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Suffer the little children

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Suffer the little children

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Suffer the little children

  1. 1. Press/TV codes & rulings on children
  2. 2. If we consider how wider laws on child labour, school-leaving age, the age of sexual consent, the age threshold for criminal responsibility (etc) have changed and evolved over successive generations, and continue to do so, it is no surprise that media regulation policies on children have and continue to evolve too. We have to know about specific examples (EX) and be able to discuss/contextualize/evaluate (EAA) these, including looking at past policies and comparing to the present – plus speculating on future directions; and considering how the statutory quangos and self-regulators compare on this. There are many examples you can pick from; I’ll pick out just some of these – you should be considering which to revise in detail (you may wish to use other examples not listed here). We will be collecting together case studies of rulings from past + present, from press + TV, speculating about the future, and comparing/contrasting. Studying a theme: history, forms, effectiveness AND wider social issues
  3. 3. The examples here focus onTV and the press, but you have substantial examples where BBFC rulings, and (generally) negative press coverage of these, are centred on the issue of child protection (even at the 18 rating level, where the BBFC maintain concern over children copycatting material is an issue requiring cuts for movies rated for adult only viewing) Watership Down is an example that brings together film, TV and press Before focusing on press andTV, lets consider the example of Wolverine, broadcast by C4 (a PSBer*) at 6.55pm in 2012… [*Public Service Broadcaster] Film Links
  4. 4. Wolverine: Claws out for C4? http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2258787/Channel-4-film-exposed-children-dark- fantasy-violence-Ofcom-raps-network-showing-X-Men-movie-watershed.html C4 and the BBC are routinely targeted by the right-wing press (ie, all UK national daily newspapers bar Mirror, Guardian, the i), accused of being left-wing filth-mongers! ‘British Bolshevik Corpration’?! (famous 1980s slur by Tory Lord Tebbitt)
  5. 5. Wolverine:The Mail’s moral stance… http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2258787/Channel-4-film-exposed-children-dark- fantasy-violence-Ofcom-raps-network-showing-X-Men-movie-watershed.html Of course, if we consider how the press compares to TV, film, music video or any of the other media they routinely attack and denigrate, calling for tighter regulation, they do not come out well The S*n has only recently ceased putting a topless (often teen) woman on page 3 – the Star still does … but these are freely available to children of any age; there is no age restriction on newspapers. Visit the Mail’s website (the world’s most-read newspaper online) and its notorious sidebar of shame includes things like this, alongside the OfCom article when I looked it up (May 2016) ...
  6. 6. Wolverine:The Mail’s moral stance… http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2258787/Channel-4-film-exposed-children-dark- fantasy-violence-Ofcom-raps-network-showing-X-Men-movie-watershed.html The Mail has seen words like sideboob and upskirt enter the language through their common use on their website, which (like printed papers) has no age restrictions whatsoever.
  7. 7. Wolverine: Cutting it fine? http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/enforcement/broadcast-bulletins/ofcom-for- parents/Recent-Ofcom-Decision.pdf (page 3)
  8. 8. Wolverine: Claws out for C4? OfCom largely follow the BBFC ratings rather than make their own judgements about films, but do add stipulations on when films can be broadcast, considering context (what usually goes out in the slot) and audience expectations (a warning about content that parents should be aware of is considered vital)
  9. 9. Wolverine: Dark Knight/Worlds End… C4 noted the comic book style of the movie, a good enough argument for the BBFC to give films like The Dark Knight (and now Batman v Superman: Justice League) and The World’s End low ratings … but not for OfCom. The 12A rating is not automatically okay for pre-watershed!
  10. 10. Wolverine: Scheduling context key C4’s description before the broadcast, & use of more family-friendly films in weeks before in the same slot, ultimately led OfCom to conclude C4 had breached rule 1.3
  11. 11. Summary The watershed begins at 9pm; this aired from 6.55pm;This was a 12A film with further cuts by the broadcaster, C4; OfCom accepts BBFC age ratings, but does not allow all 12A films to air pre-watershed – can that be fair on adults? OfCom ultimately argued there would be 1000s of under 12s amongst the audience at this time, and so therefore the 12A rating, and further cuts made by C4, did not make this appropriate for pre-watershed airing – that C4 was therefore guilty of breaching OfCom’s legal duty to ensure “persons under the age of eighteen are protected”. It was important that C4 had screened family-friendly movies in this slot in previous weeks and did not provide a suitable warning about the violent nature of this film. But most of the audience was adult! This means they accept the argument that such content is harmful (the unproven media effects case) – and that the 9pm watershed can be seen not just as for 18 material but even for 12A-rated material! OfCom will also generally not allow the strong language that the BBFC’s 12 rating allows pre-watershed (not covered by this ruling but clear in their guidance). Is this fair for adults, even teens (12A!)? A similar ruling was made against ITV drama Jekyll and Hyde in 2016, shown from 630pm; OfCom rejected ITV’s claims that younger children would be going to bed or that it was clearly fantastical: "the scenes of fantasy … depicted relatively realistic and brutal acts of violence” http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-35399092 There is long-term consistency at least: C4 was warned by the ITC over a 6-7pm broadcast of teen (but 18- rated) drama Angel 15 years ago When even the BBC Director General has described the watershed as outdated because of digitisation and timeshifting, can such restrictions continue to be justified?
  12. 12. IPSO and Clause 6: Children IPSO, the replacement for the PCC, has relatively little case history as of yet on Clause 6 (Children) rulings, but has made few rulings against newspapers on this – and has been criticised by Hacked Off (pressure group seeking tougher press regulation; for the Leveson Report recommendations to become law) for continuing the PCC’s ineffectiveness when it has You can search the IPSO website using ‘clause 6’ as your term to find rulings: https://www.ipso.co.uk/search.html?query=clause+6&ofst=10& IPSO: Independent Press Standards Organisation. Replaced PCC: Press Complaints Commission in 2014. This followed the Leveson Inquiry into the relationships between press, police and politicians, and the phone- hacking and wider privacy issues with the press. Groups like Hacked Off are unhappy that the government did not implement Leveson’s recommendation of a new regulator with legal powers backed with a Royal Charter. A rival regulator, Impress, is seeking this Charter recognition and if its succeeds will be able to legally fine newspapers large amounts.The press argue this is too close to government control, which is not compatible with democracy. However, self-regulation does not seem to work: IPSO is the 4th regulator since 1953!!! [GCP: General Council of the Press; 1963 Press Council]
  13. 13. The 3 RCPs (Royal Commissions on the Press) may be historic, but remain relevant as part of a pattern of political parties and governments losing their nerve when the issue of press regulation flares up. The past 60 years have shown no ruling party has been willing to stand up to the press industry and risk suffering hostile press coverage as a result. The RCPs, the 1970Younger Commission on Press and Privacy, the 1989 Calcutt Commission, the 2011 (start) of the Leveson Inquiry – all of these reflect two key points: • The press is considered too important for democracy for any one political party to dictate regulation policy • The press have long been too powerful for politicians to dare to tackle It Was the Sun Wot Won It is a boast, along with the sight of government minister David Mellor on the front page of the same paper in only a Chelsea shirt, ingrained on politicians’ minds. If anyone had began to doubt the power of the press the extraordinary personal campaigns against first Gordon Brown (2010 election) and then ’Red’ Ed Miliband (including the Mail branding his dead father a traitor) in 2015, with both suffering huge defeats for Labour, has been a strong reminder. Murdoch too powerful to regulate? REMINDER RCPs: Political loss of nerve
  14. 14. IPSO and Clause 6 IPSO, the replacement for the PCC, has relatively little case history as of yet on Clause 6 (Children) rulings, but has made few rulings against newspapers on this – and has been criticised by Hacked Off for continuing the PCC’s ineffectiveness when it has You can search the IPSO website using ‘clause 6’ as your term to find rulings: https://www.ipso.co.uk/search.html?query=clause+6&ofst=10&
  15. 15. Clause 6 6. *Children i) All pupils should be free to complete their time at school without unnecessary intrusion. ii) They must not be approached or photographed at school without permission of the school authorities. iii) Children under 16 must not be interviewed or photographed on issues involving their own or another child’s welfare unless a custodial parent or similarly responsible adult consents. iv) Children under 16 must not be paid for material involving their welfare, nor parents or guardians for material about their children or wards, unless it is clearly in the child's interest. v) Editors must not use the fame, notoriety or position of a parent or guardian as sole justification for publishing details of a child's private life. https://www.ipso.co.uk/IPSO/cop.html
  16. 16. Hacked Off andThe S*n complaint A press release appeared on its website, in response to a complaint about The Sun newspaper by a Conservative MP, Dr Sarah Wollaston. Dr Wollaston complained to the old PCC about a front-page splash at the end of July 2014, which claimed that a four-year-old boy had something it described as a mark of the ‘devil’ on his torso. Dr Wollaston was not alone in thinking that the story was not in the interests of the child, and that other people might be encouraged to offer similar stories to the paper in the hope of receiving payment. At the time, Hacked Off posted a blog about this scandalous exploitation of a vulnerable child, which not only identified him and his school but included details of a serious medical condition. As well as the front-page story and photograph on 29 July 2014, the paper devoted most of an inside page to this egregious nonsense and returned to the story the following day.The story was an unequivocal breach of Clause 6 (iv) of the Editors’ Code of Practice, which says that parents or guardians should not be paid for stories about their children, unless it is clearly in the child’s interests. https://ipsowatch.com/ipso-falls-at-the-first-hurdle/#sthash.3rHRCIUb.dpuf
  17. 17. Hacked Off andThe S*n complaint Following Dr Wollaston’s complaint, The Sun admitted that it paid the child’s parents. So what did IPSO, which took over from the PCC last September, do about this flagrant breach of both journalistic ethics and the Editors’ code? It was not involved at all in resolving the complaint, which was settled through an agreement between Dr Wollaston and The Sun. IPSO’s involvement was limited to publishing a ‘resolution statement’ on its website. This is no improvement on the discredited PCC (eg, the 2011 case against The Star, where Toploader rock star went to court to stop the paper publishing further pictures of his 4 year-old, ignoring the PCC) It is striking that the words ‘code breach’ do not appear anywhere in the statement, which signally failed to address any of the issues raised by the paper’s appalling behaviour. Instead of acknowledging that it broke the Code and promising not to do it again, The Sun simply said that ‘payments involving children would be signed off by the legal and managing editors’ office’ in future. Most significant of all, perhaps, was the total failure to deal with the issue of prominence. Critics of press abuse have always argued that newspapers should not be allowed to bury corrections and apologies to front-page stories inside the paper, and IPSO has boasted about its willingness to take on editors on this point. So how did The Sun acknowledge its admitted wrong-doing in this landmark case?
  18. 18. Hacked Off andThe S*n complaint In four sentences. On page two. And just to give a flavour of its non-apology, the statement began with this sentence: ‘The Sun is proud of our record of standing up for children and we believe we make a real difference’. Anyone who wants to know what the paper actually did wrong will have to follow a link to the ‘resolution statement’ on IPSO’s website. Are errant editors quaking in their boots at the first evidence of how the new regime of self-regulation works? I very much doubt it. -------------------------------- SUMMARY: IPSO have retained the PCC’s Editors’ Code, including Clause 6 on Children. An early case in 2015 saw IPSO sidelined as the complainant, an MP, and The S*n came to an agreement on a front page story over a so-called ‘devil child’, and the paper published a 4 sentence retraction months later on page 2. Hacked Off noted that they didn’t apologise for the rule breach, and you had to actually type in a link and go to it to realise they had broken any rules.The concern is that IPSO is an irrelevance, and lacks real enforcement power – or willingness – AND that this marks continuity with the discredited PCC it replaced (eg, no improvement on the 2011 Toploader child case).
  19. 19. Are IPSO simply a rebranded PCC? There is considerable evidence to say yes – but there are also strong arguments to say NO. A key difference has been IPSO’s preparedness to insist (though they have no real power if a paper refuses) on front page corrections, very damaging to a paper’s brand and reputation.They have done this with the Daily Express’ all too typically anti- immigrant/EU story claiming that some UK schools now rarely use English, a simply made-up story. http://mediareg.blogspot.lu/ 2015/12/ipso-expresses- itself-orders-front-page.html
  20. 20. Are IPSO simply a rebranded PCC? There has to be concern at how often IPSO is simply bypassed for the law courts, as in this case, an issue that helped undermine the PCC’s image too Here we have a 15 year-old who had to go to court to stop THREE national newspapers from revealing his identity, reports which were then spread through Google andTwitter. (Again, link with the 2011 Daily Star/Toploader case: the rocker father went to court, ignored the PCC) http://mediareg.blogspot.com/2015/11/children-privacy-talktalk-teen- suspect.html
  21. 21. Are IPSO simply a rebranded PCC? Its not just the courts … some use their social media counts to express their frustration at what they see as breaches – a major issue on digitisation/future: Lots of analysis in my post: http://mediareg.blogspot.lu /2015/08/twitter-beckham- ignores-ipso-over-mail.html Lord Prescott (former Labour Deputy PM) provided another example during the PCC’s reign; he spotted made-up quotes in a SundayTimes article – rather than complaining to the PCC and waiting months on an outcome he tweeted … and the same day the paper apologised and withdrew the article!
  22. 22. There are many potentially useful cases on these clauses; we will be able to compare cases from/rulings by GCP/PC + PCC … and IBA/ITC + OfCom: • DMail 13yr old schoolgirl 2009 (PCC) • Sun worst brat in Britain 1989 (PC) • NoTW Hillsborough victim 1989 (PC) • Star pic of 8yr old 2011 (none?!) • Press/PCC + royals (various) • Blair + Browns’ kids (various) • Madeleine McCann + Milly Downing • C4/Brass Eye 2001 (ITC) • Moyles + C.Church 2002 (BSC) • Various by OfCom – for you to research Some PCC/PC +TV cases you can consider
  23. 23. You can use the ‘cases search’ tool on the PCC’s website Tick clauses 6 + 7 Results on 20th May 2014 are on next slide IPSO have not provided such a specific research tool as of May 2016, but you can enter a search using ‘clause 6’ for example to get similar results. CONTEMPORARY CASES
  24. 24. 6 of 10 most recent adjudicated complaints based on content in the Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday or The Sun Both papers which routinely fulminate about other media Both papers love to whip up moral panics Both papers intensely hypocritical in their use of sleazy, sexualised images + headlines over celebrity offspring
  25. 25. Details follow in next slide A typical case, which arguably sums up the attitude of the national press, despite all the scrutiny and pressure that came with the phone hacking scandal, public outrage over Milly Dowler phone-hacking in particular, the Hacked Off campaign, and the 2-year Leveson Inquiry and eventual report Of course, the press managed to get the government to back off from imposing a new regulator that all three major parties had agreed, and will once more instead re-badge the self-regulator IPSO will be at the same address, with largely the same staff! The tabs/re-tops/mid-markets treat celeb kids as fair game. Nobody can seriously argue that the basic Clause 1 (Accuracy) is taken seriously by our national press, at least not the tabs.The tab treatment of the likes of Charlotte Church when still a teen sums up the extent of their commitment to clauses 6 + 7, despite their frequent resort to outrage over apparent sexualised content in other media (moral panics) Silverman (Cowell) eg
  26. 26.  Neither the PC nor GCP had a written code …  tho’ the PC did create the first ever press code in 1991, the year it was abolished  The PC’s failure to protect children was one of the issues that lead to Calcutt. Jempson & Powell (2012) note ‘[t]he mother of the ‘Worst Brat in Britain’ (the Sun, July 1989), also quit the UK after failing in her initial efforts to obtain redress for a series of hurtful and inaccurate stories about her son …. In 1991, he became the first child in the UK to win a libel action.’  This is a doubly useful example: eg from past + it shows there’s nothing new in people feeling compelled to go to the law courts because they can’t get help from the press ‘regulator’. (2015: 15 year-old hacker goes to court, not IPSO, to stop further identity revealing breaches; 2011 Daily Star/Toploader case also in court, during PCC’s time) GCP + PC stance
  27. 27. Jempson & Powell (2012: 53) give another example of the shady practice that went largely unpunished and would lead to Calcutt.The Soley hearings they mention were held by an MP seeking to get new privacy laws passed; this pressure helped push the gov into Calcutt. Having documented the Hillsborough football stadium tragedy in 1986 when 96 people lost their lives (Scraton, Jemphrey and Coleman 1995), criminologist Professor Phil Scraton told the Soley hearings about a journalist whose request for a photograph of a child killed at the stadium had been refused by the parents. He then went to the grandmother and told her he had a photograph of the child dead but would prefer to use one of the boy alive. Both images were then published as ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures. It was one example of a lengthy catalogue of insensitive, inaccurate and sensational stories: some newspapers carried photographs of the dead and dying crushed against fencing. After the Sun claimed that Liverpool fans had urinated on the dying crowds, it saw its readership in Liverpool drop by 40 per cent … . A 2nd PC-era eg: Pic of 14 yr old Hillsborough victim, 1986
  28. 28. Before considering actual PCC rules & individual rulings, its important to think about the wider picture – how the national press generally represents youth When today’s youth do well at exams its because they’re too easy (not as hard as when the adult journalists sat theirs) Today’s youth lack EQ (emotional intelligence) as well as IQ; aren’t they always latched on to some high-tech tool? (technology unfamiliar to older journos/readers can be frightening: technophobia) happy-slapping is just one eg of how youth misuse new technologies. Sexting is another. Both are examples of moral panics. Today’s youth are a bunch of crims – hug a hoodie indeed. Moral panics about knife crime, random muggings etc abound.The press write as if there was no such crime ‘in their day’; its written neither for nor by young people, one reason press circulation is falling off a cliff When not being a moron/crim, there’s the helpless victim: Baby P, Maddie McCann etc Paedophilia lies round every corner in some papers – one such moral panic whipped up by Rebekah Brooks at the NoTW saw a paediatrician attacked (‘You may remember in 2000 when the NOTW ran a campaign to name and shame convicted paedophiles.This resulted in their readers attacking a paediatrician.’ http://louderthanwar.com/dont-buy-the-sun-on-sunday/ [is this an urban myth? See http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/4719364.stm]) Ask yourself how the press typically representYOUth
  29. 29. The PCC code is brief compared with the OfCom code.You could argue brevity makes it user-friendly, or that this means its imprecise. Clause 6 was added in January 1998: • One of the strictest clauses in the Code was introduced to protect the rights of children to privacy.The new Clause 6 in the revised Code extended the Code's protection to children while they are at school. Previously it had referred only to the under 16's. It also added two new elements: a ban on payments to minors or the parents or guardians of children for information involving the welfare of the child (unless demonstrably in the child's interest); and a requirement that there had to be a justification for the publication of information about the private life of a child other than the fame, notoriety or position of his or her parents or guardian. (http://www.editorscode.org.uk/history_of_the_code.html) Remember that ‘the code’ is calledThe Editors’ Code, and has been reviewed annually since 2006. It is made up of 16 ‘clauses’.Clauses 6 + 7 are on children. PCC regulations on children
  30. 30. 6 *Children i)Young people should be free to complete their time at school without unnecessary intrusion. ii) A child under 16 must not be interviewed or photographed on issues involving their own or another child’s welfare unless a custodial parent or similarly responsible adult consents. iii) Pupils must not be approached or photographed at school without the permission of the school authorities. iv) Minors must not be paid for material involving children’s welfare, nor parents or guardians for material about their children or wards, unless it is clearly in the child's interest. NB: the asterisk denotes any clause for which a public interest defence may be available v) Editors must not use the fame, notoriety or position of a parent or guardian as sole justification for publishing details of a child’s private life. Editors’ Code Clause 6
  31. 31. 7 *Children in sex cases 1. The press must not, even if legally free to do so, identify children under 16 who are victims or witnesses in cases involving sex offences. 2. In any press report of a case involving a sexual offence against a child - i) The child must not be identified. ii)The adult may be identified. iii)The word "incest" must not be used where a child victim might be identified. iv) Care must be taken that nothing in the report implies the relationship between the accused and the child. Editors’ Code Clause 7
  32. 32. •Under the headline "Pupil reduced to tears after teacher tells her:That short skirt makes you look like a slut and does nothing for your cellulite", the Daily Mail online carries a story ‘accompanied by a picture of the named 13 year old from a named school, modelling the skirt in question. Here are some of the comments left below the picture by the Mail's online readers: •"What on earth is wrong with this country?The child DOES look like a slut“ •"None of this would have happened if the student had done what the teacher said. By the way, with that short skirt, she does look like a slut“ •"Well, the skirt is far too short for school and does make her look slutty and dumpy too.“ •"Actually, she does look like a slut with her skirt so short.“ With reference to the PCC’s Editor’s Code, on which it bases all judgements, assess what the outcome might be if you, as an outraged reader (and thus 'third party'), and not the girl herself, complained to the PCC. Can you think of/find other examples where the PCC have been embroiled in controversy over press coverage of children? That Daily Mail case
  33. 33. Consider the pertinent points from this example: • There is a written Editors Code, with 16 clauses • 2 clauses on children: 6 ‘Children’, 7 ‘Children in sex cases’ – both stress right to privacy and need for parental or school permission • Both are asterisked: both potentially have public interest defence • General refusal to consider 3rd party complaints even when breach of Code seems clear • Select Ctee on CMS 2010 Report was scathing about this, pointing out that the PCC’s rules permit it to examine 3rd party complaints if it wishes to do so • The story, and photos, remain on the DM website – only the comments have been removed • Remember the photos: CU of girl’s upper thighs + LS which can easily be read as a sexualised pose – shot from behind, neck craned round; there is a handy ‘click to enlarge’ button. Learning from 13yr old looks like slut eg
  34. 34. This is a useful one as it shows complainants/victims having to use wider laws, not the PCC itself. It also shows that Desmond hasn’t entirely escaped the Editors’ Code. Its also a typical case where a red-top sought to use the self-serving definition of ‘public interest’ as whatever interests the public rather than what is in the public’s interest. The PCC stated it still offered its help to frame a complaint. Daily Star warned after flouting PCC photo guidance by Josh Halliday 2.6.11 http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/jun/02/daily-star-pcc-dan-hipgrave-daughter Lawyers acting for the Toploader guitarist Dan Hipgrave have warned the Daily Star after the newspaper on Wednesday published a picture of his eight-year-old daughter, flouting Press Complaints Commission guidance on the images. Hipgrave, 35, sent a legal notice to all national newspapers two weeks ago after his daughter, Honey, was pictured in tabloid stories relating to the mental health of her mother, the TV presenter Gail Porter. Porter, 40, and Hipgrave divorced in 2004. The musician slammed the Express Newspapers title's decision to withdraw from the PCC as a "self-admission that they're not going to play fairly". Non-PCC Star served with 2011 legal notice over photo of 8 yr old
  35. 35. Hipgrave's original legal notice sent out on 20 May asked newspapers not to publish any pictures of Honey "for the foreseeable future" and warned publishers about intrusion of privacy, referring to the section of the PCC code of practice on photographing children. Hipgrave said he would not seek an apology from the Star because "it would fall on deaf ears and most likely end up on page 80". It is understood that a source said that Hipgrave's publicist spoke to the Star's lawyers on Wednesday afternoon and that matters have now been resolved. Richard Desmond's Express Newspapers withdrew from the PCC in January after it stopped paying the fund that supports the regulator.The PCC chairman, Baroness Buscombe, described the decision at the time as "disappointing". A spokesman for the PCC said: "As soon as recent stories appeared about Ms Porter's health, we contacted her representatives to offer assistance in dealing with any concerns about the press.This could include helping frame complaints against the Star, despite the current financial dispute between Richard Desmond and the funding body for the PCC." Non-PCC Star served with legal notice over photo of 8 yr old (pt2)
  36. 36. In stark contrast to the examples above, it seems the PCC has gone to great lengths to protect some children… From the 1998 annual PCC Report: • Throughout the year, newspapers and magazines continued to respect the privacy of Prince William and Prince Harry during their time at school. It remains true that no unauthorised pictures of either of the Royal Princes in school time has appeared in a British publication since 1995 (when PrinceWilliam started at Eton) - although they regularly do so in foreign newspapers and magazines published in countries which have privacy laws. • On two occasions in 1998 St James's Palace made complaints about stories that appeared about either Prince William or Prince Harry. Both complaints were subsequently resolved. Not all children are equal:Wills & Harry
  37. 37. The sensational stories over Prince Harry’s antics would eventually lead NoTW royal correspondent Clive Goodman to jail in 2007, but back in 2002 the press were reminded to behave themselves when it came to the royals: The press complaints commission has told newspapers and magazines they must still respect the privacy of princes William and Harry, after the royal family was rocked by weekend drug-taking revelations. Guy Black, the director of the press watchdog, said all publications must honour their pledge to spare the young royals from media intrusion while they are still at school or university. He spoke as several newspapers today followed up the News of the World's weekend exclusive about Prince Harry's drugtaking with further potentially damaging allegations. Strict guidelines for editors were set down by the chairman of the PCC, Lord Wakeham, in July 2000, before William began his gap year. Not all children are equal:Wills & Harry(2)
  38. 38. The PCC had issued detailed guidance, having called in all national daily editors for a briefing; for more details see http://www.pcc.org.uk/advice/editorials-detail.html?article=OUT=. There is a links list on my blog with many more relevant articles. Again, whilst this does seem to point to an imbalanced approach by the PCC – this is certainly a case where a public interest defence would have a reasonable chance as a legal defence for breach of privacy – do note that the PCC failed even the royals: their phones were hacked and Glenn Mulcaire was feeding stories gleaned from their voicemails to the NoTWs Clive Goodman.This is the same PCC whose subsequent ‘investigation’ amounted to little more than asking News Int if there was more of this going on (‘no’, they replied. Case closed – as it would have stayed if it wasn’t for the Guardian, which was criticised by the PCC!!!!) Not all children are equal:Wills & Harry(3)
  39. 39. Acting-PCC chairman Prof. Pinker in 2005 "The issue of personal privacy, at least so far as the PCC and I are concerned, is not about the... famous and the infamous. "It is more than anything else about ordinary people who make up the vast majority of our successful complainants. "For them, our role as mediator and conciliator - the task for which we were established - is what is crucially important because it delivers quick, cost-free justice," he said. Speaking to the Commonwealth Press Union in the Sri Lankan capital Colombo, Professor Pinker also said the UK had one of the toughest press codes in the world. And he insisted that the industry should continue to regulate itself, rather than be subject to statutory controls which could hinder freedom of expression. Not all children are equal:Wills & Harry(4)
  40. 40. Are you convinced?! Read the full article: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/ hi/uk/1834048.stm (Picture caption read: ‘The PCC has been accused of cosiness with tabloids and royals’) You can buy the pictured book for £2- 3 online: its an entertaining + useful read! Not all children are equal:Wills & Harry(5)
  41. 41. In stark contrast to the examples above, it seems the PCC has gone to great lengths to protect some children… 1. PCC called 1995 meeting of editors to get agreement to leave Princes alone whilst still at school and uni 2. 1998 PCC Annual Report boasts of NO unauthorized pics in UK press for THREE years. 2 1998 complaints by P.Charles were resolved. 3. PCC calls another editors meeting in 2000 to reiterate the protection of William whilst at uni and even on his gap year.This comes as Nazi-saluting/costume-wearing Harry’s drug-taking exploits are revealed. 4. William hosts a party for the press in 2004 to thank them!!!! 5. Where exactly is the democratic oversight, the fearless free press, in all this? The press were shaken by the strength of public reaction after Diana’s death, which many (including the boys) blamed on tabloid paparazzi, and feared statutory regulation should they be seen to continue as before SUMMARY: Not all children are equal: Wills & Harry & the democratic deficit
  42. 42. Using pgs 6-8 (Blairs) and 8-9 (Browns), summarize how press regulation operated when it came to our previous two PMs and their children. Was this successful regulation? [use the Word doc ‘Children Regulatory Rulings compiled’ at http://mediareg.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/children- as-issue.html] Task:The Blairs + the Browns
  43. 43. In 1999 then PM Blair and his wife complained to the PCC about a Mail on Sunday article about their daughter and her schooling, alleging she’d received preferential treatment to gain a school place. The PCC in this case upheld the complaint, dismissing the paper’s public interest defence as invalid: Clauses 1 (Accuracy) + 6 (Children) were breached. You can read the full report at http://www.pcc.org.uk/cases/adjudicated.html?article=MTgzMQ== They made several more complaints about press coverage of their sons Euan and Nicky after this, and proved to be consistently successful, their complaints upheld each time. In 2009, though, Roy Greenslade blogged ‘Why did Euan Blair ignore the PCC?’ I note that Euan Blair is suing the Sunday Express for invasion of privacy because it published a diary item about his personal life. His lawyers are reported to seeking damages of up to £50,000. But, given that the editors' code of practice has a clause protecting privacy, why has Tony Blair's son chosen to go to court rather than the Press Complaints Commission? Can anyone help? (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/greenslade/2009/apr/30/privacy-pcc) PCC & the Blairs: 1999 complaint on MailOnSday daughter’s school place upheld; Greenslade asks why Euan sought £50k court damages in 2009
  44. 44. When it was revealed that Euan failed to get accepted into Oxford, the PCC made a highly controversial ruling: censuring the Telegraph … but not the Mail which used the Telegraph article: Two newspapers ran the same story. One got a red card from the PCC. One got a yellow (and a pale yellow at that). What are we to make of it all? The Daily Telegraph was damned for a diary par that Euan Blair, then 17, was applying for a place at Oxford. The Daily Mail reasonably pleaded that it ran the story past Number 10, which made no noises about intrusion. But would it not have been equally reasonable for the PCC to conclude that, had the Telegraph also consulted Downing Street, it must have received (or deserved to receive) the same response as the Mail? The Mail also curiously (and successfully) contended that the Telegraph had already put the story in the public domain, thus legitimising its follow-up. If that holds good, any one newspaper breaching the privacy clauses of the Code would allow every newspaper to flood into that breach. PCC & the Blairs(2): 2002 PCC censureTele but absolve Mail: story in public domain?!?
  45. 45. This case is altogether puzzling. Euan's application was public knowledge to everyone at Trinity College literate enough to read the list posted at the lodge (and articulate enough to spread gossip through gown and town). The PCC verdict is reported to have delighted Tony and Cherie, though that was the day before the Mail headlined it, "Blairs are warned over son's privacy," referring to the PCC's acceptance that the Blairs compromised Euan's privacy by parading him at a premiere with Kate Winslet. The Mail undertook to consider resolving matters in a way that would avoid the red card bestowed upon the Telegraph. So that's all right, then. Now imagine this had been a Human Rights Act trial. Not only would the right to freedom of expression have been in with a better chance against the right to privacy, but a High Court judge would surely have had something to say about the triviality of damage done. PCC & the Blairs(3): Greenslade argues the damage was trivial; PCC warned Euan about seeking public profile (Iris premiere with KateWinslet)
  46. 46. Indeed, the PCC would have been within its powers to indicate that, on a scale of zero to 10, the actual harm done by publication rated no more than 1 or 2. Its adjudication could usefully have employed a form of words such as: "To this extent, the complaint is upheld." No wonder Telegraph editor Charles Moore appears to have gone ballistic. How could he be condemned for this when, only the other day, another celebrated 17-year-old had his royal privacy invaded (nay, overwhelmed) with the special blessing of the PCC? [This is the case of NoTW + Harry’s drug-taking, detailed shortly, in which NoTW somehow avoided any complaint…] (“The curious case of Master Euan Blair” , 1.2.02, http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/story.asp?storyCode=27650&sectioncode=1 You can read the BBC’s report too: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/1786112.stm and this BBC report on a PCC declaration that it was for the public, not just celebrities: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/1834048.stm) PCC & the Blairs(4): Greenslade notesTele’s feeling that Murdoch press + Mail get preferential PCC treatment
  47. 47. In 2004, another Blair was the subject of a further complaint: Tony Blair is seeking to reinforce the press exclusion zone around his children with another formal complaint to the Press Complaints Commission over newspaper coverage of their education. The prime minister and his wife Cherie have contacted the PCC over an article in the Sunday Express' William Hickey column which revealed the education plans of their 18-year-old son, Nicky. The Blairs' latest complaint follows a controversial judgment made by the PCC against the Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail in 2002, following reports that Euan Blair had applied for a place at Oxford University. The Telegraph, which ran the original report, had claimed the story was in the public interest because the choices the prime minister and his wife made about the education of their children were particularly relevant to the debate about the admissions policies of Oxbridge colleges. PCC & the Blairs(5): 2004 S.Exprs reveal Nicky Blair’s Uni plans; complaint pursued
  48. 48. But the PCC upheld the complaint that the story "unnecessarily intruded" on the education of Euan Blair. The watchdog said the effect of the report "had been to thrust Euan Blair's university entrance procedures into the public eye in a way which could damage both his education and welfare". Euan Blair eventually secured a place at Bristol University. A spokesman for the PCC confirmed a complaint had been made on behalf of the Blairs by a Downing Street official last week, but refused to comment on whether the watchdog was likely to make the same judgment as in the case of Euan Blair. "As with any complaint, the first thing we'll do is try to resolve it. "There is a press investigation underway, but we'll bring the two sides together first - and I wouldn't like to say whether it would go one way or another." PCC & the Blairs(6): 2002 complaint v Tele upheld, but NOT for Mail?!
  49. 49. The PCC's decision to rule against the Telegraph and Daily Mail caused a major row about how the watchdog decided what is in the public interest in privacy cases. The Telegraph's editor at the time, Charles Moore, accused the PCC of double standards after the watchdog helped pre-empt complaints from the royal family over revelations in the News of the World that Prince Harry had smoked cannabis. Moore attacked the PCC of presiding over a "stitch-up", suggesting the tone of the story about the prince had been the subject of negotiations between then News of the World editor Rebekah Wade, the Prince of Wales' former press manager Mark Bolland and the former PCC director Guy Black. Mr Black - who was also Bolland's partner - defended the PCC's stance over the story about the prince, saying it had raised no issues of privacy. "St James's Palace rightly recognised that there were important matters of public interest involved here," said Mr Black at the time. PCC & the Blairs(7):Tele accuse PCC of double standards + stitch-up as NoTW avoids censure over Harry drugs story
  50. 50. After the PCC's ruling against the Telegraph, some members of the commission also questioned whether Euan Blair had compromised his privacy with public appearances including meeting Kate Winslet at the premiere of the film Iris. In its conclusion to the case, the PCC warned it would become increasingly difficult to protect children exposed to publicity. "It is much more difficult to protect any individual where he or she begins to acquire a public profile in their own right, for instance by making public appearances. Privacy is best maintained when not compromised in any way," it concluded. (Patrick Barrett, “Blair makes complaint to press watchdog”, Media Guardian, 26.3.04, http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2004/mar/26/pressandpublishing.schools) So, Tony Blair found the PCC very helpful then. What about his successor? PCC & the Blairs(8)
  51. 51. Like Blair, Gordon Brown developed a close relationship with Murdoch. That didn’t save him from having private information about the health of his daughter being published by the NoTW. Presumably clinging to the hope of maintaining Murdoch’s support for Labour in the 2009 election, Brown made no complaint, so there’s no PCC ruling to judge – but the very idea that the PM, supposedly the most powerful person in the UK, can be bullied like this is a very, very important point on the democratic credibility of our ‘free press’. See http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/phone-hacking-how-did- the-sun-know-141097 (below, 12.7.11); http://www.channel4.com/news/ive-never-asked-a-prime-minister-for- anything-murdoch (C4 News, 25.5.12). The following is an excerpt from a 26.7.11 BBC report (there’s a video on the page at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-14119225): Brown & the PCC: 2009: PM too terrified of Murdoch to go to PCC?
  52. 52. Gordon Brown has launched an all-out attack on News International accusing it of using "disgusting" methods to gain access to personal information. The former prime minister also alleged the newspaper giant had links to the "criminal underworld". And he accused The Sunday Times of gaining access to his personal bank and legal files when he was chancellor. News International said it would investigate Mr Brown' s allegations and wanted to see all the information. Mr Brown remained silent about alleged abuses of media power during his time in office - but he has been prompted to speak out by fresh claims in The Guardian that he had been targeted by News International newspapers. 'Incredibly upset' In an interview with BBC News, the Labour MP said he was "in tears" when he was told that the Sun had details of his son Fraser's medical condition - he has cystic fibrosis - as he had wanted the information to be kept private. Brown & the PCC(2): 2011 – ex-PM labels NewsInt disgusting + criminal underworld. Did S.Times also hack PM’s financial info?
  53. 53. Brown & the PCC(3) Because he’s been so explicit in stating he was afraid to tackle the Murdoch press’ criminal intrusions into his family’s privacy (paying someone at a hospital for info he + his wife had just received about their young child)AND his personal finances (obviously with the aim to smear him if any ‘dirt’ was found); that he felt he needed to try to regain Murdoch’s support or at worst soften their criticism of his party, this is a key example to cite when discussing governments’ refusal to tackle press regulation: RCP3 ignored in 1977, Calcutt’s 1993 review rejected in 1995
  54. 54. Complainant Name: Resolved - Theresa Avery v Daily Mail Clauses Noted: 3, 6 Publication: Daily Mail Complaint: Theresa Avery complained to the Press Complaints Commission that the newspaper had published images of her child (taken from a social networking website) without her consent in breach of Clause 3 (Privacy) and Clause 6 (Children) of the Editors' Code of Practice. Resolution: The newspaper explained that it had been provided with the images by an agency and had published them in good faith.The complaint was resolved when the newspaper removed the photographs from its website and deleted them from its archive. Date Published: 24/04/2012 [http://www.pcc.org.uk/news/index.html?article=Nzc5MQ==] Some recent (2012) PCC Rulings:Theresa Avery v Mail: Mail removes photos from website AND archive
  55. 55. You can also consider the cases of Madeleine McCann & Milly Dowler – it was the discovery that her phone was hacked which led to the closure of the NoTW. The McCanns largely ignored the PCC and went straight to the courts; they’ve won defamation cases against a series of UK newspapers, notably the Express – which, of course, isn’t covered by the PCC. See http://www.mccannfiles.com/id318.html for a range of useful articles on McCann. The PCC has a page about the McCanns, quoting their media handler Clarence Mitchell as praising the PCC for its help: http://www.pcc.org.uk/news/newsletter/april/mcanns.html The impact of these cases show how important an issue this is, at least in terms of public opinion. You can search the PCC’s site for adjudicated cases linked to Clause 6: click through Cases and onto adjudicated complaints, then cases search and tick clause 6. Maddie, Millie and many more
  56. 56. You could consider the NoTW’s Name and Shame campaign (around the time of the Sarah Payne case) – another moral panic or a free press pursuing a worthy agenda on behalf of ‘the people’? Also try http://tabloid-watch.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/children (I clicked on the tag children) for more, plus blogs like http://www.mailwatch.co.uk/ (you can try a keyword search, eg http://www.mailwatch.co.uk/?s=children) We will also look at the linkage between outrage over TV’s treatment of children and press coverage.The press have shown themselves to be utterly opposed to state regulation of the press (and, for the right-wing press at least, of any industry). So, presumably they wouldn’t consistently campiagn for tighter regulation of TV, especially the central ‘public service broadcasters’ BBc and C4 created and sustained in recognition of the failure of free market ideas when it came to maintaining any level of quality on TV… Further press cases?
  57. 57. If you want to add deeper academic credentials to your exam material, the UK’s leading expert on media/children is MMD, based at the Uni. Of Ulster. She has written and co-authored many reports/books, several commissioned by OfCom; see for example this 2001 report: http://www.ofcom.org.uk/static/archive/bsc/pdfs/research/cchildren.pdf Maire Messenger-Davies
  58. 58. 1946 TV License introduced 1954 ITA established 1955-60 ITV companies launched 1963 Television Act establishes BBC2 1964 All regional ITV franchises (except Wales) reappointed. Mary Whitehouse’s NationalViewers and Listeners’ Association (NVLA, now MediaWatch-UK) launches. 1965 Ban on cigarette advertising in UK 1972 IBA replaces ITA 1982 C4 launched 1991 ITC replaces IBA (‘light touch’ regulation begins) 1997 C5 launched with ‘3 Fs’ pitch to advertisers: tabloidisation? 2002 ITV Digital collapses, alleged in 2012 BBC doc to be down to N.Corp 2003 OfCom replaces ITC Broadcast Regulations: BasicTimeline
  59. 59. Graphic timeline of theTV regulators
  60. 60. OfCom has ruled on a number on issues around children; how does this single image/story arguably sum up the fundamental difference in press andTV regulation with regards to children? OfCom & Children (we’ll return to OfCom later)
  61. 61. Fuelled by a Daily Mail campaign, this became one of the most complained about programmes of 2011. Outcome? OfCom & Children: 2011 X Factor Final OfCom slammed Mail for generating 2,000 of the 2,750 complaints in its report [and for including more explicit pics than those it complained about!!!], which said Aguilera/Rhiannon went right to the edge of acceptable, but ultimately ITV did NOT breach watershed rules; Mail response well covered byTabWatch blog, included in OfCom pack. A perfect recent eg of press role in whipping up moral panics about the broadcast media (cf. Sachsgate).
  62. 62. Shortly you’ll be using p.7-11 of the ITC guide at http://mediareg.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/ofcomitc-key-docs.html to make notes and feedback on the arguments around this programme. But first, we’ll watch two TV trailers for this notorious show, the opening 3mins, 20:16-24:20 and discussYOUR initial reactions As part of this we’ll try to tease out initial ideas about how/why statutory regulation of TV is different than press self-regulation …Before we examine some examples of the coverage, how doYOU think the press covered this story? Do you think the press all took the same approach? Pre-OfCom Case Study: Brass Eye 2001 Special (ruled on by ITC)
  63. 63. His most recent Brass Eye, dealing with paedophilia, has been branded by The Sun newspaper as the "sickest TV ever". If Chris Morris set out to rattle a few cages, he has clearly succeeded. (BBC) The most notoriousTV prog ever?
  64. 64. http://fypa.net/daily-mail-on-brass-eye-2001/
  65. 65. The hypocrisy of the press, swift to get shocked and outraged, is staggering. Its as if the editorial voice of the likes of the Mail and Sun is a Victorian spinster. Whilst misleading the public with hysterical, overwrought stories about everything from youth crime, paedophilia and terror threats, the press are never slow to titillate their readers with imagery of the stories that so ‘disgust’ and ‘appal’ them. Appalled at the behaviour of Brand/Ross over Sachsgate? Here’s some tasty pics to help fuel that outrage! Shocking how a school labelled a 13yr old a slut – here’s some sleazy photos, that you can click to enlarge online! Disgusted at C4’s satire on media coverage of paedophilia? Here’s an accompanying report on the size of 15yr old C. Church’s boobs! … The PCC noted this, criticising the Mail for its reportage of the 2011 X Factor final, noting that it included more explicit images than any actually included in the broadcast! Press: Moral outrage + moral panics
  66. 66. Here’s the helpful pic included on http://www.dailymail.co.uk/ news/article- 1081414/Georgina-Baillie- Im-thrilled-Brand-Ross- suspended-way-treated- grandfather.html Way to respect her privacy! Mail’s caption: Racy: Georgina Baillie, pictured on her MySpace webpage The BBC (and C4) are frequently attacked by Mail, Sun etc The 13yr old eg we know, so on to … Pious Press1: Mail covers Sachsgate This is actually a very useful case: OfCom fined the BBC £150,000 over this. The BBC is primarily self-regulating BUT OfCom has some powers to regulate BBC standards and decency. See http://www.dailymail. co.uk/news/article- 1364623/BBC-Trust- chairman-Sir- Michael-Lyons- finally-apologises- unforgivably-cavalier- attitudes-led- Sachsgate.html
  67. 67. Story URL: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article- 1364623/BBC-Trust-chairman-Sir-Michael-Lyons- finally-apologises-unforgivably-cavalier-attitudes- led-Sachsgate.html Mail always helps its pious readers see what they should be shocked about… LEFT: Mail readers instructed to get v cross about the BBC; RIGHT: something else to get shocked about, but not without a good leer! This story aboutTime magazine’s cover image has generated a lot of press commentary in May 2012; many of these reports didn’t include the image on grounds of ‘decency’ … but not the Mail?!
  68. 68. On the right the Star fulminates over the immoral C4 show that dared to satirize the empty, misleading, often sleazy way the media covers paedophilia, constantly seeking to whip up a moral panic whilst downplaying the fact that this form of abuse mainly happens at home On the left they celebrate that this underage celeb is looking ‘chest swell’, ‘how quickly she’s grown up’ ‘she’s a big girl now’. Chris Morris couldn’t have made this up! 2012: Church appears before Leveson inquiry + has won a number of libel cases against UK newspapers 2001: Star rages + phwoars in same breath…
  69. 69. Red-top hypocrisy: Brass Eye Paedogeddon condemned by press, but with sexualised imagery alongside these outraged rants: Charlotte Church at 15, Princesses Eugenie + Beatrice (13, 11) in bikinis. Paparazzi seeking upskirt pics of Church at 15. BUT there was also non-press material: the website which counted down to her coming of age (CC told Leveson it was in the Sun, but she was wrong) There are MANY stories of this red-top hypocrisy…
  70. 70. The following is drawn from http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/alabaster/A676424 In comparison to the past, children today are relatively safe. During the years 1983-93, 57 children were killed by strangers in the UK - an average of five a year... when one considers that there are 12 million children in the UK, the risk of murder by a stranger is statistically negligible. - F Furedi, Culture Of Fear, 1997 The majority of all children countable under the Harm Standard1 (78%) were maltreated by their birth parents, and this held true both for children who were abused (62% were maltreated by birth parents) and for those who were neglected (91% experienced neglect by birth parents). - US Department of Health Survey, September 1996 This is the story of one of the most controversial 'controversial' moments of 2001 in the UK. It is a story of provocation, stupidity, deceit, bravery and laughter. It is the story of the Brass Eye Paedophile Special. Case Study: Brass Eye 2001 Special: BBC ‘H2G2’ GUIDETOTHE CASE
  71. 71. Intro The UK's fourth television channel, Channel 4, is a publicly- owned broadcaster whose remit includes the provision of innovative and challenging programmes. It gave a platform to a satirist called Chris Morris2, who made several episodes of Brass Eye. Brass Eye was a parody of the schlock, sensationalist documentaries that have grown in popularity in recent years. Each episode would tackle an issue in British life: drugs, sex, animals, science, crime and social decline. On 26 July, 2001, to celebrate the series' repeat showing, came the most controversial episode yet... the one-off Paedophile Special. Case Study: Brass Eye 2001 Special: BBC ‘H2G2’ GUIDETOTHE CASE
  72. 72. Background In recent years, the concept of the lone, predatory paedophile has become a cause of great concern in the UK. This concern came to a head with the abduction and murder of Sarah Payne, a very young girl who was out playing with her brother. The media were outraged and the editors of one tabloid, The News of the World, took it upon themselves to publish the names, pictures and addresses of known paedophiles. Almost immediately, vigilante groups attacked these people, and protest marches were held around their houses. In the hysteria, innocent people were mistaken for paedophiles and in one incident a paediatrician had graffiti sprayed over her house by youths3. The simple fact that most child abuse occurs at the hands of relatives in the home has largely been ignored. Another factor not widely considered is the tabloids' own propensity for using titillation and stories of celebrity sex as a staple of their content. The question of how such organisations can consider themselves moral barometers is a valid one, and one that is rarely raised in open fora. Case Study: Brass Eye 2001 Special: BBC ‘H2G2’ GUIDETOTHE CASE
  73. 73. The Programme As always, the programme took the form of a spoof documentary. In Channel 4's own words, there were five fundamental themes: Media hysteria Misinformation Sexualisation of children Media hypocrisy Public debate The programme makers approached 315 public figures and invited them to take part in promoting a paedophile awareness campaign. This campaign was a set-up. They were asked to read scripts containing ludicrous assertions, including: Internet paedophiles can project poison gas through a child's keyboard using the new HOECS4 system. Paedophiles have more genes in common with crabs than humans. 'Trust Me Trousers', which were inflated to hide a paedophile's erection. Case Study: Brass Eye 2001 Special: BBC ‘H2G2’ GUIDETOTHE CASE
  74. 74. Amazingly, several celebrities fell for it and happily regurgitated this rubbish for the camera. These people included: Phil Collins - Musician Gary Lineker - BBC sports presenter Phillipa Forrester - BBC science presenter Barbara Follett MP - Member of Parliament Syd Rapson MP - Member of Parliament Richard Blackwood - Comedian Neil Fox - DJ The programme contained a sequence depicting a child pageant in the United States, with concerned parents discussing plastic surgery to help their girl win. Paedophiles were presented as garish monsters with increasingly silly methods of attack. At one point, a paedophile was shown disguised as a school, and an amputee paedophile was shown acquiring artificial limbs to become 'Robo Peado'. In another sequence, a paedophile newly-released from jail was burned alive in a wicker phallus by a vigilante hate mob. The hate mob also killed a man called 'Peter File', but apparently this was entirely his own fault for having a silly name. Case Study: Brass Eye 2001 Special: BBC ‘H2G2’ GUIDETOTHE CASE
  75. 75. Quotes Online paedophiles can actually make your keyboard release toxic vapours that actually make you more suggestible... (He sniffs his keyboard) ...now I actually feel more suggestible. And that was just from one sniff. - Richard Blackwood That is scientific fact. There is no real evidence for it, but it's scientific fact. - Neil Fox The Reaction Reactions were extreme, to say the least. The tabloid newspapers, led by The Daily Mail, were up in arms. The Daily Mail called it 'the sickest TV show ever'. It also showed several still photos from a single five-second clip and appeared to pass them off as representative. Chris Morris was widely lambasted and he was probably wise to be out of the country when the programme was broadcast. Channel 4 repeated the programme the following day, 27 July, 2001, and this only served to upset the tabloids even more (which may well have been the intention). Case Study: Brass Eye 2001 Special: BBC ‘H2G2’ GUIDETOTHE CASE
  76. 76. TV watchdogs the Independent Television Commission (ITC) and the Broadcasting Standards Commission (BSC) were inundated with complaints, which the tabloid newspapers reported with glee. They also, however, received a record number of supportive messages, which weren't so prominently reported. The final tally was: ITC - Complaints: 1000+ against Support: 750+ BSC - Complaints: 213 against Support: 179 This is obviously a lot less clear-cut than the tabloids might have thought, although it was noticeable that The Sun, in particular, softened its stance on the issue. The Commissions' reports will be discussed later. For the most part, the broadsheet newspapers reported the programme as funny and provocative, and noted with some amusement that the tabloid reaction was very close in nature to the original parody. Case Study: Brass Eye 2001 Special: BBC ‘H2G2’ GUIDETOTHE CASE
  77. 77. Some of the most ridiculed reactions came from the Government. A number of Ministers released statements of condemnation without having seen the programme. This roll of shame included: • David Blunkett (glossing over the question of how a blind man can talk sensibly about images on a TV screen) - Home Secretary • Tessa Jowell - Culture Secretary • Beverly Hughes - Parliamentary Undersecretary of State, Home Office. The Culture Secretary contacted the head of the ITC directly, who released a press statement confirming that an investigation was to take place. The question of why a Cabinet Minister would interfere with the role of a regulatory body without having even viewed the programme in question has never been satisfactorily answered. In an email to someone who actually raised the issue directly, it was explained that Ms Jowell approached the ITC in her role as a parent, not in any official capacity. A follow-up query that enquired how many normal concerned parents could contact the head of the ITC directly had not been answered at the time of writing6. Case Study: Brass Eye 2001 Special: BBC ‘H2G2’ GUIDETOTHE CASE
  78. 78. The Resolution The ITC released its report into the programme on 6 September, 2001. It said: The Commission accepted that satire is an effective way of making statements about a range of issues, however difficult. Exploitative media treatment of subjects like paedophilia was such an issue. It was reasonable, therefore, for Channel 4 to commission the programme. The ITC found, however, that the programme breached sections 1.1 and 1.3 of its code, which deal with providing sufficient warning and avoiding gratuitous offence. Channel 4 was ordered to broadcast an apology on those grounds. The BSC released its findings in early September and came to much the same conclusions. It differed from the ITC, however, in one regard: the use of child actors in the programme. The child actors were, in reality, treated according to strictly-established guidelines, and nobody has seriously claimed that they have been abused in any way. The editing in the programme made it appear that the children were being exposed to unsuitable content, and the BSC concluded that these images were presented too often to be justified: Case Study: Brass Eye 2001 Special: BBC ‘H2G2’ GUIDETOTHE CASE
  79. 79. Gervais – mong Frankie Boyle C5 show incest joke – Katie Price’s Harvey Murdoch @ Leveson – Cameron son retarded Further cases

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