The X Factor Final
ITV1, 11 December 2010, 19:00 (repeated 12 December 2010, 09:30)
The X Factor Final was the climax of the seventh series of this popular talent show.
While viewers waited for the voting to be concluded and the announcement of the name of the act which had made it through to the Sunday final show, the programme featured two well known singers. One, Rihanna, performed her latest song, What's
My Name , at 20:32 in a dress which was removed by a dancer during the performance to reveal a strapless top and high waisted pants. Later at 20:47 Christina Aguilera sang the song Express from the film Burlesque in which
she stars. This featured the singer with a number of dancers performing in a burlesque- style of dance and dress.
Ofcom received 2,868 complaints that the performances by Rihanna and Christina Aguilera were too sexually explicit for broadcast before the 21:00 watershed. Some considered that The X Factor was a family show and that the content of
both performances was not suitable for children to view before the watershed. With reference to both performances complainants commented that they [Rihanna and Christina Aguilera] performed in a very sexual manner and the content was too
sexually explicit and inappropriate for the young audience of this show . With specific reference to Christina Aguilera's performance, complainants expressed concern that: the dancing, costumes and tone were sexually explicit and at odds
with the watershed which should seek to protect children from sexualisation and there were extremely revealing background dancers performing indecent dance moves .
Approximately 2,000 of the 2,868 complaints about this programme were received following coverage about the performances in a daily national newspaper. The newspaper coverage reported on concerns that the performances were too explicit for a
family programme, and included a number of still images of the performances. However, from a comparison of the images it is clear that the photographs that were published in the newspaper were significantly more graphic and close-up than the
material that had been broadcast in the programme, and had been taken from a different angle to the television cameras. Readers of the newspaper would have therefore been left with the impression that the programme contained significantly more
graphic material than had actually been broadcast.
Rule 1.3: Children must be protected by appropriate scheduling from material that is unsuitable for them.
Rule 2.3: In applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context...
Ofcom Decision: Not in Breach...Just...
In considering this case, Ofcom took into account that The X Factor is a Saturday night programme which many families sit down together to watch.
With reference to Rihanna's performance (which commenced at 20:32), Ofcom noted that she began in a long wrap-around dress and approximately half way through the routine the dress was removed by a dancer to reveal a strapless top and high- waisted
Rhianna's dance routine had some mildly sexual overtones and included images of her gyrating and rocking her buttocks. However, it was largely shot at a wide angle to show all of the dancers on the stage and from a distance. Where there were close
ups of Rhianna, these focussed on her front or her head and shoulders, not her exposed back. Additionally, the camera panned quickly and continuously throughout the performance, resulting in the shots of the individual dance movements of both
Rihanna and her dancers being very brief.
Ofcom was therefore of the view that, taken as a whole, the performance by Rihanna was presented in a style which would not have exceeded the likely expectations of the audience either on 11 December between 20:30 and 21:00 or the following
morning from 09:30. With reference to the content, the performer and the dancers were in Ofcom's opinion adequately dressed with clothing covering their buttocks. The part of the dance routine which featured some gentle thrusting of the buttocks
by Rihanna was in keeping with her performing style, suitably limited and brief in duration, and in Ofcom's view was suitable for a pre-watershed audience.
Ofcom concluded therefore that this material was appropriately scheduled and the broadcaster complied with Rule 1.3.
Christina Aguilera's performance
Ofcom considered that this performance taken as a whole was sexualised in nature to some extent. The outfits of some of the dancers were revealing, with limited coverage of the buttocks, and were of a sexualised nature because they were based on
lingerie such as basques, stockings and suspenders. The outfits, taken together with dance positions featuring thrusting buttocks and women bent over chairs, resulted in a routine which aimed to reflect the essence of burlesque but contained
sexualised elements. Taken individually, some of these images may not be uncommon in programmes broadcast pre-watershed. The routine however had a number of simultaneous, sexualised elements concentrated into a relatively short period of time and
there was therefore a cumulative effect.
We note the explanation given by Channel TV that its control over the detailed nature of the performance itself was limited in this case. In such circumstances, broadcasters must take particular care to employ other measures to retain independence
of editorial control. In this case, we acknowledge that Channel TV had sought to minimise the potential for offence by taking other measures, such as particular camera angles. Therefore, while the dancers did adopt some sexualised positions
intermittently as described above, Ofcom noted that shots of these poses were fleeting, as is expected in a fast paced routine. Additionally, the performance was largely shot at a wide angle to show all of the dancers on the stage and from a
distance – minimising the potential impact.
Importantly, throughout the routine there were no close-up shots of individual dancers so the viewer was not drawn to any one dancer's clothing or actions in detail. The dancers were in effect a backdrop to Christina Aguilera, who was not wearing
similar clothing or following the same dance routine. For all these reasons, the impact of the dancers on-screen was significantly lessened.
Ofcom considered that there was editorial justification for the type of costumes that the dancers were wearing, and the style of the dance routine overall. They reflected the burlesque-theme and storyline of the feature film Burlesque in
which Christina Aguilera starred, and which was shortly due to go on general cinematic release at the time of this broadcast. However, the overtly sexual nature of the burlesque-style routine of the dancers was, in Ofcom's view, nevertheless
clearly capable of causing offence to some viewers and we considered that this content was at the very margin of acceptability for broadcast before the 21:00 watershed, and especially when broadcast on 12 December 2011 at 09:30. However, on
balance, and taking all matters into consideration, including the steps taken by Channel TV to minimise the potential for offence, Ofcom was of the view that this performance was not in breach of Rule 1.3 of the Code.
Ofcom concluded however that the performance was sufficiently justified by the context in which it was presented. In particular the performance was within the likely expectations of the audience for pre-watershed programmes. The broadcaster
therefore applied generally accepted standards and Rule 2.3 was not breached.
Ofcom will shortly be issuing new guidance about the acceptability of material in pre- watershed programmes that attract large family viewing audiences. We will also be requesting that broadcasters who transmit such programming attend a meeting at
Ofcom to discuss the compliance of such material.
Not in Breach of Rules 1.3 and 2.3
Offsite Comment: This is what Ofcom calls 'acceptable'
23rd April 2011. See article
One blonde dancer is dressed, if that's the word, in a low-cut basque while striking a lewd pose that leaves nothing to the
imagination. Another in skimpy bra, suspenders and stockings leans provocatively over a chair while others leer suggestively into the camera.
The scantily-clad women formed part of the sleazy performance by Christina Aguilera during last year's controversial final of ITV's X Factor. Family friendly? A blonde dancer strikes a raunchy pose that leaves little to the imagination
TV watchdog Ofcom this week ruled that explicit routines by Miss Aguilera and fellow pop star Rihanna were at the limit of acceptability for broadcast before 9pm for a family audience.
But, to the astonishment of many, the media regulator said they did not breach broadcasting rules.
Instead, the regulator rebuked the Daily Mail, saying that some 2,000 of the 2,868 complaints it received followed our coverage of the sexual content of a programme which horrified parents and politicians. Ofcom claimed the Mail used images that
suggested the talent show contained significantly more graphic material than had actually been broadcast . Now readers can judge for themselves.
...Read the full article
28th April 2011. See article
Vivienne Pattison, of Mediawatch-UK said:
During the last 10 years, it seems the watershed has quietly been eroded. So much so, that Christina Aguilera's sexual X Factor routine was recently cleared by the broadcasting watchdog of being inappropriate for a young
Ofcom did say it was 'at the very margin of acceptability', but it does make you wonder what they would have to do to breach the guidelines. The argument goes that society has changed and, therefore, what's acceptable on
television has changed.
However, in recent years, far too much emphasis has been placed on 'freedom of expression' with little or no emphasis on the corresponding responsibilities.
Offsite Comment: An Irish View
30th April 2011. See article
The next time you see Christina Aguilera on The X Factor, she will likely be dressed as a nun (and not the perved-up Lady Gaga variety).
Christina-gate is big news in Britain, where Right-wing commentators are of the view that an entire generation risks being corrupted by the sight of Aguilera slow-grinding up against a chair. Which raises the question:
has anyone in the UK ever heard of the internet?
The notion that the most scandalous image a young person is likely to see today is a semi-clad pop singer is beyond ludicrous. Five minutes trawling the web will reveal images that make Christina look like a Saturday morning
TV presenter from 1979.
...Read the full article