partnership with law enforcement.

The Scorpions image was deemed to be 1 on a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is the least offensive , said Robertson. The image was judged to be erotic posing with no sexual activity . It depicts a young naked girl with her genitals obscured by a crack in the camera lens.

Robertson declined to say whether Amazon would be the next to be blocked. She confirmed that the Amazon page containing the offending cover was referred to the IWF today, but that no decision would be taken while the review of the original decision was in progress.

The decision has put the IWF's methods and systems under the media spotlight. Normally the IWF, which is paid for by the EU and through a levy on the internet industry, works quietly away in its Cambridge offices. A team of four police-trained analysts plough through 35,000 URLs sent to them each year that are under suspicion of being obscene.

If an image or text page contains obscene content and is hosted in the UK, the relevant ISP is contacted and the content removed. But if it is hosted abroad, it is added instead to a blacklis" to which access is prevented by BT's CleanFeed technology. Any attempt to access that page returns a Page Not Found response.

Richard Clayton, one of the country's leading internet security experts said: We see this borderline stuff all the time; it's a no-win. The decision seems to have been based on taking the image out of context, something which might seem pretty strange - particularly given that you can go into HMV and buy a copy on the high street.

The main outcome – apart from highlighting the way the British internet is censored – might be to highlight the lack of cooperation between British authorities and other international bodies, he said.

The image under consideration was previously considered by the FBI in the US and they decided not to act against it.

 

9th December   

Satirically Retarded...

Comedian Doug Stanhope offends the radio censor
Link Here

Nemone show Nemone
BBC 6 Music, 12 September 2008, 13:00

Nemone is a daily magazine programme hosted by the DJ Nemone Metaxas. This edition featured an interview with American comedian Doug Stanhope. During the interview, Stanhope commented that the Republican vice-presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, was a suitable target for his satirical style of humour.

The interview included the following:

Doug Stanhope: [Ms Palin] is a 44 year-old mother of five, two of which are retarded.

Nemone Metaxus: These are your, [laughs] obviously, your views…

Doug Stanhope: One's got Down's Syndrome and the other volunteered for Iraq . So that's two retards out of five.... Oh nothing. They give me nothing, nothing but blank looks.

Nemone Metaxus: Doug this is your opinion, your opinion of what's happening back home, so obviously, if something kicks off in America …

Doug Stanhope: For Pete's sake, don't stare at me like that. The woman has a baby with Down's Syndrome; how can America get behind her when even God obviously hates her. [laughs]

Ofcom received a complaint from a listener who was offended by Stanhope's use of the word retarded to describe someone with Down's Syndrome. The complainant was also concerned that the presenter did not seriously challenge these remarks or apologise to listeners.

Ofcom considered Rule 2.3 of the Code which requires material that may cause offence to be justified by the context.

Ofcom Decision

Ofcom notes that the comedian made references to individuals as retarded . Research indicates that views on this term are split. It is considered by some to be highly offensive, while others are less concerned by its use.

Ofcom acknowledges that BBC 6 Music attracts a predominantly adult audience and that regular listeners who are familiar with the irreverent style of its presenters and guests may not necessarily find the use of words such as retard offensive.

When dealing with generally accepted standards, the Code refers specifically to offence that may be caused by discriminatory treatment and language based on disability. In this case, the word retarded was used in a particularly derogatory manner. Further, references to Down's Syndrome were also made in a clearly offensive way. First, a child with Down's Syndrome was described as retarded. Second, there was a highly offensive comment which described Down's Syndrome as a form of punishment by God. Both of these, in Ofcom's opinion, went well beyond generally accepted standards and the audience's expectations for this programme. In this case in was clear that the context did not justify these offensive comments.

Ofcom was also concerned that during the broadcast the presenter did not give what it considered to be a sufficient reprimand or apology, which could have served to reduce the offence.

Ofcom concludes that this programme was in breach of Rule 2.3 of the Code.

 

9th December   

Update: Censorship Balls Up...

Monthly censorship stats: BBFC cut 20% of R18s
Link Here  full story: BBFC R18 Censorship...BBFC cut a large proportion of R18s

R18 Story BBFC cuts for November 2008

Number of R18s= 82
No. Cuts=17
Cuts ratio=20%

The R18 cuts stats 2008:

  • January: 23 R18s cut out of 71 (32%)
  • February: 28 R18s cut out of 90 (31%)
  • March: 29 R18s cut out of 97 (30%)
  • April: 30 R18s cut out of 98 (30%)
  • May: 22 R18s cut out of 72 (30%)
  • June: 17 R18s cut out of 92 (18%)
  • July: 20 R18s cut out of 72 (28%)
  • August: 20 R18s cut out of 72 (28%)
  • Sep: 9 R18s cut out of 47 (19%)
  • Oct: 19 R18s cut out of 69 (28%)
  • Nov: 17 R18s cut out of 82 (20%)

Cuts of interest:

BAREBACK PERVERTS

Cuts were required to scenes of potential harm (pool balls being inserted into and expelled from the anus) in accordance with BBFC guidelines and policy and the Video Recordings Act 1984

 

8th December   

Human Rights to be Replaced by No Rights...

Straw considering the responsibility to be loyal to Bollox Britain
Link Here  full story: Human Rights Act...Government for curtailing human rights

Jack Straw Jack Straw plans to overhaul the Human Rights Act amidst claims that it has become a charter for criminals.

The Injustice Secretary wants to reflect complaints that the act protects rights but says nothing about responsibilities.

In an interview with the Daily Mail, he says he is frustrated by the way the legislation he introduced ten years ago has sometimes been interpreted by the courts. He blames nervous judges for refusing to deport extremists and terrorist suspects despite assurances by ministers that their removal is in the national interest.

In a move which will alarm the civil liberties lobby, Straw reveals that he is studying whether the act can be tightened and has taken legal advice.

In due course I could envisage that there could be additions made to to work in the issues of responsibilities, he says.

He tells the Mail that he wants to rebalance the rights set out in the Human Rights Act by adding explicit responsibilities , specifically to obey the law and to be loyal to the country.

He is also looking at ways of promoting social rights such as access to health care, as well as social responsibilities such staying healthy or the education of children.

 

7th December   

Wikicensor...

Wikipedia is being partially blocked by UK ISPs
Link Here  full story: IWF Block Wikipedia...IWF block Scorpion's Virgin Killer album cover

Wikipedia logo The following notice has appeared on Wikipedia today when many UK users attempt to edit content:

Wikipedia has been added to a Internet Watch Foundation UK website blacklist, and your Internet service provider has decided to block part of your access. Unfortunately, this also makes it impossible for us to differentiate between different users, and block those abusing the site without blocking other innocent people as well.

According to discussions on the Wikipedia administrators noticeboard, this is because a transparent proxy has been enabled for customers of Virgin Media, Be/O2/Telefonica, EasyNet/UK Online, PlusNet, Demon and Opal. This has two effects: users cannot see content filtered by the proxies, and all user traffic passing through the proxies is given a single IP address per proxy. As Wikipedia's anti-vandalism system blocks users by IP address, one single case of vandalism by a single UK user prevents all users on that user's ISP from editing. The effect is to block all editing from anonymous UK users on that list of ISPs. Registered users can continue to edit.

The content being filtered is apparently that deemed to meet the Internet Watch Foundation's critera for child pornography – in one case, this involves a 1970s LP cover art for Scorpion's Virgin Killer which, although controversial, is still widely available.

Reports on the admin noticeboard say that this filtering is easy to circumvent, either by using Wikipedia's secure server or by sending a request to find the page via parameters in the URL. However, no fix has been found – nor is one expected – for the blocking of anonymous authors problem.

Comment: Makes you wonder what is being prosecuted these days

8th December 2008. From Harvey on the Melon Farmers Forum

Whether a particular image is or is not indecent and of a child will be facts to be determined by a particular jury on a particular day, when judging a particular image.

The IWF clearly believe that the Wikipedia images they are blocking access to would be so determined. The ISPs involved clearly must think so too, and they will have taken legal advice before moving to block access to such a popular site. That alone should give you some idea of the kind of images which are being prosecuted in the courts in this country.

It also puts into perspective some of the claims made previously by the IWF about the quantity of sites they encounter which contain child abuse images.

From IanG

Child porn allegations? Weird. It looks like an album cover to me - hardly something primarily produced to cause sexual arousal is it? That is the current legal definition of pornography if I`m not mistaken.

And I can hardly see this photo being classified as an indecent image of a child either. I can`t see how an artistic shot of a reclining 8 year-old with all the naughty bits obscured by a broken glass effect could be.

 

7th December   

Update: Beyer Bleeps Bollox...

Telegraph hypes John Beyers comments
Link Here

Gordan Ramsay's The F Word DVD It can be revealed that expletives were inserted into Ramsay's show when it was broadcast in the UK, after they had been bleeped out in the original version first shown in the US.

Nutters predictably said the decision to edit swear words back into Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares USA for British viewers was extraordinary.

In one episode of the series, more than 40 swear words were heard by viewers when the programme aired on Channel 4 earlier this year, compared to none when it was broadcast by Fox in the US last year.

The US series of Kitchen Nightmares was a spin-off from the British series of the same name, in which Ramsay attempts to turn around the fortunes of failing restaurants.

Instances of 'fuck', along with profanities such as 'shit'-, 'dickhead' and 'bollocks', were bleeped out of the hour-long shows when they were shown in the US in a 9pm slot in autumn 2007. When the series was broadcast in the UK this year, in a 10pm slot, the swear words returned.

John Beyer, director of the nutter group Mediawatch-UK, said: It is extraordinary, and only goes to show how much the television channels here can do what they like.

They keep defending the amount of swearing on television, but all their concerns about 'freedom of expression' and 'the need to reflect reality' seem to go out of the window when it comes to making money by exporting these programmes to America, where they know audiences won't tolerate it.


Channel 4 said its version was shown after Britain's 9pm watershed and was preceded by a clear on-air warning about its content. The US equivalent of the watershed is the 10pm safe harbor , after which more swearing is permitted.

A Channel 4 spokesman said: Gordon Ramsay is a well-known TV personality and viewers watching his programmes know what to expect. In the context of Kitchen Nightmares the strong language is a genuine expression of Gordon's passion and frustration.

 

2nd December   

Comment: The Great Brain Robbery...

Government plan to ban criminal memoirs is moronic
Link Here

Ronnie Biggs book In addition to banning free drinks for women, and big glasses in pubs, the government has made it known that Wednesday's Queen's Speech contains notice of legislation to prevent criminals profiting from their crimes by writing memoirs. Sounds well and good. Lot of cobblers, though.

This is not to say that I'm in favour of criminals making money from their memoirs. There is a moral or ethical problem here, clearly. On the one hand, it is bordering on the absurd to imagine that the prospect of a book deal will incentivise people to commit crimes: if you're doing the sort of crime that would really command a big advance – a kill-hack-and-eat job, say – you're unlikely to be the sort of person for whom the book deal is the big thing.

On the other hand, nevertheless, it's not nice to think of vicious killers ending up on the chat-show circuit. Try the thought experiment. Harold Shipman: I Did It My Way. Dahmer: The Cookbook. Manson: My Family And Other Animals. You think: disgusting, yuk, why in any civilised society would these beasts be heard from again?

You think: O J Simpson (obviously, he didn't do it, but profiting from the titillating speculation that he might have done it is unattractive, no?); you think "Mad" Frankie Fraser; you think Ronnie Biggs. No need for books from them, you think.

Then you think: Jeffrey Archer, Nick Leeson, Howard Marks, Jonathan Aitken. You say: "hmmm." Then again, you think: conscientious objectors, metric martyrs, foxhunting men, repentant members of the Weather Underground or former Islamists like Ed Husain. You say: "hmmmm" with even more "m"s. And then again, you think, Jean Genet. You think William Burroughs. Perhaps if you have that cast of mind, you think Aung San Suu Kyi or Nelson Mandela.

You think... well, you end up thinking that this is a law – or a provision in law – designed to sound good and serious, but whose implementation is so impossible, whose ambition so fuzzy, as to be no more than a calculatedly fatuous electoral gesture.

 

30th November   

Update: Strong Views...

Five News commissions opinion poll on strong language on TV
Link Here

Five News logo A majority of people think there is too much swearing on television, a Five News survey has found.

Five News' survey, carried out by YouGov in the wake of the Sachsgate row, found that 57% of respondents agreed that there was too much swearing on TV, with 31% strongly agreeing.

Reactions differed according to gender, age and the regions people came from, with 63% of women agreeing there was too much swearing, compared with 51% of men.

However, only 24% of 18 to 24-year-olds agreed, compared with 83% of over-55s – with 56% of them strongly agreeing.

The survey questioned more than 2,000 adults across the UK between Monday and Wednesday this week.

 

29th November   

Deleted or Not Deleted. That is the Question...

Computer files can be considered deleted when it is beyond your control to undelete them
Link Here

Undelete 5 software R v Christopher Rowe: CA (Crim Div): 3 November 2008

The appellant (R) appealed against his conviction for 12 counts of possessing indecent photographs of children on a reference by the Criminal Cases Review Commission.

The police seized R's computer and 8 disks which contained several deleted files and two non-deleted files of images of child pornography, and two movie images. There were also three deleted files of child pornography on the computer.

At trial, experts agreed that R would have needed specialist software to access the deleted files, which he did not appear to have. It was not possible for them to prove whether the deleted files had actually been viewed. The last time that the non-deleted files had been accessed was years before the date on the indictment.

Held: The convictions on the counts relating to the deleted files were unsafe as R no longer had custody or control of the images, R v Porter (Ross Warwick) [2006] EWCA Crim 560, [2006] 1 WLR 2633 applied. The original jury were not directed to consider the potential significance that the deleted files had on R's ability to have had knowledge of the images. The counts relating to the deleted images were quashed.

 

29th November   

Offsite: Call the Computer Crusher...

UK government says extreme porn isn't illegal if you delete it
Link Here

Computer Crusher The Ministry of Justice promised to provide public guidelines to the new extreme porn legislation this week and – behold! – here they are .

They have been greeted with some degree of criticism from those opposed to the legislation, on the grounds that they add little new to what was already known and fail to make matters as clear as they could. Much of this criticism, however, is as much to do with the substance of the law as the guidelines.

...Read full article

 

28th November   

Update: BBC Swears by less Swearing...

Pandering to the easily offended
Link Here

BBC logo The BBC is to allow less swearing on its television channels next year, the corporation's head of television said yesterday.

Jana Bennett, director of BBC Vision, said that the corporation did not want to alienate its viewers and had taken the decision to push back the number of expletives.

Bennett, to whom the controller of each BBC television channel reports, told the Manchester Media Festival that the presenter had agreed to reduce swearing in his television show after that incident.

She said: There was a mutual thing to push back on the language. We didn't want to get into a situation where we were pushing away part of the audience of the show.

She said that she had to approve personally every use of 'cunt' on BBC television, adding: That was one of the surprising aspects of the job when I got it. 'fuck' and 'motherfucker', which are considered the next most offensive words, were referred to channel controllers to clear.

Bennett said that anybody who tried to count swearwords on the BBC would see that they had become less frequent even since the early autumn: We've actually been pushing back a bit on language. It is possible that some language alienates some audiences unnecessarily. There will be less F-ing but the blinding seems to be OK.

Bennett said that there would be greater discussion about the appropriateness of swearing on the BBC, and pointed to the example of a documentary following soldiers in Afghanistan. That was more likely to justify inclusion of profanities that might offend in different contexts, she said.

She added: There's higher sensitivity about making sure there's more discussion about slots, type of channel and genre. I think the idea that you can alienate audiences is – even if people don't ring up – we don't want people to be put off, even if they're silent.

 

28th November   

Comment: I oppose censorship BUT...

The dangers of violent blameography
Link Here

Old Bailey Re This murder trial showed me the dangers of violent pornography from guardian.co.uk by Leslie Wilson, a writer and a friend of Liz Longhurst.

A classic example of the I oppose censorship BUT ... syndrome!

Note that Coutts looked tense. Well, you could knock me down with a feather. Err, he was facing the prospect of a life sentence. Pretty daunting, even if he was guilty. (If Coutts was the victim of a miscarriage of justice, he's not a cuddly one like some young mum framed by a dodgy paediatrician, but I have my doubts about this case.)

Note the arrogance of the author's concession that consumers of this material...may not all kill . If they did all kill , wouldn't we expect far more frequent cases like this? For the production of the pornography to be viable, there must be many more customers than Coutts.

Pleased to see, though, that the people responding on the web site seem far more rational than the author.

 

27th November   

Ministry of Injustice...

Dangerous Pictures Act to come into force on 26th January 2009
Link Here

Ministry of Jutsice logo The Criminal Justice and immigration Act 2008 introduces a new offence, in England, Wales and Northern Ireland of the possession of extreme pornographic images.

This document provides general information for members of public on the new offence of possession of extreme pornographic images in Part 5, Sections 63 to 67 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008. These sections are due to come into force on 26th January 2009 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

As well as providing information about the offence, this document is intended to answer some of the more frequently asked questions about the offence. It should be read in conjunction with the Explanatory Notes on the Act published on the Office of the Public Sector Information (OPSI) website.

 

27th November   

Update: Swearing at the Bosses...

BBC outlines high level permission for strong language
Link Here

BBC logo BBC producers have been warned that swear words used across the corporation's output must be approved by the controller of each station or channel.

The sign-off policy has come in as the corporation is overhauling its compliance procedures in the wake of the Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand phone prank row last month.

The BBC's top brass have informed its senior managers that the broadcaster cannot afford to invite further criticism over swearing.

A group headed by the BBC creative director Alan Yentob, director of archive content Roly Keating and the chief adviser for editorial policy Claire Powell is examining where the appropriate boundaries of taste and generally accepted standards should lie across all BBC output, ahead of a report to come out in the spring.

But until formal changes are made to its procedures next year, controllers of all BBC stations and channels are personally vetting each use of the most offensive swear words to ensure it is 'editorially justified'.

One senior TV producer at the BBC told the Standard: The three worst swear words are automatically going right up to the controller, and we have been told that if in doubt with anything else, check with the controller as they are ultimately responsible for what goes out.

On Monday the BBC's Leadership Group - made up of its 150 most senior managers - met and discussed the issue and were told that ensuring editorial standards were met was a high priority.

 

22nd November   

Update: A Deplorable Intrusion...

BBC Trust have their say about the Russell Brand Show
Link Here  full story: Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross...Winding up Andrew Sachs and Voluptua

BBC Trust Calls made by the BBC presenters Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand to the actor Andrew Sachs were a deplorable intrusion with no editorial justification , the BBC Trust ruled yesterday.

Ross will keep his job and escape further punishment over the affair after the trust chairman, Sir Michael Lyons, said he supported the presenter's 12-week suspension. Ross will therefore return to the BBC in January, when his suspension is complete.

Details also emerged yesterday of the approval granted to the contentious recording by the Radio 2 controller Lesley Douglas, who resigned from her £280,000 position over the affair.

Ms Douglas who sent a one-word email from her BlackBerry, Yes, in answer to a question about whether the show should be broadcast, did so despite not having heard it. She did so on the recommendation by email of Dave Barber, Radio 2's head of compliance, who described it as very funny.

In its report, the trust criticised a further incident, when Ross, on his Friday night BBC1 show, told the actress Gwyneth Paltrow he would fuck her. The trust called the remark gratuitous and unnecessarily offensive .

Radio 2 broadcast an apology for the 18 October broadcast on 9 November. But a previous apology on Radio 2 by Brand, on 25 October, was condemned by the BBC trustee Richard Tait as unacceptable and exacerbated the intrusion into privacy and the offence . Tait noted three failures – failure to exercise editorial control, to follow established compliance systems, and failure of judgement in editorial decisions. He added that the trust was nevertheless satisfied with the BBC's response to the controversy.

This is the transcript of the pivotal email exchange between Dave Barber, the head of compliance at Radio 2, and Lesley Douglas, the Radio 2 controller, about Brand's programme on 18 October.

On 16 October, Barber wrote to Douglas:

Russell is pre-recorded this week with Jonathan Ross as his co-host. Jonathan uses the F-word 52mins into the first hour in a sequence about Russell 'fucking' Andrew Sachs's granddaughter. They are speaking into Andrew Sachs's answer machine at the time, and it's very funny – there then follow more calls to the answer phone in the second hour, again v funny. Having discussed it with the producer and listened to the sequence, I think we should keep in and put a 'strong language' warning at the top of the hour. I think it is editorially justified in this context and certainly within audience expectations for Russell's show and the slot. Certainly preferable to bleeping, which would make it obvious anyway (and we don't bleep now for this reason). Jonathan also apologises and Russell's shocked reaction is hilarious. Andrew Sachs is aware and is happy with the results, which were recorded his end for him to hear. Are you happy with this as a plan of action?

On 17 October Douglas responded to Barber: Yes.

 

22nd November   

BBC Live on Internet TV...

BBC 1 and 2 to be streamed live for UK viewers only
Link Here

BBC shows including EastEnders , Heroes and Never Mind The Buzzcocks will be available to watch live online from next week, the BBC has announced.

BBC One and BBC Two will be streamed live - just as BBC Three, BBC Four, CBBC, CBeebies and BBC News are already broadcast on their channel websites.

Director of BBC vision Jana Bennett said this completes our commitment to make channels available online.

The live simulcast for both channels will be available from 27 November. If viewers miss any programmes they will be available for up to a week on the BBC iPlayer.

The facility will be limited to internet addresses in the UK but will be available for viewing on computers, mobile phones and other portable devices.

 

21st November   

Update: Show Over...

BBC to draw a line under the Russell Brand Show fallout
Link Here  full story: Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross...Winding up Andrew Sachs and Voluptua

Ross effigy Jonathan Ross is expected to escape further sanction over the obscene calls scandal.

The BBC is thought to have concluded his three-month suspension was sufficient punishment for a broadcast that sparked 42,000 complaints.

It means that in January Ross will be able to return to fronting all his shows for the corporation.

David Davies, Tory MP for Monmouthshire, said: The BBC is pathetic for not sacking Jonathan Ross. It is a slap in the face to the licence payers to let him stay on.

John Beyer, of the pressure group Mediawatch UK, said: It is difficult to see how this decision can be justified when there seems to be so much public disquiet about employing him at all. He has already had one chance too many. If this is the case they [the BBC] will end up looking like they have not been tough enough.

It is expected that the BBC Trust and managers will issue a rebuke to Ross and Brand today while ruling out further punishment.

A senior BBC source said yesterday: It would be a huge surprise if there was any further sanctions for Jonathan Ross. Much of the drama has already been played out, he is suspended, two senior figures in BBC radio have resigned and acknowledgements have been made about tightening up compliance procedure.

It is believed that an internal inquiry will condemn poor editorial practices on BBC music radio stations. Insiders say the report will claim some controllers have been too weak in policing presenters. Sources are suggesting that the new rules will mean every radio programme, even concerts, will have to be vetted by a senior executive.

 

19th November   

Update: Staying Alive...

Billy Suicide creator justifies his game
Link Here

Billy Suicide game Dave Lasala, creator of controversial Flash game Billy Suicide , has hit back at organisations campaigning for its removal from the internet.

His comments come after The Telegraph contacted the Samaritans and PAPYRUS (Prevention of Young Suicide), and printed responses claiming the game was both irresponsible and a catalyst to influence the behaviour of people who are already vulnerable to suicide.

I wanted the game Billy Suicide to be an exaggerated self-portrait, Dave Lasala explained to Eurogamer. I also wanted to use it to look at a difficult subject with a sense of humour. I feel I have some authority on the subject, having rescued two brothers from suicide attempts.

Anyway, it seems to me that people blame violent art, angry music and horror movies for negative behaviour because it's easier to reduce complex issues down to a neat one-sentence solution, like, 'If there were no violent movies there would be no violence.

I would encourage everyone to check out the Oscar-winning documentary Bowling for Columbine for an in-depth examination of this behaviour. That being said, the object of the game Billy Suicide is to keep him alive.

 

19th November   

Flynn Flack...

Parliament censors members blogs
Link Here

Paul Flynn MP logo A Labour MP says he has been stripped of a Parliamentary allowance for making fun of other MPs on his blog.

Paul Flynn was told to remove posts including ones calling ex-Labour minister Peter Hain a shapeshifter and Lib Dem MP Lembit Opik a clown.

When Mr Flynn refused he had part of his communications allowance removed.

Other MPs have complained of the Commons trying to censor their blogs but the authorities say there are rules on using public money for propaganda.

MPs voted last year to give themselves a £10,000 allowance to spend on boosting the public understanding of Parliament through websites and other publicity material. They were warned that they would not be allowed to use the money to publish political propaganda on their websites.

But Mr Flynn said the authorities were not concerned about bias on his site. They were instead trying to impose the same rules of etiquette that apply in the Commons chamber on the internet, which he said amounted to censorship.

They didn't have any complaints about the party political content, it was the courtesies of the House, he told the BBC News website: But I have never seen the rules written down. They just rang me up after reading my blog and said 'you can't say that'.

In one post, Mr Flynn compares Labour colleague Peter Hain to a Star Trek character who liquefies at the end of each day and sleeps in a bucket to emerge in another chosen shape the following morning. He also turns his satirical fire on Lembit Opik, who recently failed in his bid to be elected Lib Dem president, whom he describes as a clown and a turkey whose speciality is mindless political populism over intelligence.

Another Labour MP, Derek Wyatt, has clashed with the Commons authorities over the content of his website. There is nothing to stop MPs having a blog but there has to be appropriate use of the communications allowance. He said he had been forced to remove 13 video clips which allegedly included party political points.

He said: They don't get in the way of my letters or phone calls, so why do they want to interfere in what I put on the web? They only want me to publish anodyne videos that no one will watch. They have got it completely wrong. They don't understand the net. They simply don't get it. It is like 1984.

 

19th November   

Update: Branded as Slow...

Parliamentary committee questions BBC over Russell Brand Show
Link Here  full story: Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross...Winding up Andrew Sachs and Voluptua

Culture, Media and Sport select committee BBC bosses have been questioned by MPs over the crude phone calls made by Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross to actor Andrew Sachs.

BBC Trust chairman Sir Michael Lyons denied the corporation had been slow in its response to the incident, but admitted lessons could be learned.

The BBC's director general, Mark Thompson, admitted a very serious editorial lapse had occurred.

The pair were speaking at a Culture, Media and Sport Committee hearing.

Conservative MP Nigel Evans criticised the BBC's lamentable slowness in handling the crisis, but Sir Michael replied: There was no lack of speed. I don't think we could've got an apology out any earlier . He added there was a case that the BBC's head of audio, Tim Davie, should have been on the airwaves to make a public statement a little earlier.

MPs also criticised Lyons and Thompson for failing to fire Ross and Brand for gross misconduct.

The primary failing is not the antics of performers, it's the fact it was allowed to go out, Lyons replied: Until we have finished our investigations, I would be careful about terms like gross misconduct which have contractual implication .

He added one of the things the trust was exploring was whether it is right to leave a young producer implanted in a company that is owned by one of the performers, a reference to the BBC producer who was drafted in to work for Brand's production company while the star's regular producer was away.

Thompson added that the corporation would be looking at whether additional safeguards were needed to ensure compliance procedures were being fulfilled in programmes made by independent production companies where the artist has an economic involvement.

Lyons told MPs the trust had not finished its inquiry and that all decisions would follow from that, with nothing being ruled in or out.

Thompson is due to report back to the trust later this week on BBC management's findings over the furore. The trust will announce the results of their investigation on Friday, 21 November.

 

19th November   

Glorifying Censorship...

UK Government make terrorism internet filter available
Link Here

Home Office Filtering technology will allow parents, schools, businesses and web users to further restrict access to websites said to be advocating or promoting terrorism.

Following joint work between the internet industry and government, web users now have the opportunity to download software allowing them to restrict access to websites that may encourage the endorsement or participation in acts of terrorism.

The software can be downloaded voluntarily and is available to parents, schools, colleges and businesses.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said, Stopping people becoming or supporting terrorists is the major long-term challenge we face. I want to give parents and guardians the power to decide what content is downloaded on their computers at home, which is why we have worked hard to develop these tools with various software companies.

 

17th November   

Oops...

BBFC harangued for 'disability themes' label
Link Here

Special People Disabled actors last night condemned a move by British film censors to label a new film featuring a disabled cast with a warning stating that the film contains disability themes.

Special People, a British, feature-length film with a cast of mainly disabled actors playing disabled characters, was given the label by the BBFC along with a 12A rating.

The director, Justin Edgar, is angry about the unnecessary labelling: I was really surprised to get this certificate. I couldn't understand why a film censor thought it was necessary to make people aware that the film had disabled people in it.

The movie – a comedy which follows a film-maker on the verge of a nervous breakdown who is enlisted to teach a class of wheelchair-users about film-making – has garnered awards and been selected for festivals around the world.

Sasha Hardway, one of the stars felt that the warning may have put people off watching it. The film is not based around disability. It's got disabled characters but the film is based around their characters not their disability. If you put 'contains disabled themes', people are going to think it's about illness and that it will be negative or depressing.

After pressure from the director and the film company, the label was removed, but not until after the company had paid for promotional material which still contains the label.

Sue Clark, a BBFC spokeswoman, said: These guidelines are there to give the public an idea of the issues we considered when classifying films. It's not designed to make any valued judgement.

 

17th November   

Scientology Exposé Covered Up...

Anti-Scientology book unlisted by UK Amazon
Link Here

Scientology protestor Amazon UK has barred the sale of a new Scientology exposé penned by a former member of the church's elite paramilitary group.

The British incarnation of the world's most popular etailer is no longer offering The Complex: An Insider Exposes the Covert World of the Church of Scientology , by John Duignan, who spent 22 years inside the top secret organization.

In a recent post to an anti-Scientology discussion forum, an Anonymous Brit says that after pre-ordering the book, he received an email from Amazon announcing it had been removed from sale for legal reasons.

The book is also no longer available at Waterstone's and is out of stock at US Amazon

The US listing describes the book like this:

For the first time ever, a former high-ranking member of the Church of Scientology is lifting the lid on life inside the world s fastest growing cult. The Complex reveals the true story behind the religion that has ensnared a Who's Who list of celebrities such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta, and convinced thousands of ordinary people to join up.

Duignan describes how two years ago he staged a dramatic escape from the elite paramilitary group at the core of the Church, the Sea Organisation, and how he narrowly evaded pursuit by Scientologists from the Office of Special Affairs. He looks back on the 22 years he served in the Church's secret army and describes the hours of sleep deprivation, brain-washing and intense auditing or religious counselling he endured, as he was moulded into a soldier of Scientology.

He talks about the money-making-machine at the heart of the Church, the Scientology goal to Clear the Planet and Get Ethics In, the training programmes, the Rehabilitation Project Force and the punishments meted out to anyone who transgresses, including children. We follow his journey through the Church and the painful investigation that leads to his eventual realisation that there is something very wrong at Scientology's core.

The Complex was published by the Dublin, Ireland-based Merlin Publishing.

 

17th November   

Culture of Easy Offence...

'window licker' comment led to being suspended from radio show
Link Here

Southern Counties Live Match logo Two presenters from BBC Southern Counties who were suspended for using the phrase 'Window Licker' on air have been re-instated.

Ian Hart and commentator Andrew Hawes are both back in position, with Andrew returning shortly after the incident on October 7th, and Ian making a come back over the weekend.

Just two people are believed to have complained about the remark, which is commonly known as a derogatory term for a mentally disabled person.

Since the incident, which took place during a phone-in show, the club and fans have been campaigning for the return of the duo. A message board broke the news of Ian Hart's return, and gained comments such as: Stop the clocks and lock the doors, thank heavens common sense has finally prevailed.

 

17th November   

Offsite: Festival of Complaints...

We'd get complaints if we bleeped The Sopranos
Link Here

Channel 4 logo A new type of complaint has recently emerged that is becoming a cultural touchstone in its own right. Where a really complained-about show normally gets a few hundred calls, the hyper-complained-about can get near to 50,000. Many of the shows in the fame/shame list gained the dubious accolade of being the most complained about of their time by getting a positively scrawny number of letters and calls by comparison.

With what now seems a measly 992, Brass Eye was the ITC's second most-complained about programme ever and Queer As Folk managed to get into the top 10 with only 163. By contrast, what we've witnessed with Brand and Ross is a national event, a festival of complaint.

Hyper-complaint scenarios are not a snapshot of an audience's offence at watching a show and then picking up the phone, instead they will build for days or weeks with a running total on Sky News and many come from people who didn't even see the programme.

...Read full article

 

16th November   

Telegraph Bitches at the BBFC...

Newspaper defines 'bitch' as a swear word for the purposes of a bollox survey
Link Here

Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden? DVD Films containing 'high levels of bad language' are being approved for children to see at the cinema, a bollox investigation by The Sunday Telegraph has found.

Ten films cleared for children's viewing were monitored for their use of expletives. In total, 'fuck' and its derivatives were used 17 times, 'bitch' 20 times, 'ass' 56 times and 'shit' 77 times.

All 10 films were passed recently by the BBFC with a rating of 12A, meaning that they can be watched in cinemas by over-12s alone, and by under-12s when accompanied by an adult.

The bollox findings come three weeks after this newspaper launched the 'Vulgar Britain' campaign, which has sparked a nationwide debate about standards on television, on radio and in films.

The investigation also found that films are being subjected to fewer cuts than ever by the BBFC. None of the 10 films studied was subjected to cuts before being awarded its 12A classification. So far this year, only five films, or 0.9% of the total released, have been required to make cuts by the BBFC to get their preferred classification - the lowest percentage since records began in 1914. Only one of the 159 films classified as 12A was subjected to cuts, even though many contain strong language, violence and scenes of a sexual nature. None of 45 films classified as 18 have had to cut any content.

Among the supposed offenders was Ghost Town , a comedy starring Ricky Gervais. It featured two uses of the 'fuck' and four 'shit'. Shotgun Stories , an American film about two sets of feuding half brothers, featured the  'fuck' three times and 'shit' 20 times. Another film monitored by this newspaper, Where in the World is Osama bin Laden? , a documentary about the war on terror directed by Morgan Spurlock, contained 'fuck' four times, 'shit' twice and the phrase ‘son of a bitch' eight times.

On its website, the BBFC, which is funded by the film industry, states that it allowed the film to be released with no cuts. It adds: The four uses of that particular term 'fuck' in this case were allowed at 12A because the work was considered to be of educational value to an adolescent audience.

Sue Palmer, the educational consultant and author of Toxic Childhood said: It is absolutely terrifying that the BBFC considers it appropriate to subject our children to this level of effing and blinding.

Nigel Algar, a senior curator of fiction at the British Film Institute, said: There is a definite drift downwards in terms of what children are considered able to view, and these decisions are sometimes surprising.

John Beyer, the director of Mediawatch-UK, said the level of swearing in 12A films was scandalous. We are spending millions of pounds on trying to improve education skills but by allowing these films through without cutting some of the swearing, the BBFC is undermining these efforts and normalising the use of obscene language by children.

A spokesman for the BBFC said: The role of the BBFC is not to see how many cuts we can make to films but to put them in the most appropriate age category. All our age category guidelines are based on extensive consultation with the public, so our classifications are a direct reflection of what the public think.

At present, the use of the f-word up to four times in a 12A film is considered acceptable. These guidelines are currently being looked at again, in a public consultation of more than 11,000 people, and if the public tell us that there is too much swearing at the 12A level, we will take this into account.

 

15th November   

A New Labour Banshee...

Shrill censorship noises from the new culture minister, Barbara Follett
Link Here

Barbara Follett Politicians are ready to introduce league tables naming the speed with which internet service providers take down supposedly 'offensive' material.

The culture minister, Barbara Follett, and her Tory shadow, Ed Vaizey, have backed the idea that web providers must be embarrassed into dealing with violent, sexually explicit web content.

Follett said she wants to see the pre-screening of material on sites such as YouTube, as occurs at present on MySpace. She claimed there was growing chaos out there on the internet, and order needed to be brought.

She has also admitted barriers aimed at preventing children from accessing over-age material on the internet are not just porous but leak like a sieve. "People can get straight through it, or straight by it."

Follett warned: We must teach children of the dangers of the internet. It is sad to make children more scared than interested, but fortunately the internet is so interesting that children tend to overcome their fear.

Discussing the internet and video games at a Westminster debate and facing suggestions that the industry is lax about controlling content, Follett said: We agree information about take-down times and levels of search need to be much clearer. Asked if she supported league tables of take-down times by internet service providers, she said name and shame can sometimes can work very well indeed.

Follett said: Many people have said that the internet is like the wild west in the gold rush and that sooner or later it will be regulated. What we need is for it to be regulated sooner rather than later.

She added: We must ensure that search engines have a clear link to child safety information and safe search settings on the front page of their website. She also said she saw some value in some form of age identity card for the internet. It is useful when it comes to alcohol and cigarettes and it is certainly useful when it comes to buying video games and other material on the internet.

The proposal for a take-down league table is backed by Vaizey. He said: The government is in a position to put out the information, and it is up to the internet service providers to react to it. If they are happy to be 55th in a league table of take-down times so be it.

Overall, Follett's remarks suggest she will be more interventionist than some other ministers, although she has stressed she favours the internet and largely thinks self-regulation is best option. She also insisted there was not yet compellingly persuasive evidence of a link between watching violent video games and subsequent acts of violence.

 

15th November   

Update: Like Lemmings...

Politicians clamour for website take downs, this time suicide related
Link Here

House of Commons logo Internet and Video Games
Westminster Hall debates
Thursday, 13 November 2008

Madeleine Moon (PPS (Rt Hon Jim Knight, Minister of State), Department for Children, Schools and Families; Bridgend, Labour)

This week, I was sent an online game to look at. The online game is called Billy Suicide. Players of the game are encouraged to stop Billy shooting himself in the head. They are encouraged to keep Billy active—to move him around the room or get him to play his guitar—and to monitor his depression, get him a cup of coffee and do things to stop him taking his life. When people playing the game do not do that, he shoots himself in the head. Someone has said to me, Well, it's just the same as the tamagotchi games. In those games, if someone does not look after their pet, it gets fleas and dies.

What sort of society do we want? What sort of society are we promulgating? I would welcome the censorship of that online game. We must set limits and boundaries when we bring up our children. As a society, we set limits and boundaries on individual behaviour. We must start setting limits and boundaries in the online world and in cyberspace. If we do not, we will give our youngsters access to information and standards that, in fact, destroy the limits and values we set in the real world. As we know, sometimes our young people spend more time interacting in the online, unreal world than they do in the real world.

I am worried about the role that these sites play in relation to social contagion, which is where access to information about suicide—the normalisation of suicide and its social acceptability—makes it more likely that others will seek to take their own lives. We must take responsibility for the distress to the families and friends I have mentioned. We must also take responsibility for prolonging the grief of those families and friends, because that adds to the risk that a member of that family will take their own life.

The Press Complaints Commission is making progress on the matter, but I agree that an industry body is needed. It is imperative that we have an 0800 number that someone can ring to get a site taken down quickly. That is something I hope will come out of Lord Carter's review. My constituent had been trying to get a site taken down for two months before she came to me—two months with no action. We cannot allow such behaviour to continue. It is too complex to track down the person in these agencies who will allow change to happen. The public need to be able to send through their comments quickly.

I have highlighted the impact of the industry on just one small community in one small area. That impact has been devastating and has blighted the lives of many people. I am so grateful that the Committee has taken the opportunity to make these recommendations, and I hope that steps will be taken across Government to improve a totally unacceptable unregulated state of affairs.

 

14th November   

Update: Tit for Tat...

Art banned by Harrow council on show to the public in Watford
Link Here  full story: Harrow Council Prudes...Nutter council gets all stuffy about nude art

Harrow Art A Watford arts organisation is making a stand against censorship as its latest exhibition opens in a local shopping centre.

Artwork from members of the Watford Area Arts Forum (WAAF) will go on show this weekend in the public gallery at the top of The Harlequin shopping centre.

Included in the exhibition will be a drawing by Cheryl Gould, one of the forum's members, whose recently was forced to take one of her pieces of work down from Harrow Arts Centre.

Harrow Council objected to the drawing, depicting a nude man, and decided it had to be removed from the exhibition to avoid offending religious members of the community and children.

Several artists have walked away from the arts centre, in Hatch End, and members of the WAAF have criticised Harrow Council's censorship of the paintings.

Jonathan Hutchins, another artist whose life paintings were withdrawn from the Harrow exhibition, has been invited to show the censored artwork in the exhibition in The Harlequin.

The upper gallery in the shopping centre, where the exhibition is taking place from tomorrow until Sunday, November 23, is open to the public and artwork on show can be seen from outside the gallery.

 

13th November   

Update: Swearing by Jamie Oliver...

Channel 4 head battles culture of conservatism
Link Here

Ministry of Food book The head of Channel 4 has defended strong language on television, saying he will not allow a culture of conservatism to stop presenters such as Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay from using offensive language.

Julian Bellamy, who is in charge of programming, said it was important that occasional errors of judgement did not usher in a new era of censorship.

Bellamy said he had no intention of reining in presenters such as Oliver, whose most recent Channel 4 show was criticised by MPs for being riddled with swearing.

He said that Channel 4 programmes, which include those fronted by the notoriously foul-mouthed Gordon Ramsay, struck a balance between reflecting how people express themselves and not using bad language gratuitously.

I think we've got the balance right with Jamie, he said: When we watch those shows it's very clear that when Jamie uses fruity language it is a real response to the shock and anger at what he sees. It's spontaneous.

He said that audiences wanted Channel 4 to push boundaries, challenge orthodoxies and take risks even if that meant that some programmes caused offence.

That doesn't mean producers should be given free rein to offend. Far from it, he said at the launch of Channel 4's winter schedule. Challenging material must be editorially justified in the proper context, with procedures in place so we don't cause undue offence. But I believe that if television loses its nerve and never risks offence it will be come a weaker and less relevant medium today.

Selected for Interrogation

Based on article from mirror.co.uk

Culture, Media and Sport select committee MPs are to question BBC chiefs about strong language on the box.

Director general Mark Thompson and the BBC Trust's Sir Michael Lyons will also be quizzed about the Manuelgate scandal involving Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand.

John Whittingdale, chairman of Culture, Media and Sport select committee, said the two men will be asked to account for a lapse in broadcasting standards. He added: The committee also intends to raise with them concerns that have arisen following the Jonathan Ross broadcast.

Watchdog Ofcom said it had no plans to review its guidelines on bad language. A spokesman said the amount of swearing in a programme was an editorial decision.

 

11th November   

Update: Shame on Dacre...

The moral shortcomings of Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre
Link Here  full story: Max Mosley Privacy...Max Mosley, spanking and Nazi sex

Daily Mail Sick Filth Daily Mail editor-in-chief Paul Dacre has launched an attack on a High Court judge, accusing him of bringing in a privacy law by the back door.

He said Mr Justice Eady had used the Human Rights Act against the age-old freedom of newspapers to expose moral shortcomings of people in high places.

Mr Justice Eady ruled in favour of motorsport boss Max Mosley in his legal action against the News of the World. He ruled in July that the paper had breached Mosley's privacy, saying he could expect privacy for consensual sexual activities (albeit unconventional).

Dacre told the audience at Society of Editors' annual conference in Bristol that the judge's amoral judgements, in this and other defamation and libel cases, were inexorably and insidiously imposing a privacy law on the press.

Dacre said this had huge implications for newspapers and for society. Public shaming had always been a vital element in defending the parameters of what are considered acceptable standards of social behaviour, he said. Without the freedom to write about scandal, newspaper sales would fall, creating worrying implications for the democratic process, he said.

Now, some revile a moralising media. Others, such as myself, believe it is the duty of the media to take an ethical stand. Either way, it is a choice but Justice Eady - with his awesome powers - has taken away our freedom of expression to make that choice.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Lord Falconer defended Mr Justice Eady's role. He said it was not necessarily acceptable for public figures to have aspects of their private lives, such as abortions and other medical treatments, reported in the newspapers.

Of course, if I'm acting hypocritically or I'm accountable, or there's something that may affect what I do in my public life which emerges from my private life, then that should be published. But there are things which are private and just as we don't want the state to know everything about us, do we want things that are legitimately private to be made public? I don't think we do.

 

10th November   

Update: Police Go Secret...

Parliament security committee seek UK government and police powers to censor news media
Link Here

Stasi Britain's security agencies and police would be given unprecedented and legally binding powers to ban the media from reporting matters of 'national security', under proposals being discussed in Whitehall.

The Intelligence and Security Committee, the parliamentary watchdog of the intelligence and security agencies which has a cross-party membership from both Houses, wants to press ministers to introduce legislation that would prevent news outlets from reporting stories deemed by the Government to be against the interests of 'national security'.

The committee also wants to censor reporting of police operations that are deemed to have implications for 'national security'. The ISC is to recommend in its next report, out at the end of the year, that a commission be set up to look into its plans, according to senior Whitehall sources.

Civil liberties groups say these restrictions would be very dangerous and damaging for public accountability. They also point out that censoring journalists when the leaks come from officials is unjustified.

But the committee, in its last annual report, has already signalled its intention to press for changes. It states: The current system for handling national security information through DA-Notices and the [intelligence and security] Agencies' relationship with the media more generally, is not working as effectively as it might and this is putting lives at risk.

The human rights lawyer Louise Christian said: This would be a very dangerous development. We need media scrutiny for public accountability. We can see this from the example, for instance, of the PhD student in Nottingham who was banged up for six days without charge because he downloaded something from the internet for his thesis. The only reason this came to light was because of the media attention to the case.

 

9th November   

Update: Beyer Bait...

Telegraph survey find majority want to ban 'fuck' on TV
Link Here

Gordan Ramsay's The F Word DVD Most people in Britain think the f-word should never be used on air, an opinion poll has found.

The survey for The Sunday Telegraph also shows that a majority believe that there is now too much swearing on television and radio, and that comedy programmes have become too vulgar.

In the nationwide poll of 1,005 adults, by ICM, 56%felt the word 'fuck' should never be broadcast. Only 36% said it should be allowed, while 9% replied it depends.

More than half – 57% – said that there was too much swearing on television and radio, while only 2% felt that there should be more, and 38% felt that broadcasters had got the balance right.

Asked whether television and radio comedy is too vulgar, 57% replied 'Yes', 39% 'No' and 4% 'Don't know'.

John Beyer, the director of Mediawatch-UK predictably called on broadcasters to take urgent action to reduce the amount of swearing on air. This poll clearly shows just how offensive the public finds certain words and how tired they are of hearing their repetitive use on air at any time of the day.

Broadcasters must take urgent action to eradicate gratuitous bad language from programmes. They are long overdue in responding to public opinion on the issue, and the poll shows that doing nothing is no longer an option.

Based on article from telegraph.co.uk

John Whittingdale John Whittingdale MP, chairman of Culture, Media and Sport select committee:

I am concerned. It appears that some broadcasters seem think that as soon as you get to 9.01pm, it is no holds barred with bad language. What seems to be getting worse is the gratuitous nature of so much of it, particularly in comedy shows where it seems to be routine for everyone to use bad language. People find that offensive.

Obviously we need to be careful about being too censorious, and swearing is permissible in some instances ...BUT... broadcasters need to be more thorough about making sure there's a good reason for it. The effect of the watershed is also being affected by the use of on demand services and services like the BBC's iPlayer, where any programme can be watched at any time of the day.

Broadcasters are also so desperate to attract the 17 to 25 demographic, they are often ignoring the offence that is caused to older viewers and listeners with some of the material put out there to try and draw in the younger audience.

Not so long ago, if some bad language was going to be aired on a programme, you would get a proper warning about the content before it was broadcast. Now we don't get that with programmes like the Graham Norton Show , Friday Night with Jonathan Ross or Mock the Week . That is something the broadcasters should address."

 

9th November   

Update: D-Censors...

More D-Notices issued by the Government
Link Here

MOD logo Seven D-notices were sent to all UK newspaper editors by the Defence Press and Broadcasting Advisory Committee (DPBAC) in 2007 and a further five so far this year, Defence Minister Kevan Jones revealed in a written parliamentary reply published.

This compares with just two being issued in each of the previous three years from 2003, one in 2002, three in 2001, two in 2000, three in 1999 and none in either 1998 or 1997.

The D-Notice system, which is a virtual blanket publication ban, is a voluntary code that began back in 1912 to provide guidance to the British media on the publication or broadcasting of national security information.

The committee, a joint government-media body, says the objective is to prevent inadvertent public disclosure of information that would compromise UK military and intelligence operations and methods, or put at risk the safety of those involved in such operations, or lead to attacks that would damage the critical national infrastructure and/or endanger lives.

No details are given of the latest bans. Some journalists have argued that the bans often include subjects that are merely unflattering to government, rather than a matter of national defence and thus are a form of soft censorship.

 

8th November   

Update: More Sachs Sacks...

BBC rolling heads and apologies over the Russell Brand Show
Link Here  full story: Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross...Winding up Andrew Sachs and Voluptua

Radio 2 logo A second BBC Radio 2 executive has resigned over the Sachsgate affair as the corporation prepares to broadcast two apologies.

The resignation of Dave Barber, the station's head of specialist music and compliance, has been confirmed in an internal email from the channel's acting controller Lewis Carnie.

The apologies will be directed to Andrews Sachs along with his granddaughter and the licence fee-payers

The first apology will air just after 10am tomorrow when Jonathan Ross, currently suspended without pay, would normally be broadcasting his radio show on BBC Radio 2.

This will be repeated just after 9pm, when Russell Brand used to be on air with his Saturday night show on the same station.

The BBC will say that the phone call to Fawlty Towers actor Andrew Sachs's answering machine should never have been recorded or broadcast. It will apologise unreservedly to Mr Sachs, Miss Baillie and to our audiences as licence fee payers in the broadcasts.

 

7th November   

Bloodier Moon...

BBFC pass another video nasty uncut
Link Here

Bloody Moon DVD Bloody Moon is a 1981 Spanish/German horror by Jess Franco

Severin have resubmitted the DVD and it has now been passed uncut by the BBFC.

Previously the video was banned as a video nasty in 1983 and passed with cuts in 1993.

From IMDb. The cuts included:

  • edits to the opening scissor murder
  • the decapitation of a woman with a circular saw
  • shots of bloodstained breasts during the stabbing of Eva.

Review from IMDb : Not the Worst

This movie is basically the infamous Jess Franco having a go at the American-style slasher films that were big in the early 80's, and what's most remarkable about it is how unremarkable it is. It's pretty violent, but except for one nasty knife exit wound there's nothing here that hasn't been done in hundreds of American slasher movies.

Why this movie got singled out for a banning in Britain is beyond me.

The most lurid thing about it is the original (very misleading)Spanish title Colegialas Violadas . (which literally translates to "Raped Schoolgirls")

It's set at an adult Spanish-language school which seems to cater exclusively to incredibly dumb and slutty German and Scandinavian women.

The girls are being stalked by two of the reddest herrings imaginable. One is a burnt youth in a Mickey Mouse mask. The other is a gardener who is always laughing maniacally and coincidentally wielding the exact same implement that has just been used to kill the latest victim.

The best thing I can say about this movie it is it is so over-the-top with its dumb victims, obvious red herrings, and ridiculously gory murders that it might have actually meant to be a parody of the slasher film. It also has some competent cinematography and is relatively zoom free. It's certainly not the WORST film Franco ever made.

 

7th November   

Update: A Worrying Mirror...

Grand Theft Auto takes the rap for sex assaults
Link Here  full story: Grand Theft Auto...Grand Theft Auto brings out the nutters

Grand Theft Auto IV game A judge attacked a violent video game as he jailed a teenager. Ryan Chinnery had subjected four women to degrading sex assaults.

Sentencing Chinnery to eight years, Judge Philip Statman said: It is not for this court to enter the controversy as to whether such conduct is encouraged by pornographic material and video games such as Grand Theft Auto. But there is a worrying mirror of conduct between that which pornography presented to you and that which you have carried out.'

He said: You were driving alone at night to select a female victim, replicating that which was in your fantasy. You have sought to dominate and humiliate women to gain sexual satisfaction. You thrive on the feeling of power and control.

Maidstone Crown Court was told that Chinnery had a secret dark side when he would spend hours playing video games, watching pornography and taking cannabis.

He attacked his first victim under a railway bridge, groping her breasts and pulling down her trousers. A month later, Chinnery stalked another woman, dragging her along a path before he was scared off by passers-by. He set upon a third woman as she made her way home from work – grabbing her arm and fleeing only when another man approached. In August last year, he grabbed a 42-year-old woman around the throat as she walked home at 2am. Her arm was broken in the struggle. Her clothes were torn off and she was sexually assaulted.

Patsy McKie, from Mothers Against Violence, said last night: The Government must ban these games as soon as possible. The only people they benefit are the makers, who cash in on the misery they have generated.

 

6th November   

Update: Cleaning up on Hypocrisy...

Daily Express editorialises for a TV clean up...
Link Here  full story: Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross...Winding up Andrew Sachs and Voluptua

Express mock up The Guardian's Media Monkey column points out a debate in the Daily Express.

After the Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross fiasco, the opinion page asks: Is It Time We Cleaned Up Television?

Yes, according to chief political commentator Patrick O'Flynn. No, according to TV critic Charlie Catchpole.

But no matter, Express owner Richard Desmond has already made up his own mind. Turn to the TV listings on page 50 and we find listings for TelevisionX, owned by one R Desmond.

Plenty to clean up there, Daily Express!

 

5th November   

Update: For Truck's Sake...It's Only a Joke...

Jeremy Clarkson humour for the 21st century
Link Here  full story: Top Gear and the Grand Tour...Top Gear and Jeremy Clarkson wind up whingers

Born to be Riled book The BBC have said complaints about the Top Gear show in which Jeremy Clarkson joked about murdering prostitutes have risen to more than 500.

The Top Gear presenter made the quip about lorry drivers killing sex workers on Sunday's BBC2 show.

The Iceni Project is  a charity which had helped some of the murdered prostitutes in Ipswich. The group's director, Brian Tobin, said: I just think it was highly distasteful and insensitive.

Speaking for campaigning group All Women Count, Cari Mitchell has said: It was a truly heartless comment.

But others held different views, including Eddie Stobart chief executive Andrew Tinkler, who said the reference was used to comically exaggerate an unfair urban myth about the world of lorry driving. He said: They were just having a laugh. It's the 21st century, let's get our sense of humour in line.

Will Shiers, editor of Truck & Driver magazine, believed most of the UK's drivers who saw the programme loved it. He said: On the whole I thought the show was really entertaining. Yes, a small number of drivers were offended by the murdering prostitute reference, but they really are in the minority. On the whole I thought the show was really entertaining. If anything it succeeded in demonstrating to car drivers just how difficult it is to drive a truck. It's all a bit shockingly sensible.

Based on article from dailymail.co.uk

Ofcom clears Clarkson over jibe that truck drivers murder prostitutes . TV censor Ofcom has said it is not planning to investigate complaints about Jeremy Clarkson's joke.

 

5th November   

Update: Taking the Rap...

Chief Constable decided to complain to Ofcom about Undercover Mosque
Link Here

Dispatches: Undercover Mosque The Chief Constable of West Midlands Police was personally responsible for the disastrous decision to complain about Channel 4's Undercover Mosque documentary exposing extremism in a Birmingham mosque, an inquiry has been told.

Paul Scott-Lee, head of the region's force, approved the decision in a conversation with another senior officer, the Home Affairs Select Committee heard.

But nobody has been disciplined for the humiliating incident, which led to the force being sued for libel in the High Court and forced to offer a grovelling apology.

Philip Gormley, Deputy Chief Constable of West Midlands Police, was quizzed in Westminster by MPs conducting an inquiry into the way forces work with the media.

Instead of prosecuting the preachers, West Midlands Police and the Crown Prosecution Service issued a press release accusing programme makers of distorting comments, and reported Channel 4 to TV watchdog Ofcom for heavily editing the words of imams to give them more sinister meaning.

But Ofcom dismissed the complaint, while Channel 4 and documentary-makers Hardcash Productions successfully sued for libel.

Gormley told MPs the Chief Constable, who has announced plans to step down next year after seven years, was responsible for the decision: He was involved in the conversation that came to that determination. The senior investigating officer at the time, in terms of the officer in overall control, was the assistant chief constable. It was at that level.

Conservative MP James Clappison asked him: So the assistant chief constable referred it to the chief constable, and the chief constable agreed? To refer it to Ofcom?

Gormley replied: Yes. Asked whether anyone had been disciplined, he said: No, nobody has been.

 

5th November   

Update: Burned at the Stake...

Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross feature on bonfire night...
Link Here  full story: Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross...Winding up Andrew Sachs and Voluptua

Ross effigy A fortnight of debate about Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross' phone incident will come to a head this weekend when a 27ft effigy of the pair is burned in a public display.

The town of Edenbridge in Kent is due to unveil this year's 'celebrity Guy' for its annual bonfire night fireworks display on 5 November.

Each year, the town chooses a newsworthy figure to immortalise in the form of a Guy. This year, the figure will be half Brand, half Ross.

The effigy will be unveiled to the press at 9am and burned during the town's Bonfire night celebrations on Saturday.

Meanwhile complaints about the Ross/Brand prank call have continued to roll into the BBC over the last few days, with the figure reaching 42,000.

 

4th November   

Jeremy Clarkson Raises His Game...

Lorry drivers...the new easily offended?
Link Here  full story: Top Gear and the Grand Tour...Top Gear and Jeremy Clarkson wind up whingers

Born to be Riled book Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson has joked that lorry drivers spend their time murdering prostitutes.

His comments were aired on Sunday night, in the midst of the outcry overphone calls made by Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand.

The pre-recorded remarks made by Clarkson were cleared for broadcast by senior BBC executives.

But they have prompted nearly 200 nutter complaints and a furious response from victim support groups and road hauliers. Ofcom, the media regulator, has also received complaints and is considering an investigation.

Clarkson and his co-presenters, James May and Richard Hammond, were taking part in a stunt for the BBC2 show which involved driving lorries around an obstacle course.

Climbing behind the wheel, Clarkson mused: What matters to lorry drivers? Murdering prostitutes? Fuel economy? This is a hard job, and I'm not just saying this to win favour with lorry drivers. It's a hard job - change gear, change gear, change gear, check your mirrors, murder a prostitute, change gear, change gear, murder. That's a lot of effort in a day.

The Road Haulage Association, which represents Britain's 9,000 haulage companies, has demanded a public apology from the presenter. Spokeswoman Kate Gibbs said: Road hauliers are having a hard enough time as it is without the kind of ridiculous comments being made. In a week following thousands of similar complaints to the BBC over comments made by Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand, this is in particularly poor taste. It is just another example of celebrities having the licence to say absolutely anything they like.

This is an unacceptable ... slur on the character of lorry drivers and the character of the industry, and it is grossly unfair. It's up to the BBC what action they take against Clarkson but we are certainly demanding an apology over these disgraceful comments.


A spokesman for the United Road Transport Union said it had been inundated with complaints from its 17,000 members: We would absoltuely condenm what he said about murdering prostitutes. It beggars belief that those words can be broadcast on TV. The BBC is an institution that is paid for by the licence fee and they should not be allowing this kind of sick joke.

Clarkson's joke is believed to be a reference to 'Suffolk Strangler' Steve Wright, jailed earlier this year for the murder of five Ipswich prostitutes. The Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe, who killed 13 women, was also a lorry driver.

The BBC issued a statement which read: The vast majority of Top Gear viewers have clear expectations of Jeremy Clarkson's long-established and frequently provocative on-screen persona. This particular reference was used to comically exaggerate and make ridiculous an unfair urban myth about the world of lorry driving, and was not intended to cause offence.

 

4th November   

An Old So and So Whinger...

Michael Grade has a go at strong language on late night TV
Link Here

Gordan Ramsay's The F Word DVD The ITV executive chairman, Michael Grade, has called for a clampdown on strong language after the 9pm watershed, saying the use of offensive words was now indiscriminate.

I do think the prevalence of bad language such as the F-word is a little bit unrestrained, Grade told a Broadcasting Press Guild lunch today: I am not calling for it to be banned but I don't think we take enough care over the use of the F-word and similar words.

It used to be that you had to get very senior sign-off to use that word in any show. I am not sure what the rules are these days. Clearly not enough consideration is given to a very large section of the audience who don't want to hear that word or such words.

You have to know where you are using it and give it some extra consideration. It seems to be indiscriminate now.

The ITV executive chairman told journalists today he was trying very hard not to sound like an old so and so, but said it was something he felt strongly about.

He said he agreed with the BBC director general, Mark Thompson ,when he said that the Brand and Ross issue was not a marginal case.

They had strayed beyond what was acceptable. They strayed into territory that was pretty horrible and indefensible in any terms, Grade added.

 

4th November   

Why I Like Knives...

HMV to withdraw Joker's knife badge
Link Here

Why I like knives cap Record store HMV has removed badges from its shelves that customers said glorified knife crime.

The £2.99 packet of four badges, based on the recent Batman film, The Dark Knight , was in the centre of a display aimed at primary school children.

One image features the bloodied face of the Joker surrounded by a circle of 12 gleaming blades and flick knives.

Another contains the slogan Let's put a smile on that face, the line used by the Joker before slashing open the mouth of a victim.

Now the store has removed the items from sale pending a review because of the sensitivities surrounding knife crime in Britain.

A spokesman for HMV said the badges would be removed from all its stores. He said: The badges are part of a licensed range from the Dark Knight/Batman film franchise, and are stocked by numerous retailers.

Whilst we have not received any direct complaints regarding their sale, and whilst we do not believe that HMV should censor the choice that it makes available to its customers, we do recognise the particular sensitivities surrounding this issue at the present time, and will therefore instruct our stores to withdraw this item from sale pending a review.

We sincerely apologise for any concern and offence caused, and we thank the Daily Mail for bringing this matter to our attention.

 

3rd November   

Bona Fide Newspeak...

Councils expunge Latin words from the English language, eg vice versa etc
Link Here

Amo Amas Amat and All That Local authorities are claim that Latin words are elitist and discriminatory, and have ordered employees to use often-wordier alternatives in documents or when speaking to the public.

Bournemouth Council has listed 19 terms it no longer considers acceptable for use. They include ad hoc, bona fide, status quo, vice versa and even via.

Mary Beard, a Cambridge professor of classics, said: 'This is absolutely bonkers and the linguistic equivalent of ethnic cleansing: English is and always has been a language full of foreign words. It has never been an ethnically pure language.

Harry Mount, author of the best-selling book Amo, Amos, Amat and All That , a light-hearted guide to the language, said: Latin words and phrases can often sum up thoughts and ideas more often than the alternatives which are put forward. They are tremendously useful, quicker and nicer sounding. They are also English words. You will find etc or et cetera in an English dictionary.

Of other local authorities to prohibit the use of Latin, Salisbury has asked staff to avoid the phrases ad hoc, ergo and QED, while Fife has banned ad hoc as well as ex officio.

 

3rd November   

Offsite: A victory for the terrorists...

Website censorship erodes the very freedoms that the home secretary purports to defend
Link Here  full story: Glorification of Censorship...Climate of fear caused by glorification of terrorsim

1st Official Website Censor

The UK has a very real problem with websites that incite terrorism, and if we are not careful the government's preferred cure could be as bad as the disease itself. Faced with the impossibility of policing material that originates from abroad, the home secretary is now planning to appoint herself the UK's first official censor.

In 2006, the government passed a law banning the display of material that "directly or indirectly" encouraged terrorism.

...

I also know, or hope I know, that the decision to close a site will not be left in the hands of humble beat officers, who have after all, previously arrested wearers of anti-Blair t-shirts for "offensiveness". That said, I'm not sure I trust more senior policemen either. After all, it was an officer with the met's obscene publications unit who leant on satirical site thinkofthechildren on the grounds it "could" incite violence. There's a weasel word, if ever there was one: so many things "could" glorify terrorism.

...

Sadly, this only catches UK-hosted websites, which are a small proportion of the whole: the most prolific inciters of terrorism lie well beyond the reach of the most dedicated UK copper. This is a biased law, but it's also a figleaf: a symptom of government pretending that something can be done.

Yet government now wishes to do more. Recently, the home office informed me that the government has been working … to develop filtering software [to protect] against illegal material that promotes or encourages terrorism

Herein lies the real risk from terrorism. It's all very well arguing that terrorism sites are pernicious, evil, etc. But what the home office is doing is equally dangerous. Substituting police opinion for due process may be operationally efficient: but it is an erosion of legality.

Replacing a properly enacted power to block banned sites with a filtering process that will permit the home secretary to censor by executive fiat strikes at the core of civil liberties in this country..

...Read full article

 

1st November   

Hackney Book Censors...

Labour censors unimpressed by Olympic critique
Link Here

Hackney that Rose Red Empire book An author banned from launching his book at a Hackney library because of his views has been welcomed to Islington with open arms.

Ian Sinclair was due to appear at the Stoke Newington Library to talk about his upcoming book Hackney, That Red Rose Empire .

But Hackney's Labour leaders intervened to cancel his reading after he published an article in the London Review of Books entitled The Olympics Scam .

A spokesman for Hackney Council said it would be inappropriate to host a book expressing controversial or political opinions.

But Councillor Ruth Polling, Islington's executive member in charge of libraries and culture, called the decision deeply troubling. She said: There will never be censorship of this sort as long as the Lib-Dems run Islington. Banning an author from speaking because of his views about the Government's incompetence is monstrous. But what's worse is the Labour council's blanket statement that controversial opinions are no longer welcome in their libraries. Libraries should be a place for discourse and free thinking. I'm pleased to offer Islington's libraries for Mr Sinclair's book launch.

 

31st October   

Update: BBFC Red Lights Elspa...

BBFC unsurprisingly unimpressed by Elspa symbols
Link Here  full story: The Byron Report...Tanya Byron reports on media child protection

Elspa ratings The BBFC has told Edge it is taking legal advice after observing that the newly-proposed 'traffic-light' PEGI symbols bear a striking resemblance to its own.

The BBFC believes such a system is around already. Our classification symbols have been colour-coded since 1982. They're very widely recognised, and in fact they are trademark and copyright protected, a company spokesperson told Edge.

We're happy for ELSPA to make sensible improvements, but not if they encroach on the protection of the BBFC's symbols. We have these symbols using colours, using circles and using numbers, so we are now taking legal advice.

 

31st October   

Update: I've Also Fucked Your Auntie...

Heads roll at the BBC over Russell Brand prank...
Link Here  full story: Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross...Winding up Andrew Sachs and Voluptua

Radio 2 logo The BBC has ordered a fundamental review of taste and decency standards across the network in an attempt to end the row about the prank phone calls that has engulfed the corporation.

The controller of Radio 2, Lesley Douglas, one of the most influential figures in the radio and music industries, was forced to resign, while Jonathan Ross, the highest-paid man in British broadcasting, has been suspended for 12 weeks without pay. His Radio 2 presenting colleague Russell Brand resigned on Wednesday.

The BBC Trust ordered an on-air apology to licence fee-payers for serious and deliberate breaches of editorial guidelines, and asked the director general, Mark Thompson, to write a personal apology for the scandal. He declined to comment on the future of more junior staff involved but promised to conduct a review of broadcasting guidelines.

Last night's edition of Never Mind the Buzzcocks was also cancelled as it featured Brand – a subsequent version of the show was broadcast in its place. The BBC said it had no plans to show the program at a later date.

The BBC announced a raft of measures it was taking to prevent something similar happening again, including a review of compliance procedures across radio output, and a study into where the appropriate boundaries of taste and standards should lie across all BBC output. Sessions will be held with senior staff on the lessons to be learnt. The director of BBC audio and music will also ensure that all programmes are re-assessed for editorial risk and those with high risk will have additional... oversight.

 

30th October   

Update: The Battle of Newman Street...

Westminster Council want Banksy CCTV mural removed
Link Here  full story: Mural of Censorship...Council offended by critical graffiti

One Nation Under CCTV The case of Westminster council versus Banksy raises an interesting legal precedent. Normally permission to paint a wall is only required from a local authority if the building is of listed historic value or the painting is commercial in nature, but now artistic judgement appears to come into it.

Westminster council first sought to remove Banksy's painting One nation under CCTV on Newman street in central London on the grounds it was an unlicensed commercial.

The owner of the property itself is apparently happy for the painting to remain in place so Westminster council has now sought consultation with local residents in order to prove the painting is having a detrimental affect on the area.

Referring to the adjacent Post Office building who have sought the paintings removal since it first appeared Banksy said I don't know what next door is complaining about — their building is so ugly the 'No Trespassing' sign reads like an insult.

All of which leaves the possibility for what is believed to be the first recorded use of the 2003 Anti-social Behaviour act which for the first time gives councils the ability to enter private premises and force the removal of graffiti. A measure introduced by David Blunkett and which Banksy attacked at the time in a series of paintings and statements.

 

29th October   

Update: My Traffic Lights are Better than Yours...

Elspa proposes its own age ratings in traffic light colours
Link Here  full story: The Byron Report...Tanya Byron reports on media child protection

Elspa ratings The video games trade organisation, Elspa, has proposed a solution to the ongoing games ratings controversy.

Elspa supports a 'traffic-light'-type system as part of its voluntary ratings code that it says is more effective.

The BBFC dismissed the effort, saying their own colour-coded approach is well-established.

A government consultation on the matter due to finish in November aims to agree a legally enforceable ratings scheme.

Elspa's proposal would maintain the Pegi procedure and age limits, but says it has taken a lead from the food industry by adding 'traffic light' colours. Higher age limits would be red, with more general audience titles tagged green.

We're offering this idea as a direct consequence of the Byron review; the system needs to remove the potential for confusion and this is what we're doing, Elspa deputy director general Michael Rawlinson told the BBC: The system provided by Pegi is very robust, but we want to make it clearer that something that's for adults only should have that warning colour with it.

Sue Clark, a spokeswoman for the BBFC, dismissed the effort, saying that colour was not the prevalent issue in the debate: Changing the colours of the Pegi symbols is not copying the food industry. There is a system in place already which people know and understand and which in fact uses the traffic light colours, and it's called the BBFC system.

The government consultation will finish on 20 November, with a final decision expected in the new year.

 

29th October   

Propaganda Street...

Tories want TV soaps to be used for social engineering
Link Here

Coronation Street DVD Popular soaps such as Hollyoaks and Home and Away are failing in their duty to tackle some of the major social problems in society, according to the Conservatives.

Jeremy Hunt, the shadow culture secretary, will say that soap operas such as Hollyoaks should not endorse negative social behaviour such as binge drinking

In a speech on public service broadcasting, Hunt will criticise shows popular among young viewers, saying they are riddled with references to alcohol.

It's not good enough for Channel 4 to say they are doing their bit with a Dispatches programme on alcohol abuse like Drinking Yourself to Death when 18% of the screen time in Hollyoaks was accounted for by alcohol references, he will tell an audience at the London School of Economics. Nor can Five claim to be doing their bit with Diet Doctors Inside Out when the gym instructor in Home and Away is seen with alcohol in 50% of his scenes

He will add: I'm not saying there should be no alcohol references in any soaps. To deliver large audiences, programmes need to reflect the world in which we actually live and not some Truman Show fantasy of what we would like it to be. Nor do we want to fall into the trap of co-opting broadcasters into social engineering.

...BUT... just as it would be wrong in a plural and democratic society to require broadcasters to produce programmes that meet government objectives and promote social behaviour, so it is also wrong for broadcasters to produce programmes that legitimise negative social behaviour.