UK News

 2011: Jan-March

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30th March   

Update: Plodding On...

Nominet announce group to discuss police take down of internet domains
Link Here  full story: Internet Domain Censorship...In the Domain of Nominet internet censorship

Nominet logo The issue group on 'Dealing with domain names used in connection with criminal activity' has been set up. It brings together expertise and experience from within and outside the domain name industry. We have a list of people [pdf] who will form the core of this issue group, chaired by Professor Ian Walden. The group's first meeting will take place on 4 April 2011.

We are also publishing a background report on this issue which has been prepared by Micheal O'Floinn, an independent PhD researcher at Queen Mary College, University of London.

Stakeholders can submit feedback on the report up until 31 March 2011 by emailing policy@nominet.org.uk .

 

24th March   

Offsite: Pressing Concerns...

Ofcom clears Iranian TV station over woman's murder reconstruction
Link Here  full story: Death by Stoning...International condemnation of barbaric execution

Press TV logo Ofcom has ruled that Iran's state-run Press TV station, which has offices in London, did not breach the UK's broadcasting rules in transmitting a programme that showed an Iranian woman participating in the reconstruction of her alleged part in the murder of her husband.

In response to a complaint made by the Iranian human rights campaigner Fazel Hawramy, who asked whether it was ethical for Press TV to make the imprisoned son play his murdered father, Ofcom said in a letter, seen by the Guardian, that the broadcaster had not breached its code.

Given the broadcaster's assurances that both Sakineh Ashtiani and her son willingly participated in this programme, we considered that the context was not materially misleading so as to cause harm and offence, Adam Baxter, standards executive of the media regulator, wrote to Hawramy.

...Read the full article

 

22nd March   

Offsite: Hyper Injunctions...

Courts gag people from even speaking to MPs
Link Here  full story: Super Injunctions...Granting super powers to rich gaggers

Old Bailey It all started with the reporting of an injunction, supposedly obtained by former Royal Bank of Scotland chief executive, preventing him being identified as a banker . A mildly interesting story, made marginally more so by the fact that the injunction had been breached by an MP during a Parliamentary debate.

But there is more to the story. As bloggers Anna Raccoon, Charon QC and Obiter J have reported, on a Parliamentary debate on Thursday the same Liberal Democrat MP, John Hemming, revealed the details of a number of other (what he called) hyper injunctions. The common feature was that courts had ordered not only that the parties to litigation were to be prevented from revealing details of their cases to the public, but also to their MPs.

...Read the full article

Update: Not So New

22nd March 2011. See  article from  guardian.co.uk , thanks to pbr

Behold, then, a new innovation: what Hemming calls the hyper-injunction. This double-secret form of super-injunction, unveiled only recently by the MP, specifically bars a person from discussing something with members of Parliament, journalists and lawyers , except for his own defence lawyers.

Its effectiveness is clearly demonstrated by the fact that it's not new at all: the hyper-injunction Hemmings referred to -- concerning allegations to do with ships' drinking water tanks being coated with toxic paint -- dated from 2006, and we're only just hearing about it.

 

21st March   

Update: Radical idea...

Government set up website to report internet material inciting terrorism
Link Here  full story: Glorification of Censorship...Climate of fear caused by glorification of terrorsim

Home Offie logo A campaign has been launched in response to a threat from lone terrorists - individuals with no direct links to groups such as al-Qaeda who are radicalised through information they find online.

The Home Office has launched a website (www.direct.gov.uk/reportingonlineterrorism) where members of the public can report material on the internet which could be used to incite terrorism.

British police will then try to take the information down to prevent the radicalisation of people in the UK. [It seems to be missing the step where someone examines the material to see if it is actually a threat...Complainers are not always right, although the police seem to think so].

Tayside Assistant Chief Constable Colin McCashey, Scotland's head of counter-terrorism, said:

The main cause of concern is the use of the internet. We look at that from two angles. One is that if I was in a country 1,000 miles away I could communicate with would-be terrorists, or people vulnerable to radicalisation, via the internet. This has become more of a threat to us.

The other is that we are aware of people who may be sitting in the comfort of their own home, looking at the internet, who are becoming more aware of what is on the internet.

We might be faced with problem individuals who are not part of a network, who are not connected to al-Qaeda, but who take it on themselves and act as a lone terrorist.

It does not take a great deal of imagination to realise how difficult that is to deal with.

 

17th March   

BBFC Theatre Censors...

BBFC find a new role of classifying theatre plays for broadcast to cinemas
Link Here

frankenstein poster The BBFC has introduced a new 'AsLive' type of certificate plays that are performed live at a theatre but also relayed to cinemas.

Presumably the BBFC base their decision on previous performances and hope that the performers don't adlib a stream of expletives should they forget their lines on the night.

From article from nationaltheatre.org.uk

For the first time ever, National Theatre Live will broadcast two separate performances of a production. Throughout the run of Frankenstein at the National Theatre, Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller are alternating the roles of Victor Frankenstein and the Creature. Audiences in cinemas will have the chance to see both combinations, with two broadcasts a week apart.

Both versions of the production will be filmed on 17 March. The evening performance, featuring Benedict Cumberbatch as the Creature and Jonny Lee Miller as Frankenstein, will be broadcast live to cinemas in the UK and some venues abroad on 17 March at 7.00pm GMT as already announced.

The additional filmed performance with the leading roles reversed -- Jonny Lee Miller as the Creature and Benedict Cumberbatch as Frankenstein -- will be screened in the UK and Europe on 24 March, also at 7.00pm GMT (with worldwide screenings at a later date).

The BBFC has decided that the performance is 15 rated.

Note that although this articles notes this as a first, this is the 5th 'AsLive' BBFC certificate for National Theatre performances.

 

17th March   

Updated: The Devil on Pall Mall...

I Saw the Devil to be shown in London with local council permission rather than a BBFC certificate
Link Here

Saw Devil DVD Choi Moo Seong I Saw The Devil is a South Korean revenge thriller. It has rarely been released uncut, even in its home country, due to levels of graphic violence that would give Antichrist a run for its money. It's also totally excellent.

There are several rape scenes, one of which, is sure to cause trouble at the BBFC. It's a rape scene in which the female victim starts to enjoy it midway through the proceedings. This particular rape myth has always been a major bugbear for the BBFC.

Distributors  Optimum aren't seeking a cinema rating for the film. Instead they have secured permission from Westminster council to show the film uncut exclusively at the ICA from 29th April 2011 (adults only).

The film is scheduled for a DVD/Blu-ray release on 9th May 2011.

Promotional Material from UK Amazon :

“The best serial killer film since Se7en "--Arrow In The Head

A psychotic serial killer is on the loose, committing some of the most diabolical crimes the police have ever witnessed. No one is safe as the body count rises and the killer continues his evil odyssey of sadistic butchery. But when the fiancée of an elite special agent becomes one of his victims, a personal investigation becomes a merciless and brutal game of vengeance. As one violent encounter leads to another, it’s a game where the hunter becomes as unhinged as the hunted.

Directed by one of Korea’s most notorious and revered directors Kim Ji-Woon ( A Tale Of Two Sisters ), I Saw The Devil is as action packed and thrilling as it is extremely dark and disturbing. Reuniting the director with actor Lee Byung-Hun ( A Bittersweet Life, Hero, The Good, The Bad And The Weird ) it also stars Asian cinema legend Choi Min-Sik ( Oldboy ).

Update: Passed 18 without BBFC cuts on DVD

17th March 2011. See  article from  bbfc.co.uk

BBFC logo I Saw the Devil has been passed 18 without BBFC cuts for Optimum DVD/online with the comment: Contains very strong bloody violence and strong sex.

The running time was noted as 138:06s which stacks up with the most commonly quoted 144 minute runtime in NTSC/film. There are however other mentions of a 141 minute version (perhaps the cut Korean version) and a 147 minute version.

From IMDb:

Kim Jee-woon made seven cuts totaling 80 to 90 seconds in order to receive a Korean over 18 restricted rating. Cuts were made to a scene of body parts being eaten by a dog and humans, and a human body being mutilated. Before the censorship, the Korean censors twice gave it a rating that would have prevented a video and mainstream theatrical release.

 

17th March   

Update: Below the Belt...

Scottish Parliament report whinges at low positioning of lads' mags in shops
Link Here  full story: Lads Mags...Blaming lads mags for all the world's ills

The Scottish Parliament A new Scottish Parliament report has criticised newsagents and other shops that place lad's mags for sale at a child's eye view.

Research commissioned by the Public Petitions Committee found that many shops were in breach of their own guidelines, which say that such titles should be not displayed at children's eye level or below, to ensure that they are not in the direct sight and reach of children .

However, the report by George Street Research, found 59% of 'lads' mags' observed during the fieldwork displayed at a height of 1.5m or less are being displayed with no obvious attempt to hide the front covers.

 

17th March   

Updated: First Impressions...

Government publish draft Defamation Bill and consultation details
Link Here  full story: Censorship by Libel...British libel law allows the rich to censor the truth

libel reform campaign logo The Government has now published its promised draft Defamation Bill.

We have had an initial look and weighed it up against the blueprint for reform we launched last week. We welcome where the draft bill contains some of the reforms we set out, including:

  • A more effective and clearer defence of truth (justification)
  • A clearer and wider defence of honest opinion (fair comment)
  • The extension of statutory qualified privilege to benefit NGOs and scientific conferences
  • A single publication rule with a one year cut off

But it comes up short in a few important places:

  • The suggested public interest defence needs more work to properly protect citizen critics
  • There is no commitment to counter the censorship of online discussions by web-hosts and internet service providers who are liable for content they publish
  • There is no commitment to restrict corporations' ability to sue in libel

These measures are going to be open for consultation over the next few months.

Offsite: We will end the libel farce

See  article from  guardian.co.uk by Nick Clegg

nick clegg Shameful libel laws kill debate and smother scientific inquiry. Our coalition bill will let the press be free

We live in an information age, with knowledge flowing in unprecedented ways. Recent weeks have been dramatic proof of that. Twitter helped oust Hosni Mubarak. Thanks to global, 24-hour news reporting, Muammar Gaddafi's actions cannot be hidden. Global citizens watch in real time as events unfold in Japan.

In such an age ideas are everything and openness reigns supreme. Power rests, increasingly, on winning the argument, and censorship has no place.

...Read the full article

Update: American Cheers

See  article from  indexoncensorship.org

The arrival of the draft defamation bill was cheered in the US, where the long reach of libel tourism had prompted domestic bills shielding Americans from judgments that chill free speech from abroad. President Obama just last August signed the SPEECH Act into law. It wasn't aimed explicitly at the UK; rather, it protects Americans from the enforcement of all libel judgments ruled against them in countries that don't afford the same free speech protection as the US First Amendment.

But it was not a secret that the legislation was triggered by my fight against the imposition of English libel laws, said Rachel Ehrenfeld, an American academic whose run-in with a wealthy Saudi businessman in British court became the galvanizing case for libel tourism in the US: I thought that since the United States had fought and won its independence from England in 1776, Ehrenfeld said, there was no reason for Americans to abide by repressive English law.

 

15th March   

Update: Defending Honest Opinion...

Government set to publish a draft Defamation Bill
Link Here  full story: Censorship by Libel...British libel law allows the rich to censor the truth
angry judge

  Libel tourists
no longer welcome in my court!

Major changes to Britain's antiquated defamation laws will be outlined by ministers with the publication of a bill to provide greater protection for free speech and an end to libel tourism .

The draft Defamation Bill will propose a new defence of honest opinion , which will protect academics from being sued by companies and special-interest groups for damaging their reputations. There is currently a defence of fair comment , but it has to be based on stated and true facts and rarely succeeds.

There will also be new rules to stop celebrities and businessmen from bringing libel cases in Britain unless they can prove that the publication caused them substantial harm in the country. Foreign litigants will have to sue in the country where most of the damage to their reputations was done, rather than using the English courts on the basis that the publication was available in Britain.

Under the new rules, it will be up to a judge to decide whether substantial harm has been caused to reputation in this country. It is expected that if the main damage was done outside this country, UK courts will not accept jurisdiction.

 

11th March   

Updated: Dangerous Recipes...

Man on trial for assembling and selling an 'Anarchists Cookbook' of information
Link Here

Anarchist Cookbook A man who published a CD that included how to make bombs is on trial on seven counts of collecting information that could have been used to prepare or commit acts of terrorism under the Terrorism Act 2000.

Terence Brown made CDs containing tens of thousands of pages of information from his home in Portsmouth with topics like how to make a letter bomb and how to enter countries illegally , it was claimed.

The prosecution alleges the information could have been used by terrorists to commit atrocities.

Brown called the CDs the Anarchist Cookbook and sold hundreds worldwide in yearly editions for 35 US dollars ( £ 24) each.

Brown allegedly had a now-closed website called www.anarchist-cookbook.com where the CDs could be bought from 2003 until 2008 and buyers either sent cash or used a credit card to pay for the discs.

Parmjit Cheema, prosecuting said compiling such information was illegal if it would cause a threat to people or governments, even though the CDs ran a disclaimer: For educational use only. Do not attempt any activities contained in these CD-Roms. 'Many are illegal and dangerous. She said Brown was not sympathetic to terrorists and the jury was likely to hear he did it to make money.

Update: Jailed for 3 years

11th March 2011. See  article from  mirror.co.uk

A businessman who used the July 7 bombings as a marketing opportunity to promote a terrorists' handbook which he sold on the internet has been jailed for three years.

Terence Brown was found guilty following a trial at Winchester Crown Court of collecting and distributing material that could have led to attacks.

Brown was convicted of seven counts of collecting information which could have been used to prepare or commit acts of terrorism under the Terrorism Act 2000, two counts of selling and distributing the information under the Terrorism Act 2006 and a further count under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Sentencing Brown, the judge, Mr Justice Blair, said he accepted that he was not a terrorist and acted solely out of financial motivations: Your use of the 7/7 bombings as a marketing tool and the downloading of numerous material and selling of a limited edition was not just irresponsible but incredibly cynical. It must have crossed your mind that the information you were selling could have been used in further incidents in this country or abroad.

 

10th March   

Update: Government Need to Kick their Health Kick Habit...

Looking to TV, films and the internet to extinguish the portrayal of smoking
Link Here  full story: Adult Rating for Smoking...Anti-smoking lobby for 18 for smoking in films

pension health warning Further curbs on the portrayal of smoking on television, in films and on the internet are to be considered by the government, which said the tobacco industry continued to find ways of promoting products despite legislation banning advertising.

The Department of Health in England promised to continue to work to reduce the depiction of smoking and tell regulators and the entertainment industry to consider what more could be done.

Guidelines produced by Ofcom, the UK communications regulator, say smoking should generally not be shown before the 9pm TV watershed and should never be glamorised or condoned.

A spokesman for the BBFC said a public consultation in 2009 had asked whether portrayal of smoking should be regarded as a classification issue, concluding that the overwhelming response was, people did not believe it should be.

Action over internet controls, however, will have to be pursued at a global level, potentially through the World Health Organisation.

The government's tobacco control plan states that the way smoking is portrayed can create the false impression that tobacco use is a normal, or even glamorous, activity, and rarely shows the real life negative consequences of tobacco use .

It adds: Smoking in the media can also give a false impression that tobacco use is more common than it actually is. [Bollox! Far few smoke in the media than in real life]

We remain especially concerned about how these influences affect perceptions of social norms and how they encourage young people to take up smoking.

Update: Even the Box Office Lights Up for Rango

See  article from  blog.moviefone.com

Rango DVD Johnny Depp The unusual, hilarious and endearingly weird Rango hit US theaters last weekend, but the animated PG western is causing a stir among anti-smoking advocates who say that the number of characters who light up are unacceptable.

A lot of kids are going to start smoking because of this movie, said Stanton Glantz director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California.

Glantz's group and other smoke-free organizations are renewing efforts with the MPAA to slap an R-rating on any film that shows smoking.

Critics and audiences are praising Rango for being a grown-up cartoon, making references to spaghetti westerns (lots of smoking in those films ... ) and other adult-friendly movies.

A spokeswoman for Paramount said: The images of smoking in the film ... are portrayed by supporting characters and are not intended to be celebrated or emulated.

 

4th March   

An Insult to Justice...

Football fan prosecuted for mere insult over allusion to Manchester United air crash
Link Here
a message to you rooney video

  See the guy back right
in grey shirt and black cap

A Crawley Town football fan has been given a suspended jail term after he pleaded guilty to mocking victims of the 1958 Munich air crash in the background of a music video.

James Butler was charged with using threatening, abusive or insulting words with intent to cause harassment alarm or distress.

As there was clearly no threat or harassment then the charges must have been for mere insult. It seems hard to believe that this minor insult could have caused any real alarm or distress.

He appeared before Crawley magistrates, where he was sentenced to eight weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months. Butler was also told to pay £ 85 costs and given a 12-month supervision order.

Sentencing him, chair of the bench Rosemary Scott claimed he had offended wide sections of the footballing community: This was a deliberate and planned action targeted at a wider audience and considered grossly offensive to both Manchester United FC and Crawley Town FC and the public in general .

The video was posted on YouTube and Crawley Town's official website. It was a reworking of The Specials' hit, A Message To You, Rudy , adapted by musician Mike Dobie with the new title A Message To You, Rooney .

Club officials failed to realise that in the background Butler was dancing by the stage making aircraft gestures. In the video, he also held his fingers up to show one, nine, five and eight to symbolise the year of the air crash.

Butler was arrested after a Manchester United fan complained.

Magistrates were told that police would apply separately for Butler to be handed a football banning order.

 

4th March   

Update: 15 Man Years to Review...

Man jailed for 5 years for posting terrorist propaganda on the internet
Link Here  full story: Glorification of Censorship...Climate of fear caused by glorification of terrorsim

Old Bailey A law student who posted Islamic terrorist propaganda on the internet after becoming radicalised has been jailed for five years.

Mohammed Gul was pouring petrol on the fire and his actions could have spurred others to commit acts of terror, the Old Bailey heard.

Gul was found guilty of five counts of disseminating terrorist publications following a retrial at the Old Bailey.

Judge David Paget said his sentence had to be a deterrent to others and reflect the seriousness of the crime.

The judge praised the anti-terrorist police who, he said, had a Herculean task in reviewing the huge amount of material found on Gul's laptop. It had involved the biggest review of data ever undertaken by the anti-terrorist branch of Scotland Yard and involved 30 officers over a period of six months, he said.

 

25th February   

Update: Tourist Visa Denied...

British court refuses to hear Ukrainian libel case
Link Here  full story: Libel Tourism...UK prosecutions of books published abroad

libel tourists not welcome An attempt by a billionaire Ukrainian businessman to sue a Ukrainian newspaper in the High Court in London has been rejected by a judge.

John Leslie dismissed the case brought against the Kyiv Post by businessman Dimitry Firtash, saying that the link to the English jurisdiction was tenuous in the extreme .

Firtash had sought to sue the newspaper over an article it published about his gas company, RosUkrEergo AG, which he says suggests corruption.

He wanted to bring the case in London even though the Kyiv Post article was thought to have been downloaded from the internet by only 21 people in the United Kingdom.

Dismissing the case, Leslie said: There is no substantial connection to this jurisdiction.

Solicitor Mark Stephens, who represented the newspaper, said: This is one of the worst cases of libel tourism I've encountered in recent years. This is a dispute between a Ukrainian oligarch and a Ukrainian paper about matters in the Ukraine. It has no connection with the UK and the learned Master Leslie quite rightly threw the case out.

 

23rd February   

Update: Lads Mags Go Top Shelf...

Supermarkets set to implement display restrictions on lads mags
Link Here  full story: Lads Mags...Blaming lads mags for all the world's ills

loaded gemma Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's, Morrisons, the Co-op group and BP petrol stations have agreed to put the magazines behind plain covers or on the top shelf following nutter pressure.

But WHSmith said the measures went too far. The National Federation of Retail Newsagents has also refused, saying it is not in a position to tell independent corner shops how to operate.

The moves come after on going campaigning, most recently by Mumsnet, which found 'enormous' unease in a survey of mothers about the publications and their images of scantily-clad women.

But WHSmith said its existing restrictions were sufficient to protect children. We have a strict display policy in place that requires men's lifestyle magazine titles be displayed at minimum height of 1.2 metres, equivalent to the average adult chest/shoulder height, a spokesman said.

The policy requires men's lifestyle magazines to be displayed away from children's or women's magazines, and away from other product ranges which children may be shopping for, e.g. toys and stationery.

Justine Roberts, founder of Mumsnet, which is running the Let Girls Be Girls campaign against the sexualisation of children through advertising, clothing and music, said the store's stance was frustrating . It's great that so many retailers are supporting Mumsnet's campaign. But it's frustrating that WHSmith are arguing that shelf height of 1.2m, that of an eight-year-old child, is a sufficient barrier.

Asda has ordered compulsory modesty boards for the magazines and changed its policy so publishers can no longer pay to have magazines displayed at the front of stores. Tesco is rolling out nationwide a trial in which the titles are put at the back of the top shelf.

 

18th February   

Human Rights in Politically Challenged Times...

Suddenly rights become relative in judgement of public order offence appeal
Link Here

Old Bailey Judges staunchly defended the rights of the majority as they threw out an appeal by a group of Muslims against their conviction for hurling hate-filled abuse at soldiers.

The High Court ruled that the men were not acting within their human rights when they heckled and jeered members of the 2nd Battalion Royal Anglian Regiment as they marched through Luton after returning from Afghanistan.

After the Luton protest, five Muslim men were convicted of using threatening, abusive or insulting words likely to cause harassment, alarm of distress. They appealed against their convictions at the High Court, arguing that they were legitimately exercising their rights to freedom of expression and to protest under European human rights laws.

But in their ruling two judges said the men's actions had gone well beyond legitimate expressions of protest . Tellingly, they added that the focus on minority rights should not result in overlooking the rights of the majority .

Lord Justice Gross said: There was all the difference in the world between expressing the view that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were illegal or immoral and that British forces should not be engaged in them and the abusive and insulting chants of the appellants. To attend a parade of this nature and to shout that this country's soldiers were "murderers", "baby killers", "rapists all of you" who would or should "burn in hell" gave rise to a very clear threat to public order.

Lord Justice Gross added that freedom of expression was not an unqualified right and the justification for invoking the criminal law is the threat to public order .

In striking the right balance when determining whether speech is "threatening, abusive or insulting", the focus on minority rights should not result in overlooking the rights of the majority , he added.

Luton South MP Gavin Shuker described yesterday's dismissal of their appeal as a victory for common sense : Describing our servicemen and women as baby killers and rapists is incendiary and was deeply distressing.

 

14th February   

Update: Complaints Department in Overdrive...

BBC response to complaints about Mexican jokes during Top Gear
Link Here  full story: Top Gear and the Grand Tour...Top Gear and Jeremy Clarkson wind up whingers

Top Gear Apocalypse Digital Copy Top Gear, comments about Mexicans
BBC Two

We received complaints from some viewers who were unhappy with comments made about Mexicans in the programme on 30 January 2011.

The producers of Top Gear have apologised to the Mexican Ambassador for the comments made about him during the show. Whilst the majority of the piece on the Mastretta had been discussed in advance with BBC Editorial Policy staff, the comments about him were ad libbed by the presenters during the recording. The BBC's Editorial Guidelines are very clear about singling out individuals for irreverent/mocking/ comments. Those guidelines were not adhered to and the Top Gear production team has apologised for this. The comments about the Ambassador have been removed from all repeats of the programme.

With regard to the other comments made about Mexicans, these were indeed playing off a stereotype, and that practice is something that regular viewers of Top Gear will be familiar with, as the presenters often make jokes about the perceived characteristics of various nationalities when talking about the cars made in those countries. It is something that has been done in the past with the French, the Germans, the Americans and the Italians, so Mexico was not singled out for special treatment in this case.

Comments made by the Top Gear presenters are clearly exaggerated for comic effect - to imply that a sports car is no good because it will spend all day asleep is self evidently absurd, and not meant to be taken as vindictive. The Top Gear audience understands this clearly and treats these remarks accordingly.

The UK prides itself on being a tolerant nation, but one of the contributing factors towards that tolerance is the fact that jokes made around national stereotyping are commonplace, and are indeed a robust part of our national humour. Typically the most comedic ones are negative - for example our own comedians make material out of the fact that the British are supposed to be terrible cooks, terrible romantics, and forever happy to come second. In fact, some of the more humorous complaints we have received from Mexico are based on stereotypical retorts, with one excellent one in particular referring to the presenters as effete tea drinkers.

In line with that British tradition, stereotype-based comedy is allowed within BBC guidelines, in programmes where the audience has clear expectations of that being the case, as it indeed is with Top Gear. Of course it may appear offensive to those who have not watched the programme or who are unfamiliar with its humour.

It was not the intention of the programme to offend Mexicans but rather to use a clearly unbelievable stereotype of Mexicans to humorous effect.

 

13th February   

How I made those unkindest of cuts...

BBFC examiner relates his experiences to an Indian audience
Link Here

popcornessayists One may sensibly query if there is any relevance to a censorship body in the 21st century when the internet remains a relatively untrammelled, free-floating entity, difficult to control or regulate.

Most viewers' instinctive reaction would be an emphatic no . But what is a regulatory body to do when, for instance, a film with immense appeal to young people (Rules of Attraction) contains a scene showing a young woman slowly undressing before sitting in a bathtub, taking off her rings and slitting her wrist vertically with a razor blade in an extreme close-up shot. A suicide prevention specialist said few know of how lethal vertical cuts on wrists can be, leading to a speedy and certain death. The scene in the film, played to the beguiling soundtrack of Nilsen's Can't live, if living is without you . . ., presented a glamourised suicide scene and showed what was, in the Board's parlance, an imitable harmful technique .

An example emerged recently in a low-budget American work called Terrorists, Killers and Other Wackos : a collection of clips collected from the floors of editing rooms, cobbled together and set to a jaunty soundtrack. Nothing was sacrosanct: real deaths, suicides, executions, horrific injuries, a close-up of a man having his hand sliced off at the wrist. All served up without any documentary or other context and with the express intent to entertain. It made for jaw-dropping, eye-watering viewing, and the DVD would almost certainly have found a ready market, probably among feckless young men at drink-driven parties. It was also acknowledged that the work was very unlikely to lead to anyone rushing out to copy or imitate the gory actions on view. However, there was an extremely disturbing quality to such unashamedly exploitative material that made it impossible to release without some amount of soul-searching and debate. However, despite my own revulsion at the film, I continued to find it tough to accept that the organisation I worked for had a remit that included protecting the moral fabric of the nation. Who was I to tell people what they could and couldn't watch, all the while being relatively undisturbed myself by watching the same material? Most BBFC cuts are made in the porn category (sensibly, an entirely legal product in the UK, although hardcore material can only be sold in licenced sex shops). The Obscene Publications Act 1959, brought in to unsuccessfully proscribe D.H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover, is also still much in use, notably in the area of porn. It is, thankfully, a law that is almost never used to proscribe printed material any more, but the moving image is apparently still fair game.

Are people really likely to be depraved and corrupted merely by watching porn performers do odd things to each other on screen? All but the very prudish would probably---at least, secretly--- think not. But such acts as the dripping of hot wax on certain body parts have remained on the Department of Public Prosecution's list of obscene material for a long time and there will be little appetite in government to take on what could turn into a rather (forgive the pun) sticky issue.

And so the BBFC soldiers on into the 21st century, doing what it does with sincerity and good intent.

...Read the full article

 

12th February   

Update: Political Censors...

Ofcom to investigate complaints about extremist material on Press TV
Link Here  full story: Press TV...Political censoship merges with TV censorship

press tv logo Ofcom has confirmed it is investigating the satellite channel, Press TV, after receiving a complaint from a viewer over its extremist messages.

Press TV is Iranian based and broadcasts in English and Urdu.

Programmes on Peace TV have included praise for mujahideen fighting British troops in Iraq, labelled Jews as an enemy of Islam and made claims about the 9/11 terror attacks being an inside job .

Press TV have come in for newspaper attention as a key figure in the company, Zakir Naik, has been banned from entering the UK for extremist preaching and that his presence was not conducive to the public good . The decision, later upheld by the High Court, was based on a sermon the Mumbai-based preacher had posted on the internet during which he said every Muslim should be a terrorist .

In his failed appeal against Ms May's decision, held last November, the cleric's lawyers revealed Naik was director and chairman of Universal Broadcasting Corporation Ltd, a company registered in Britain. UBCL owns a subsidiary firm, Lords Production Ltd, which has held the broadcasting licence for Peace TV since 2007.

Conservative MP Patrick Mercer, former shadow minister for security, said: The Home Secretary dealt with Naik extremely effectively. I think she will be furious to discover he still has a licence to spread his poison on satellite television. Ofcom should revoke it immediately.

An Ofcom spokesman said: We are in the middle of an investigation about Peace TV. Ofcom will not tolerate extremism on British television, and transgressors will be dealt with.

 

12th February   

Update: Debate in the Public Domain...

Debating police and Nominet powers to shut down websites at the domain registry level
Link Here  full story: Internet Domain Censorship...In the Domain of Nominet internet censorship

Nominet logo Police plans to shut down web domains are to be debated in public.

In November, the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) tabled a plan to give such powers to Nominet, which oversees the .uk domain.

SOCA wants the power formalised as Nominet has no obligation to shut domains found to be used by criminals.

Those who want to take part are being asked to put their names forward by 23 February at the latest.

Nominet said earlier that it wanted to create a balanced group of stakeholders that would talk over the policy and its implications. A decision on who will be in the group will be taken by 2 March, said Nominet, and it is expected to have its first meeting later that same month.

 

2nd February   

Thinking Blocks...

Government asks Ofcom to study the practicality of ISP website blocking for file sharing websites
Link Here

DCMS logo Ofcom will review sections of the Digital Economy Act to see if they are workable following public comments submitted in the Your Freedom exercise.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has asked Ofcom to assess whether the Act's reserve powers to enable courts to block websites dedicated to copyright infringement could work.

The site-blocking measures need secondary legislation before they can be introduced and the review will inform the Government's decision on the next steps to take.

Hunt said: The Digital Economy Act seeks to protect our creative economy from online copyright infringement, which industry estimates costs them £400 million a year. I have no problem with the principle of blocking access to websites used exclusively for facilitating illegal downloading of content. But it is not clear whether the site blocking provisions in the Act could work in practice so I have asked Ofcom to address this question. Before we consider introducing site-blocking we need to know whether these measures are possible.

The review will look at areas such as whether it is possible for internet service providers (ISPs) to block access to the sites, how robust such a block could be and whether specific parts of a website can be blocked effectively.

 

26th January   

Update: Screwed by Repressive Policing...

A Serbian Film allegory extends to Northampton Blockbuster
Link Here  full story: A Serbian Film...Hype for the most 'outrageous' horror yet

A Serbian Film DVD On Friday 21st January 2011 the Police raided an unsuspecting Blockbuster in Northampton upon receiving a complaint from a 'distressed' viewer and seized copies of the film despite the BBFC rating on the front and the content warning in large letters on the back.

The police with their usual, the complainant is always right, attitude didn't check with the BBFC before raiding the store for a perfectly legal film.

Blockbuster has now withdrawn the film from it's catalogue pending consultation with their lawyers.

Northamptonshire police sent dogatemywookie.co.uk the statement:

We received information from a member of the public that a copy of The Serbian Film at a branch of Blockbusters in Northampton contained images of child abuse.

We have a duty to investigate such claims and in agreement with the manager of the shop took a copy away to view and check that it was the edition that has been approved by the British Board of Film Classification for distribution.

It has been established as a legitimate copy of the film that has been approved for distribution by the BBFC and so is being returned to the shop.

 

26th January   

Updated: South Park...

Smaller, Shorter and UNCUT?
Link Here

South Park Complete 14th Season Comedy central Extra is showing a rundown of their favourite 100 South Park episodes.

I've only really stepped in and out, so can't tell if this mistake has happened in this run. The episode You have 0 friends [After being forced to create a FaceBook account, Stan finds himself in the middle of a fad that has gone way too far] was shown tonight (Monday Jan 24th) completely unbleeped. 8 F-bombs, and other profanities slipped through the censor dragnet.

Obviously this isn't something Comedy Central UK has done. As the shows are edited stateside then sent out around the world (even home video versions are edited). Does anyone know if this episode aired in the US in this form?

As US television is considerably more anal and narrow minded than the UK where language is concerned.

Update: The Uncensored Tale Of Scrotie McBuggerballs

26th January 2011. From Jamie

The other day Comedy Central showed The Tale Of Scrotie McBuggerballs completely uncensored all the f's and everything else. It was the first time I know of them showing an unedited version. In the States, like here, it's always been the censored version.

The US and UK DVDs are now released uncensored. What will happen it comes to Season 14 and [the Mohammed Teddy Bear] episodes 200 and 201 remains to be seen.

 

25th January   

Update: People's Court...

Jon Gaunt continues his legal battle to liken excessive political correctness to Nazism
Link Here  full story: Jon Gaunt and Talksport Nazis...Talksport sack radio presenter over Nazi jibe

Old BaileyThe radio presenter Jon Gaunt who called a councillor a Nazi live on air has won the right to appeal a High Court decision which branded his interview offensive and abusive.

Gaunt launched the appeal after an earlier judicial review failed to overturn a decision made by Ofcom that he had breached the broadcasting code.

The broadcast regulator upheld complaints against Gaunt after he called Redbridge councillor Michael Stark a Nazi and an ignorant pig during an interview on his TalkSport radio show in November, 2008. Gaunt, who was in care as a child, was angry as he felt that the chance of finding a foster home would be lost under the new policy.

Gaunt then sought a judicial review claiming the broadcast regulator unlawfully interfered with his freedom of expression. However, Sir Anthony May and Justice Blair dismissed his judicial review proceedings at London's High Court in July last year saying that: the essential point is that the offensive and abusive nature of the broadcast was gratuitous, having no factual content or justification.

Lord Justice Thomas, granting permission to appeal, said Gaunt should be entitled to argue whether the High Court had followed the correct principles.

 

23rd January   

An Explosion of Easy Offence...

BBC apologise over making light of atom bomb survivor
Link Here

ql stephen fryThe BBC has apologised after Japan's embassy complained over jokes on an episode of comedy TV quiz show QI.

Panellists made light of the experience of Tsutomu Yamaguchi who survived the Hiroshima atomic bomb in World War II and the Nagasaki one three days later.

Presenter Stephen Fry described him as the unluckiest man in the world .

Japanese viewers reportedly contacted diplomatic staff after the programme, featuring comedians Alan Davies and Rob Brydon as panellists, was broadcast on BBC Two last month.

The BBC said it was sorry for any offence caused and would be replying shortly to a letter received from the Japanese embassy in London.

A spokesman for the corporation added: QI never sets out to cause offence with any of the people or subjects it covers, however on this occasion, given the sensitivity of the subject matter for Japanese viewers, we understand why they did not feel it appropriate for inclusion in the programme.

 

22nd January   

Updated: Gateshead Dinner Party...

Koran burners not prosecuted as there was no evidence that anyone was actually upset by the stunt
Link Here  full story: Koran Burning...Symbolic gesture and easy offence

Crown Prosecution ServiceSeven men accused of burning a copy of the Koran in a Gateshead pub car park will face no further action.

The men were detained in September after a video appeared on the internet.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said there was not sufficient evidence for a realistic chance of conviction.

It said it had looked at a number of areas for possible prosecution but there was insufficient evidence.

The CPS said it could not identify who had recorded and posted the video online, there was no evidence threatening behaviour was used and there was no evidence anyone present was upset by what they saw.

 

20th January   

Minister for a Censored Internet...

Jeremy Hunt looks to impose current levels of repressive TV censorship onto internet video
Link Here

DCMS logoThe culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has been speaking about increasing censorship requirements for the internet and in particular, internet TV

He spoke after addressing media industry executives at the Oxford Media Convention.

Hunt admitted that while he did not believe it was possible to introduce blanket regulation for the internet, he was keen to put online content rules under scrutiny.

TV content on the internet is subject to lesser regulation than broadcast TV, in particular, that there are no taste and decency or impartiality requirements.

Hunt told reporters: I do want to look at what can be done to strengthen child protection on the internet and whether the structures we have in place are the best way to give reassurance to parents that their children are not going to have easy access to unsuitable content.

In his address he announced a review of media and communications that will lead to new Communications Act. He explained the timetable:

Over the next few months we will be coming to talk to you; asking for your answers to the key questions that need to be addressed. I want to hear how a new Communications Act can create regulatory certainty.

The certainty that people need to continue to develop and invest in the high-quality technology and content that is made here but enjoyed by consumers all over the world.

I am prepared to radically rethink the way we do things.

To take a fresh look at what we regulate, whether we regulate, and how we regulate. To consider whether there are areas we might move out of regulation altogether. And to think hard about what we mean by public service content.

As parents we want programmes to be suitable for our children. As citizens we want impartial news. And as consumers we want high-quality programmes we know and trust.

Whether we’re watching a broadcast live or though catch-up services, via a TV or a computer, it’s the content that matters, rather than the delivery mechanism.

So should it continue to be the case that the method of delivery has a significant impact on the method of regulation? Or should we be looking at a more platform-neutral approach?

What do we need to do to help our businesses grow and evolve between now and 2025? Where can regulation help and where is it a barrier? What can we do collectively to enhance the whole UK market?

This is not about tweaking the current system, but redesigning it – from scratch if necessary – to make it fit for purpose.

On the basis of what we hear from you, we will publish a Green Paper at the end of the year that will set out the full scope of a Bill.

One that will be put in place in 2015 and that will last for at least a decade.

And to make up for all the banned sexy, fun and opinionated internet content. Hunt proposes to bore us to death with his pet project of a new local TV channel.

 

18th January   

Nanny Mark...

Kitemark launched for internet filtering software
Link Here

child safety online kite mark logoA new symbol has been launched which aims to help consumers identify internet filtering software that has been designed to a high standard and which is both effective and easy to use.

The BSI Kitemark for child safety online is only awarded to filtering software that is easy to install, easy to use and effective in blocking online content such as pornography, violence and racism.

It been developed through collaboration between the British Standards Institution (BSI), the Home Office, Ofcom and representatives from ISPs and application developers.

The first BSI Kitemark for child safety online was this week awarded to web security service Netintelligence, which was vigorously tested to ensure that it met the required standards.

 

11th January   

Offsite: That's Life...

Is modern life too sexy for our children?
Link Here  full story: Sexualisation...Sexualisation as reported by Linda Papadopoulos

BBC Panormama logoThe coalition government has begun a review into the commercialisation and sexualisation of children which will explore, among other things, whether rules should prevent companies marketing the likes of Porn Star T-shirts and padded bras for little girls.

So what is really out there? I trawled the High Street in search of some of these products and I struggled to find very many. There were a few T-shirts with slogans like Future Footballer's Wife, but are they sexualising children or just a matter of taste?

What did make me uncomfortable was what felt like a strong undercurrent of sexuality and glamour that seems to run through many girls' clothing ranges now - mini-versions of adult trends that included strapless or low-cut dresses, sequins, frills and lace.

But who decides what's sexualised and what's trendy? Who gets to be the fashion police?

...Read the full article

 

2nd January   

Press TV Pressure...

Iranian news channel Press TV claims that it is being censored by Britain
Link Here

Press TV logoThe head of an Iran Broadcasting organization has claimed that Britain is censoring Press TV by freezing their bank accounts.

Banks cannot block the accounts of the media which operate within the regulations of the host country without a reason, head of the IRIB World Service Mohammad Sarafraz said.

Sarafraz who also heads Press TV news channel said Press TV Ltd. in London is a company, which is registered according to Britain's law and operates within that framework. He said the London-based Press TV Ltd. is not directly affiliated with Press TV news channel based in the Iranian capital of Tehran.

Sarafraz added that British bank managers have never issued an official response as to why they have blocked the accounts only suggesting that they have been under pressure by those in the positions of authority .

British officials are also said to have tried to block Press TV from broadcasting through pressuring satellite operators especially French companies.

Meanwhile whistle blower website WikiLeaks has recently released documents from secret U.S. Department of State cables which show Britain Foreign Office told the U.S. embassy in London back in February that it is exploring ways to limit the operations of… Press TV . The disclosures, according to Sarafraz, seemed to be connected to the bank accounts closures by the British government.

 

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