Melon Farmers Unrated

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2011: July-Sept

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30th September   

Updated: Get Off My Land and Find God!...

Farmer censors Rihanna in topless/bikini shoot for a music video
Link Here
Full story: Rihanna...Winding up the moralists

Farmer Alan Graham was so 'shocked' to see Rihanna in his barley field wearing a red bikini or less that he pulled up his tractor, objected to her inappropriate state of undress and called a swift halt to proceedings.

While a meeting with Rihanna would be the stuff of dreams for most red-blooded males, Graham instructed her to brush up on her Bible reading before sending her on her way. He said:

If someone wants to borrow my field and things become inappropriate, then I say, 'Enough is enough'. I felt Rihanna was in more of a state of undress than a bikini top.

And indeed one photograph of the shoot appeared to show her topless.

Graham, a devout Christian, thought it time to impart some advice: I had a conversation with Rihanna and I hope she understands where I'm coming from. Everybody needs to be acquainted with God and to consider his son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and his death and Resurrection.

The Democratic Unionist Party alderman for North Down Borough Council had given permission for the filming on his 60 acres of land in Clandeboye, outside Bangor.

Offsite Comment: Looney has a knock at Rihanna

30th September 2011.  See  article from by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown

As a liberal [oh yeah!] and a Muslim who lives in London, I confess it is unlikely I would have much in common with farmer Graham, with his faith or his politics. It is possible I wouldn't even like the man much.

But that's not the point. I hugely admire what he did. In his small, humble way, this farmer demonstrated a kind of strength and conviction that used to be commonplace in society, and which, to our shame, has almost disappeared. He had the chance to make a tidy sum of money from one of the most successful pop singers on the planet, but was not prepared to sell out his principles for a fat cheque from anyone, however famous or important they might be.

Instead, Mr Graham made a brave stand against two of the worst excesses of modern life: the sexualisation of society and our celebrity culture. Rihanna is a good singer and performer, but that is not enough for the mindless followers of popular culture.

So she acts out the semi-pornographic and self-demeaning behaviour that is expected of so many female celebrities today; behaviour the music industry cynically tries to pass off as stylish.

The truth is the pop world has become a contaminated landscape where young women, even those born with exceptional talents, act suggestively to sell records and encourage their worship by fans.


Why is it that the national conversation about the degradation of our natural world and physical environment is considered so respectable and urgent, while anyone who questions the degradation of our moral and social environment is treated like a leper or a lunatic?

...Read the full article


29th September   

Prayers for Cash...

Noor TV asked to donate 75,000 to Ofcom in return for the chance of continued business health
Link Here

Ofcom has imposed a statutory sanction of £ 75,000  on Al Ehya Digital Television Ltd ( the Licensee ) in respect of its service Noor TV.

Noor TV is a general entertainment and Islamic education channel broadcast on the Sky platform. The channel is aimed at Muslims living in Europe.

Saturday Night Special was a programme which mainly consisted of a presenter taking calls from viewers who donated money to the channel in return for prayers for themselves or for their relatives.

Ofcom had previously found the programme had breached the following Code rules:

  • 2.1: (generally accepted standards)
  • 2.2: (materially misleading)
  • 4.6: (the exploitation of susceptibilities of the audience by religious programmes)
  • 10.3: (promotion of products and services)
  • 10.15: (appeals for funds)

Ofcom considered that the inducements which were made in this programme, i.e. the receipt of a special gift for a donation of £1,000, and the offer of a prayer that would improve the donor's health, wealth, success or good fortune carried the risk that susceptible members of the audience may have been persuaded to donate money to Noor TV when they would not otherwise have done so. In particular, the appeal focused heavily on religious beliefs, which Ofcom considered had created an additional risk that susceptible viewers would have been more likely to make donations than they otherwise would have done.

Ofcom was also extremely concerned that although viewers were told that their donations were for the purpose of funding Noor TV's programming, the funds donated via the Mohiuddin Trust website, were not in fact received by Noor TV and therefore were not used for their stated purpose.


28th September   

Get Off My Land and Find God!...

Farmer censors Rihanna in topless/bikini shoot for a music video
Link Here
Full story: Rihanna...Winding up the moralists

Farmer Alan Graham was so 'shocked' to see Rihanna in his barley field wearing a red bikini or less that he pulled up his tractor, objected to her inappropriate state of undress and called a swift halt to proceedings.

While a meeting with Rihanna would be the stuff of dreams for most red-blooded males, Graham instructed her to brush up on her Bible reading before sending her on her way. He said:

If someone wants to borrow my field and things become inappropriate, then I say, 'Enough is enough'. I felt Rihanna was in more of a state of undress than a bikini top.

And indeed one photograph of the shoot appeared to show her topless.

Graham, a devout Christian, thought it time to impart some advice: I had a conversation with Rihanna and I hope she understands where I'm coming from. Everybody needs to be acquainted with God and to consider his son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and his death and Resurrection.

The Democratic Unionist Party alderman for North Down Borough Council had given permission for the filming on his 60 acres of land in Clandeboye, outside Bangor.


27th September   

Updated: Less Cut...

BBFC cuts drastically reduced to House on the Edge of the Park
Link Here

House on the Edge of the Park is a 1980 Italian horror thriller by Ruggero Deodato. See IMDb

A couple of weeks ago Shameless reported that it had recently heard back from the BBFC with regard to House on the Edge of the Park.

The BBFC requested 16 cuts totalling 1 minute 20 seconds. While this is a vast improvement over the 11+ minutes of cuts requested in 2002, Shameless are appealing [presumably meaning asking the BBFC to think again rather than invoking the formal appeals process] the BBFC's decision and will also be including two further extras dedicated to the censorship of the film.

The latest update from Shameless is that the BBFC have agreed to waive 37 seconds of these cuts to the sex scene between Alex and Lisa which had previously been cut due to the questionability of whether or not Lisa is enjoying her ordeal.

House on the Edge of the Park will be available on DVD from 31 October. More details on special features (including those dedicated to the film's censorship history) will be announced soon.

Indeed House on the Edge of the Park has had a difficult history of censorship in the UK:

Passed 18 after 11:43s of BBFC cuts for:

  • UK 2009 Cornerstone R2 DVD

  • UK 2002 Protected R2 DVD

The BBFC noted: Cuts required to several sequences of sexual violence, humiliating depictions of female nudity and gross violence

From IMDb:

  • BBFC removed most of the rape and assault scenes
  • heavily edited the razor-slashing of Cindy
  • heavily edited the opening murder scene
  • removed shots of Tony's head being slammed against a table.
Before that it was released on VHS video uncut by Skyline in October 1982. It was listed as a video nasty in July 1983. It stayed on the list throughout the panic so became one of the collectable DPP39s

And before that, a cinema release was rejected by the BBFC in 1981

Update: Confirmed

27th September 2011. From

The BBFC have now confirmed on their database that House on the Edge of the Park has been passed 18 after 43s of BBFC cuts for:
  • UK 2011 Argent/Shameless DVD for release on 31st October 2011

The BBFC consumer advice is:

  • Contains strong sexual violence and threat

The BBFC commented about their cuts:

  • Company was required to make cuts to one sequence of sexualised violence in which a razor is traced over a woman's naked body, after which her body is cut with the razor.


27th September   

Update: Chequered Flag...

Max Mosley's case to notify people prior to press exposure fails at the Grand Chamber of the European Court
Link Here
Full story: Max Mosley Privacy...Max Mosley, spanking and Nazi sex

Former motorsport boss turned privacy campaigner Max Mosley has had his appeal to the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights rejected. Mosley had hoped to overturn a May ruling establishing that media outlets were not required to notify the subjects of stories in advance of publication. But the court announced that that judgment would be final.

Solicitor Mark Stephens, who represented Index on Censorship, the Media Legal Defence Initiative and other interested parties in the case, said:

This decision by the Grand Chamber and the previous decision by the court underline the recommendation made by the UK parliament's Culture Media and Sport Committee. This is a great day for free speech in Britain and throughout Europe.

Index on Censorship news editor Padraig Reidy commented: I

Index submitted its concerns about Mr Mosley's prior-notification plans as we recognised the threat such an obligation would pose to investigative journalism. While privacy is of course a concern, forcing newspapers to reveal stories would have a serious chilling effect.


27th September   

Update: Shameful Scottish Justice...

Scotland adds up the bill for being easily offended by the Naked Rambler
Link Here

Scotland's easy offence at the  Naked Rambler has cost tax payers £500,000

Stephen Gough has been behind bars almost continually for six years for refusing to wear clothes either in public, in court or in prison. And it looks as though the bill for keeping him will continue to rise because every time he is freed, he is arrested again for going starkers.

In all, he has been convicted of 17 breaches of the peace for walking naked since he first hit the headlines in 2003 as he walked from Land's End to John O'Groats naked.

Gough is currently serving his longest sentence of 657 days, imposed at Perth Sheriff Court last month.

Sheriff Richard McFarlane has claimed this outrageous injustice is not the fault of the authorities, but that it was all down to Gough. He said: Can you help me as to when this ridiculous cycle of offending will stop? A lot of deserving causes could benefit from the unnecessary cost you are putting the country to. Your conduct is verging on selfish because of the costs.

It costs around £ 35,000 a year to keep the average prisoner but Gough spends most of his time behind bars in segregation, which is more expensive. The total bill is also made up of legal aid, court bills and wasted police time.

Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance said: It's unbelievable that this ongoing case has been allowed to waste so much taxpayers' money. A sensible resolution has to be found, sending the naked rambler back to prison benefits no one.


25th September   

You Can't Do That!...

Council bans golliwogs from Bournemouth pier shop
Link Here

  A shop on Bournemouth Pier has removed golliwogs from its shelves after the local council banned their sale.

Council employees turned up at Pier Gifts, on Bournemouth Pier, and told staff they were not allowed to sell the toys.

Rob Graham, a manager at Pier Gifts, said: The guy came in and said we had to get rid of them as they didn't want to be associated with selling golliwogs. Previously a few people came in and said 'You can't sell them', he added.

A statement from Tony Williams, Bournemouth council's executive director for environment and economic services, said selling golliwogs was not in accordance with the business's lease. He said: The council is not prepared to be associated with anything that may be perceived as racist.


21st September   

Updated: An Outrageous Abuse...

Police cite Official Secrets Act to get the Guardian to reveal its sources in exposing the Milly Dowler phone hacking
Link Here

The Metropolitan police are seeking a court order under the Official Secrets Act to make Guardian reporters disclose their confidential sources about the phone-hacking scandal.

In an unprecedented legal attack on journalists' sources, Scotland Yard claims the act, which has special powers usually aimed at espionage, could have been breached in July when reporters Amelia Hill and Nick Davies revealed the hacking of Milly Dowler's phone. They are demanding source information be handed over.

The Guardian's editor, Alan Rusbridger, said: We shall resist this extraordinary demand to the utmost .

Tom Watson, the former Labour minister who has been prominent in exposing hacking by the News of the World, said:

It is an outrageous abuse and completely unacceptable that, having failed to investigate serious wrongdoing at the News of the World for more than a decade, the police should now be trying to move against the Guardian. It was the Guardian who first exposed this scandal.

The NUJ general secretary, Michelle Stanistreet, said:

This is a very serious threat to journalists and the NUJ will fight off this vicious attempt to use the Official Secrets Act ... Journalists have investigated the hacking story and told the truth to the public. They should be congratulated rather than being hounded and criminalised by the state.ournalists must operate within the law, but ... we must be careful not to overreact in a way that would undermine the foundations of a free society.

Update: Action Dropped

21st September 2011. See  article from

The Metropolitan police has dropped its attempt to order the Guardian to reveal confidential sources for stories relating to the phone-hacking scandal.

The Met had been hoping to force Guardian reporters to reveal confidential sources for articles disclosing that the murdered teenager Milly Dowler's phone was hacked on behalf of the News of the World. But after an intervention by the Crown Prosecution Service and widespread outrage, Scotland Yard was forced into an abrupt climbdown.

A Yard source said:

There will be some hard reflection. This was a decision made in good faith, but with no appreciation for the wider consequences. Obviously, the last thing we want to do is to get into a big fight with the media. We do not want to interfere with journalists. In hindsight the view is that certain things that should have been done were not done, and that is regrettable.


18th September   

Update: Cryptic Response...

Newzbin 2 takes evasive action against the BT website blocking ordered by the UK High Court
Link Here
Full story: Internet Blocking File Sharing in UK...High court dictates website block

The operators of Usenet indexing site Newzbin2 have introduced measures to circumvent court-ordered web-blocking measures designed to render the site inoperable in the UK.

Site staff aren't revealing how the stand-alone software client works but some basic network packet analysis shows that it defeats ISP BT's Cleanfeed censorship system by using a handful of techniques including encryption.

Following a complaint from the Motion Picture Association, earlier this year a judge at London's High Court ordered leading UK ISP BT to block subscriber access to Usenet indexing site Newzbin2.

TorrentFreak ran some basic tests on the Newzbin2 client today which revealed that it does indeed defeat known features of Cleanfeed in a number of ways. Initially the client tries to resolve the site's domain name to an IP in the usual manner via DNS, but from there, and without going into too many details, an encrypted session is initiated between the client and the Newzbin2 site in a way that Cleanfeed won't like, rendering blocking impractical and snooping more or less impossible.

Perhaps from the viewpoint of the UK authorities website blocking could prove to be a bit of a nightmare as it drives more and more people to take evasive action, that will surely make general eavesdropping a whole lot more difficult.


17th September

 Offsite: Meet the Censors...

Link Here
The Independent talks to censors from BBFC, IWF, ASA and Ofcom

See article from


15th September   

Update: Taste and Decency on the Internet...

Jeremy Hunt to include in law, the requirement for ISPs to offer choices for internet blocking
Link Here
Full story: Internet Blocking Adult Websites in UK...Government push for ISPs to block porn

Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt has written about the contents of the next Comms Act. He outlined several of the measures in a speech to the Royal Television Society.

On topic of internet blocking of 'offensive' content he said:

When it comes to accessing material that can offend taste and decency standards in their own home, we should put consumers firmly in the driving seat.

We won't water down existing protections on traditional media, the watershed is here to stay, and I welcome  the progress made by both the UK Council for Child Internet Safety and also by ISPs who have just completed work on a draft code of practice on parental controls.

But I think we need to go further.

I will therefore consider including in the new Comms Act an obligation on ISPs to ensure all their customers make an active choice about parental controls, either at the point of purchase, or the point of account activation.


15th September   

Breeding Easy Offence...

A couple of Topman t-shirts wind up the easily offended
Link Here

The clothing chain Topman has been removed from sale supposedly sexist T-shirts.

Some customers complained about two designs, one of which was said to have glamorised domestic violence by listing male excuses such as You provoked me ; I was drunk; I was having a bad day.

The other T-shirt carried the slogan Nice New Girlfriend: What Breed Is She? prompting complaints that women were being likened to cattle and dogs.

Sandra Horley, chief executive of the domestic violence charity Refuge, said:

It is an outrage that such offensive T-shirts were put on sale. Domestic violence takes the lives of two women a week and it is no laughing matter. These T-shirts perpetuate ignorance and misunderstanding. Shame on Topman.

In a statement, a Topman company spokesman said:

We have received some negative feedback regarding two of our printed T-shirts.

Whilst we would like to stress that these T-shirts were meant to be light hearted and carried no serious meaning we have made the decision to remove these from store and on-line as soon as possible.

We would like to apologise to those who may have been offended by these designs.


14th September   

Update: Bringing Scotland into Disrepute...

Scottish justice committee discusses bill criminalising sectarian football chants
Link Here
Full story: Football Sectarianism...Sectarian Rangers football song wind up

The Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Bill has been discussed by Holyrood's justice committee.

The bill is the brainchild of Alex Salmond in his populist, attempt to crack down on the sectarianism, in those sections of society where the rivalry between Rangers and Celtic football clubs appears to dwarf every other aspect of life.

Serious though this problem is, the very name of this proposed legislation should be enough to ring alarm bells. We not only need to define what is offensive and to whom, but also what is threatening and to whom.

As the committee went all round the houses, going over and over the problem, and taking evidence from supporters' groups, academics and even a journalist, it was plain that the wrecking crews are already moving in on this bill.

Greig Ingram questioned the merit of criminalising some of the chants about his fellow Aberdeen supporters, asking: Would somebody chanting about my predilections for alleged activities with farmyard animals be offensive?

The only common sense at yesterday's hearing came from Dr Stuart Waiton, a lecturer in sociology and criminology at the University of Abertay, Dundee, who said such views were a beautiful example of how the bill risks creating an authoritarian and illiberal society .

The proposed law could bring the legal system into disrepute and undermine existing measures to tackle sectarianism, one of Scotland's leading historians has warned. Professor Tom Devine told MSPs that the sectarian problem is part of the fabric of Scotia and extends beyond football stadiums. Existing laws are perfectly adequate to crack down on the conduct targeted by the billl, the academic added.

Scotland is the only country in the world with specific anti-sectarian legislation on its statute book after religious aggravations were introduced in 2003, Holyrood's justice committee heard.

As is often the case,  opposition parties at Holyrood are terrified to be seen as going soft on the bigots, and are therefore going along with this nonsense.


13th September   

Punani at Ofcom...

Ofcom have a whinge at strong language in song lyrics aired on daytime radio
Link Here

Ofcom have devoted the latest Complaints Bulletin to a whinge at strong language in the lyrics of songs aired on daytime radio.

Ofcom started off with a note:

Note to Broadcasters Offensive language in radio programming

This issue of the Broadcast Bulletin contains a number of findings relating to the use of offensive language in radio programming. In view of our concerns about the material in these cases, especially those broadcast when children were particularly likely to have been listening, we will be requesting that a number of radio broadcasters across the industry who transmit such programming attend a meeting at Ofcom to discuss the compliance of such material.

Ofcom then  had a go at several radio stations eg:

Rory's Reggae Roots
Brick FM
23 February 2011, 15:00

Brick FM is a community radio station providing a service for the people of St Boswells, Newton St Boswells and the surrounding area in the Scottish Borders. It has been on air since January 2008 and the output is presented by volunteers. The licence is held by Brick FM. One of Brick FM's key commitments is to establish links with local primary schools, who will be encouraged to visit the station and to make their own programmes. It also aims to appeal to the different age demographics of the local community .

When monitoring the station's output on Wednesday, 23 February 2011, Ofcom identified various instances of offensive language. For example, after welcoming ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls a guest DJ proceeded to play songs that contained offensive language:

  • at 15:07 a song ( More Punany by Dr Evil) containing two instances of the word fuck was broadcast; and

  • at 15:24 a song ( Pass Out by Tinie Tempah) containing five instances of the word fucking was broadcast.

Note Punany or punani is an urban slang word meaning vagina.

Ofcom considered that the content raised issues that warranted investigation under the following Code rules:

  • Rule 1.14: The most offensive language must not be broadcast … when children are particularly likely to be listening (in the case of radio).

  • Rule 2.3: In applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context.

Brick FM said that a punany was a sandwich sold locally and is made of Italian bread with cheese and tomato which is heated up and therefore did not accept the song More Punany had sexual connotations.

Brick FM also maintained that the word fuck is a commonly used word in Scotland, as a description, when something goes wrong or if they get angry or upset rather than a sexual act. It argued that it had the right to use the commonly spoken word which is not considered offensively locally and claimed that Ofcom was unfamiliar with our [its] local dialect .

Ofcom Decision: In Breach of Code

Ofcom's research on offensive language indicates that the word fuck and its derivatives are examples of the most offensive language. Ofcom noted seven instances of the most offensive language in the material it was monitoring. The Code states (see Rule 1.5) the phrase when children are particularly likely to be listening largely refers to the school run and breakfast time but might include other times . Ofcom noted that the two songs in question were broadcast between 15:07 and 15:27 on a weekday and that they were introduced by the Guest DJ welcoming ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls. Regardless of this programme's intended adult audience, we therefore concluded it was particularly likely that children were listening at this time, and there was a breach of Rule 1.14 as regards the expletives broadcast between 15:07 and 15:27.

Irrespective of whether the word fuck is used in a sexual context or as an expression of anger, our research indicates the word and its derivatives are examples of the most offensive language. Ofcom therefore does not accept Brick FM's argument that the word is not considered offensive in Scotland. In Ofcom's view, the broadcast of this language clearly had the potential to offend.

Ofcom noted the lyrics to the song More Punany contain the following:

last night I had a crazy threesome
I like to see the girls in the sexy bikini ni ni Want to take my chilli and push it between ni ni
I like pun-na-na-na-ni even if it's a virgin

Ofcom rejected Brick FM?s comments as to punany referring to a local sandwich . The word was clearly used in this song as urban slang word meaning vagina, and it was used in a sexual context. While Ofcom's research (2005) on the word punani is unclear as to whether it is widely regarded as the most offensive language, this word does have the potential to offend.

This context was not in Ofcom's view, sufficient to justify the potential offence caused, the broadcaster did not apply generally accepted standards and there was a breach of Rule 2.3 of the Code.

Ofcom has serious concerns about Brick FM's approach to compliance and may consider regulatory action if further breaches occur.

Breaches of Rules 1.14 and 2.3

Ofcom made whinged similarly at:

  • Howard Taylor at Breakfast, Total Star – Wiltshire, 20 May 2011, 06:00
  • School's Out, Bishop FM, 8 June 2011, 18:13

Ofcom also considered strong language in the following:

  • Radio 1's Big Weekend, BBC Radio 1, 14 May 2011, 19:50
  • BBC Introducing in Essex, BBC Radio Essex, 6 May 2011, 19:00
  • James Barr, Capital Radio East Midlands (Leicester), 14 May 2011, 19:28 24

But didn't record a breach of rules after explanations of strong language appearing unexpectedly in live performance and being misled by musicians with regards to the lyrics.

Brick FM Not Impressed

See  article from

Jesse Rae, head of broadcasting at Brick FM, founded four years ago and run by volunteers, said this explanation was the result of genuine innocence on behalf of station director Dave Elliot, who did not know what the word meant.

No one complained about these things, no one heard them, he said. We broadcast 24 hours a day and this is all they can come up with, these seven minutes -- what are they trying to do?

The panini thing is just innocence and that is the truth, and Ofcom cannot comprehend that.


12th September   

Jersey Post Offends Churches...

Jersey postal workers refuse to distribute Bibles on grounds that they could be offensive
Link Here

Postal workers have refused to deliver CDs of Bible readings after deciding they were offensive material . Several churches had paid for discs with recordings of St Mark's Gospel to be produced to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible.

They were due to be delivered to all households on the Channel Island of Jersey, but church leaders were told postal workers would not handle the 45,000 CDs.

Rev Liz Hunter of St Helier Methodist Centre said:

Initially Jersey Post seemed quite positive about helping us deliver the CDs. But then a couple of weeks ago somebody from their marketing department phoned to say they would be unable to deliver them on the grounds that they could be deemed offensive. They said there were guidelines about mass material that is sent out across the island and that religious recordings could offend people.

The CDs are now being delivered by volunteers.


10th September   

Update: Music to our Ears...

Government earns brownie points for proposing to remove live music licence censorship
Link Here
Full story: Licensed Music Censors...Licensing sets up authorities as music censors

Pubs, clubs and other small venues offering live music would no longer have to apply for an entertainment licence, under government proposals.

The plans, submitted for public consultation, would apply to premises in England and Wales with a capacity of under 5,000. Ministers say the changes could also apply to school and charity events.

Licences would still be required for boxing, wrestling and sexual entertainment, and the rules on alcohol supply and sales would not be affected.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport said the Licensing Act 2003 removed the so-called two-in-a-bar rule, which had allowed two musicians to perform in a pub without needing an entertainment permit, and this was one example of how it ended up potentially criminalising a harmless cultural pastime .

Tourism Minister John Penrose said changes could provide an important source of new income to struggling businesses such as pubs, restaurants and hotels . He said extra costs and red tape had also been imposed on school plays and discos where ticket sales went to Parent Teacher Association funds, Punch and Judy shows, street artists, park brass bands and restaurant pianists.

Penrose added:

Before we press ahead, it's important we get the views of those working in the industry, and to make sure that the principles of public safety, prevention of public nuisance and the protection of children from harm are safeguarded.

Our starting point is a simple one: If there's no good reason for any of the rules and restrictions in this important area, our presumption should be to scrap them.


9th September   

Update: Old Joke Already...

Hopefully the Divisional Court will see the funny side on resumption of the Twitter Joke Trial on 10th November
Link Here
Full story: Police Twitter Twits...Man charged over terrorism quip on twitter

PThe appeal of Paul Chambers in the twitter joke trial is to take place on 10 November. The trainee accountant from Doncaster who was convicted for sending supposedly threatening messages after he joked on Twitter that he would blow up Robin Hood Airport if his flight was cancelled.

The appeal before the divisional courts of the Queen's Bench comes one year after he lost his crown court appeal.


8th September   

Update: Bands Unbanned...

Government proposes to remove live music licence censorship
Link Here
Full story: Licensed Music Censors...Licensing sets up authorities as music censors

Pubs and clubs wanting to offer live music would no longer be forced to apply to the local council for an entertainment licence under a planned deregulation aimed at supporting grassroots music.

The proposal is part of a government consultation to be unveiled by John Penrose, the tourism and heritage minister, amid warnings that small venues have been abandoning live music because of the bureaucracy introduced by the 2003 Licensing Act.

Feargal Sharkey, chief executive of UK Music, which represents the UK's commercial music industry, said:

We're optimistic that this will be positive news for the industry, and especially for emerging talent. I'd wager that all of yesterday's Mercury music prize nominees started their careers playing in pubs or clubs. In the meantime, we'll have to wait for the actual detail of the consultation, and under what specific circumstances the requirement for a music licence would be removed.

Parliamentarians have been calling for several years for the restriction to be removed. Prior to the 2003 Act, a two-in-a-bar exemption existed, allowing venues of any size to put on a performance of acoustic music by one or two musicians without the need for a licence.

However, the ministerial proposals are understood to go further than that. Large venues with a capacity of more than 5,000 would continue to be subject to premises licensing as before, but small venues would save on average £ 1,600 a year and be freed of the requirement to register with the council.


8th September   


Woman charged with racially aggravated harassment over a golliwog toy in her window
Link Here

A woman has been charged with racially aggravated harassment after a neighbour complained about a golliwog displayed in her window.

Police investigated Jena Mason over an alleged incident in August, Suffolk police confirmed.

Both the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and ourselves have agreed there is enough to prosecute, police said. Ms Mason is due to appear before Lowestoft magistrates on 13 September.

Her solicitor James Hartley said she was devastated and intended to plead not guilty to the charge.

Update: More to the story

9th September 2011. See  article from

Pretty naff reporting from the BBC who reported only half the story

See better article .

Update: Acquitted

25th October 2011. Based on article from

Racial harassment charges have been dropped against a woman who allegedly displayed a golliwog toy in her window. Jena Mason was arrested after her black neighbour Rosemarie O'Donnell complained about the doll to police.

But at Lowestoft Magistrates' Court, the Crown Prosecution Service, offered no evidence. In a hearing lasting less than five minutes, a CPS officer said a review has been carried out at the highest level On the evidence available, it is not possible to show exactly who was responsible for placing the doll in the window. Despite further inquiry and review, we have determined that the evidence is insufficient and there is not a realistic prospect of conviction.


7th September   

Police Dummies...

Police prove 'inappropriate' to the job of patrolling the streets of Sheffield
Link Here

When a party shop owner put a mannequin dressed as Colonel Gaddafi on the run in his doorway, he thought passers-by would see the funny side of it.

But two heavy-handed PCSOs marched into the store - and told staff to take down because it was supposedly offensive .

The mock-Gaddafi - dressed in bright pink tights and clutching a sign which read you ain't seen me right - was meant as a light-hearted prank.

Owner Peter Tooley never dreamed that his Party Town store would be accused of stirring up tensions.  Staff at the store in Sheffield said today they were surprised by the police over-reaction because no one had complained about the stunt.

A police spokesman confirmed the PCSOs had acted even though nobody had complained and said:

Two PCSOs, on normal patrol duties called into the shop to ask if they would mind taking the mannequin out of the shop window, as some people may find it inappropriate.

This advice was given in an attempt to prevent possible community tension on a sensitive issue.


29th August   

Updated: Category 1 Whingers...

Mediawatch-UK have a knock at gay sex on Torchwood
Link Here

Nutters have Complained about BBC's Torchwood over sex scenes featuring Captain Jack Harkness and his gay lover Angelo.

Thursday's show, in which Captain Jack (played by John Barrowman) seduced Angelo, reportedly drew hundreds of complaints from viewers.

According to the Daily Mail, more than 500 viewers showed their disapproval by complaining to the Beeb, calling the scenes pointless .

Some questioned the need for sex scenes, gay or straight, in a sci-fi show while others were said to be concerned that younger viewers would be 'shocked'.

David Turtle, from campaign group Mediawatch-UK, told the Mail: The BBC will say the programme is being shown after the 9pm watershed. But it doesn't alter the fact that the programme is watched by a lot of young people and is easily accessible on iPlayer at any time of the day.

A BBC spokesperson responded by saying: We felt the content was justified in terms of the context and character and within the expectations of regular viewers. We aim to depict relationships, whether heterosexual or homosexual in an honest and realistic way. These scenes are not meant to cause offence.

In fact the BBC had previously said that they would cut a scene showing Captain Jack sleeping with a barman:

It wasn't that it was a gay scene that worried people, but just the fact that it was such an explicit sex scene full stop, a source said. You can get away with scenes like that on American cable channels, but you can't on primetime BBC One.

Even though the show airs after the watershed, it has a lot of young fans who would have been shocked at the graphic nature of the sex.

So it seems that even cutting the scenes isn't enough for the likes of Mediawatch-UK

Update: Complaints Dismissed

3rd November 2011. See  article from

Ofcom have dismissed 78 complaints against Torchwood on the subject of 'sexual material'. However Ofcom did not comment further on their decision.


29th August   

Miracle Olive Oil Soap...

Ofcom considers sanctions against Believe TV for potentially harmful nonsense about a miracle cure for cancer
Link Here

Believe TV
21 and 22 December 2010, 4 January 2011 and 1 February 2011

Believe TV is a service which broadcasts Christian programming. The channel broadcasts programmes which include testimony , where members of the churches featured proclaim how health problems, financial issues or other personal matters have been alleviated through healing from a pastor or other religious leader and their faith in God. Believe TV also features other Christian programming including preaching and healing from churches in the UK and around the world.

The licence for Believe TV is held by The Light Academy Limited.

In January 2011 the Advertising Standards Authority ( ASA ) informed Ofcom that it had written to the Licensee regarding the broadcast on Believe TV of two programmes, featuring the televangelist. Paul Lewis, on 21 and 22 December 2010. Both programmes featured Paul Lewis's Miracle Olive Oil Soap . which it was claimed has healing properties that can cure serious illnesses such as cancer.

The ASA informed Light Academy that these broadcasts contained similar claims by Paul Lewis to those which had already been the subject of an ASA adjudication in May 2007. Further, the ASA advised the Licensee that Ofcom had also previously recorded breaches of the Broadcasting Code in relation to content containing similar claims by Paul Lewis that had been transmitted by two other broadcasters in 2008.

In response to the ASA, the Light Academy confirmed that Paul Lewis Ministries content had now been removed from its schedules as of 24 December 2010 onwards, and that in any event the content was editorial and not advertising.

The ASA therefore referred the material to Ofcom for further investigation, as well as further material broadcast on Believe TV (not featuring Paul Lewis) the ASA had recorded on 4 January 2011.

Ofcom reviewed this material and agreed that the content being investigated in this case should be regarded as editorial and not advertising and therefore that the Code applied. Separately Ofcom was also concerned that other material broadcast on Believe TV, on these three dates, contained examples of potentially unsubstantiated and dangerous claims about the healing of serious conditions such as infertility and cancer.

Ofcom considered that such material raised potentially serious issues under the Code. In particular, Ofcom was concerned about the risk that as a result of watching the testimonies and preaching, viewers with serious medical conditions would either not seek or discontinue conventional medical treatment.

Ofcom also notified the Licensee of its concerns about the apparent promotion of products such as CDs and DVDs in some of its programming.

Ofcom noted further broadcast content which raised similar issues, for example:

  • hCancer healing testimonies and claims.
  • Members of the congregation claiming to give up their medication as a result of the receiving healing at the church.
  • Members of the congregation claiming to have disregarded conventional medical advice and treatment in favour of healing at the church.
  • Infertility healing testimonies and claims.
  • Claims of healing of other serious medical illnesses, for example: blood pressure problems, heart disease and drug and alcohol addictions.

Ofcom considered:

  • Rule 2.1: Generally accepted standards must be applied to the contents of television and radio services so as to provide adequate protection for members of the public from the inclusion in such services of harmful and/or offensive material.
  • Rule 4.6: Religious programmes must not improperly exploit any susceptibilities of the audience.
  • Rule 10.2: Broadcasters must ensure that the advertising and programme elements of a service are kept separate.
  • Rule 10.3: Products and services must not be promoted in programmes. This rule does not apply to programme-related material.

Ofcom Decision: In Breach

Given that some viewers who may have watched this material may also have been suffering from serious medical conditions, and were therefore likely to be in a vulnerable state, Ofcom also concluded that this material clearly had the potential to cause harm, and possibly very serious harm. In view of the fact that the Licensee did not take steps to provide viewers with adequate protection from this potential harm by providing any context to the claims made, Ofcom concluded that the Licensee did not apply generally accepted standards. Rule 2.1 was therefore breached.

Given that the content was also soliciting a response from viewers and such individuals experiencing serious illnesses may be vulnerable to the healing claims being made, Ofcom concluded that there was a material risk that susceptible members of the audience may be exploited by the material broadcast on Believe TV. This was a breach of Rule 4.6.

Ofcom also considered that the references to the products were made in such a highly promotional manner that they appeared akin to advertising within a programme. Ofcom therefore also found the programmes in breach of Rule 10.2 and 10.3 of the Code.

The Licensee broadcast material where there was a likelihood that significant potential harm may have resulted. It is Ofcom's view that any material broadcast which may lead to a material risk to the health and safety of the audience must always be considered a significant breach of the Code.

In deciding what further regulatory action to take in this case. Ofcom considered that at no time were steps taken by the Licensee to provide adequate protection to members of the public from harm or exploitation, taking into account the fact that the self selecting audience of Believe TV, given that it is a religious service, may have been less likely to question the potentially harmful and exploitative content broadcast.

The Licensee is put on notice that the breaches of Rules 2.1 and 4.6 in this case are being considered for the imposition of a statutory sanction.


20th August   

So How Did ATVOD Decide on Onerous Restrictions on Porn?...

Freedom of Information and ATVOD
Link Here

The Authority for Television On Demand is a supposedly independent co-regulator for the editorial content of UK video on demand services. However the government seems to be in the driving seat when it comes to restricting access to porn.

ATVOD is not formally subject to Freedom of Information law, but is listed on due to its public regulatory role.

This site assists in the process of making Freedom of Information requests to ATVOD and others.

Make a new Freedom of Information request to The Authority for Television On Demand Freedom of Information requests made using this site

Nobody has made any Freedom of Information requests to The Authority for Television On Demand using this site yet.


13th August

 Offsite: China Gloats...

Link Here
Full story: Social Networking Censorship in the UK...Internet censorship set to solve Britain's broken society
China enjoys David Cameron speaking in favour of Chinese style internet censorship

See article from


11th August   

Updated: Unblamed...

Evening Standard changes its mind about blaming the riots on Grand Theft Auto
Link Here
Full story: A Riotous Blame Game...So what is to blame for the 2011 hoodie riots

The London Evening Standard, whose front page suggested Grand Theft Auto had inspired London's riots, later issued a reprint binning the game blame reference altogether.

The paper originally carried the blurb: Children as young as ten, inspired by video game, among the looters , along with a Lawless London headline.

However, the sub-head later switched to: Children as young as ten hunted by Police . All reference to Grand Theft Auto was also removed from the main story.

The change followed pressure from CVG's WRONG campaign, as well as other games media and outraged fans on Twitter.

...Read the full article

Update: Safermedia join in the GTA Blame Game

11th August 2011. See  article from

Safermedia write:

We are in the process of drawing the government's attention to the role of the media in the riots. Not the only cause, but a very significant one that must not be ignored. See how the hugely popular videogame Grand Theft Auto glamourises crime.


8th August   

Update: What's the Harm in Excessive Censorship?...

Ofcom recommends strict age verification for R18 material on Video On Demand and a ban on anything stronger
Link Here
Full story: VOD censorship in UK...Excessive age restrictions an adult internet video


This report concerns the protection of children from hard core pornography on UK- based video on demand services1 . The government is concerned that under the current UK legislation these protections may not be adequate.

On 1 April 2010, DCMS wrote to Ofcom about the new legislation for UK-based video on demand services (implementing European law), which for the first time impose certain minimum requirements on regulated UK-based video on demand services

In particular, the legislation introduces minimum requirements on the provision of potentially harmful material in VOD services. The relevant section of the Communications Act (368E(2)) states that:

If an on-demand programme service contains material which might seriously impair the physical, mental or moral development of persons under the age of eighteen, the material must be made available in a manner which secures that such persons will not normally see or hear it .

DCMS raised concerns as to whether this provision would in practice provide sufficient safeguards to protect children from sexually explicit material, or whether greater safeguards might be appropriate for such material which is made available over VOD Services.

DCMS considered in its letter to Ofcom that a precautionary approach would be justified. This was because such an approach:

  • would be generally supported by the public, given the nature of the material in question and the need to protect minors
  • would be consistent with the tough constraints which Parliament has already placed on the distribution of sexually explicit material in hard copy form as a film or a DVD (i.e. material classified as R18 by the British Board of Film Classification
  • would also be consistent with the approach Ofcom has taken on the provision of this material on television under its Broadcasting Code.
  • In DCMS's view, there is plainly an argument for concluding that on-demand programme services, which are capable of being accessed by children and young people at home round the clock, require sufficient safeguards.

Evidence relating to harm

In light of the Government's clearly stated intentions, we commissioned research to inform our response to DCMS.

A review was commissioned from Dr Guy Cumberbatch, an independent expert in the effects of media, especially on young people.This looked at the available evidence on the risk of harm from R18 material. The review updates the review of the research literature in this area conducted for Ofcom by Dr Ellen Helsper of the London School of Economics ( LSE ) in 2005.

Guy Cumberbatch's main conclusions are consistent with the conclusions of the 2005 review. Firstly, that the research does not provide conclusive evidence that R18 material might seriously impair minors' development. Secondly, the research does not provide clear, conclusive evidence of a lesser degree of harm. It is acknowledged that the research is by its nature limited given there are significant ethical constraints about conducting experiments which expose children to this type of material and monitor their development for signs of potential harm.

However, some experts believe that there is evidence that exposure of minors to R18 material can have adverse effects. In short, this area remains highly controversial and in light of these considerations, it cannot be confidently concluded that sexually explicit material carries no risk of harm to the development of minors.

Guy Cumberbatch's report has been peer reviewed by Dr Sonia Livingstone of the LSE's Department of Media and Communications.

Conclusions and recommendations

In reaching a view in response to DCMS's request as to whether greater safeguards might be appropriate for the protection of children in this important and controversial area, Ofcom considered both R18 material and also material stronger than R18. It took account of the following important considerations.

In relation to R18 material, these considerations are:

  • that the evidence for children being caused harm by exposure to R18 material is inconclusive and the research is necessarily limited by the ethical constraints of exposing children and young people to sexually explicit material
  • Ofcom has a statutory duty under Section 3 of the Communications Act 2003 to further the interests of citizens and consumers and in doing so, to have regard to the vulnerability of children (and others whose circumstances appear to Ofcom to put them in need of special protection)
  • that the public (including parents) consider that whilst those who wish to should have access to pornography, access to this material should be restricted in such a way that children cannot see it
  • the range of approaches in Europe as regards implementing the might seriously impair obligation in the Directive, and the number of countries that have relied on other legislation (existing or new) to restrict access to sexually explicit material on VOD
  • the lack of any test case under current UK law establishing whether R18 promotional material supplied over the internet is obscene (i.e. has a tendency to deprave and corrupt its likely audience), but noting also that according to the Crown Prosecution Service ( CPS ) (Legal Guidance to prosecutors) , it is possible that the publication of such material, provided it is sufficiently explicit and is freely accessible, is capable of being prosecuted as obscene and therefore a criminal offence under the Obscene Publications Act [Although it is noted later in the report that no such prosecution has ever actually been attempted].
  • the desirability in the public interest of giving children appropriate protection from highly unsuitable material
  • the absence in the current regulations of a clear standard requiring sexually explicit material of R18 standard (or its equivalent) to be prohibited, in VOD services, unless it is made subject to restrictions;
  • the Government's clear intention to ensure protection of children from sexually explicit material on UK-based VOD services
  • the value of adopting a precautionary approach to protecting minors from the risk of harm from accessing R18 material (and material stronger than R18) on UK- based VOD services. There is clear evidence that the public (and in particular parents) support a precautionary approach.

In relation to material stronger than R18 we had regard to the following considerations:

  • content stronger than R18 material encompasses a wide variety of unclassified material which cannot legally be supplied in the UK in licensed sex shops and includes abusive and/or violent pornography, examples of which have been held to be obscene and a criminal offence to provide, if accessible by children
  • this material is acknowledged to be potentially harmful or very harmful to adults, particularly those who are vulnerable
  • yet the current legislation does not clearly prohibit it from VOD Services.

In summary, Ofcom's opinion is that taking into account:

  • all the considerations set out in this report, including the evidence relating to harm
  • DCMS's clearly stated intention to ensure the protection of children
  • the desire for certainty in this important and controversial area
  • the legislative protections currently in place are not sufficiently clear to provide that certainty. Greater safeguards should therefore be put in place.

We recommend the Government introduce new legislation which would specifically:

  • prohibit R18 material from being included in UK-based VOD services unless appropriate mandatory restrictions are in place
  • prohibit altogether from UK-based VOD services material whose content the BBFC would refuse to classify i.e. material stronger than R18.


7th August   

Update: Morally Impaired Plot...

In the absence of evidence of harm due to porn, ATVOD will blather on 'serious impairment of the moral development' of minors until legislation can be drawn up to legally ban it
Link Here
Full story: VOD censorship in UK...Excessive age restrictions an adult internet video

 Ed Vaizey wrote to Ed Richards of Ofcom on the subject of restricting hardcore Video on Demand:


Ofcom produced a report on this last autumn and our officials have subsequently discussed the best way forward in the light of the recommendations of the Ofcom report, the policy position taken by ATVOD to require access controls to any such material and Government policy generally on access to potentially harmful material, including work in UKCCIS and the current Communications Review.

Like you, we are quite clear that children should not have access to hard-core pornography on ATVOD-regulated video-on-demand services. The current rules put in place by ATVOD requiring access controls on such material should remain in place.

As ATVOD regulates only a comparatively small number of services available over the Internet, our wider approach to protecting children from potentially harmful material is being taken forward by the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS), building on the commitments made in our industry round-tables. We are committed to making progress in this area, preferably through industry action, but if necessary through legislation. Any necessary legislation is best taken forward in the forthcoming Communications Bill.

Your report examined the current UK regulations, transposing the requirement in the Audiovisual Media Services Directive that VOD material which might seriously impair the physical, mental or moral development of minors [is] only made available in such a way that ensures that minors will not normally hear or see [it] (which means in effect that this content must generally be encrypted). Department for Culture, Media and Sport

What concerned us was whether that requirement would provide sufficient safeguards to protect children from material equivalent to that classified by the BBFC at R18 and suitable for sale on DVD only in licensed sex shops. Our policy aim was that such material should not be made available in ways accessible to children on those UK-based VOD services which fell to be regulated under the Audiovisual Media Services Directive.

The Ofcom report concluded that this was an area in which it was probably impossible to get conclusive evidence of harm and that it was Ofcom's view that, in the absence of such evidence, there was a case for taking a precautionary approach and indeed seeking a legislative opportunity to provide a more certain legal basis for requiring access controls to protect children.

In the meantime, of course, ATVOD's rules have continued to require access controls to prevent children's access to R18 material on regulated sites – as we understand it, this generally at present takes the form of short video sequences promoting hard- core pornography sites which can be accessed in full only after supplying credit card details.

The Ofcom review considered two main areas of content. The principal one, and the one on which the Department had sought your advice in particular, was the availability of hard-core pornography with content equivalent to that which would be classified by the BBFC as suitable to the R18 category in DVD format. However, the report noted that there may also be material for which the BBFC would refuse a classification but which would not necessarily be illegal to distribute to adults.

All such material is prohibited by Ofcom on licensed broadcasting services and is allowed on VOD services regulated by ATVOD only when access controls are in place to prevent access by children. Outside the small number of regulated services, such material is known to be widely available on the Internet and that is why Ministers have given priority to working with ISPs to allow parents to make an active choice as to whether they want such material to be available to their household. The wider application of this policy by ISPs, and the use of effective parental controls by parents, would do much to minimise the accessibility of hard-core pornography, and worse, by children on all on-demand services.

The questions addressed by the Ofcom report were therefore whether, on the small number of on-demand services regulated by ATVOD, where additional controls could be put in place under the AVMS Directive, the Regulations provided an adequate level of protection for children from material equivalent to R18 by offering a secure legal basis on which to require access controls. Department for Culture, Media and Sport

We remain of the view - like you - that there is a good case that the Regulations require a precautionary approach in that the test is whether material might be seriously harmful rather than that it necessarily is demonstrably harmful. However we accept that, in the light of Ofcom's recommendation, it would be preferable to provide legal certainty to ensure that the ATVOD rules are robust, in case of future legal challenge, and the protection for children secure.

In these circumstances, and given the wider policy context, it seems to us that these issues would be best addressed comprehensively in the Communications Review. We would appreciate it if Ofcom, with ATVOD, would take any steps necessary in the interim period to ensure that children remained adequately protected under the ATVOD rules, in the knowledge that we could bring forward Regulations in the short term if it proved necessary to support this position.


7th August   

Update: Oops...Ofcom Kindly Detail Site Blocking Work Rounds...

DCMS ask Ofcom to delete part of their Site Blocking report
Link Here
Full story: Digital Economy Act...Clause 11 grants government control of the internet

Ofcom have recently written a report, Site Blocking to reduce online copyright infringement, as part of a feasibility study into measures contained in the Digital Economy Act.

For the moment Ofcom has come out against the use of website blocking and explained some of the difficulties in the report. Particularly the current ease with which both websites and readers may circumvent current blocking techniques.

According to The Register, the Department of Media, Culture and Sport weren't too impressed by Ofcom letting the public be aware of the limitations of current website blocking technologies and asked Ofcom to censor the information.

Ofcom deleted the offending but some of the censored information was left in the document presumably in the document history. It was published and some clever people were able to restore the deleted text. Ofcom have now properly implemented the censorship but not before it was published on scribd and internet commentators had pointed out some of the sensitive work rounds to site blocking techniques. eg:

  • Websites providing encrypted access to their websites via SSL/HTTPS
  • Websites using a network port other than the usual port 80
  • Websites changing the IP address and bypassing the network routing announcements
  • Websites registering a new domain name and letting users know via email and social networking
  • Websites using page naming to defeat individual page blocking perhaps by having arbitrary search strings that lead to the blocked page
  • Readers using Virtual Private Networking (VPN)
  • Readers using anonymous web proxies

In general the authorities are not going to be very keen on large numbers of internet users being encouraged to use hard to monitor web routings that make life difficult for policing the net for more serious issues.


6th August   

Update: Destined for the E-Plastic Bag Behind the Speaker's Chair...

UK Government restores an e-petitions website
Link Here

A government e-petition website has gone live, showing petitions that have been accepted for consideration for debate in the Commons.

The leader of the house, Sir George Young, has said petitions that garner more than 100,000 signatures should warrant consideration for debate.

Speaker John Bercow is supporting the move, privately complaining the current written petition system is little understood and appreciated. Once received, written petitions, he points out, are put in a plastic bag behind the Speaker's chair, a fate he claims speaks volumes about the seriousness with which petitions are taken.

Bercow is understood to be flexible about how parliament should be seen to be responding to an e-petition garnering big support. He does not necessarily think every issue should be considered at a full-length debate, but might simply require a minister to come to the house and answer a question on the issue.

It is widely expected that supporters of capital punishment, immigration controls, withdrawal from Europe and opposition to green taxes will initially dominate. An e-petition will only be allowed to stay on the website for a year, and duplicates will not be allowed.

The system replaces a previous system set up by Tony Blair's aides on the Downing Street website, which was suspended before the 2010 general election. Then there was no requirement for Downing Street to do anything formal in response to an e-petition.

Update: E-Petitions shunted into the sidings

Oops the out of touch government doesn't want to talk about what the people want to talk about.

20th November 2011. See  article from

David Cameron's pledge to allow the public to choose topics for parliamentary debates is being watered down following a series of political embarrassments, Westminster sources have claimed.

Ministers have discussed increasing the number of online signatures needed before a petition is considered for a Commons debate from 100,000 to 150,000. Some debates generated by e-petitions have been moved away from the main chamber to the lower-profile Westminster Hall where they are not put to a vote.

Critics claim that some of Cameron's biggest political problems have been exacerbated by e-petitions, which are open to the public on a government website. Last month, 81 Tory MPs defied a three-line whip to endorse a motion generated online that called for a referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union. On Tuesday, a motion on fuel prices, sparked by another e-petition, forced the government to come to a compromise with Tory MPs to head off a rebellion.


4th August   

Update: Britain's Adult Internet Trade to be Driven Offshore...

Ed Vaizey looks to restrict UK internet porn to credit card holders only
Link Here
Full story: VOD censorship in UK...Excessive age restrictions an adult internet video

 Repressive controls to prevent children from accessing hard-core pornographic material through video-on-demand (VoD) services will be secured as part of the comprehensive review of communications legislation currently being undertaken, Communications Minister Ed Vaizey has announced.

Rules are already in place which mean that video which the BBFC would classify as R18, pornography which is explicit and sold in licensed sex shops, but not illegal, can be made available through VoD services only if excessively restrictive controls are in place to prevent children from accessing it.

The Authority for Television On Demand (ATVOD) is the internet censor for VoD services and enforces rukles which ensure that any material which 'may' seriously impair children's physical, mental or moral development, but probably doesn't must not be freely available. Access controls such as pin protection must be put in place if R18-type content is to be made available on anytime television services or internet websites that include video.

But, in the light of an Ofcom report which recommended a precautionary approach to protecting children and new legislation, the Government has committed to securing the present controls and looking at whether the legal position should be bolstered further by future-proofing legislation as part of the current review of communications policy.

Vaizey said:

The Government is clear that children must be protected from harmful content, on television or online. We have made it a priority to address the concerns of parents that their kids are being exposed to material that's not appropriate for them to see.

Without a doubt we want to make sure that video-on-demand services carrying adult material cannot be seen by children and it's already a legal requirement that any such content has access controls.

But the communications review gives us an opportunity to consider whether there's more we should do to ensure children remain protected and to limit access to potentially harmful material, such as introducing unclassified material into the statutory framework.

A starting point is Ofcom's report to Government, Sexually Explicit Material and Video On Demand Services which has just been published.

The review will look at the availability of both R18-type material, and video content which is stronger than that classified as R18 by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) but still might be made available to adults.

Ensuring the effectiveness of restrictive controls on VoD services will also complement the recommendations made by Reg Bailey in his independent review of the commercialisation and sexualisation of childhood, Letting Children Be Children.


4th August   

Update: One Dimensional Censorship...

BBFC ask for 2 minutes of cuts to Sex and Zen 3D
Link Here
Full story: 3-D Sex and Zen...Hong Kong erotic movie in 3D

The BBFC have asked for cuts to the up and coming film release for Sex And Zen 3D .

Distributors Metrodome have announced that they were required to make two minutes of cuts to scenes of non consensual and violent sex.


2nd August   

Update: Setting a Bad Example...

Article 19 notes that UK internet censorship will set a bad international precedent
Link Here
Full story: Internet Blocking File Sharing in UK...High court dictates website block

The High Court's decision requiring British Telecom to block access to the file-indexing website, sets a worrying international precedent against the right to freedom of expression.

The decision sets too low the threshold for ordering blocking, fails to properly balance the right to property with the right to freedom of expression, and shows no consideration for the chilling effect such a decision would have. Ordering the blocking of an entire domain name, as opposed to specific webpages, is also likely to breach the requirement for necessity in international law.

Although ARTICLE 19 supports development of clear standards related to online copyright infringement, the judgment of the English High Court on 28 July 2011 sets a worrying precedent which could have a dramatic chilling effect on legitimate online content. It is also highly likely to breach international standards of freedom of expression.

ARTICLE 19 notes with concern that the judge granted the website blocking injunction not only in relation to the studios' own films but also those of third parties who were not involved in the case, on the basis that there was no reason to believe that they would not support it. The judge accepted that the order would also prevent BT subscribers from making use of for legitimate purposes, but considered that there was little evidence that the site was being used in this way.

ARTICLE 19 believes that the high court order is very likely to breach international standards for the protection of freedom of expression, in particular the principle that any restriction on freedom of expression for a legitimate aim must be proportionate.

The ruling gives short shrift to this well-established principle as follows:

  • In its judgment, the high court failed to carry out a proper balancing exercise between freedom of expression and the right to property. In particular, the judge provided very little reasoning for his conclusion that the intellectual property rights of the studios clearly outweighed the free speech rights of BT and its many UK users;
  • The threshold for granting such a website blocking order was set very low, despite its obviously far-reaching consequences. In particular, the studios simply had to show that BT knew that one or more persons were using its service to infringe copyright, and that was sufficient to justify an order blocking the entire site;
  • Moreover, little or no consideration was given to the chilling effect that the order is highly likely to have on freedom of expression and the free flow of information on the Internet, especially legitimate online content. This is borne out by the overly broad terms of the order sought, which is directed to the website's domains and sub domains rather than specific URLs deemed illegitimate. In ARTICLE 19's view, any order seeking to block access to domain names as a whole rather than specific URLs is very likely to breach the requirement of necessity under international law. In this respect, ARTICLE 19 also points out to a July 2011 report by the OSCE Special Representative for Freedom of the Media said that Arguably, the practice of banning access to entire websites, and the future publication of articles thereof (whose content is unknown at the time of access blocking) goes beyond any notion of necessary restraint in a democratic society and, instead, amounts to censorship .

ARTICLE 19 urges the establishment of clear legislative standards in this area in order to strike a fairer balance between the interests of rights holders and Internet users and better protect freedom of expression on the Internet.


30th July   

Updated: Internet Censorship in the UK...

High Court orders BT to block Newzbin 2
Link Here
Full story: Internet Blocking File Sharing in UK...High court dictates website block

A High Court judge has ruled that BT must block access to a website which provides links to pirated movies.

Newzbin 2 is a members-only site which aggregates a large amount of copied material found on Usenet discussion forums.

The landmark case is the first time that a UK ISP has been ordered to block access to such a site.

It paves the way for other sites to be blocked.

In his ruling, Justice Arnold stated: In my judgment it follows that BT has actual knowledge of other persons using its service to infringe copyright: it knows that the users and operators of Newbin2 infringe copyright on a large scale, and in particular infringe the copyrights of the Studios in large numbers of their films and television programmes.

The Motion Picture Association, which represents the likes of Warner, Disney and Fox, launched the legal action to close down Newzbin 2. MPA signalled its intention to pursue other ISPs.

The judge ruled that BT must use its blocking technology CleanFeed - which is currently used to prevent access to websites featuring child sexual abuse - to block Newzbin.

The Internet Service Providers' Association has been a fierce critic of web blocking. It said that using blocking technology, designed to protect the public from images of child abuse, was inappropriate.

Currently CleanFeed is dealing with a small, rural road in Scotland, ISPA council member James Blessing told BBC Radio 4's PM programme. Trying to put Newzbin and other sites into the same blocking technology would be a bit like shutting down the M1. It is not designed to do that.

Update: Case by Case

30th July 2011. See  article from

BT's head of retail Simon Milner has admitted that the company is not deliriously happy , but BT won't be appealing the decision.

He told the Register that: We believe in an open internet -- we won't do any other blocking . We will never stop our customers getting to any service they want to get to. Unless a court orders us to.

Although the case went against BT, Milner points out that a test case has finally made the law clear. And since web-blocking requires a court order, he says BT is satisfied with that. Each web-blocking request will have to go before a court -- where a judge must examine it on its merits.

There's no suggestion in this judgement that BT has done anything wrong as an innocent intermediary. We said it's questionable whether an intermediary can have these obligations put on it. Now we know.

Comment: Blocking Newzbin2 paves the way for internet censorship

30th July 2011.  See  article from by Loz Kaye

T he court decision to allow BT to block the pirate site means Hollywood is dictating our internet policy


There is no good reason to believe that this will end at copyright enforcement, for example those fond of libel action will no doubt be eyeing this result with interest. One of the most depressing aspects of the case is that is the blocking is to be enacted using the system set up to address the issue of child abuse images on the net. This system was simply not made for a hugely wider remit, and frankly the use of Cleanfeed seems shockingly cynical. Assurances given that it would only ever be used for dealing with this most appalling of crimes now seem hollow

...Readv the full article


30th July   

Update: Inciting Violence...

First conviction under law against inciting religious hatred
Link Here

Jailing Bilal Zaheer Ahmad for 12 years, Mr Justice Royce said he was sending out a loud and clear warning that Britain would not tolerate extremists preaching messages of hate and violence.

Ahmad who called on Muslims to murder MPs who supported the Iraq war, was the first person to be found guilty of inciting religious hatred under new laws banning the publication of inflammatory material.

The IT worker praised 21-year-old university student Roshonara Choudhry as a heroine for stabbing Stephen Timms in east London in May last year. Ahmad called on other Muslims to follow in her footsteps by attacking and killing politicians who had voted to support the war in Iraq. He posted a full list of MPs and provided an internet link to their personal contact details, suggesting constituency surgeries were a good place to encounter them in person .

The judge told Ahmad: You purport to be a British citizen, but what you stand for is totally alien to what we stand for in our country. You became a viper in our midst willing to go to as far as possible to strike at the heart of our system.


30th July   

Update: Sailing Close to the Wind...

Should PG-13 rated Pirates of the Caribbean by advertised on children's TV?
Link Here

US film censors of the MPAA have said that ads for Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and Fox's X-Men: First Class on kids TV shows were approved for the specific times and places they ran.

The New York Times had reported that the Children's Advertising Review Unit had suggested that Walt Disney Studios and 20th Century Fox may have gone against industry guidelines against the use of ads for PG-13 films during most TV shows targeting young children.

an MPAA spokesman said in a statement:

Generally, a few PG-13 rated motion pictures are considered by the Advertising Administration to be compatible with children's programs. In the noted instances, the Advertising Administration approved the advertisements for the specific time and placement in which they ran.

The Advertising Administration approves ads for rated films on a case-by-case basis, taking various factors into consideration, including not only the rating of the motion picture, but its content, the content of the programming with which it will be placed and the time of day in which the ad is run. The PG-13 rating is a strong caution to parents that they should investigate the motion picture before taking their young children; it does not necessarily mean that the motion picture is inappropriate for children under 13. Indeed, that determination is best left to parents who know and understand the sensitivities of their children.


29th July   

US Laughs While UK Censors...

The Daily Show On More4 censored for using parliamentary TV coverage in a satire
Link Here

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart has a Global Edition that condenses 4 US episodes into one programme. But this week, even the Global Edition didn't make it on to British TV screens nor catch up TV.

Blogger Chris Spyrou noticed it and brought it to the attention of the TV writer Graham Linehan, who asked Channel 4 about it. A tweet from Channel 4 Insider, the broadcaster's official presence on Twitter, called it compliance problems .

The full reason, tweeted a short while later, was this: We are prevented by parliamentary rules from broadcasting parliamentary proceedings in a comedic or satrical context.

The user @fiatpanda later uncovered this response to a Freedom of Information request from Channel 4, which stated:

Guidelines specify that no extracts from parliamentary proceedings may be used in comedy shows or other light entertainment, such as political satire. But broadcasters are allowed to include parliamentary items in magazine programmes containing musical or humourous features, provided the reports are kept separate.

The scene in question was David Cameron facing tough parliamentary questions about phone hacking being compared to anaemic questioning that occurs in the US version of parliament.


26th July

 Offsite: Borderline Sex...

Link Here
David Cooke of the BBFC says: Let's talk about sex

See article from


25th July   

Updated: Jacks Hit at the BBC...

Torchwood cut by the BBC but to be shown uncut on US Starz TV
Link Here

The BBC has cut a sex scene from an upcoming episode of Torchwood: Miracle Day .

The moment featured Captain Jack (John Barrowman) sleeping with a barman and is expected to be shown in the US on cable network Starz, The Sun reports.

However, the scene will be cut from the UK broadcast. A BBC spokesperson explained:

It wasn't that it was a gay scene that worried people, but just the fact that it was such an explicit sex scene full stop, a source said. You can get away with scenes like that on American cable channels, but you can't on primetime BBC One.

Even though the show airs after the watershed, it has a lot of young fans who would have been shocked at the graphic nature of the sex.

The BBC spokesperson added that a violent moment will also be cut later in the series and said:

The UK and US versions of Torchwood are slightly different. However, these differences do not change the story in any way and the strong storylines are first and foremost to the series.

Update: BBC statement

25th July 2011. From

Complaint to the BBC

We're received complaints from some viewers unhappy with reports that we have edited out a sex scene from the UK version of Torchwood: Miracle Day.

BBC response

It is not unusual for co-productions to have slightly different versions of a show to reflect its different audiences. For episode three of Torchwood, as part of the usual discussions between broadcasters and the production company, small potential edits in two intercutting scenes of gay and straight sex were discussed and made by production. This minimal edit makes little difference to the episode to be broadcast in the UK. Both scenes remain but run a few seconds shorter than the US version. In a later episode a sequence of gay sex is important to the story and therefore both the US and UK will show the same version.

Torchwood continues to be a series that will ask important questions of how we all live in today's society and the drama reflects life as we recognise it. The BBC and Starz have both been huge supporters of the writers' vision for the series.


22nd July   

Update: Cooking Up a 10pm Watershed...

Ofcom easily offended by Gordon Ramsey's 15 rated strong language
Link Here
Full story: Babe Channels...Ofcom have it in for free to air babe channels

Hell's Kitchen USA
ITV2, 18 April 2011, 21:00

Hell's Kitchen USA is the American version of the UK reality-style cooking contest which features members of the public working in a highly pressurised restaurant environment under the guidance of Gordon Ramsay.

Ofcom received one complaint about the frequency of the word fuck (or a derivative) in the programme. The complainant considered this to be inappropriate for a programme broadcast directly after the watershed. Ofcom noted that there were 47 instances of the use of this expletive in the programme. Eighteen of these were within in the first programme segment after the 21:00 watershed which lasted 11 minutes.

Ofcom considered this material raised issues that warranted investigation under the following Code rules:

  • Rule 1.6: The transition to more adult material must not be unduly abrupt at the watershed….For television, the strongest material should appear later in the schedule.
  • Rule 2.3 In applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context.

Ofcom Decision: Breach of Rules 1.6 and 2.3

Regarding context, Ofcom considered first the editorial content of the programme and the likely size, composition and expectations of the audience. Ofcom acknowledged that ITV2 is aimed at young adults who (ITV's research suggests) are less likely to be offended by the most offensive language than other age groups. We also noted that Gordon Ramsay has a well established reputation in broadcasts such as Hell's Kitchen USA for using the most offensive language and that, as a result, the audience might expect some examples of the most offensive language in his programmes. We noted the continuity announcement before the programme advising viewers of very strong language from the start and that the programme started at 21:00. Ofcom took into account these factors and ITV's explanation that the purpose of the extended montage [of challenging scenes with very strong language] at the start of the programme was to reflect the various characters participating.

However, this context was not, in Ofcom's view, sufficient to justify the potential offence caused. There were 18 instances of the most offensive language included in the first 11 minutes of the programme broadcast immediately after the 21:00 watershed. This was a significant concentration of the most offensive language and had the potential to cause considerable offence to viewers, especially those who may come across it unawares. Further, this amount of very strong swearing concentrated immediately after the 21:00 watershed in Ofcom's opinion would not have been in keeping with viewers' expectations – partly because the warning given to viewers before the programme began was inadequate to prepare them for this amount of very strong language at this time.

Ofcom was concerned that a very significant portion of instances of the strongest language (18 out of the total of 47) happened between 21:00 and 21:11. Irrespective of the target audience of the preceding programme or of ITV2 in general, Ofcom considered it was likely that children would still have been watching this programme segment given its close proximity to the watershed. Audience figures in fact show that 38,000 children under the age of fifteen did in fact watch this programme (6.6% of the audience). Therefore, Ofcom concluded that this amounted to an unduly abrupt transition to more adult, post-watershed material and Rule 1.6 of the Code was breached.


18th July   

Diary: Call to Protest...

Consensual fisting becomes the subject of a Dangerous Pictures prosecution
Link Here
Full story: Obscenity in the UK...Gay fisting, urolagnia and BDSM found not obscene by jury

Presumably the UK authorities have decided to prosecute someone for the possession of consensual gay anal fisting.

A website has been set up to highlight an upcoming case:

We know what is offensive and illegal, and images of consensual sex are neither! Don't be told what should and shouldn't be in your spank bank!

Currently there is a crime under the offensive publications act [Criminal Justice & Immigration Act 2008] which impacts us all.

It is about the act that came in force in 2009 The law makes it an offence punishable by up to three years in prison for someone to possess what it calls extreme images . An extreme image is defined as one which portrays in a realistic way any of: . An act which threatens a person's life . An act which results in or is likely to result in serious injury to a person's anus, breasts or genitals and the image... . Is grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise of an obscene character . Has been produced solely or principally for the purpose of sexual arousal.

Unfortunately many of the terms used in the Act are vague and open to interpretation. So until some unfortunate people end up in court and a jury decides, it is difficult to give absolutely definitive advice on what the Act means and how it will be enforced.

Our friend Sleazy Michael is the unfortunate who is being the test case for this. This impacts any of us who partake of pornography that involves any images that could be interpreted as Offensive, disgusting or obscene by the definition above. This includes images of consensual fisting!

Trial starts on the 1st of August at Southwark Crown Court.

If you can come along and show that we queers, know what is offensive or illegal, and images of consensual sex are neither!

Please be respectful of the court (no need to piss off the judge) and come and show support. Please- no banners or chanting outside or inside court, we want to show our support without jeopardising the chances of a fair trial.

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