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UK News

2009: Oct-Dec

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31st December   

Taking the Self Censorship Rap...

Eminem to tone down his tour act to avoid picket protests
Link Here

Reports indicate that Eminem has promised Wireless Festival promoters he will drop lyrics from his act considered to be homophobic. In return, gay rights groups have promised not to picket the summer event.

Citing a festival insider, the Daily Mail says Wireless Festival organizers were worried that gay rights groups protesting Eminem's first major U.K. tour in nine years might disrupt the yearly multi-day festival.

When Em toured the United Kingdom in 2001, gay rights group OutRage! accused the rapper of using homophobic lyrics and protested outside venues while he was performing.

The organisers were afraid campaigners could potentially ruin the event, the inside source told the Daily Mail. So there was a lot of to-ing and fro-ing and Eminem only agreed to sign up when assurances had been made that there would not be any protests, adding that any demonstration would have been disastrous.


20th December   

Updated: Unredeemed...

Redemption Films goes into administration
Link Here

The cult movie empire of Redemption Films has collapsed into administration.

The company, based in Wigmore Street, Soho, was set up by Nigel Wingrove.

Administrators were called in to the distributor of gothic horror movies, whose past titles range from Sinful Nuns Of St Valentine to Koo Stark's cult 1977 hit The Marquis De Sade's Justine.

Wingrove set up Redemption in 1992 after directing Visions Of Ecstasy , the only film to have been refused a licence by censors on grounds of blasphemy. He also manages the Satanic Sluts, the burlesque dance group of Georgina Baillie, the granddaughter of Andrew Sachs who was at the centre of the Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand telephone scandal.

Vantis administrators said it hoped to complete a sale of the business in the next few days .

Update: Salvation of Redemption

20th December 2009. Based on article from

On the 14th of December The Salvation Group Limited acquired all of the assets of Redemption Films Limited in Administration. Redemption Films will resume as a trading name of The Salvation Group Limited and to the extent possible it is the intention to again deal in the films and products previously managed by Redemption Films Limited in Administration.


18th December   

What Does TV Like Mean?...

Ofcom vaguely regulate Television on Demand
Link Here

TV-like video-on-demand services get regulated by Ofcom and the self-regulatory Association for Television On-Demand (ATVOD) starting 16th December.

This is the UK implementation of the European Commission's 2007 Audio-Visual Media Services (AVMS) directive, which extended regulation to television-like online services.

The new regs mean VOD shows must not contain any incitement to hatred based on race, sex, religion or nationality ; must provide appropriate protection for minors against harmful material and sponsored programmes and services must comply with applicable sponsorship requirements .

But AVMS left TV-like wide open (certainly ITV (LSE: ITV) Player, for example, but what about YouTube and Bebo shows?) And Ofcom, too, is vague on which services must fall in line…

It commissioned Essential Research to ask viewers what they think TV-like means. In an 80-page report, they suggest it means professionally-produced shows with which they are familiar. But, buried in a separate 88-page report, Ofcom says it won't know which providers the new scope will cover until new government regulations are brought in March 2010.

Even at the point, the new framework looks half-cocked….Ofcom is leaving it to the services themselves to notify it on whether they should be regulated. —The services will have to pay a fee for the privilege. —Services that do so must keep VOD material for 42 days after it was last made available.


17th December   

Compliance Failures...

Ofcom rewrite their TV censorship rules
Link Here

Ofcom has published its revised 2009 Broadcasting Code (the 2009 Code) which sets censorship rules for TV and radio broadcasts.

The 2009 Code refreshes aspects of rules that have been in force since July 2005. It continues to set out what is acceptable to broadcast and covers such areas as the protection of under-eighteens, harm and offence, fairness and privacy and commercial references in programmes.

The main revisions involve a clarification of parts of the Code to help broadcasters avoid compliance failures particularly in relation to audience competitions and voting, and the broadcast of sexual material.

The changes to the Code also incorporate the requirements of the European Audiovisual Media Services (AVMS) Directive which must be implemented by 19 December 2009.

The new rules do not change current regulatory practice, but offer a clarification of the rules to benefit broadcasters and audiences and help minimise future compliance failures. Sexual Material

There have been a number of compliance failures concerning the broadcast of sexual material on TV. The 2005 Code contained rules to ensure that material of a sexual nature was appropriately scheduled and, where appropriate, access to it was restricted in order to protect under-eighteens.

We consider it helpful to revise the rules about sexual material and to clarify Ofcoms guidance in this area. Again, there is no change to the current regulatory practice, only a clarification of the rules and guidance to benefit broadcasters and audiences, in order to minimise the risk of material being broadcast which is in breach of the Code.

The section of the code concerning sexual material now reads:

Sexual material

1.17 Material equivalent to the British Board of Film Classification ( BBFC ) R18-rating must not be broadcast at any time.

1.18 Adult sex material - material that contains images and/or language of a strong sexual nature which is broadcast for the primary purpose of sexual arousal or stimulation - must not be broadcast at any time other than between 2200 and 0530 on premium subscription services and pay per view/night services which operate with mandatory restricted access.

In addition, measures must be in place to ensure that the subscriber is an adult.

Meaning of mandatory restricted access : Mandatory restricted access means there is a PIN protected system (or other equivalent protection) which cannot be removed by the user, that restricts access solely to those authorised to view.

1.19 Broadcasters must ensure that material broadcast after the watershed which contains images and/or language of a strong or explicit sexual nature, but is not adult sex material as defined in Rule 1.18 above, is justified by the context. (See Rules 1.6 and 1.18 and Rule 2.3 in Section Two: Harm and Offence which includes meaning of context .)

1.20 Representations of sexual intercourse must not occur before the watershed (in the case of television) or when children are particularly likely to be listening (in the case of radio), unless there is a serious educational purpose. Any discussion on, or portrayal of, sexual behaviour must be editorially justified if included before the watershed, or when children are particularly likely to be listening, and must be appropriately limited.


17th December   

UK Internet Censorship...

Clause 11 of the Digital Economy Bill
Link Here
Full story: Digital Economy Act...Clause 11 grants government control of the internet

There is a new bill in the UK called the Digital Economy Bill that would allow the Secretary of State to basically force ISPs to do the censorial dirty work. Clause 11 in the new proposal will block sites that speaks out against governments, against the new world order and those that expose the deceit of things like Climategate, fistgate etc

According to a British legal blogger Francis Davey they can censor sites like Wikileaks or any sites they dont like or agree with. The most shocking part of is clause 11 which says the following:

11 Obligations to limit internet access

After section 124G of the Communications Act 2003 insert—

124H Obligations to limit internet access

(1) The Secretary of State may at any time by order impose a technical

obligation on internet service providers if the Secretary of State

considers it appropriate in view of—

(a) an assessment carried out or steps taken by OFCOM under section 124G; or

(b) any other consideration.

(2) An order under this section must specify the date from which the technical obligation is to have effect, or provide for it to be specified.

(3) The order may also specify—

(a) the criteria for taking the technical measure concerned against a subscriber;

(b) the steps to be taken as part of the measure and when they are to be taken.

This bill is the same thing being implemented in Australia. Any government that censors the internet is not for the people and is against free speech and should be considered the enemy of the people. Internet censorship is the only way to stop people against governments will draconian laws and tyrants in the making.

Without free and open internet governments can make any country look like a fairy tale while total chaos reigns on the inside, just like we saw recently with Iran.

The internet should be open, free and fair to all people.


17th December   

Update: Stubbed Out...

Liverpool 18 rated smoking films proposal rejected
Link Here
Full story: Adult Rating for Smoking...Anti-smoking lobby for 18 for smoking in films

Proposals to rate films showing smoking as 18 certificates were rejected by Liverpool councillors.

The proposals put forward by Liverpool Primary Care Trust were rejected by an overwhelming majority despite impassioned pleas from health executive Cllr Ron Gould.

But full council heard members on both political sides attack what they claimed amounted to censorship on the grounds of public health .

The PCT has spent months preparing and consulting on its case for the ban, which it insisted would only cover new productions which show smoking in a positive light.


15th December   

Council propaganda Magazines Remain Unregulated...

But trade association decides that online magazines should be regulated by the Press Complaints Commission
Link Here

As part of its industry consultation, the Press Standards Board of Finance Ltd (PressBoF) has decided that local authority publications should not be brought within the remit of the Press the Press Complaints Commission (PCC).

It has decided against doing so on the basis that such publications tend to be marketing material, the board announced today.

PressBoF, independent of the PCC, is responsible for raising a levy on the newspaper and magazine industry to finance the Commission.

Extended PCC Remit to Online Magazines

Based on article from

The industry consultation also decided that online-only publications – mainly magazine sites – should come under the PCC's remit.

PressBoF chairman Guy Black said: The internet is an increasingly important platform for publishers to reach consumers.

While online versions of newspapers and magazines available in printed form come within the remit of the PCC, there is a gap to the extent that online-only publications do not.

This decision is a logical development in self-regulation, recognising the moves in the magazine sector towards online-only titles, and underlines the effectiveness of our system .

PCC chairman Baroness Buscombe said: We welcome the decision by the industry. The PCC needs this freedom to develop rapidly to meet the challenges and the opportunities presented by media convergence.


15th December   

Censored Out of Contention...

Trade association called for lighter touch media regulation to help fend off foreign competition
Link Here

A report has called on the Government to overturn media regulation to ensure the UK is not left behind in the TV, internet and social media industries.

The British Screen Advisory Council has published a paper outlining the changes taking places across the audiovisual sector (film, TV, internet videos, games, social media) and how the Government and regulators need to react to the changes.

The paper concludes: The global democratisation in content creation and dissemination has only just begun and the UK must be part of it. In approaching the issues, our overriding focus has been the development of this audiovisual industry's capability as an enterprise sector and important contributor to wealth creation.

BSAC is an independent body, funded by the media industry, which represents executives in TV, film, satellite, cable and digital media.

The council believes that, while the UK audiovisual industry appears healthy, its competitiveness is being hit by cheaper, foreign, educated workforces. The council is now calling for lighter touch media regulation in the UK. It concludes: A light and focused set of government policies and regulations must be designed to help industry meet the challenges head on.


13th December   

Update: Libel Reform...

Simon Singh asks for people to sign petition
Link Here
Full story: Censorship by Libel...British libel law allows the rich to censor the truth

It has been 18 months since I was sued for libel after publishing my article on chiropractic. I am continuing to fight my case and am prepared to defend my article for another 18 months or more if necessary. The ongoing libel case has been distracting, draining and frustrating, but it has always been heartening to receive so much support, particularly from people who realise that English libel laws need to be reformed in order to allow robust discussion of matters of public interest. Over twenty thousand people signed the statement to Keep Libel Laws out of Science, but now we need you to sign up again and add your name to the new statement.

The new statement is necessary because the campaign for libel reform is stepping up a gear and will be working on much broader base. Sense About Science has joined forces with Index on Censorship and English PEN and their goal is to reach 100,000 or more signatories in order to help politicians appreciate the level of public support for libel reform. We have already met several leading figures from all three main parties and they have all showed signs of interest. Now, however, we need a final push in order to persuade them to commit to libel reform.

Finally, I would like to make three points. First, I will stress again - please take the time to reinforce your support for libel reform by signing up at Second, please spread the word by blogging, twittering, Facebooking and emailing in order to encourage friends, family and colleagues to sign up. Third, for those supporters who live overseas, please also add your name to the petition and encourage others to do the same; unfortunately and embarrassingly, English libel laws impact writers in the rest of the world, but now you can help change those laws by showing your support for libel reform. While I fight in my own libel battle, I hope that you will fight the bigger battle of libel reform.


12th December   

Update: Glorified Censorship...

Student given 6 months in jail for DVD containing scenes of terrorist atrocities
Link Here
Full story: Glorification of Censorship...Climate of fear caused by glorification of terrorsim

A Pakistani student was sentenced to six months in prison for sending a DVD containing scenes of terrorist atrocities to his neighbours.

Illegal immigrant Bilal Malik a student at Dundee University, admitted a breach of the peace.

He faces deportation after serving his sentence.


11th December   

Scoring Birdies...

Tiger Woods gets court injunction to ban nude images
Link Here

Tiger Woods has won an injunction banning the English media from publishing new details about his personal life, after instructing London-based lawyers to take legal action.

The move, described by lawyers as unbelievable , prevents the media from publishing material that the US media would be able to publish, prompting further anger about the ability of foreign litigants to take advantage of repressive English laws.

This injunction would never have been granted in America , the media lawyer Mark Stephens said. It's unbelievable that Tiger Woods' lawyers have been able to injunct the UK press from reporting information here .

The injunction, granted by high court judge Mr Justice David Eady, comes amid intense press speculation about the golfer's alleged extra-marital affairs.

US media are reporting that the high court has blocked the publication of nude photos of Woods. The golfer's British lawyers, Schillings, deny that the nude photos exist and 'suggest' that any images in circulation have been doctored.

Woods would not have got an injunction like this in America, Gavin Millar QC, a barrister at Doughty Street Chambers, said. Privacy law is weaker in America than it is here. It is not articulated as a constitutional right and it's subject to much stronger rights to publish on the internet. The material may already be available in America, but in this country what Mr Justice Eady and others say is that unless it is in the public domain here, by virtue of having been published by the national media , they don't acknowledge that it is already in the public domain. The entire universe could be looking at it and it doesn't matter , Millar added. But clearly there is no point maintaining an injunction that is completely pointless.

But the injunction obtained by Woods, although it prevents publishing details of the photographs, marks a move away from the most repressive injunctions, experts say. The emergence of so-called super injunctions, which prevent the media reporting that an injunction exists, was revealed by the Guardian in October after the oil trading firm Trafigura obtained an order prevented any reporting of proceedings such as the one brought by Woods.

I suspect the Trafigura case has had something to do with this, said Millar. The whole question of whether they and judges are using their power in private hearings is very important, and they are now much warier of making super injunctions.


11th December   

Update: Coalition for Libel Reform...

Campaigners regroup to reform Britain's libel laws
Link Here
Full story: Censorship by Libel...British libel law allows the rich to censor the truth

England’s libel laws are unjust, against the public interest and internationally criticised — there is urgent need for reform this is the message performers, writers, poets, patient groups, legal experts, broadcasters, journalists and others represented by the Coalition for Libel Reform (English PEN, Index on Censorship and Sense About Science) are sending to politicians urging them to support a bill for major reforms of the English libel laws now, in the interests of fairness, the public interest and free speech.

At the launch of the National Campaign for Libel Reform on Thursday, performers and others urged the public to sign a petition demanding reform of the libel laws, highlighting that for the first time in over a century we have an opportunity to change our unfair and repressive libel laws.


10th December   

A Variety of Innuendo...

Whinging about Patrick McGuinness at the Royal Variety Performance
Link Here

The Daily Mail reports that audience members including the Queen and young children were left 'stunned' after comedian Patrick McGuinness delivered a number of sexual innuendoes during his stand-up routine at the Royal Variety Performance.

McGuinness made references to his genitalia and included a jibe at presenter Paul O'Grady's sexuality. He arrived on stage mid-way through the show. Part of his act included a spoof guide to living in the north of England, which he directed at the Queen and Prince Philip.

Using a pointer as a prop for the sketch he welcomed the Monarch before saying: I know what you're thinking. I've got a small pointer. But my girlfriend always tells me that the smallest acorns make the biggest oaks.

It drew muted reaction from the 3,000 audience members before he addressed the Queen once again and made a remark about the sexuality of Paul O'Grady. In reference to the openly gay Liverpool-born presenter, he told her: You may be the Queen of our country, but we've got our own queen here in the north. Paul O'Grady. Royal audience: The Queen

Now ITV producers say that they are considering whether or not the offending material breaches the company's guidelines and if it is unsuitable for a family audience.

Nutter groups have said ITV must cut the smutty gags from the show ahead of its broadcast at 7.30pm next Wednesday.

McGuinness continued with his set before proclaiming the virtues of a local Indian restaurant telling the gathered crowd: You haven't lived until you've had eight of Ahmed's peshwari balls in your mouth. The gag was again greeted with nervous laughter.

A spokesman for ITV said that the show would be edited to adhere to strict pre-watershed guidelines but said it was too early to say whether McGuinness's comments would be cut: The Royal Variety Performance transmits at 7.30pm and programmes comply with all regulatory guidelines. In addition, the performance is recorded as live, but is edited so that it fits into the allotted running time.

A spokesman for Mediawatch UK, who campaign for responsible broadcasting, said that it hoped ITV would ensure the programme was suitable for a family audience.

Vivienne Pattison said: Broadcasters make a big deal about the watershed in order to protect children and I'd like to see that taken seriously. I'd like to think ITV will take all the necessary steps to make sure that the Royal Variety Show is suitable for a pre-watershed audience.

A spokesman for Buckingham Palace refused to say whether the Queen had been offended by any of the comments made on stage by McGuinness.


9th December   


Man prosecuted for 'realistic' photo of intercourse with a tiger
Link Here


The latest dangerous pictures victim is Andrew Holland who is accused of possessing an extreme pornographic image which portrayed a person performing an act of intercourse with a tiger. This was supposedly realistic and grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise of an obscene character.

Holland is also accused of possessing an extreme pornographic image which resulted in or was likely to result in serious injury to a person's genitals and which was grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise of an obscene character.

Holland appeared briefly before Wrexham Magistrates Court where the case was committed to be heard at Mold Crown Court on New Year's Eve.

Both charges relate to June 10 and his solicitor Euros Jones told the court his client was intending to plead not guilty.


8th December   

Update: Zip It, Block It, Flag It...

Lessons in internet safety to be added to the school curriculum
Link Here
Full story: The Byron Report...Tanya Byron reports on media child protection

Lessons in using the internet safely are set to become a compulsory part of the curriculum for primary school children in England from 2011. Children will also be encouraged to follow an online Green Cross Code and block and report inappropriate content.

The Zip it, Block it, Flag it campaign is intended for use by schools, retailers and social networks, although it will be up to individual sites to choose how they use it.

The campaign intends to encourage children to not give out personal information on the web, block unwanted messages on social networks and report any inappropriate behaviour to the appropriate bodies, which may include the website, teachers or even police.

False pictures posted on social networking sites will have to be removed by host companies within 24 hours of a complaint under internet safety rules published today.

Companies will also be forced to apply far more effective privacy settings or lockdowns for parents to use on search engines so that young people do not stray on to pornographic or violent sites.

The two new requirements on the industry are part of the Government's long-delayed child internet safety strategy, which will be launched by Ed Balls, the Children's Secretary, and Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary.

Ministers delayed their final strategy because negotiations between safety campaigners and the internet companies proved so tortuous. Companies fiercely resisted moves to burden adult internet users with cumbersome safety features that would slow down or restrict access to the web. Some were also sceptical that many parents would use features such as privacy settings or filtering software because they do not understand how it all works.

However, after months of discussions the industry has agreed to independent oversight of all the new policies so that progress can be objectively monitored. They had initially wanted to self-regulate. One of the big consultancy companies is likely to be asked to take on the oversight task.

The new strategy is called Click Clever Click Safe and was drawn up by the UK Council for Child Internet Safety. The creation of the council, a coalition of government, industry and charities, was one of Dr Tanya Byron's recommendations. She said that it should be the conscience of the industry, encouraging it to take a greater responsibility for removing inappropriate content promptly, promoting and improving parental control software and regulating online advertising.

The strategy is thought to be the first of its kind and ministers hope it will be adopted around the world.


7th December   

Rat Surprise...

I'm a celebrity get me out of court
Link Here

I TV has apologised after a rat was killed and cooked during this year's I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!

It also said it would tighten up its procedures. The producers will not face charges over alleged animal cruelty on the show, Australian police have said. However charges are being brought against the winner, chef Gino D'Acampo and contestant Stuart Manning after they cooked a rat to eat. The pair have been ordered to appear in court on 3 February 2010.

The RSPCA in New South Wales said it was not acceptable an animal had been killed as part of a performance.

The production was asked if a rat could be caught and eaten by the celebrities in exile camp to supplement the basic rations they had been provided with for their evening meal, said a spokesman for ITV. Having sought health and safety advice, the go-ahead was given purely on this basis... the production was unaware that killing a rat could be an offence.

He added that ITV accepted that further inquiries should have been made. ITV apologises for this error, and to the celebrities concerned, and will put in place procedures for next year's series to ensure that this cannot happen again.

During the series, the contestants were divided into two groups, one of which was in exile with meagre rations. D'Acampo decided to kill and eat the rat to add meat to the group's meal. He told the show's video diary room, the Bush Telegraph: It's not done by choice but it's done because we need it. We need some kind of protein, we need some kind of flavour. I saw one of these rats running around. I got a knife, I got its throat, I picked it up.

Fellow contestant George Hamilton spoke out in defence of D'Acampo, telling the Daily Mirror that ITV producers had given them permission to eat the rodent.

The actor said: I went into the Bush Telegraph and said, 'May we eat a rat?' They were a bit shocked, thought about it and then said we could. It was a very good dinner.


7th December   

Take Down...

IWF will write to foreign website hosts to ask them to remove banned images
Link Here

The IWF has decided to start issuing take-down notices directly to foreign hosting where it finds child abuse images.

Until now the IWF relied on foreign partner hotlines and law enforcement agencies when it discovers child abuse images hosted on foreign hosting services. This has been strongly criticised as resulting in slow take-down times.

The IWF's web page describing their blocking initiative has been updated :

We consider removal at source to be the most effective way of combating child sexual abuse images online and other criminal content within our remit which has been almost eradicated from UK networks. [...] Whilst child sexual abuse images hosted abroad remain available, the UK internet industry has voluntarily agreed to block access to them using a list provided by the IWF. We consider blocking to be a short-term disruption tactic which can help protect internet users from stumbling across these images, whilst processes to have them removed are instigated.


6th December   

Update: Internet Panic...

Social networking sites to add panic buttons
Link Here
Full story: The Byron Report...Tanya Byron reports on media child protection

Facebook and other social networking websites are to install panic buttons so children can alert the sites' operators if obscene or inappropriate material is posted.

The site is among 140 companies, charities and other groups who have signed up to new internet standards recommended by Tanya Byron, the government's adviser on online safety. Ed Balls, the schools secretary, and Alan Johnson, the home secretary, will announce the new voluntary code on Tuesday. Gordon Brown may also take part in the launch.

The panic button system, similar to one already announced by Bebo, requires companies to display prominently on their websites how children can report offensive or inappropriate content and to respond promptly.

Other provisions include giving parents greater control over how their children use the internet, with sites obliged to provide safe search facilities and controls with which parents can restrict access to offensive or bullying pages.

The guidelines will concentrate on websites moderated by staff, such as chatrooms, instant messaging and search websites. Details will be drawn up by the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS), set up following a review by Byron published in March last year. They will be published in the summer.


5th December

 Offsite: Climate Debate...

Link Here
Climate change: free speech for the sceptics?

See article from


2nd December   

Music to the Nutter Ear...

Conservatives have a whinge at exempt from classification music videos
Link Here

The Conservatives have called on the Government to change the law which says that DVDs or videos primarily concerned with sport, religion or music do not have to carry ratings.

Recordings with content that is designed to inform, educate or instruct are also exempt from carrying warnings under the Video Recordings Act 1984.

The Conservatives warned that depictions of self-mutilation, erotic dancing, sex toys and drug use are now widely available to youngsters in music and sport DVDs.

As the law currently stands, videos in these categories are not classified and may be bought by anyone, regardless of age.

Under the Digital Economy Bill, the Government is reforming the Video Recordings Act to update the classification system for video games. However, Tory culture spokesprat Jeremy Hunt warned that ministers have failed to close the 'loophole'.

One DVD of the band Slipknot, which is freely available in stores and on the internet, glamorises self-mutilation by young people who are seen carving the name of the band on to their bodies. Enlarge violence graphic

Another music documentary American Hardcore: The History of American Punk Rock 1980 - 1986 contains references to raping a woman. The heavy metal group Black Dahlia Murder's DVD Majesty features the band members taking copious amounts of drugs.

Hunt said: It is good news that the age rating of potentially harmful video games is being put on a statutory basis. However, it is really worrying that the Government hasn't done more to close some serious loopholes for other harmful content. Shockingly, in some cases it is actually legal to sell this sort of thing to children.

A Department of Culture spokesman said: Music, sports or religious videos lose their exemption from classification if they depict sexual activity, mutilation, gross violence or other practices likely to cause offence. If unclassified videos are on sale when they shouldn't be, it is for the appropriate enforcement authorities to take action.


1st December   

25th Hour Warning...

BBC 1 interrupts film with strong language warning
Link Here

The Guardian columnist Charlie Brooker noticed that the BBC thought the language was so strong in the film 25th Hour that it required a warning - in the middle of the film!

The online reaction is that this seem a tad too far, even considering BBC 1's propensity for censorship (unlike its sister station BBC 2!).


29th November   

Diplomatic Incident...

Stephen Fry called to explain Channel 4 News comments to Polish ambassador
Link Here

Channel 4 logoStephen Fry has been summoned to the Polish embassy in London on Monday to provide the ambassador with an explanation of his supposedly offensive comments last month about about Auschwitz.

Yes, he is having lunch at the embassy, confirms a spokesman for the Polish ambassador, Barbara Tuge-Erecinska. This meeting is connected to Mr Fry's remarks on Channel 4. They will discuss a range of issues.

In a debate about the Conservatives' links with Poland's Law and Justice party, Fry appeared to accuse Polish Catholics of being complicit in the Final Solution . Remember which side of the border Auschwitz was on, he said.

The Polish embassy had accused Stephen Fry of slander after he suggested Poles had played a role in the Holocaust.

He made the comments on Channel 4 news while talking about the Conservative Party's links with Poland's Law and Justice party. The party has members that have faced accusations of anti-Semitism and homophobia, and Fry appeared to hint that Poland may hold some responsibility for the mass murder of European Jews.

Let's face it, there has been a history in Poland of right-wing Catholicism, which has been deeply disturbing for those of us who know a little history, and remember which side of the border Auschwitz was on, he said.


29th November   

Foul, Disgusting and Blasphemous...

What did Life of Brian ever do for us?
Link Here

Monty Python's Life of Brian premiered in America in August 1979 and immediately caused a brouhaha. The Rabbinical Alliance declared the film foul, disgusting and blasphemous . The Lutheran Council described it as profane parody . Not to be outdone, the Catholic Film Monitoring Office made it a sin even to see the film. Audiences, however, loved it, making Brian the most successful British movie in North America that year.

To counter the mounting protests in Britain, an ingenious advertising campaign was launched featuring the mothers of John Cleese and Terry Gilliam. Muriel Cleese said that if the film didn't do well, and as her son was on a percentage, she may very well be evicted from her nice retirement home – and that the move might kill her. She won an award for the ad.

Mary Whitehouse failed to prove that the film was blasphemous, particularly since Christ and Brian are distinctly shown as different people. Nevertheless, a number of local councils banned it – including some that didn't even have a cinema. The result was coach parties being organised in places such as Cornwall (where it was banned) to cinemas in Exeter (where it wasn't). The Swedish marketed the film as so funny it was banned in Norway .

Time can be rather harsh on comedies, but Life of Brian holds up very well after 30 years, and still has the power to shock. However, current tastes and sensitivities make it highly unlikely that a comedy group would even attempt making a film like Brian today.


28th November

 Offsite: Filthy English...

Link Here
An Uncensored History of Swearing on Television

See article from


22nd November   

The Digital Economy Bill...

PEGI age ratings to be legally enforced for the sale of video games in the UK
Link Here

The digital economy bill announced in the Queen's Speech will change the way that video games are given age classifications, making age ratings compulsory for all boxed games designed for those aged 12 or above. The Digital Britain report in June called for rules to be introduced that would make it illegal to sell a video game rated 12 or over to an underage buyer, and take away the classification of games from the BBFC.

The report included plans to introduce the PEGI or Pan-European Game Information system, already used in many EU states, as the sole method of classifying video games. It would replace the current hybrid system – which results in games with both a BBFC and PEGI stamp – under which the BBFC only had to classify games that depicted gross violence or sexual content while all other games were classified on a voluntary basis.

Instead, the report called for the Video Standards Council to take over age rating with all games having to be classified. Any developer making a false declaration about a game's content would face a fine of €500,000 (£425,000). The VSC will be able to ban games it believes are inappropriate for the UK market.

The current PEGI ratings are 3, 7, 12, 16 and 18. The 12 rating, for instance, allows violence of a slightly more graphic nature than would be found in, say, Tom and Jerry cartoons, but only towards fantasy characters. They can also include non-graphic violence towards human-looking characters or recognisable animals. The 12 rating also covers video games that show nudity of a slightly graphic nature but any bad language in this category must be mild and fall short of sexual expletives


20th November   

Updated: Nutters Pissed...

School kids try ethanol after seeing the idea on Waterloo Road
Link Here

Six pupils were taken to hospital after drinking ethanol the day after watching similar scenes in the BBC drama Waterloo Road .

Five girls and a boy, aged 14 and 15, saw the scenes in which a teenager drinks some of the pure alcohol stolen from a science department.

The next day, the students did the same thing, stealing the liquid during a science lesson and spiriting it away to drink.

The alarm was raised by a member of staff at Aldridge School in Walsall, a specialist science college. The pupils had confessed to the teacher and also later told headteacher David Mountney they had watched the episode of Waterloo Road the day before. In the TV show featuring a fictional school, the girl drinks the ethanol hoping it will cure her hangover but it makes her violently ill.

A small amount of the chemical is the same as a large number of normal alcoholic drinks and the immediate effects are nausea, vomiting and intoxication. In large quantities, it can cause almost immediate loss of consciousness and even death.

Three ambulances and a paramedic in a rapid response vehicle were sent to the school to take the pupils to hospital. After blood tests, they were allowed home and were back at school yesterday.

Yesterday, the BBC was criticised for screening the disturbing scenes before the 9pm watershed. A parent living near the school, who declined to be named, said: I was watching the programme and I thought someone would copy it. It never should have been screened because children are very impressionable.

The BBC should be punished for this - it could have turned out so much worse. Vivianne Pattison, director of television watchdog Mediawatch, said it was worrying that a screen plot had apparently led to the pupils' actions. People say TV does not have any effect on real life and then something like this happens, she said.

Broadcasters keep saying viewers can tell the difference between TV and reality but this shows this is clearly not the case. They need to know that what they put out does have an effect, especially on young minds.

A BBC spokesman defended the content of the programme and insisted it had dealt with an important issue; Waterloo Road has always tackled serious issues of the day in a responsible manner. Wednesday's episode clearly showed the dangers of using ethanol and did not glamorise it in any way. Each storyline is thoroughly researched using experts within their respective fields.

Update: Another Round of Drinks

20th November 2009. Based on article from

Four schoolgirls are said to have become seriously ill after drinking ethanol when copying a scene from the BBC drama Waterloo Road .

It is the second time within a week that pupils have imitated what they've seen on TV.

In this latest incident the youngsters, who are thought to have found the potentially lethal neat alcohol in their school's science lab, reportedly mixed it with Ribena.

The pupils at Highfield School in Letchworth, Hertfordshire, are believed to have complained of stomach and head pains and were taken to hospital.

One parent from Letchworth told the Daily Mirror: Everyone here thinks they must have watched Waterloo Road and tried to imitate it.

Vivianne Pattison of television watchdog Mediawatch said: Broadcasters need to know what they put out has an effect.

A BBC spokesman said: Last week's episode clearly showed the dangers of using ethanol and did not glamorise it in any way.


18th November   

Update: VRA Cloned...

Government sees DVD censorship as public service to ensure legality
Link Here
Full story: Video Recordings Act Erased...VRA was not properly enacted

Read the government's laughable big brother response to the Campaign to Reform the VRA's letter!

Thank you and your co-signatories for your email of 3 November to Sion Simon, about the Video Recordings Act 1984. I have been asked to reply to you.

As you are aware it has recently come to light that certain provisions of the Video Recordings Act 1984 (VRA) and the labelling Regulations made under it should have been notified to the European Commission in accordance with the Technical Standards Directive (83/189/EEC). We have now notified the necessary provisions and the Regulations made under it and therefore we will be in a position to rectify this problem as soon as possible.

The Government has no plans to include an amendment to allow the sale of 'unrated' films to 18+ adults, or to make any amendments. Our focus is on re-enacting the Bill, and the swiftest way to do that is not to make any amendments. Possible amendments must be properly considered and consulted on and the timetable on this Bill does not allow for this. In any event, the Government would not support an amendment that meant that some films were unrated. The BBFC classification is a guarantee that DVDs will not contain anything illegal. It would be impossible to ensure that that were the case were films not classified; we believe that the public has a right to that guarantee.

Yours sincerely,

Gemma Hersh Public Engagement and Recognition Unit

Comment: Big Brother Government

From Jonathan

Big Brother ends up saying: The BBFC classification is a guarantee that DVDs will not contain anything illegal. It would be impossible to ensure that that were the case were films not classified; we believe that the public has a right to that guarantee .

In that case shouldn't the government have the right to classify all books, magazines, CDs, and so on in order to guarantee that they will not contain anything illegal . And I presume they mean by that anything covered by the current laws of libel, obscenity, incitement and so on?

The BBFC is not staffed by judges. They are not qualified to judge whether anything is illegal or not! Their function is simply to protect minors from unsuitable material. They even freely admit that they do not make cuts in 18 films – if it's porn they'll rate it R18? – as this would contravene European Human Rights legislation on freedom of speech. Hence there would be no difference between an '18? and an 'unrated-18?. In both cases any question of the legality of the content is nothing to do with the BBFC, only the judiciary.

Reading the reply really does make my flesh creep! Oh yes, you might be interested to know that the VRA is actually policed by Trading Standards who, outside of whether it's a pirate DVD or not, are in no position to judge the legality of the content.

In fact my own researches have shown that by the way in which many Trading Standards officers interpret the Video Recordings Act the BBFC routinely oversteps the mark by suggesting that they have to classify all content on a DVD. I myself queried the BBFC on what they would do about classifying any text files, such as a copy of the script, included in a collection of DVD extras. Their reply was that they were sure that they could come up with a way of doing that – and presumably charging for it as well!


17th November   

Blog off!...

Press Complaints Commission eyeing a role as blog censor
Link Here

Baroness Buscombe, the new chairman of the Press Complaints Commission, has ambitions for her organisation that go beyond the traditional newspaper companies.

She wants to examine the possibility that the PCC's role should be extended to cover the blogosphere, which is becoming an increasing source of breaking news and boasts some of the media's highest-profile commentators, such as the political bloggers Iain Dale and Guido Fawkes. Do readers of such sites, and people mentioned on them, deserve the same rights of redress that the PCC offers in respect of newspapers and their sites?

Some of the bloggers are now creating their own ecosystems which are quite sophisticated, Baroness Buscombe told me. Is the reader of those blogs assuming that it's news, and is [the blogosphere] the new newspapers? It's a very interesting area and quite challenging.

She said that after a review of the governance structures of the PCC, she would want the organisation to consider whether it should seek to extend its remit to the blogosphere, a process that would involve discussion with the press industry, the public and bloggers (who would presumably have to volunteer to come beneath the PCC's umbrella).


17th November   

Update: Glorifying Censorship...

No records kept of action against websites promoting terrorism
Link Here
Full story: Glorification of Censorship...Climate of fear caused by glorification of terrorsim

The Terrorism Act 2006 granted powers for police to compel web hosts to shut down websites promoting terrorism. But the powers have never been used, and forces have instead persuaded providers to take down websites voluntarily, according to the security minister Lord West.

He told the Lords on Wednesday that he could not say how many websites have been censored because no records have been kept.

When we passed the Act in 2006, we laid down a requirement to make such records, but it has not really been done, he said.

When measures against extremist websites were announced, the government suggested ISPs might introduce filtering arrangements similar to the Internet Watch Foundation's blocklist of URLs leading to images of child abuse. No system has emerged, however, and industry sources say the idea is not being discussed.


17th November   

Police Spout Bollox about 1...

Censorship makes art more appealing
Link Here
Full story: 1 Day of Censorship...Police whinge at Birmingham gang movie

It's been a boom time for censorship of late and now the police in Birmingham have prevented the showing of a new film made in the city, 1 Day , which was released last week.

Anybody else in the country can see Penny Woolcock's hip-hop musical, set around Handsworth. Cast from local people, 1 Day depicts the pressures of gang life for a young man who has 24 hours to repay a debt. While the film classification board was happy to certify it as a 15, a Birmingham police officer advised the city's cinemas against showing 1 Day for fear it would provoke gang violence.

Despite coming from Birmingham, I can't say I was in a huge rush to see the film. But after an email appeal from independent film network group Shooting People to protest against the ban, I was first in the queue last Friday for the film's opening night. Thus proving that, more than anything, censorship has the effect of making any artwork more appealing, more glamorous and certainly more exciting than it might originally have been.


16th November   

Nodding Off...

BBC banned Enid Blyton for 30 years for being naff
Link Here

Enid Blyton, the best-selling children's author, was banned from the BBC for nearly 30 years because executives thought her a second-rater .

Blyton, the creator of the Famous Five, the Secret Seven and Noddy, was kept off the radio by executives who dismissed her plays and books as lacking literary value and being such very small beer .

The censorship has been revealed in a series of letters and memos released from the BBC archives.

In one internal memo dated 1938, Jean Sutcliffe, head of the BBC Schools department, wrote: My impression of her stories is that they might do for Children's Hour but certainly not for Schools Dept they haven't much literary value.

She thought they were no more than competently written .

There is rather a lot of the Pinky-winky-Doodle-doodle Dum-dumm type of name (and lots of pixies) in the original tales, she concluded.


15th November   

Update: Rhubarb and Guff...

Russell Brand unrepentant about Sachs gag
Link Here
Full story: Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross...Winding up Andrew Sachs and Voluptua

Comic Russell Brand said he would never tone down his comedy routine and was not afraid of censure. As hundreds of fans flocked to a DVD signing session in London yesterday, Brand leapt to the defence of fellow stand-ups Jimmy Carr and Frankie Boyle, who were criticised recently for offensive routines.

Frankie Boyle is brilliant and Jimmy Carr is brilliant, he said. They're not trying to be offensive, no-one is actually offended, the people saying they're offended aren't actually offended, the whole thing is constructed.

He added: If you hear it (the joke] delivered cold, like vomit into the nape of your neck, it might be offensive, but mucking around I don't think is offensive.

Last year, Brand resigned from his job at BBC Radio 2 after a scandal surrounding a series of lewd messages he left on actor Andrew Sachs' answer phone. But he insists Manuel-gate , as Brand prefers to call it, was just rhubarb and guff and he would do the same again.

I would've done nothing differently. I apologise for the thing I did wrong to the person I did it to, but the whole subsequent scandal was funny. It's just rhubarb and guff.

And he vowed never to tone down his own material for fear of further censure: I will not lose my edge.


15th November   

Not Extreme Enough?...

Scottish Parliament Justice Committee reports on extreme porn bill
Link Here

Report by the Scottish Parliament`s Justice Committee on the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Bill

Section 34: Extreme pornography

278. Section 34 of the Bill inserts into the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 new provisions to criminalise the possession of obscene pornographic images which explicitly and realistically depict various extreme acts .

279. The policy objective is to help ensure the public are protected from exposure to extreme pornography that depicts horrific images of violence . The maximum penalty for the new offence will be three years imprisonment or a fine or both.

280. The Policy Memorandum explains that it is already illegal to publish, sell or distribute the obscene material that would be covered by this new offence. Section 34(1) increases the maximum penalty for these activities from three to five years to emphasise the seriousness attached to distribution of this type of material .

281. The new offence is similar to that in section 63 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, which applies in the rest of the UK. The proposed Scottish offence goes further, however, as—

it will cover all obscene pornographic images which realistically depict rape or other non-consensual penetrative sexual activity, whether violent or otherwise (whereas the English offence only covers forms of violent rape).

282. Provisions to establish a category of excluded images and defences to a charge of possession of an extreme pornographic image are also included within section 34.

283. Most of those who commented on this section supported the creation of an offence of possessing extreme pornography, although some argued that there is no evidence that pornography increases sexual offending and opposed these provisions as an unjustifiable intrusion into the private lives of citizens.

Definition of extreme pornography

284. A number of concerns were expressed about the definition of the new offence, either arguing that it is too wide or that it should be extended in various directions.

285. In his written submission, James Chalmers of Edinburgh University School of Law noted that the provisions in the Bill go significantly beyond the definition canvassed in a consultation exercise carried out by the Scottish Executive and Home Office in 2005 and subsequently implemented for the rest of the UK in the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008.218 He noted that the Policy Memorandum says only that this definition was insufficiently broad without giving any further explanation—

The Policy Memorandum observes that the English legislation does not cover rape per se, but this is hardly an accident of drafting: there was a clear desire to limit the legislation to extremely serious cases.

286. Mr Chalmers argued that the Scottish Government had at no stage explained its rationale for criminalising such possession. It can hardly be the simple fact that the activity depicted is criminal: murder is regularly depicted on terrestrial television without objection.

287. On the other hand, several respondents expressly supported the use of the wider definition in the Bill.

288. Ian Duguid QC, representing the Faculty of Advocates, expressed strong support for an offence of possessing extreme adult pornography—

It is only proper that the law deal with such images, including computer-generated images. The difficulty that I can envisage concerns policing the internet, but I have no difficulty with the full weight of the law being applied when a fruitful investigation is undertaken that reveals images of that type. If the law requires to be amended as is proposed so that it reflects the public's attitude, that is perfectly reasonable as far as I am concerned.

289. In its written submission, the Crown Office explained how it would approach enforcement of the new offence—

Although the offence is broad in its terms and allows for a wide latitude of discretion in determining what amounts to a prohibited image, careful consideration will be given, if it is enacted, to the development of clear guidance for police and prosecutors to ensure that it is enforced consistently and fairly.

290. In oral evidence, the Lord Advocate was asked whether the new offence was drawn widely enough. She commented—

We already have the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982, which includes the wider definition of, or the fundamental platform of, obscenity. … The difficulty in respect of pornography is that we come up against the ECHR rights of freedom of expression and the article 8 rights to privacy in the context of sexual activity. It is important to derive some certainty in that area in order to show a balance – to show not only that what is being done in engaging article 8 is proportionate, but that it has a degree of certainty in that area of criminality.

Definition of obscene

291. Several respondents questioned whether the word obscene should form part of the definition. For example, the Women's Support Project argued that—

the inclusion of 'obscene' in the criteria for extreme pornography dilutes the focus of the new proposals, retains a 'moral' judgement and suggests that the intention behind the proposals is to prevent depravity or corruption. The WSP believes that the Scottish Government should not rely on the 1982 Act for a definition of obscenity but develop a definition based on an understanding of the broad cultural harm to which pornography contributes.

292. Other respondents also argued for a definition focused on cultural harm . Professor Clare McGlynn and Dr Erika Rackley, Durham Law School, offered a justification for this approach—

Legislative action against extreme pornography is justified because of the 'cultural harm' of such material, by which we mean that the existence and use of extreme pornography contributes to a society which fails to take sexual violence against women seriously.

293. Professor McGlynn and Dr Rackley urged the Committee to reconsider the use of the language and concept of obscenity , partly because the definition of 'obscene' is vague and opaque and leads to a great level of discretion and lack of clarity . In addition, the term—

has been used to cover the depiction of activities which are not in themselves unlawful, yet may be viewed by some as morally wrong or disgusting (such as images of coprophilia). The criminal law should not be used to proscribe the depiction or viewing of acts which are not unlawful in themselves to carry out.

294. However, they also argued that the use of the term obscene alone was preferable to the exceptionally vague and undefined reference in the English provisions to material which is 'grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise of an obscene character' [section 63(6) of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008] .

295. For ACPOS, the problem was that while pornographic and extreme were defined in the Bill, obscene was not, and it suggested it could be defined as abhorrent to morality or virtue; specifically designed and intended to incite lust or depravity .

296. The Committee notes the evidence presented regarding the inclusion of the term obscene as part of the definition of extreme pornography. The Committee understands that the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 already includes reference to obscene material but notes that the word obscene is not defined in that Act.

Definition of extreme image

297. The Bill defines an image as extreme if it depicts, in an explicit and realistic way any of the following—

(a) an act which takes or threatens a person's life,

(b) an act which results, or is likely to result, in a person's severe injury,

(c) rape or other non-consensual penetrative sexual activity,

(d) sexual activity involving (directly or indirectly) a human corpse,

(e) an act, which involves sexual activity between a person and an animal (or the carcase of an animal).229

298. Some respondents, including the Zero Tolerance Charitable Trust and the Violence Against Women Strategy Multi-Agency Working Group, suggested that the definition of an extreme image set out at (b) above should be changed from an act which is likely to result in severe injury to threatens to cause this result. They argued that this would increase the scope to cover acts of rape which could be said to threaten severe injury, but are not likely actually to result in severe injury.

299. The SCDEA suggested there might be practical difficulties with the definition of an extreme image—

The use of the terminology 'depicts, in an explicit and realistic way' would seem to include all images where such acts are depicted but are subsequently shown to have been staged or acted out. For example, a realistic depiction of a rape or sexual murder, which is undoubtedly pornographic but where the 'victim' is shown to have suffered no harm and to have been a willing participant in actions depicted, would appear to be included in the definition.231

300. Subsequently, in a joint submission with SCDEA, ACPOS suggested that a better approach to defining extreme image could be to replace the list of specified acts with a more general definition that would capture all images of illegal acts committed with a sexual motivation (subject to the exclusions currently outlined within the Bill) .

Computer-generated images

301. Several respondents suggested that non-photographic representations of extreme acts should be covered, in particular computer generated images of the sort found in virtual reality games. Rape Crisis Scotland explained the basis for its concern about this issue—

We believe that it is a missed opportunity to not include non-photographic representations of extreme acts in the Bill. This means that the provision in the Bill will not cover depictions of extreme pornography on virtual worlds such as Second Life or games online or other digital platforms, where the pornography is violent, extreme and interactive, but where the images are not photographic. Similarly, we would like to emphasis that there is still a need to enact similar legislation in relation to child pornography, as proposed by the Scottish Executive in early 2007.

302. Tom Roberts, representing Children 1st, commented on the effect such images may have on children—

Given that computer-generated images can be used to groom children by suggesting to them that something that happens on their computer must be acceptable, the distribution of such images can cause harm or distress to children and can be just as bad as the other type of material that circulates on the internet. We need to ensure that our laws can deal with that appropriately.

303. ACPOS considered this issue in a supplementary written submission—

The use of the phrase 'in an explicit and realistic way'is worthy of debate when considering the definition of 'extreme' in respect of cartoon images, etc. It may be argued that cartoon (or other) images with gross distortions are not 'realistic'. However these may well portray extreme pornographic images which are clearly understood.

304. ACPOS suggested that it may be more appropriate to address the action rather than the realistic portrayal of the image, for example by referring to any image that depicts in an explicit manner a representation of an event of a sexual and pornographic nature .

305. But for James Chalmers, it was clear that section 34 already covers computer generated images—

The only limiting factor is that an image must be 'realistic' to fall within the scope of the provisions. The Bill is not limited to particular types of image. In this respect, it is rather wider than the offence of possessing indecent photographs of children, which is restricted to 'photographs or pseudo-photographs', including photographs comprised in films. A 'pseudo-photograph' is 'an image, whether produced by computer-graphics or otherwise howsoever, which appears to be a photograph' [Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982, sections 52 and 52A].


306. A number of organisations argued in favour of extending the definition of extreme pornography to cover incest.239 Rape Crisis Scotland argued that the provisions in the Bill would not necessarily cover pornography which glorifies incest, unless it is clear that the woman depicted is not old enough to consent—

We believe serious consideration must be given to extending the definition of extreme to include depictions of incest (which is in itself an illegal activity) to ensure these types of materials are covered by the legislation.


307. Various questions about the definition of possession were raised by respondents to the Committee's call for evidence.

308. The SCCJR argued that for reasons of clarity, it would be better if the provisions were to clearly define the meaning of possession—

Since, as is acknowledged in the Policy Memorandum, this is aimed at material produced and distributed in electronic form, it is important to be specific about what amounts to possession in these circumstances. Viewing an image online means that it is downloaded and (usually) stored on the hard drive of the computer of the viewer. Does possession extend to all images cached on the computer hard-drive?

309. The National Gender-based Violence Programme Team, part of the Healthcare, Strategy and Policy Directorate, Scottish Government, submitted that there was a need to clarify whether possession would cover repeated viewings of extreme pornography, whether or not the material was actually downloaded.

310. According to Professor McGlynn and Dr Rackley—

The concept of possession is key to this offence. It is not defined in the Bill (nor in the English provisions). This is a serious omission. We suggest the legislation include a definition of possession to clarify exactly what will be covered.

311. However, ACPOS and the SCDEA said they were content that existing legislation and case law would provide sufficient definition around the term 'possession'.

Excluded images and defences

312. Under the proposed section 51B of the 1982 Act, images that would otherwise qualify as extreme pornography are excluded from the scope of the offence (under proposed section 51A) if they are from a classified work – which is defined as a video work which has been classified by a designated authority such as the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC). In addition, section 51C provides a series of defences to a charge of possession of an extreme pornographic image, including a defence for those who directly participated in the act depicted.

313. The Consenting Adult Action Network, which opposes making possession of extreme pornography a criminal offence, questioned whether the provision for excluded images was appropriate—

If the material in question causes demonstrable harm, then it is totally utterly irresponsible on the part of government to insert the BBFC exemption – and suggests a bowing to commercial (film) pressure in preference to a genuine desire to protect members of society. Further, would not most BBFC material fail the 'realistic' or 'pornographic' test once it is known that the material is from a film? There is no reason for this section to be in there.

314. The Judges of the High Court of Justiciary also questioned the provisions regarding excluded images and the defence of direct participation—

We question the policy of allowing a designated body to exclude from the scope of the criminal law an image which meets the definition of extreme pornographic image. Why should such a body, in the context of criminal law, decide that such material, the possession of which would otherwise be criminal, is acceptable as a part of or as being in its entirety a work of art?

We are also at a loss to understand the defence in proposed section 51C of the 1982 Act protecting the persons who directly participated in the act depicted. If the depiction is unacceptable as amounting to extreme pornography, we do not see why the participant who retains the material for private use should have the defences available in subsection (4) of section 51C when other possessors, for good policy reasons, do not.

Committee conclusions

315. The Committee shares the Scottish Government's aim to protect the public from extreme pornography, but has noted a range of concerns raised in evidence about the parameters of the new offence proposed. There are various points on which we would seek further clarification from the Scottish Government. The first is why the definition of extreme image includes a much broader reference to depictions of rape than was suggested in consultation and is provided for in the equivalent England and Wales legislation. Secondly, we would be grateful for further explanation about why that definition refers to realistic depictions of sexual acts, and how that relates to cartoons or other images that have been distorted or have a fantasy element. Thirdly, we would seek clarification on the rationale for using the term obscene as part of the definition of extreme pornography, when that term is itself undefined in the Bill, and whether any consideration was given to alternative definitions in terms of the cultural harm that pornography can cause. Finally, we would be grateful for clarification of what is meant by possession of extreme pornography, and whether, in the absence of any definition in the Bill, what understanding of that term would be relied on by the courts (particularly where images come into someone's possession through electronic transmission).

316. The Committee accepts the rationale for excluding from the offence of possessing extreme pornography images that form all or part of a classified work, such as a film granted a certificate by the British Board of Film Classification. However, we are uncertain about some of the practical implications, for example whether it offers protection from prosecution to the film-maker who is in possession of a film that the BBFC has not yet been able to consider for certification.

317. We are satisfied with the defences that are provided in inserted section 51C. In particular, while we note the concerns raised in evidence, we agree that the Bill is right to distinguish between the possession of an image by those who participated in the sexual activity depicted and the onward transmission of that image to third parties.


11th November   

Update: Free Speech is not For Sale...

Report from English PEN and Index on Censorship
Link Here
Full story: Censorship by Libel...British libel law allows the rich to censor the truth

After a year-long Inquiry, English PEN and Index on Censorship have concluded that English libel law has a negative impact on freedom of expression, both in the UK and around the world. Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right, and should only be limited in special circumstances. Yet English libel law imposes unnecessary and disproportionate restrictions on free speech, sending a chilling effect through the publishing and journalism sectors in the UK. This effect now reaches around the world, because of so-called libel tourism , where foreign cases are heard in London, widely known as a town named sue . The law was designed to serve the rich and powerful, and does not reflect the interests of a modern democratic society.

In this report, we cut through the intimidating complexity of English libel law to show how the legal framework has become increasingly unbalanced. We believe that the law needs to facilitate the free exchange of ideas and information, whilst offering redress to anyone whose reputation is falsely or unfairly damaged. Yet our inquiry has shown that the law as it stands is hindering the free exchange of ideas and information. We repeatedly encountered the same concerns, expressed by lawyers, publishers, journalists, bloggers and NGOs, who have no wish to abolish libel law, but know from experience of its chilling effect on legitimate publication.

In response to their concerns, which are set out below, we offer the following recommendations to restore the balance between free speech and reputation:

1. In libel, the defendant is guilty until proven innocent

We recommend: Require the claimant to demonstrate damage and falsity

2. English libel law is more about making money than saving a reputation

We recommend: Cap damages at £10,000

3. The definition of publication defies common sense

We recommend: Abolish the Duke of Brunswick rule and introduce a single publication rule

4. London has become an international libel tribunal

We recommend: No case should be heard in this jurisdiction unless at least 10 per cent of copies of the relevant publication have been circulated here

5. There are few viable alternatives to a full trial

We recommend: Establish a libel tribunal as a low-cost forum for hearings

6. There is no robust public interest defence in libel law

We recommend: Strengthen the public interest defence

7. Comment is not free

We recommend: Expand the definition of fair comment

8. The potential cost of defending a libel action is prohibitive

We recommend: Cap base costs and make success fees and After the Event (ATE) insurance premiums non-recoverable

9. The law does not reflect the arrival of the internet

We recommend: Exempt interactive online services and interactive chat from liability

10. Not everything deserves a reputation

We recommend: Exempt large and medium-sized corporate bodies and associations from libel law unless they can prove malicious falsehood


10th November   

How Not to Build a Righteous Family...

Ofcom upholds complaint against muslim advocacy of wife beating
Link Here

Islam in Focus
Peace TV, 31 July 2009, 16:10

Peace TV is an international satellite television channel, which describes itself as providing Islamic spiritual 'edutainment'.

Islam in Focus consisted of a public lecture ( the Lecture ) in front of an audience, in English, by a religious speaker, Hamood Ashemaimry.

In the Lecture, entitled How to build a righteous family , the speaker set out, in his opinion, what the rights are of husbands and wives, in the context of creating a righteous family from an Islamic viewpoint.

A complaint objected to part of the Lecture which, it considered, suggested that it would be permissible for husbands to beat their wives. During the Lecture, the speaker said the following:

[A husband] should not beat [his wife] first. He should not beat her face or beat her violently. Many people misunderstand this, you know, three solution for, you know, evil women or a evil wife, or wife who is not listen to her husband. You advise her first; you disregard her in bed; you bring a mediator from her family – somebody between you to sort the problem. And then if she doesn't – then you beat her. But beat her – it doesn't mean to break her ribs. Beat her, tap her on her shoulder. Just let her feel you're angry. You know the worst thing – even they listen to me, the sisters – the worst thing for a lady, just disregard her in bed, for one week, or two. This is a good solution for a quarrel wife. Don't go to beating first of all. Try this, it works.

Ofcom asked Peace TV for its comments under the following Rules of the Code:

  • Rule 2.3: In applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence must be justified by the context
  • Rule 2.4: Programmes must not include material, which taking into account the context, condones or glamorises violent, dangerous or seriously antisocial behaviour and is likely to encourage others to copy such behaviour.

Ofcom Decision: Breach of Rules 2.3 and 2.4

Ofcom notes that a number of its licensees will broadcast programming that will derive from a particular religious or spiritual viewpoint, and that such programming will include advice to followers of particular faiths as to how to lead their lives. It is therefore unsurprising if at times such advice might cause offence to different sections of the audience. Ofcom therefore recognises that it would be an unacceptable restriction on a broadcaster's freedom of expression to curtail the transmission of certain views, just because they cause offence.

However, in broadcasting such content, broadcasters must be aware of the need to ensure compliance with the Code.

In particular, in one segment of the Lecture, the speaker stated that it is permissible to beat a wife in certain circumstances. Ofcom considered whether this reference complied with Rules 2.3 and 2.4 of the Code.

Even though the broadcaster stated that the speaker said that a husband should only tap his wife on the shoulder and not beat her face or beat her violently…or break her ribs , Ofcom considers that the speaker was clear that some form of beating was acceptable – as a last resort after other tactics had been used to resolve a dispute with a wife. The passage was clear that a husband could use physical violence.

Ofcom rejected Peace TV's representations that just because some of the advice given by the speaker advocated a husband treating his wife with respect, that it would follow that he would not be advocating actions to cause a wife any physical harm. The speaker used the verb beat three times and beating once in the context of a husband chastising his wife. It considered that the speaker was clear in his advice, namely, that he was encouraging what could be portrayed as domestic violence in certain circumstances. Ofcom considers that the advice given to viewers that it was permissible for a husband to beat his wife, even if according to the broadcaster it was to be only in certain circumstances, and undertaken with restraint, would be offensive to many in the audience.

Further Ofcom considered that this offensive material could not be justified by the context. This was because of for example: the lack of any mediating or counteracting views, within the programme, to the speaker's advocacy of beating; and that, in general, the high likelihood that many in a UK audience would find any advocacy and support at all of domestic violence – which is of course potentially criminal under UK law – to be highly offensive. The programme was therefore in breach of Rule 2.3.

With regard to Rule 2.4, the relevant test is that content must not: firstly, taking into account the context, condone or otherwise glamorise violent, dangerous or seriously antisocial behaviour; and secondly, be likely to encourage others to copy such behaviour. Ofcom considered these two issues in turn.

Ofcom noted Peace TV's comments that it would not have been possible for the Lecture to have shown how to build a Righteous Family (and by extension a Righteous Society and a Peaceful World ) if it had included material that condoned or glamorised violent, dangerous or seriously antisocial behaviour.

However, Ofcom considered that the stated subject matter and aim of the Lecture did not obviate the fact that in this case the speaker was unambiguously advocating a form of violent behaviour i.e. domestic violence. This and the fact that the Lecture was a serious, religious lecture aiming to provide spiritual guidance, could not, in Ofcom's view, give enough contextual justification to suggest the speaker could not be reasonably portrayed as condoning violent behaviour.

In addition, Ofcom considered that the advice on beating wives within the Lecture: was delivered in a serious and measured manner by the speaker; and on a channel specialising in dispensing Islamic spiritual advice. There was therefore a strong likelihood that such advice could be construed as likely to encourage others to copy such behaviour.

Given the above, Ofcom considered that the programme was in breach of Rule 2.4.


9th November   

Update: Pariah Britain...

US newspapers explain that libel tourism may lead to internet blocks to British Access
Link Here
Full story: Censorship by Libel...British libel law allows the rich to censor the truth

Britain's reputation for libel tourism is driving American and foreign publishers to consider abandoning the sale of newspaper and magazines in Britain and may lead to them blocking access to websites, MPs have been warned.

Publishers, human rights groups and campaigners have expressed substantial and increasing concern because comments that would be protected under the freedom of speech in the US constitution are actionable in London courts once published here, no matter how small the readership.

A memorandum submitted to a Commons select committee, ahead of a meeting with US publishers, states: Leading US newspapers are actively considering abandoning the supply of the 200-odd copies they make available for sale in London – mainly to Americans who want full details of their local news and sport. They do not make profits out of these minimal and casual sales and they can no longer risk losing millions of dollars in a libel action which they would never face under US law. Does the UK really want to be seen as the only country in Europe – indeed in the world – where important US papers cannot be obtained in print form?

The submission is on behalf of a number of US media outlets, including the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times and MacMillan (US), as well as Human Rights Watch, Global Witness US and Greenpeace International.


7th November   

Update: The Wrong Sort of Stars...

iTunes censors Doo Wop records
Link Here
Full story: iPhone iCensor...Apple is censorial about apps for iPhone

An automated censoring service has left iTunes embarrassed after it censored doo wop to doo w*p , confusing consumers, including Radio 2 DJ Jeremy Vine.

When Vine mentioned in passing to fellow DJ Ken Bruce on Wednesday that he was surprised to find iTunes had censored an album he wanted, it caused an on-air stir.

A search of iTunes reveals that the asterisk substitution does not apply only to the 1950s genre, but to any track or album that mentions the racial slur wop, including Lauryn Hill and, those famously inflammatory artists, Prefab Sprout.

Doo wop was originally performed largely by African-Americans, but was later popularised by Italian-American artists. It's the latter ethnic group that has borne the brunt of the racial slur in question, so in censoring the word, iTunes is being a little over-sensitive.

Adam Howorth, Head of Music PR at iTunes, says the asterisk is imposed by an automated database that checks words against a list but can't distinguish the context. We have an automated system which looks for potentially off words and asterisks out certain ones based on the rules, and wop is one of those, says Howorth. In the context of this music it is an error.


7th November   

Update: Beeb Goes Bland...

Channel 4 is the sole guardian of nonconformism and provocation
Link Here
Full story: Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross...Winding up Andrew Sachs and Voluptua

Channel 4 logoFear of causing offence has left TV in danger of becoming too bland, Channel 4's programme chief has said.

Julian Bellamy told the Royal Television Society that recent scandals were preventing broadcasters from taking creative risks.

He said the BBC appeared to avoid controversial ideas like the plague in the wake of last year's Radio 2 prank calls row: After a string of scandals about taste and decency, it seems to avoid disruptive, potentially controversial ideas like the plague. Time and again, producers tell me this and I believe it.

Bellamy said the industry's compliance spiral threatened to bland out the medium to no-one's benefit . But he said Channel 4 would continue to take creative risks even when public sentiment risks being offended . He described it as the sole guardian of nonconformism and provocation on Britain's most powerful cultural medium . I genuinely believe if Channel 4 retreats into conservatism we will cease to be a meaningful cultural force .


6th November   

Update: One Day of the Censor...

Police ban on 1 Day extends throughout the West Midlands
Link Here
Full story: 1 Day of Censorship...Police whinge at Birmingham gang movie

A Dudley cinema has backed out of showing a Birmingham gangland film.

Showcase Cinema at Castlegate, pulled 1 Day as the ramifications of a censorship row between West Midlands Police and the filmakers Vertigo Films rumble on.

Odeon in Birmingham were the first to announce they were not showing the movie, which was released last Friday, after taking police advice .

And now Showcase have followed suit, by pulling it from Midland cinemas.

Karen Fox, general manager of Showcase UK Theatres, said: Showcase has made the decision not to screen the film 1 Day at its cinemas in the West Midlands region.

However, we are screening the film in our other UK locations.

Despite claiming they were not trying to censor the film the police have admitted a police officer had contacted cinemas criticising the film.

The film's director Penny Woolcock, said: Censoring this film is short sighted, shameful and lets a lot of people down: Even if 1 Day did glamorise gun violence, which it certainly does not, I do not think it is the function of the local police to go round saying what films should be shown and which ones shouldn't. She added: Let people decide for themselves.


3rd November   

A Matter of Sensitivity...

Newspaper publishes picture of bridge suicide
Link Here

The chief constable of the Northern Ireland police has said he was deeply shocked by the publication of a picture in a Sunday paper of a man who had taken his life. Matt Baggott said such issues should be treated with more delicacy .

Jim McDowell, northern editor of the Sunday World, defended his decision to print a photograph of a man hanging from a bridge in Bangor, County Down. He said it was in the public interest. McDowell said the body was left hanging for three hours.

The chief constable defended the police response. Sometimes, unfortunately, there are circumstances which make it very difficult for us to deal immediately with those distressing situations, said Baggott. I am satisfied that these circumstances meant that it was impossible to deal with it any quicker. I believe our watchwords, both in the media and as the police service, should be compassion and kindness and I would not support the publication of photographs of that distressing nature.

While he defended the publication of the picture, the newspaper editor apologised if people had been distressed by the picture. That is what newspapers do, McDowell said: I took the decision to run this picture because this poor man had been left hanging in public view for such a long time. The guidelines for journalists are clear when they are reporting suicide, that care should be taken to avoid excessive detail of the method used. This has been completely disregarded. He added that the picture used by the newspaper meant the dead man was not identifiable.

Malachy Toman from the Public Initiative for the Prevention of Suicide and Self-Harm described the newspaper's decision to print the photographs as absolutely disgusting . I lost my 21-year-old son in exactly the same circumstances and when I picked up the newspaper, my stomach just churned. This young man has a family and friends and I would say they will be feeling a hundred times worse than me when they see this photograph. The guidelines for journalists are clear when they are reporting suicide, that care should be taken to avoid excessive detail of the method used. This has been completely disregarded.

The Press Complaints Commission (PCC) said it had received 70 complaints.


2nd November   

Update: The Spoon Lady Complains...

Rebecca Adlington considers punishment for Frankie Boyle's quip to be inadequate
Link Here
Full story: Frankie Boyle...Whinges about Frankie Boyle and Mock the Week

Olympic swimming champion Rebecca Adlington has formally complained to the BBC that it let comedian Frankie Boyle off with a slap on the wrist over jokes that caused her deep hurt.

The double gold medal winner at last year's Beijing Olympics has demanded an explanation from the BBC Trust over why it chose not to punish the comic for outrageous slurs that left her humiliated .

And her agent has called for the BBC to ban Boyle over his comments.

During an episode of BBC2's satirical show Mock the Week last year, soon after Miss Adlington's Olympic triumph, Boyle said she resembled someone looking at themselves in the back of a spoon and followed up with sexual innuendo.

The comments sparked 75 complaints, but although the BBC Trust criticised Boyle and agreed that his remarks were unfair and offensive it took no further action such as barring him from its programmes for a period.

Miss Adlington has now written to the Corporation, calling its rebuke no more than a slap on the wrist for comments which fell well below the standards of common decency . She questioned the effectiveness of the Trust's disciplinary process and called for the corporation to take greater responsibility for its stars.

The BBC Trust said last night it had received Miss Adlington's letter and would consider it, but added: At this stage we have no plans to review the finding .


1st November   

Update: Gangs of Censors...

Police to screen warning about gangs at cinemas showing 1 Day
Link Here
Full story: 1 Day of Censorship...Police whinge at Birmingham gang movie

Birmingham police chiefs are to issue an on-screen warning about gun crime before a controversial new movie about gang life in Birmingham is shown on the big screen.

1 Day tells the story of two rival gangs caught up in the underworld of drugs and guns. The movie was filmed around Birmingham and stars local actors.

Now police say they will place an advert ahead of any other screenings to highlight the real dangers inherent in gang-related criminality . The advert features an illuminated headstone with the catchline: Once upon a time, they were dying to join a gang.

The film's writer-director, Penny Woolcock, said: The film shows how people get sucked into that life and it clearly spells out the consequences, which is people end up dead or in prison. The film absolutely does not glamorise that lifestyle. It has a clear moral message.

A force spokesman added: Our general advice is for individual cinemas to make a responsible and informed decision based upon local circumstances and taking into account the views of their local communities.


1st November

 Offsite: One Law for the Rich...

Link Here
Full story: Censorship by Libel...British libel law allows the rich to censor the truth
Britain's libel laws are killing investigative journalism

See article from


30th October   

Updated: Censor for 1 Day...

Birmingham cinemas ban film on police advice
Link Here

Cinemas in Birmingham have been caught up in a bitter row between police and film makers as they were advised not to screen a controversial new film about city gangs.

1 Day , which is to go on general release next week, tells the story of two rival gangs of black youths who are caught up in the underworld of drugs and guns.

The film was shot on the streets of Handsworth with the cast recruited from nearby neighbourhoods.

The row between police and filmmakers reached boiling point last night when it's director, Penny Woolcock, claimed that Odeon, Cineworld and Vue cinemas had all been advised by West Midlands Police not to screen the movie in Birmingham.

Woolcock, said: Censoring this film is shortsighted, shameful and lets a lot of people down. Even if 1-Day did glamorise gun violence, which it certainly does not, I do not think it is the function of the local police to go round saying what films should be shown and which ones shouldn't. Let people decide for themselves.

But Assistant Chief Constable Suzette Davenport strongly denied there had been official censorship from West Midlands Police. The assistant chief constable said she had spent all day trying to find out where the message had come from not to show the film: I would like to make it absolutely clear that West Midlands Police don't have any powers at all to censor. Organisationally, we haven't sent out a message to cinemas that they shouldn't screen this film, she said. [...but...]

I have always been consistent in saying that I am concerned it glamorises gangs and the impact this will have on the people of Birmingham.

Odeon, which has a cinema on New Street, said it was not showing the film after taking advice from West Midlands Police. It declined to comment further.

Passed at '15' for strong language and violence

See article from

To get a bit of perspective, the  BBFC have commented about the film:

1 Day is a drama-thriller that follows a frenzied 24 hours in the life of a gang member and drug dealer in Birmingham who must somehow find a large amount of money that he owes to his gang leader who has just been released from prison. The film was passed at 15 for strong language and violence.

The film contains numerous uses of strong language that feature in the dialogue and the lyrics of hip-hop songs accompanying the action, certainly too many to meet with the restrictions of the Guidelines at 12A/12 which state that the use of strong language (for example, 'fuck') must be infrequent . Consequently, the film was placed at the 15 category where the Guidelines allow for frequent use of such language.

In a film depicting the lives of characters involved in crime and gang rivalries, there are sequences of moderate threat as well as scenes where tensions break out into open violence that include the use of knives and guns. These represent moments of strong violence with sight of its bloody consequences which required the 15 category, but there is no undue dwelling on the infliction of pain or injury , or on the bloody detail, which might have presented a challenge to the Guidelines at 15 .

The film contains infrequent soft drug use as well as sight of hard drugs, including a scene which sees a character cooking up crack cocaine but this is portrayed without any significantly instructive detail. The presence of drugs has a contextual justification but the depictions of drug dealing and drug misuse do not carry any elements of overt promotion or encouragement and it is likely that they would have been permitted at 12A .

The film also contains moderate language and a moderate suggestion of sexual activity.

Update: Story of a Police Censor

30th October 2009. Based on article from

It seems that local police took umbrage at the portrayal of Birmingham violence in 1 Day , and the West Midlands Police Assistant Chief Constable, Suzette Davenport, appeared on television accusing filmmakers of glamorising violence .

She said: My starting-point is that it's fiction, but I think you do see some glamorisation of gang-related behaviour. The main character walks off with £100,000, leaving behind a carnage of dead bodies. It's like a shoot-out at the OK Corral.

The Odeon chain confirmed that it would not be showing the film in the city itself, although it will carry it in 10 cinemas nationwide. Cineworld has likewise opted out of a local screening, in spite of carrying it in more than 20 of its cinemas across the country, according to the film's distributors Vertigo. Only one major multiplex - Vue - which originally declined to show 1 Day in Birmingham, had a change of heart after a consultation process. And two smaller independent cinemas in the city will also show the film.

It emerged yesterday that a uniformed West Midlands police constable had taken it upon himself to speak to the manager of the Odeon in Birmingham and advised him, in a personal capacity, against screening 1 Day. The manager took the advice, word spread and other multiplexes followed. Davenport said the police officer in question was mortified by the consequences of his actions, but would not be suspended or reprimanded. [yeah yeah!]

She dismissed claims that the force had tried to implement a ban, but admitted that she had written to the BBFC in an attempt to have the film's certification raised from 15 to 18 years, but said her request had been denied. She had seen the film in a special screening.


30th October   

Update: Nonsense Stays Protected...

Lords allow blasphemous libel to stand in Northern Ireland
Link Here
Full story: Censorship by Libel...British libel law allows the rich to censor the truth

The House of Lords debated on the 28th October 2009, Lord Lester's clause included in the Coroners and Justice Bill to abolish blasphemy in Northern Ireland.

The amendment was withdrawn. This means that the law stands as it is.

The feeling was that it is an issue that should be debated by the Northern Ireland Assembly rather than Westminster.


30th October   

Tastes Set at a Dial...

The BBC's censors risk killing off comedy
Link Here
Full story: Frankie Boyle...Whinges about Frankie Boyle and Mock the Week

Last Tuesday, the BBC Trust criticised the panel show Mock the Week because one of its stars, Frankie Boyle, joked about the facial features of Rebecca Adlington, the Olympic swimmer.

But even before the ban on derogatory gags, senior figures in comedy were expressing frustration at the BBC's increasing nervousness about humour. Take Jimmy Mulville, who runs the company that makes Have I Got News for You . At the Edinburgh Television Festival in August, Mr Mulville said it was becoming harder to get risqué jokes past the BBC's censors. My worry, he said, is that we're having our tastes set at a dial by the tabloid press.

...Read the full article


28th October

 Offsite: The Lords Giveth and the Lords Taketh Away...

Link Here
Full story: Censorship by Libel...British libel law allows the rich to censor the truth
Let's cheer the demise of criminal libel

See article from


28th October   

Comment: Out on a Limb...

Comedian under fire for jokes about injured soldiers
Link Here

Jimmy Carr has come under fire for joking about soldiers who lost their limbs in battle.

He has landed in trouble for a joke in his current Rapier Wit tour in which he says: Say what you like about these servicemen amputees from Iraq and Afghanistan, but we're going to have a fucking good Paralympic team in 2012.

However, Carr is a supporter of seriously injured troops - who are often known for their gallows humour - and has previously visited patients at Selly Oak military hospital in Birmingham and the Headley Court rehabilitation centre in Surrey.

His joke made the front page of the Sunday Express, as well as coverage in The Mail on Sunday and Daily Star Sunday.

Tory MP Patrick Mercer said: This was a remarkably dim and foolish thing to joke about. It's not funny and this man's career should end right now.

In a statement, Carr said: I've got nothing but respect for the young men and women who put their lives on the line for this country. I've visited Selly Oak and Headley Court on many occasions.

I'm sorry if anyone was offended but that's the kind of comedy I do. If a silly joke draws attention to the plight of these servicemen then so much the better. My intention was only to make people laugh.

Comment: Jimmy Carr and the pomposity of those professing outrage

28th October 2009. See article from by Dominic Lawson. Spotted by mediasnoops

There really should be a single word to describe people who are volubly outraged on behalf of someone they have never met. There is, I suppose, the term busybodies , but that doesn't quite capture the noise they make.

This week's target for vicarious outrage is the comedian Jimmy Carr. He had made the following remark in last Friday night's show at the Manchester Apollo theatre: Say what you like about servicemen amputees from Iraq and Afghanistan, but we're going to have a fucking good Paralympic team in 2012.

If you believe the suspiciously identical reports in various different newspapers, the 2,500-strong audience were stunned and gasped with shock . I'm more inclined to trust the reader who emailed one such paper to say, I was at the Manchester Apollo that Friday and the audience was not 'stunned into silence'. The place erupted in laughter.

...Read the full article


27th October   

Update: Leading by Example...

Campaigners hoping for end to criminal libel claim success in the House of Lords
Link Here
Full story: Super Injunctions...Granting super powers to rich gaggers

Freedom of speech campaigners are claiming victory as the House of Lords is expected to back changes removing anachronistic laws which have criminalised libel for more than 700 years.

The changes, which will be debated as part of the controversial coroners and justice bill, repeal laws dating back to 1275 and allow extremely serious libel and sedition to be prosecuted in criminal courts. The laws have long been regarded as an impediment to freedom of speech and an anomaly in the UK, which has encouraged countries with repressive regimes not to conduct prosecutions for libel.

Agnes Callamard, executive director of campaign group Article 19, said: This will send a very strong and clear signal globally that democracies do not have criminal defamation laws. The government's admission that the law, which has been widely recognised as hampering freedom of press and political dissent, must change comes after increasing concern about clampdowns in other countries, including many states in Europe and the Commonwealth.

These common law offences are anachronistic and their continuing existence, albeit seldom used, has been cited by other countries as justification for the retention of similar laws, which have been actively used to restrict media freedom, a Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: The UK is committed to encouraging other countries to recognise and respect freedom of expression and the media must take the lead in abolishing these out-of-date offences.

There is also a debate about whether to extend changes to the law on blasphemous libel to Northern Ireland, where offensive remarks about the Christian church remain an offence.

There is now a grotesque situation in Ireland, said Liberal Democrat peer Lord Lester QC. In the Republic of Ireland, there has been a rebirth of the offence of blasphemous libel for domestic constitution reasons, and in Northern Ireland we have not yet managed to get rid of it. God no more needs to be protected by criminal law in Northern Ireland than in Great Britain.

The government denied it was considering extending the repeal of blasphemous libel to Northern Ireland. The government believes that the Northern Ireland assembly is the best forum to consider this area of law as it relates to Northern Ireland, the Ministry of Justice said.


21st October   

Update: Taboo Words...

Joan Bakewell against a diktat on strong language...BUT...
Link Here

Journalist and broadcaster Joan Bakewell has described the BBC's plans to clamp down on strong language as far too sweeping a diktat .

Bakewell, whose 2001 series Taboo listed the words people find most offensive, warned there was a major danger of censorship stifling creativity.

She argued that society needs taboos and spoke up for the right to shock .

Writing in the Radio Times, Bakewell referred to the Strictly Come Dancing race row, saying it was right that using insulting words like paki could get you into trouble as Anton Du Beke deservedly found out .

She continued: Casual swearing is lazy, ugly, a glib way to let off steam on the football pitch or in the kitchen. I don't want it on my television at all. But when it's part of a tense, gritty drama - such as those set among soldiers at war like Occupation - or of an uproarious lampoon of our political system such as The Thick of It , then that's a proper use of the language and should be allowed.


21st October   

National Security Censors...

Former British spy attempting to overturn MI5 book ban
Link Here

A former British spy is asking Britain's Supreme Court to overturn a decision by domestic intelligence agency MI5 to block him from publishing a book about his career.

Lawyers for the former MI5 officer, who is not named in court documents, told a hearing that he is seeking a judicial review of the decision.

Britain's government says publishing the book could threaten national security.


20th October   

Update: Haunted by Censors...

Mock the Week wins the Golden Spoon Award for Bad Taste
Link Here
Full story: Frankie Boyle...Whinges about Frankie Boyle and Mock the Week

A joke about the Queen broadcast on BBC2's satirical panel show Mock the Week had been cleared by the corporation's TV censor.

Comedian Frankie Boyle joked that you would not hear the Queen say during her Christmas broadcast: I'm now so old that my p**** is haunted.

The episode had first been shown in 2007 but was repeated in October 2008 during the Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand furore.

A complainant said the joke was grossly offensive and added: It would have been objectionable at the best of times but coming as it did in the midst of the Ross and Brand controversy it was quite unforgivable.

An initial complaint to the BBC's management had been rejected saying that, while the joke was near the knuckle , it was in keeping with the show.

The viewer then took his complaint to the BBC Trust which also rejected the complaint, despite admitting the joke had sexist and ageist overtones .

Richard Tait, BBC trustee and chairman of the editorial standards committee, said the joke was well after the watershed, well signposted and within audience expectations for the show . He said: The committee did feel this joke was in bad taste - it had both sexist and ageist overtones.

However, a gag on a different episode of Mock the Week about Olympic swimmer Rebecca Adlington was deemed to have broken rules.

In August last year, Boyle said Adlington looks like someone who's looking at themselves in the back of a spoon . He also made a sexual innuendo about the gold medalists' love life, saying Adlington's boyfriend looked like a male model and continuing: So from that I have deduced that Rebecca Adlington is very dirty - I mean if you just take into account how long she can hold her breath...

One viewer told the BBC he was appalled .

The show's producer later responded to the complaint, saying the ribbing might have gone a tad too far and apologised.

The trust said that 75 complaints were received about the item, originally aired in the week that Team GB returned from the Olympic Games. It found that, while Adlington was a public figure, she had not courted media attention. The judgment said: The joke about her appearance and the sexual innuendo were humiliating and there was no demonstration of a clear editorial purpose for the inclusion of these comments.

The committee also noted that the commissioning editor had made her views known about preferring not to include the joke. It said it was concerned she appeared to have been unable to obtain the edits she would have preferred.


20th October   

Nothing 'Natural' in the Daily Mail...

Stephen Gately article seen by many as an anti-gay rant
Link Here

The Press Complaints Commission has received a record 22,000 complaints about Jan Moir's Daily Mail article about Stephen Gately. This is more complaints in a single weekend than the PCC has received in total in the past five years.

Moir's article, which was published the day before Gately's funeral in Dublin, provoked widespread outrage on the web. The original headline on the Mail Online website, Why there was nothing 'natural' about Stephen Gately's death , was later amended to the print edition headline A strange, lonely and troubling death . The article has also prompted a complaint to the Metropolitan police.

Moir's article said Gately's death in Mallorca after a night out strikes another blow to the happy-ever-after myth of civil partnerships .

It is understood that the PCC will be mindful of the attitudes of Gately's family and partner. They appear to be individually written complaints, a source said. The PCC has had no formal contact with the Daily Mail over the incident, the source added.

The PCC today stopped short of announcing an immediate investigation to see if its code of practice has been violated but said it would consider the 22,000 complaints. In this case the PCC could launch an investigation to see if Moir's article violated parts of its code that deals with intrusion into grief, accuracy, discrimination and homophobia.

On Friday advertisers including Marks & Spencer demanded that their advertising be removed from the webpage on which Moir's piece was published, although Mail Online had already taken the decision to remove banner ads.

Moir, who has won a British Press Award, made a statement defending her column late on Friday, saying it was not her intention to offend, blaming a heavily orchestrated internet campaign for the furore and adding that it was mischievous in the extreme to suggest that my article has homophobic and bigoted undertones .


18th October   

Update: Age of Micro-Managed Lives...

Concern that age related internet sales restrictions can easily be extended to other products
Link Here

A proposal that will force online retailers to take extra steps to ensure that young people cannot buy or access inappropriate goods or material will moves one step closer to becoming law. The Online Purchasing of Goods and Services (Age Verification) Bill was set receive its second reading in the House of Commons on Friday.

The Bill proposes making it a requirement for the providers of goods and services and the providers of specified facilities enabling the purchase of such goods and services to take reasonable steps, in certain circumstances, to establish the age of customers making such purchases . The proposed law refers to goods which it is already illegal to sell to people under the specified ages, such as 16 for cigarettes and 18 for alcohol.

It had previously been introduced in the House of Commons but ran out of Parliamentary time.

Some peers in the Lords raised objections to the Bill, though. The Earl of Erroll said that concerns over payments technology and over the scope of the Bill should cause concern: We must allow young people to buy things online. Many things are only obtainable that way nowadays - certainly the better bargains, he said. We must not outlaw methods of payment that will completely stop them buying anything.

The Earl of Erroll also warned that the Bill was in fact not just about age-restricted goods but gave Government the power to bar access to other materials: The second major problem refers to unconstrained powers. Clause 1(2) provides that the Secretary of State can make regulations that could extend to things that are not covered by legal ages or goods and services covered under current laws. The legal duty to comply with these laws already exists, and I do not think that Parliament should micromanage people in how they do these things. We should not be passing laws just to send a message. That is not a good idea.


17th October   

Updated: Super Injunctions...

Attempt to prevent Guardian publishing parliamentary proceedings fails
Link Here
Full story: Super Injunctions...Granting super powers to rich gaggers

An unprecedented attempt by a British oil trading firm to prevent the Guardian reporting parliamentary proceedings collapsed following a spontaneous online campaign to spread the information the paper had been barred from publishing.

Carter-Ruck, the law firm representing Trafigura, was accused of infringing the supremacy of parliament after it insisted that an injunction obtained against the Guardian prevented the paper from reporting a question tabled on Monday by the Labour MP Paul Farrelly.

Farrelly's question was about the implications for press freedom of an order obtained by Trafigura preventing the Guardian and other media from publishing the contents of a report related to the dumping of toxic waste in Ivory Coast.

The Guardian was prevented from identifying Farrelly, reporting the nature of his question, where the question could be found, which company had sought the gag, or even which order was constraining its coverage.

But overnight numerous users of the social networking site Twitter posted details of Farrelly's question and by this morning the full text had been published on two prominent blogs as well as in the magazine Private Eye.

Carter-Ruck withdrew its gagging attempt by lunchtime, shortly before a 2pm high court hearing at which the Guardian was about to challenge its stance, with the backing of other national newspapers.

MPs from all three major parties condemned the firm's attempt to prevent the reporting of parliamentary proceedings. Farrelly told John Bercow, the Speaker : Yesterday, I understand, Carter-Ruck quite astonishingly warned of legal action if the Guardian reported my question. In view of the seriousness of this, will you accept representations from me over this matter and consider whether Carter-Ruck's behaviour constitutes a potential contempt of parliament?

The Commons question reveals that Trafigura has obtained a hitherto secret injunction, known as a super-injunction , to prevent disclosures about toxic oil waste it arranged to be dumped in west Africa in 2006, making thousands of people ill. Farrelly is asking Jack Straw, the justice secretary, about the implications for press freedom of a high court injunction obtained on 11 September 2009 by Trafigura on the publication of the Minton report on the alleged dumping of toxic waste in the Ivory Coast, commissioned by Trafigura :

61 N Paul Farrelly (Newcastle-under-Lyme): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of legislation to protect (a) whistleblowers and (b) press freedom following the injunctions obtained in the High Court by (i) Barclays and Freshfields solicitors on 19 March 2009 on the publication of internal Barclays reports documenting alleged tax avoidance schemes and (ii) Trafigura and Carter-Ruck solicitors on 11 September 2009 on the publication of the Minton report on the alleged dumping of toxic waste in the Ivory Coast, commissioned by Trafigura. (293006)

62 N Paul Farrelly (Newcastle-under-Lyme): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, if he will (a) collect and (b) publish statistics on the number of non-reportable injunctions issued by the High Court in each of the last five years. (293012)

63 N Paul Farrelly (Newcastle-under-Lyme): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what mechanisms HM Court Service uses to draw up rosters of duty judges for the purpose of considering time of the essence applications for the issuing of injunctions by the High Court.

How super-injunctions are used to gag investigative reporting

Based on article from

Injunctions have become one of the most effective tools powerful individuals and corporations reach for when they want to silence the media. In their simplest form, they prevent news organisations from reporting what happens in court, usually on the basis that doing so could prejudice a trial.

Super-injunctions that prevent news organisations from revealing the identities of those involved in legal disputes, or even reporting the fact that reporting restrictions have been imposed, have emerged recently. They grew out of family cases and then developed further as a result of the privacy law that has come into being in the UK on the back of the right to privacy enshrined in the 1998 Human Rights Act, itself based on the European convention on human rights.

That law has evolved through a series of high court rulings and was used by Max Mosley, the Formula One chief, last year to win damages from the News of the World when it revealed details about his sex life. But this privacy law, welcomed by some as a way of protecting against tabloid intrusion, has further boosted the use of injunctions whose terms of reference are far wider than ever before.

Libel lawyers Carter-Ruck and Schillings have proved adept at persuading judges that injunctions should now be granted on privacy grounds. Some tabloid newspapers are being served with a handful of such orders each week, according to media lawyers. The Guardian has been served with at least 12 notices of injunctions that could not be reported so far this year, compared with six in the whole of 2006 and five the year before.

Update: Injunction Lifted

17th October 2009. Based on article from

A suppressed report which details how an oil company dumped toxic waste in Africa that may cause serious burns has now been released following a parliamentary row over freedom of speech.

The study commissioned just weeks after the incident in West Africa concluded that the dumping would have been illegal under European pollution laws and suggests that the likely cause of the illness reported by locals was the significant release of potentially lethal gas.

The report had been kept secret after Trafigura, one of the world's largest independent oil trading firms, obtained a super injunction that threatened the centuries-old privilege of newspapers to report what MPs can say freely in the Commons.

On Friday night, as the High Court gagging order was lifted, senior figures at Trafigura admitted their approach may have been heavy-handed and insisted it had not been their intention to try to gag Parliament.


16th October   

Can we Keep our Hands off the Net?...

Parliamentarians ponder a rhetoric question
Link Here

An all-party group of MPs has recommended mandatory nanny filters for all mobile devices and data devices that can access the internet - and wants the UK's Internet Watch Foundation secretive censor system extended to the whole world.

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Communications (Apcomms) today recommends: A global 'notice and take-down' regime is required, and if the IWF cannot provide it then someone else should.

The reason for given for mandatory net filters is that the default child protection settings are different on different mobile networks and different devices. This is unnecessarily confusing for parents, and so the report recommends that the industry move to a consistent, and 'safe', arrangement.

The Apcomms report Can we keep our hands off the net? considered the questions:

  1. Can we distinguish circumstances when ISPs should be forced to act to deal with some type of bad traffic? When should we insist that ISPs should not be forced into dealing with a problem, and that the solution must be found elsewhere?
  2. Should the Government be intervening over behavioural advertising services, either to encourage or discourage their deployment; or is this entirely a matter for individual users, ISPs and websites?
  3. Is there a need for new initiatives to deal with online privacy, and if so, what should be done?
  4. Is the current global approach to dealing with child sexual abuse images working effectively? If not, then how should it be improved?
  5. Who should be paying for the transmission of Internet traffic? Would it be appropriate to enshrine any of the various notions of Network Neutrality in statute?

Parliament and the Internet Conference

Based on article from

In his introductory comments to the Parliament and the Internet Conference, Ed Richards seemed to think that the transition of Ofcom from a Broadcast to an Internet regulator was inevitable, as content and viewing habits moved across, albeit it raised many questions of practicality.

He also spoke of the need to protect existing players as their traditional business models crumbled, while saying that legislation was needed to break the current spectrum logjam.

Later in the conference, Derek Wyatt MP summarised the main conclusions from the apComms report Can we keep our hands off the Net? - also all to do with self-regulation rather than government interference.

The day was, however, stolen by the delegates from the childrens IGF organised by Childnet. They went straight for the difficult issues that we were all avoiding: wanting open access with safety.

They pointed out that our technology dependent, safety-first, if in doubt block it , censored feeds to schools got in the way of their supervised project work - because they could not access main stream sources, let alone any of the blogged commentaries on them. But they also wanted effective facilities to help guard against 24 by 7 on-line bullying.


16th October   

Updated: BBFC Pissed Off...

Women Love Porn DVD to feature female ejaculation after tussle with the censors
Link Here
Full story: Female Ejaculation at the BBFC...Film censors and little squirts

Britain's first female porn director, Anna Span has won a historic victory with the passing of her DVD, Women Love Porn which includes a woman clearly ejaculating.

On initial submission to the BBFC, the board asked for compulsory edits to remove the female ejaculation section, as they believed the woman to be urinating and argued therefore it fell foul of the Obscene Publications Act. Even though most countries worldwide which allow pornography, do not single out female as opposed to male, ejaculation for censoring, the BBFC historically do not believe in the phenomenon. They have refused to pass previous films such as Ben Dover's Squirt Queens in May 2001, saying that they had not received a convincing enough argument to support the existence of FE.

Determined to put the record straight, Anna Span presented the BBFC with irrefutable scientific evidence in support of model DJ's ability to squirt, as it is known in the adult industry. Anna says; I am really proud to have changed this outdated ruling and to have made a difference to women who experience this in their own lives throughout the UK. It was never fair that the BBFC dismissed their orgasms as urinary incontinence

Initially the BBFC stood their ground and refused to pass the film but when Anna pushed for a hearing with the Video Appeals Committee, they later backed down after taking legal advice. They say that their position remains fundamentally unchanged for future releases although it is difficult to see how they can argue against future claims for DVDs which contain FE, now that this precedent has been set.

It is particularly fitting that Women Love Porn should be so groundbreaking for women in the UK, as it is the result of a competition set by Anna Span to encourage new female directors into directing pornography. Five women won the opportunity to write and film a scene for the DVD, which includes the contentious FE scene Top Milf by director Paula Porn. The winner of the competition Katie Coxxx then went on to film a full DVD of her own titled Apocalypse Angels , also for Easy on the Eye Productions.

Women Love Porn will be released at Venus International Adult Trade Fair in Berlin on the 15th October 2009.

Offsite: Do the BBFC now recognise female ejaculation?

8th October 2009. See article from by John Ozimek

Female porn film-maker Anna Span announced triumphantly to the world that she had won a historic victory with the passing for viewing in the UK of her DVD, Women Love Porn which includes a woman clearly ejaculating .

This, she claimed, was as a result of scientific evidence that she had presented to the BBFC to the effect that female ejaculation is a real phenomenon - and wholly different in form and origin from urination.

This distinction is important, as according to the BBFC, depiction of urination in a sexual context (also known as urolagnia) is illegal under UK obscenity law - and they will not pass films for viewing that contain such material.

So the obvious conclusion must be: the BBFC now recognise female ejaculation.

Not so, according to a spokeswoman for the BBFC. She explained: In this particular work, there was so little focus on urolagnia, that the BBFC took legal advice and the advice was that taking the work as a whole there was no realistic prospect of a successful prosecution under the Obscene Publications Act and therefore the BBFC passed the work. However, were the focus on urolagnia to be more significant in other works, they would require cuts.

...Read the full article

Comment: Sexuality, as defined by censors

9th October 2009. See article from by Kristina Lloyd

Span's partial victory, achieved after she presented the board with a wealth of scientific evidence, is of interest to more than a handful of enthusiasts. Here, the issue is not simply about women being able to gush without blushing, an aspect of female sexuality is being defined by an argument between censors and pornographers. But are they the most appropriate stakeholders for female sexuality? The BBFC's ban colludes with the cultural default of viewing female sexuality as intangible and precious, as if the enigma of woman was something beyond the reach of science.

The irony is that Span has fought for the right to show authentic representations of the female experience in an industry famed for its fakery - horribly apt for a culture where female sexuality has been increasingly pornified , and where sexualities that don't fit this model are swamped and sidelined. Authenticity is less important than acceptability, and what has become increasingly acceptable in the rise of raunch culture are exhibitionist sexualities. With the vogue for burlesque, lap-dancing and pole-dancing, not to mention the glut of memoirs from sex workers and strippers, the meaning of the word sexuality , when applied to women, has become so corrupted it's practically a fancy way of saying sexiness .

The adult industry needs to acknowledge female desire - the satisfaction of it, not merely demonstrations of it for the satisfaction of male desire - and Span's positioning of women as consumers rather than product is radically different. But have general understandings of female sexuality become so distorted that it's possible for censors to reject authenticity in pornography on the grounds it must be bogus? Many complain that teenage lads gain their sexual knowledge from pornography. It's troubling when the BBFC seems to learn the same way.

Update: Evidence of Unwarranted Censorship

13th October 2009. Based on article from

Regarding the proof we supplied - we sent the BBFC the book The Human Female Prostrate by Milan Zaviacic professor of pathology for forensic medicine at the Comenius University Bratislava Slovak Republic (Slovakia). Zaviacic is the world leader in the medical examination for the existence of female ejaculation. He has written over 500 essays on the subject in various worldwide scientific publications. He has won many international awards from the scientific community for his work. This book is based on his finding from research conducted from over 20 years' studies focussed on female ejaculation and the female prostrate.

I also enclosed The Female Prostrate Revisited: Perineal Ultrasound and Biochemical Studies of Female Ejaculate by Wimpissinger, MD FEBU, Karl Stifter, PhD, Wolfgang Grin, MD and Walter Stackl, MD.

Another, more recent article from this month's New Scientist magazine was sent to the BBFC as well. It included numerous personal affirmations from readers, which follow the article too.

All three documents provided clear, conclusive evidence of women's ability to ejaculate.

I also enclosed a declaration from the two performers involved in this particular scene that both agree that this was a case of female ejaculation - and not urination - which they have also witnessed in their time. The production staff also concurred.

On top of all this we asked DJ - the model in question - to provide a sample which was tested under regulated circumstances and the test came back as definitely NOT urine. We have a certificate for this, hence our claim for irrefutability.

Offsite: Fluid Sexuality: Female Ejaculation and Censorship in the UK

16th October 2009. See article from by John Ozimek

If women believe—as very many women do—that they are capable of ejaculating, then where is the public interest in denying its existence?

Which brings us back once more to the BBFC and what looks to be an increasingly dishonest position. First, they claim that they have no view—but in fact, by taking this stance, yet simultaneously claiming that they have never seen squirting—only urination—they are inevitably going to censor almost all images of this nature.

...Read full article


15th October   

Update: British Freedom of Speech Belittled...

California passes a law to ignore UK libel judgements
Link Here
Full story: Libel Tourism...UK prosecutions of books published abroad

The state of California has banned libel tourism in an effort to resist the influence of British judges.

Its governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a law which will allow its courts to refuse to enforce libel judgments handed down in London.

He acted following alarm in the U.S. that powerful individuals use British courts to silence criticism and prevent investigation of their activities around the world.

California legislators said their courts must have power to block libel judgments from Britain which has become a jurisdictional Mecca for the rich and famous .

And in a verdict deeply embarrassing for the British government, they said the libel tourism law must be passed to pressure foreign jurisdictions like Britain to change its laws to place greater protections on free speech .

The California law means that courts in all the most important U.S. cities now have laws to shield Americans from damages and gagging writs ordered in the High Court in London.

New York and the state of Illinois have already passed libel tourism legislation and other states, including Florida, are in the process.

The California law gives its courts the right to refuse to enforce defamation judgements made abroad unless it is shown that the foreign court had the same or better freedom of speech protection than is given by the US constitution.


14th October   

Update: Buried Alive by Complaints...

BBC is to research the level of violence in its programmes
Link Here

BBC management is to conduct a study into the level of violence in its programmes after 'concerns' were raised by the BBC Trust and viewers about an EastEnders storyline that showed a character being buried alive.

Speaking at a Westminster Media Forum seminar in London on offence and standards on television, the BBC director of editorial policy, David Jordan, said that the issue of violence on TV was second in importance only to swearing for viewers: We thought we might be detecting a greater sensitivity to the threat of violence and being scared, Jordan added. There was a particular episode of EastEnders where someone was buried alive. Nobody was hurt. Nobody was brutalised, but somebody was buried alive.

He was referring to two EastEnders episodes screened on BBC1 over the Easter weekend last year in which a philandering character, Max Branning, was buried alive by his estranged wife, Tanya.

Jordan said that both the BBC Trust and Ofcom had noticed this trend for viewers to have a lower tolerance threshold for TV violence: We thought we should have a look at what levels of violence are acceptable but also in news programmes too to see what is expected. Do you sanitise things ... it's not something we've looked at for a while .

Jordan said he expected the research into violence to be carried out by the end of the year.

Channel 4's viewers' editor, Paula Carter, revealed at the same event that complaints to the broadcaster are falling. The number of complaints made to Channel 4 is declining. In the year so far they are 20% down, Carter said. She explained that the main reason is because of the declining popularity of reality show Big Brother.

Carter also revealed that of about 200,000 to 250,000 calls or emails made to Channel 4 in a year, only about 10% are complaints about issues of strong language: Our biggest single issue is in fact scheduling ... If people feel we didn't deliver a programme at the time expected, .


14th October   

Update: Growing Up...

Tate Modern replace Spiritual America exhibit
Link Here

From a Tate Modern press release regarding the Richard Prince work Spiritual America:

In consultation with the artist, Richard Prince, Tate has replaced Spiritual America 1983 with a later version of the work made by him in collaboration with Brooke Shields, Spiritual America IV 2005 . The room reopens to the public on Tuesday 13 October 2009. Tate is in ongoing discussions with legal advisors about the catalogue.

Well, if the work is deemed to be indecent, the Tate will have no option but to destroy all copies of the catalogue. Maybe they could call in the Met to do the burning...


14th October   

Update: Fitna for Travel to Britain...

Wilders wins appeal against Home Office ban on visiting Britain
Link Here
Full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

Geert Wilders, the Dutch far-right politician, has won his appeal against the Government's refusal to let him enter Britain.

Wilders challenged the decision by then home secretary Jacqui Smith which led to him being turned back at Heathrow Airport.

The ruling by the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal means the head of the Freedom Party, who is accused of Islamophobia, could now be allowed into the country.

He was due to show his short film Fitna , which criticises the Koran as a fascist book , at the House of Lords in February. But Smith said his presence had the potential to threaten community harmony and therefore public safety .

A Home Office spokesman said the Government was disappointed by the ruling: The decision to refuse Wilders admission was taken on the basis that his presence could have inflamed tensions between our communities and have led to inter-faith violence. We still maintain this view.'


11th October   

Royal Book Banner...

Fergie has change of heart over uncovering brutality in Turkish orphanages
Link Here

A book about the brutality of Turkish orphanages that landed the Duchess of York in a diplomatic row is to be published - even though the Queen's lawyers tried to get it banned.

Sarah Ferguson penned the preface to Under Cover , written by ITN investigative reporter Chris Rogers, when she initially fully co-operated on the book with the backing of Buckingham Palace.

But she later instructed lawyers to halt its publication after her involvement sparked a major row between Turkey and Britain. Turkey claims the Duchess, who has also made a television documentary about conditions in orphanages there, entered the country and filmed illegally.

Last month she appointed Farrer & Co, the Queen's lawyers, claiming much of the book was her copyright.

But last night publishers Authentic Media insisted the book, which contains in-depth interviews with the Duchess about the state of Turkey's orphanages, will be published early next year.

Lawyers acting for author Rogers and his publishers are understood to have given Farrer & Co a 30-day deadline to present their full case for a ban. The deadline has now passed and a spokesman for the publishers said: We are passionate about highlighting the issues raised in the book and were disappointed there was a move to block its publication. We are happy that publication is going ahead.

The book would not have been possible without Sarah Ferguson's dedication and unstinting co-operation. The fact she has pledged so much of her life to helping these children is a tribute to her and her family. Had the book not been published it would have been a tragedy for the children's charities to which much of the proceeds of sales will go.


10th October

 Offsite: What Do You Think?...

Link Here
Taking the banned picture of Brooke Shields to the Tate to let gallery visitors decide for themselves.

See article from


9th October

 Offsite: Threatening on YouTube...

Link Here
Can a rap song pervert the course of justice?

See article from


8th October   

Online as On-Air...

BBC online news to follow broadcast guidelines
Link Here

The BBC Trust today unveiled a new set of editorial guidelines that could lead to changes to the content its journalists can post online.

The draft guidelines state that: Nothing should be written by [BBC] journalists and presenters that would not be said on-air.

Some industry observers are already referring to that as the Jeremy Bowen clause . The BBC's highly-regarded Middle East editor, was censured by the Trust in April for loose phrasing in a potted history of post-war Israel, which appeared on the BBC News website.

Our audiences should not be able to tell from BBC programmes or other BBC output the personal prejudices of our journalists and presenters on such matters, the new guidance says. This applies as much to online content as it does to news bulletins. Nothing should be written by journalists and presenters that would not be said on-air .


7th October   

Update: Humiliated Stunts...

BBC TV to dumb down to please the easily offended
Link Here

BBC presenters are to be banned from swearing immediately after the 9pm watershed and from conducting humiliating and intimidating prank phone calls under sweeping changes to the corporation's editorial guidelines.

The BBC will take the radical step of putting its guidelines out for public consultation as it tries to pander to nutters after editorial blunders such as the prank phone calls involving Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand.

The BBC Trust, the internal regulator, has conducted a review of the rules governing programming and is proposing new regulations banning the use of offensive language between 9pm and 10pm except in exceptional circumstances, and encouraging producers to bleep more swear words.

Other plans to go forward for public consideration include new restrictions on risqué breakfast radio presenters, such as Chris Moyles, whose shows are on air when large numbers of children are listening.  The trust is also insisting that the BBC never condones malicious intrusion, intimidation and humiliation .

Although much of the public focus will be on the trust's recommendations for bad language and behaviour, the plans will also include rules aimed at safeguarding the accuracy and impartiality of the BBC's factual programming, as well as measures to ensure that children do not emulate aggressive behaviour of characters in programmes such as EastEnders. Regulations on ensuring the integrity of phone-ins and text voting are also proposed.

Once the public consultation period is over, the trust will consider the responses before coming to a final decision on the use of its editorial guidelines. It is expected to put the regulations into operation early next summer.


7th October   

Children should be Seen but not Located...

Ofcom research into parental control of children's internet access
Link Here

More children than ever before can now access the internet directly from their bedrooms, new Ofcom research reveals today.

Our figures show that 35% of 12-15s and 16% of 8-11s now have web access in their bedrooms. That's up from 20% and 9% respectively in 2007.

At the same time, some 60% of 12-15s and one third of 8-11s say they use the internet mostly on their own. Internet controls. One in five of 5-7s also say they use the internet without an adult in the room.

Nearly half of parents whose children use the internet at home say they have internet controls or filtering software in place.

The research also reveals that nearly three quarters of all parents are concerned that other people could locate their child through their mobile phone using location based services. A location-based service uses technology to find your mobile phone's position and provide services related to where you are.


7th October

 Offsite: Sex Returns to TV...

Link Here
Sex scenes are in vogue again on TV

See article from


3rd October   

Update: A Hard Life...

Hardcore images at the Tate Modern wind up the nutters
Link Here

The Tate Modern is displaying dozens of hardcore pornographic images in an exhibition already dogged by controversy over a naked picture of Brooke Shields.

However, visitors to the opening day of the Pop Life exhibition were confronted with other, far more explicit imagery, including a video installation of a female artist, Andrea Fraser, who paid a stranger $20,000 to have sexual intercourse with her on camera.

A room devoted to the artist Jeff Koons features giant canvases of hardcore sexual acts, while another room is lined with images taken from pornographic magazines. They are the work of Cosey Fanni Tutti, a one-time porn actress formerly known as Christine Newby.

The installations carried an over-18s warning but gallery staff made no attempt to verify visitors' ages, and many of those viewing the exhibition on its first day were teenagers.

Hugh McKinney, chairman of the National Family Campaign, said the works had no place in a gallery visited by families. You have to ask if this is appropriate material for a gallery as prestigious as the Tate. There is a fine line between art and pornography in some cases. Families visit the Tate, and there is a real possibility that under-age and impressionable young people could see these works.

The room which was to have displayed the Brooke Shields picture by artist Richard Prince stood empty yesterday. The Tate temporarily withdrew the image following a visit by officers from the Metropolitan Police obscene publications unit, but is debating whether to reinstate it with a more detailed warning about its content displayed on the wall outside.


2nd October   

Limp Complaint...

BBC TV censor rejects complaint about My Penis and Everyone Else's
Link Here

The BBC Trust has rejected a complaint that the BBC should not have screened full-frontal male genitalia in a programme called My Penis and Everyone Else's.

The BBC's regulatory body said today that the show, which was originally broadcast on BBC3 at 9pm in September 2007, had not breached corporation guidelines on harm and offence.

The complainant claimed that the broadcast of male genitalia was inappropriate as it could have been seen by children and that a display of penises and the time spent showing them was gratuitous and excessive .

But the trust said that while the programme had contained what some of the audience would have considered challenging material, there was a clear editorial purpose for it and that adequate steps had been taken to flag the content beforehand.


2nd October   

Comment: Over-reacting Plods...

Converting a grey area into a definite no-no
Link Here

What have we come to when Mr Plod can walk into a major art gallery and demand the withdrawal of a work on display?

I wish that the management had had the courage to tell Plod to do his worst.

An attempt to prosecute the director of the Tate galleries for paedophile pornography might just have made people wake up.

Offsite: Were police right to warn Tate Modern?

See article from by John Ozimek

As the law stands, the Met almost certainly have a point. The Protection of Children Act 1978 makes it illegal to possess or distribute indecent images of children. Indecency is not defined precisely in law, that is for a jury to determine, but over the years the courts have evolved a categorisation of imagery that ranges from level 1 (least serious) to level 5 (most serious).

For an image to be deemed illegal at level one, Crown Prosecution Service Guidelines require only that it include elements of erotic posing.

Level one is problematic. First, because it is at the lower end of what society considers wrong: in fact, it includes images that significant sections of society do not consider to be wrong at all. So it is the place where police and authorities are most likely to be accused of over-reacting. full article


2nd October   

Labouring for a Miserable Britain...

Harriet Hatemen takes aim at Page 3 Calendars
Link Here

Harriet Hatemen, the minister for Intolerance and Inequality, claims it is harassment to put up saucy pics at work.

The small print of the Government's flagship Equalities Bill declares: An employer who displayed any material of a sexual nature, such as a topless calendar, may be harassing employees where this makes the workplace an offensive place to work.

Critics fear a witch-hunt against workers. Tory MP Philip Davies fumed: This is crazy - the nanny state running riot.


1st October   

Update: Spiritual America and Miserable Britain...

Brooke Shields image taken down at Tate Modern exhibition
Link Here

A display due to go on show to the public at Tate Modern has been withdrawn after a warning from Scotland Yard that the naked image of actor Brooke Shields aged 10 and heavily made up could break obscenity laws.

The work, by American artist Richard Prince and entitled Spiritual America, was due to be part of the London gallery's new Pop Life exhibition . It has been removed from display after a visit to Tate Modern by officers from the obscene publications unit of the Metropolitan police.

The exhibition had been open to members of the Tate today before opening to the public tomorrow. A Tate spokeswoman confirmed that the display had been temporarily closed down and the catalogue for the exhibition withdrawn from sale. The work had been accompanied by a warning, and the Tate had sought legal advice before displaying it.

The decision by officers to visit Tate Modern is understood to have been made after police chiefs saw coverage of the exhibition in newspapers, rather than as a result of complaints.

Officers met gallery bosses and are also understood to have consulted the Crown Prosecution Service as to whether the image broke obscenity laws.

A Scotland Yard source said the actions of its officers were common sense and were taken to pre-empt any breach of the law. The source said the image of Shields was of potential concern because it was of a 10-year-old, and could be viewed as sexually provocative.

The work has been shown recently in New York, without attracting major controversy, where it gave the title to the 2007 retrospective of Prince's work at the Guggenheim Museum. Prince has described the image as resembling a body with two different sexes, maybe more, and a head that looks like it's got a different birthday.

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