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As an independent organisation, the Broadcasting Standards Commission
considers the portrayal of violence, sexual conduct and matters of taste and
decency in television and radio programmes and advertisements. It also provides
redress for people who believe they have been unfairly treated or subjected to
unwarranted infringement of privacy.
Complaints about standards and fairness
To consider and adjudicate on complaints the Commission has the power to:
• require recordings of broadcast material;
• hold hearings about the detail of what has been broadcast.
All the Commission’s decisions are reported in this regular bulletin.
The Commission can also require broadcasters to publish summaries of its
decisions either on-air or in a newspaper or magazine and report on any action
The Lady Howe CBE Chairman
Jane Leighton Deputy
The Lady Warner Deputy
Danielle BarrDavid BoultonDame Fiona Caldicott DBEStrachan Heppell CBRev. Rose Hudson-WilkinRobert Kernohan OBESusan LloydSally O’Sullivan
Andrew Ketteringham 0171 233 0398Shivaun Meehan
Complaints about fairness (unjust or unfair treatment or the unwarranted infringement of privacy) can only be made by
those people directly affected by the broadcast. In considering the facts of the case, the Commission always studies
written exchanges of evidence and usually holds a hearing with both the complainant and the broadcasters present.
Copies of full adjudications on all the following complaints - whether upheld or not - are
available from The Broadcasting Standards Commission, 7 The Sanctuary, London SW1P 3JS.
Please enclose a stamped addressed envelope.
Sky 1, 5 April 1997
The Commission has upheld a complaint by Kevin
The Commission found that, in view of the fact that
Hughes & Co., (Solicitors) on behalf of JH (a minor)
JH was a minor, that his identity was not disguised in the
submitted on 20 November 1997, about Coppers,
broadcast, and in the absence of any consent by his
guardians, BSkyB unwarrantably infringed his privacy.
The programme included an incident involving a group
The Commission found that, from the shots of JH in
of teenagers who were stopped and questioned by two
handcuffs, viewers may have thought that he had been
One of the teenagers, JH, then 15 years old, on behalf of
whom the complaint was made, was shown in handcuffsbeing put into and driven away in a police vehicle. An
explanation was given by one of the officers that JH wasunder the influence of alcohol and was being taken to alocal police station to be reunited with his parents.
JH’s solicitors complained that their client’s face was notdisguised and that the failure to do so was unfair and anunwarranted infringement of his privacy.
Travel Promotions Ltdtrading as Voyages Jules Verne
Complaints about standards (violence, sex, or issues of taste and decency such as bad language or the treatment of
disasters) can be made by anyone who has seen or heard the broadcast. In reaching a decision to uphold or not
uphold a complaint, the code and research into public attitudes are considered alongside the material and its context.
In certain circumstances the Commission may also hold a hearing. Standards complaints are considered by a
Standards Panel in the first instance, and can be referred to the Standards Committee.
The Comedy Store Special
A listener complained about sexual innuendo.
Two viewers complained about the use of bad language.
The BBC said that since Mark Radcliffe introduced the
Channel 5 said that the programme had been scheduled
comic ‘Fat Harry White’ spot as a regular feature of his
in its established late-night comedy slot and had been
programme, the double-entendre of this spoof disc-jockey
preceded by a clear warning. A combination of sensible
had proved popular with most listeners. It believed the
scheduling and an unambiguous warning would have
humour of this slot was consistent with a long tradition
alerted viewers who might have taken offence. Regular
of bawdy British comedy. It was broadcast when most
viewers would have been neither surprised nor offended.
children would be at school and was aimed primarily at
In the context of the routine, the more severe words were
older teenagers and young adults. Only regular listeners,
used expressively and for comedic emphasis, not
familiar with Harry’s unusual view of DIY, would have
been likely to detect the double meanings.
The Standards Committee watched the programme and
A Standards Panel listened to the programme.
took into account the broadcaster’s statement, including
It considered that the item, both in its duration and
the points about scheduling and warnings. However,
in its detail, had exceeded acceptable boundaries.
the routine had used a word which the Commission’s
own research consistently rated as extreme and in theCommittee’s view, the context had not justified its use.
BBC 1, 10 and 12 November 1998, 1710-1735
Six viewers complained of inappropriate sexual content
Twenty viewers complained about the use of badlanguage in these programmes; there were also concerns
about the depiction of drug abuse and violence.
The BBC said that Children’s BBC catered for childrenacross the age range, including teenagers. Programmes
became more suitable for older age groups as the
The BBC said that this was the latest in a long line of
afternoon progressed. Award-winning drama, such as
drama series dealing with the tougher side of police work
Byker Grove, now in its tenth series, had established
and extremes of police life. The BBC’s general policy on
a reputation for constructive and realistic drama, with
broadcasting strong language is that it should not be
storylines which mirrored the experience of older
gratuitous, but should serve some legitimate purpose, such
children and young teenagers, including the growth
as conveying emotion in drama, or giving the flavour of
the environment which forms its setting. The remarkabledegree of realism in this series provided unusually strong
These episodes of Byker Grove had reflected the pressures
justification for the use of such language.
on young people to embark on a sexual relationship, and showed how in this case the pair reached the
The drug abuse by a recently-arrived WPC was used to
conclusion, with apparent relief, that they were not
show her struggling to cope with new responsibilities
emotionally ready. The broadcaster went on to say that
while maintaining old friends; in these circumstances
they rejected any implication that the storyline had
there was no danger of impressionable viewers adopting
encouraged under-age sexual activity. It had been clear
and direct without being unduly explicit, expressing theimportance of contraception and the need to seek advice.
In recognition that the series would not appeal to allviewers it was scheduled post Watershed, on BBC2,
a network with a reputation for innovative drama.
A Standards Panel watched both episodes, involving astory in which a foster brother and sister contemplate
Clear warnings were provided before transmission.
making their relationship a sexual one, as a result of theboy being teased for being a virgin. At first, the girl
resisted but she visited a doctor for advice. She then
A Standards Panel viewed these programmes.
told her foster brother she had changed her mind and
It acknowledged the ambition of the series and the
produced a packet of condoms. But in discussion they
fact that BBC2 has a remit to produce challenging
concluded that they were not ready for the relationship.
drama but took the view that both the intensity of
The Panel acknowledged the arguments put forward by
the bad language and some of the themes of the series
the broadcaster, but took the view that the nature of
had been inappropriate for transmission immediately
the storyline and its detail had been too explicit for
after the Watershed. The complaints were upheld
broadcast at a time when younger children were likely to
be in the audience. It concluded, therefore, that it hadbeen inappropriate for broadcast at that time. The
complaints were upheld on the grounds of scheduling.
Gossi the Dog
A viewer complained about the amount of sexual
A viewer complained about animal cruelty being used as
innuendo in this episode, at a time when children were
Teletext said that the Digitiser section prided itself on
Granada said that scenes depicting an underwear party
its irreverent and ‘off-the-wall’ humour and decisions
were intentionally raucous, to reflect what might happen
about what might offend could sometimes be difficult.
in real life. However, they had been mindful of the need
However, on this occasion, it felt that the borderline had
to be sensitive to family viewing and comments with
been overstepped and the frame was quickly removed
reference to sexual relationships were consequently
vague. Nothing had been included which could beregarded as crass or could cause embarrassment to adults
A Standards Panel noted the Teletext page in question.
It agreed that a reference to the beating of a dog, albeit
fictional, would have been likely to have caused offence.
A Standards Panel viewed this episode of the long
established soap opera. It took the view that the scenescomplained of had gone beyond the boundaries of
acceptability for an audience likely to consist of bothadults and children. The complaint was upheld onscheduling.
16 August 1998, 0600-0925
A viewer complained about distressing shots of the
relevance to the peace process that GMTV had been
aftermath of the bombing in Omagh, Northern Ireland,
duty bound to change its normal schedule. They
being shown immediately after programmes and
realised in retrospect that it would have been preferable
advertisements aimed at children, with no warning given
if the presenter had given a warning of the distressing
nature of the pictures to follow before the commercialbreak. They regretted that this had not happened and
GMTV said that, as a provider of news and currentaffairs during weekdays and as a children’s breakfast
broadcaster at weekends, they were fully aware of the
A Standards Panel viewed the programme. It noted
need to safeguard very young viewers in the early
GMTV’s apology for not giving a warning before the
morning. On the Sunday in question, they had had to
start of this special programme. In the Panel’s view, a
balance their responsibilities to very different groups of
warning should have been given in view of the distressing
viewers. Because of the nature of the breaking story in
nature of the report, especially since the programme and
Omagh, they had changed their normal format so that
advertisements immediately before this had been aimed
there had been uninterrupted children’s programming up
at children. The complaint was upheld.
to 0900. At that point they had broadcast a specialGMTV programme to bring the audience up to date with
developments in Omagh. The exceptional circumstancesresulting from this story had been of such tragedy and
Vice - the Sex Trade
ITV, 16 & 23 November 1998, 2100-2200
Sixteen viewers complained about the 16 November
facts and the experiences of a group of prostitutes who
edition, the majority of whom objected to the content of
were prepared to talk openly and honestly. Many of the
the programme as a whole which they believed to be
extreme practices within the trade were ignored entirely
graphic and overstepped the mark of decency. Several
as being inappropriate for broadcast at 2100 and all
complainants objected in particular to the portrayal of an
serious uses of swearing were eschewed. Nevertheless the
‘erotic milkmaid’ and her client who acted out his
series did cover the dangers of death, attack, infection
fantasy of being treated as a baby. Others complained
and social exclusion. The series demonstrated a complete
about the open discussion of prostitution, a scene of a
lack of prurience or any sense of exploitation.
woman giving a man sexual satisfaction, the promotionof a man’s guidebook to massage parlours, and
LWT went on to say that it had been anxious to make
comments made by an unmarried, pregnant, teenage
an honest series which would not upset viewers, although
prostitute who believed she was safe as long as she did
it recognised many would inevitably find the subject
distasteful at any time. It believed the series wasdownbeat, non-exploitative and unremittingly serious.
Seven viewers objected to the edition broadcast on 23 November. One complainant was particularly
concerned about scenes in a brothel in Amsterdam,
A Standards Panel watched the programmes. It took
and another believed that the programme should have
the view that, given the degree of explicitness about
been transmitted much later in the evening.
various sexual practices, both editions had beenscheduled inappropriately, immediately after the
Watershed. Furthermore, in the edition of 16 November,
London Weekend Television explained that these were
the Panel considered that the scenes in which a prostitute
the first two editions of a series of three documentaries
was shown placing an incontinence pad on a naked man
exploring prostitution, looking at prostitutes, their clients
and then breastfeeding him had been degrading and
and those who try to control the trade. All episodes
exploitative, and had exceeded acceptable boundaries.
were preceded by a clear warning as to their adult
nature. Given the timing of the programmes, thebroadcaster had deliberately avoided anything which
might have been seen as titillating and concentrated on
The Cool Zone
A listener complained about bad language in the lyrics of
A listener complained about a sexual reference.
Radio XL said that the presenter had claimed that he had
Silk FM said that the wrong version of the song had been
been quoting from a newspaper. He had, nonetheless,
put into the computer which played the records during
this show, and because the show had been unmanned,they had not been aware of this unfortunate error at the
time. They apologised for any offence caused.
A Standards Panel listened to the item and noted theaction taken by the station against the presenter.
It considered that the reference was inappropriate for
A Standards Panel listened to the song. It noted the
broadcast at this time of day. The complaint was upheld.
broadcaster’s apology. It considered that the versionplayed should not have been broadcast without a
warning as to its content. The complaint was upheld.
A viewer complained about scenes of graphic violence.
Three viewers complained that images of a young womanfrozen to death in a freezer were shown during family
Central Television explained that careful consideration had been given to the scenes of violence in the programme,
and they were signposted both before and shortly after the
Granada Television explained that, as with all drama
opening titles. The atmosphere in the prison prior to the
serials, death scenes were not unusual on Coronation
murder was an indication of what was about to ensue.
Street and the body was usually shown. In this instance,
In the stabbing scene, the camera moved away quickly to
the producer requested edits to keep this scene very brief.
reaction shots, and in the ensuing mob attack the mob was
It was comprehensively signposted by the fact that
seen (rather than the victim) indistinctly on a black and
viewers had witnessed the character finding herself
white television monitor. The murder in the cell was
locked in the freezer in the previous episode.
treated with similar care. The camera moved to the rearwhen a hostage’s throat was slit.
The broadcaster went on to say that Coronation Streetwas a realistic drama and this meant that sometimes
The broadcaster added that the programme had been
difficult or painful issues were addressed, but they always
preceded by a warning to the effect that it contained
tried to handle them with sensitivity.
A Standards Panel watched this episode of the
The Standards Committee watched the programme
long-running soap opera. It took the view that the
and took into account the warning which preceded it.
images of the dead woman, shown at the very start of
It noted that two scenes of violence, including the
the programme, had strayed beyond the boundaries of
graphic use of a knife, were shown shortly after the
acceptability for broadcast when children were likely to
Watershed. In the Committee’s view, the scenes were of a
be watching. The complaints were upheld.
particularly explicit and frightening nature, and wentbeyond acceptable boundaries when broadcast so soon
after the Watershed. The complaint was upheld.
ITV, 16 October 1998, 1015-1220
A viewer complained about nudity and simulated sex.
him up pretending that he would throw him in the water. Later, while standing behind the presenter the man had
put his arm around him. The broadcaster believed that
Granada Television said that the item had occurred
the item had been genial and had not been prurient.
during the week of the programme’s tenth anniversaryand had included the programme’s weatherman being
presented with flowers and champagne for his
A Standards Panel watched the programme. It noted that
contribution to the series. One of the people who had
the broadcaster had not intended the man to appear on the
presented the gifts had achieved some notoriety by
programme naked. It considered, however, that while the
streaking on the programme four years earlier. He had
man’s actions had not been sexually explicit, the level of
been due to reappear in his underpants but had removed
nudity had been unacceptable for the time of transmission.
all his clothes, although he had kept his genitals covered.
The Panel concluded that the item had exceeded acceptableboundaries. The complaint was upheld.
Granada denied that the man had simulated sex with theprogramme’s weatherman and said that he had picked
Desperately Seeking Something
A viewer complained about scenes of implied intercourse.
Channel 4 explained that Desperately Seeking Something
Channel 4 explained that the documentary was filmed
was a well-established and critically acclaimed series
mainly within a legal establishment in New York where
commissioned and broadcast as part of its output of
patrons pay to have their desires and fetishes satisfied.
religious programmes. It featured a wide range of
It was both astonishing and revealing, and took a non-
censorious look at this area of activity in order to obtaina deeper understanding of it. By interviewing the punters
This particular programme looked at some of the
and dominatrices, it debunked myths and shone a light
beliefs and faiths which can be found in the Hawaiian
on sexual behaviour which is frequently misunderstood
Islands, from the traditional religion of Huna to the
and easily dismissed as simply unnatural and debased.
more recently introduced New Age cults and otherunconventional beliefs. The reporter visited a spiritual
Channel 4 went on to add that the film was edited to
retreat which offered training in meditation and Oceanic
exclude more extreme versions of pain and to make it
Tantra where various Tantric techniques were taught in
suitable for a late night broadcast. Whilst it included
order to achieve greater spiritual and physical union.
images which might frequently be found in materialotherwise deemed to be pornographic, the scenes did not
Some scenes early in the report portrayed a number of
render the film obscene or indecent. A clear warning
couples sitting in a swimming pool embracing but
about its content was also given before transmission.
otherwise virtually motionless. They were not havingpenetrative sexual intercourse and there was nothing
visually identifiable or any discernible movement to
The full Commission watched the programme, noting the
various scenes depicted. It took into account thebroadcaster’s statement, the time at which the
The broadcaster went on to say that, in view of the time
programme was transmitted and the warning which
of the programme’s transmission, these scenes were
preceded it. It also acknowledged that factual
carefully considered to ensure that they were presented
programmes can play a valuable role in exploring and
with tact and discretion. There were no shots of breasts
explaining unusual and potentially disturbing forms of
or genitals at any point in the programme. In addition,
sexual expression. They can shock as well as illuminate.
the commentary and interviews with those who ran theretreat were not sexually explicit.
But the Commission took the view that, in theprogramme in question, the graphic and prolonged detail
of some of the sequences went beyond the informative
A Standards Panel watched the programme. It took
and, together with the tone of the commentary, had
the view that the theme, the sexual positions and the
the effect of turning the audience into voyeurs of
discussion were inappropriate for a programme
demeaning and degrading behaviour. It concluded
broadcast well before the Watershed. It was also likely
that the programme had gone beyond acceptable limits
to have exceeded the expectations of those anticipating
for transmission on a free-to-air terrestrial service.
a more traditional religious programme. The complaint
Two viewers complained about the sexual content
A listener complained about the presenter’s treatment
of a video accompanying Montel Jordan’s song, ‘I Can
Talk Radio said that the Tommy Boyd programme
London Weekend Television said that CD:UK tried to
invited listeners to take part in a discussion on the
give a flavour of all the different popular music charts
chosen subject of the day. The conversation was often
and included album tracks and American hits not yet
robust, with the presenter taking a non-orthodox stance
released in the UK, of which this was one. The song was
to encourage lateral thinking. The show was well
an enormous hit in the United States in the week that the
established and listeners were either already aware of his
programme was broadcast and considerable time had
been spent editing the video to remove any shots thatwere likely to be unsuitable for the time of transmission
The discussion on travellers had set out to provide
a view that was generally unpopular, supporting the
travellers’ lifestyle in order to challenge people’s
LWT said that the song’s lyrics were typical of the New
perceptions and prejudices. The caller was unable to
Swing Rap genre, which was becoming increasingly
provide a reasoned argument for her view. Boyd gave
popular. It felt that younger viewers would not have
her ample opportunity to put her viewpoint and she
understood the sexual references in the lyrics and that the
also had plenty of opportunity to leave the discussion
presenters’ comments about the edited material were
earlier. The exchange was not good-natured, but the
caller was nevertheless treated fairly within thetransparent parameters of the programme.
The BSC’s Finding
A Standards Panel watched the programme. It considered
that the overtly sexual content of the song’s lyrics
A Standards Panel listened to the programme and
combined with the suggestive sexual imagery of the
noted the comments of the presenter. The Panel
accompanying video were inappropriate for the time of
acknowledged that this programme had established a
broadcast and likely audience. The Panel considered that
reputation for its robust approach to issues, but it
the video had exceeded acceptable boundaries for
considered that the caller’s treatment by the presenter on
broadcast when young children were likely to be
this occasion had breached acceptable boundaries due
watching. The complaints were upheld.
to his dwelling on, and comments concerning, her personal life. The complaint was upheld.
The End of the Week Show
ITV, 11 September 1998, 2300-0005
A viewer complained about the sexual and tasteless
The Standards Committee viewed the programme,
a review of the previous series. It took the view that the cumulative effect of the collection of extracts of a
sexual and tasteless nature took the programme beyond
Despite repeated requests to London Weekend Television,
acceptable boundaries. The complaint was upheld.
it failed to supply a statement within a reasonable time inresponse to this complaint. The Commission therefore
decided, exceptionally, to come to a decision on thecomplaint without a statement.
Cutting Edge: The Rise and Rise of Viagra
Channel 4, 9 September 1998, 2100- 2200
Three viewers complained about excessively graphic
discussion of sexual behaviour. Two of these viewers
A Standards Panel viewed the programme. It noted that
also complained about the encouragement of drug abuse.
the programme had not contained any explicit shots ofsexual activity and it considered most of the discussions
had not been over-explicit. It took the view that the
Channel 4 said that The Rise and Rise of Viagra had
advantages and disadvantages of Viagra had been
been a serious and timely look at the new impotence
presented in a balanced way and that the programme
drug, Viagra, broadcast a week before it was due to be
had given proper warning about its use without medical
licensed in Europe. The programme had looked at the
supervision. The Panel believed that, for the most part,
drug’s impact in the USA and its likely impact in the UK
the programme had been serious and responsible and
through the personal stories of couples and individuals
that its content would have been unlikely to have
exceeded the expectations of the majority of viewers.
A different documentary had originally been scheduled in
However, the Panel noted that the sequence involving
this slot but had been removed from the schedules
Seth had been much more explicit than others and had
approximately a week before broadcast. The change of
failed to warn of the dangers of using Viagra together
programme had been publicised quite widely and viewers
with illegal drugs. The Commission considered this
had been told of the change just before the programme.
to have been irresponsible. The complaints were upheldin part.
The programme had not been explicit or pornographic.
It had consisted entirely of people describing their
experiences of Viagra. Except for Seth, a gay man fromSan Francisco, those who had featured had not talked ina graphic way. Many of the interviews had focused moreon the psychological aspects of impotence and its effecton relationships, not on the sexual act itself.
It had been considered important to look at therecreational use of Viagra. Seth had spoken about its use in San Francisco’s gay community and of the effectsof mixing it with illegal drugs. Seth’s description of his activities whilst on Viagra had been fairly explicit buthonest. His contribution had informed viewers of howthe drug was used recreationally in the USA and of its likely use in the UK in the future. The programmehad not condoned or encouraged this behaviour. This interview had been placed near the end of theprogramme, about forty-five minutes after the Watershed.
A warning had been given before the programme aboutits content.
Channel 4, 9 October 1998, 2230-2305
A viewer complained of sexually explicit material, the
screen-tested. The report derived most of its humour
denigration of women and bad language.
from sending up the young men who were screen-testingfor the ‘acting school’ and therefore neither denigrated
Channel 4 said that this well-established series did not intend to be degrading to any particular group.
Its intention was to take a light-hearted and sometimes
A Standards Panel viewed this edition of the well-
informative look at the social and sexual proclivities
established programme. It considered, on balance, that it
had not denigrated the female sex. This aspect of thecomplaint was not upheld. However, the Panel took the
This episode featured gay Germans, a boy band and
view that the graphic portrayal of sex and sexual
Luca Damiano, described as the ‘crown prince of Italian
references including bad language, in the feature on
erotica’. This item commented on his career and showed
Italian erotica went beyond acceptable limits for
brief and inexplicit clips from his films, including an
broadcast at this time. This aspect of the complaint was
extract from a song. The item went on to describe his
upheld. The complaint was upheld in part.
‘acting school’ and his endeavours to find new talent forhis films, featuring the process by which young men were
They Think It’s All Over
Capital Radio, 10 October 1998, 1000-1300
A listener complained about the broadcast of an offensive
Six viewers complained about tasteless humour, in
particular, a chant by football fans about the Englandfootballer, David Beckham.
The Broadcaster’s Statement
Capital Radio pointed out that the calls were always
requested by friends or relatives of the person. The
The BBC said the chant of the fans, though coarse, was
person called was also asked for their permission to
football terrace humour. The footballer often
broadcast the windup before it was aired. The calls were
encountered chanting of this kind, some of which was
even stronger in content. The majority of the audiencewas by now, after eight series, well aware of the male,
sometimes blunt, nature of the show’s humour.
The Standards Committee listened to a recording of thecall in which someone was informed he would not be
receiving his digital television equipment in time for the
A Standards Panel watched the programme.
launch of digital television, and noted the use of bleeps.
It recognised that the chant, which was juvenile and
The Committee took the view that, given the fact the
laddish in its content, would not have been to everyone’s
person involved had given his consent, the broadcasting
taste. However, it concluded that it was unlikely to have
of the call had not exceeded acceptable boundaries.
exceeded the expectations of the majority of the audience
to this well-known programme aimed at a late-nightadult audience. The complaints were not upheld.
The Simpsons - Halloween Special
A viewer complained about the depiction of children
A viewer complained about racist humour.
carrying knives and an evil spirit urging them to kill.
Channel 4 explained that Harry Hill was a well
The BBC said that The Simpsons was not a children’s
established comic renowned for his eccentric brand of
programme. While it appreciated that some parents
humour. The running joke complained of in the
had particular concern about material relating to
programme consisted of the comic ordering himself a
Halloween, it believed that the potential to disturb had
Filipino bride from a catalogue. The sketches presented
been entirely dissipated by the Simpson family’s comic
racial stereotypes, albeit misconceived, and the humour
feistiness and refusal to be intimidated. In the scene
derived from the sheer non-politically correct blatancy
complained about, the depiction of the ‘confrontation’
of the way in which the characters were portrayed.
between family members had made it evident that there
It was not intended to be serious comment; rather, an
was no danger of a violent outcome. Ultimately, the
attempt to satirise some peoples’ commonly held
‘evil spirit’ had chosen to self-destruct rather than face
prejudices in an amusing way, and not to condone
the prospect of living with the Simpson family. The
programme had included two further story-lines that had ended in similarly comic fashion.
The BSC’s Finding
A Standards Panel watched the programme, noting the
brief references to a Filipino bride. It acknowledged the
A Standards Panel watched the programme. It considered
purpose of the humour, as explained in the broadcasters’
that the style and content of the cartoon series was
statement, and considered that its gentle, zany style - not
well-established and that this episode was in keeping
delivered in a mocking sense - would have been unlikely
with its reputation. It believed that the story had clearly
to have caused widespread offence. The complaint was
been humorous and had not intended to shock or disturb
viewers. The Panel considered that the subject matter had been appropriate for the time of broadcast and that
the programme had not exceeded acceptable boundaries.
The complaint was not upheld.
BBC Radio 1, 15 September 1998, 1400-1600
A listener complained about a satirical record
A Standards Panel listened to the song and noted the
which contained sexual innuendo, swearing and
preceding warning. It took the view that while it was
unlikely to have universal appeal, it had not strayedbeyond acceptable limits for broadcast. The complaint
The BBC said that Mark Radcliffe’s alter ego, the spoofdisc-jockey, Fat Harry White, was a well established
feature of his programme and the elements of innuendoand double-entendre which Harry had brought to theshow were echoed by the extensively bleeped rendition of his version of the song ‘Horny’. The presenter’sintroduction gave listeners some indication of thecontents of his version, and the song was broadcast when most children would still be at school.
Panorama - The Cruelty Connection
The Bigger Breakfast - Madison
A viewer complained about graphic scenes of torture and
A viewer complained of inappropriate sexual content in a
The BBC explained that the programme reported the
Channel 4 said that the programme, Madison, was a
growing belief by law enforcement agencies in the
series focusing on the life of American high-school
USA that there might be a connection between cruelty
students and exploring a number of adolescent themes.
to animals and violent crime against people. It used
This episode concerned a couple who, when confronted
as an example a notable case in the USA in which a
with unexpected pregnancy, decided to get married.
man killed a small dog, some of which was captured
At the stag party, a stripper arrived but although the
on video. However, the programme took great care
party was raucous, nothing explicit was shown, indeed
not to use those sections of the video which showed
the bride-groom demonstrated his commitment to
the actual crime being committed. It was the cavalier
attitude of the criminals to the dog which wasemphasised rather than the pain and distress it was
It formed part of a schedule for young people out of
caused. The pre-transmission warning provided a
term time. With this in mind, careful editorial
suitable recognition to viewers of the possible combined
consideration had been given to the episode and cuts
effect of what was shown and the description in the
had been made in the sequence. But the scene was an
essential part of the story to show the bridegroom’scommitment to his marriage.
The BSC’s Finding
The full Commission watched the programme, noting
its serious intent in reporting a trend which is causing
The Standards Committee watched the programme.
concern. In the Commission’s view, the example used -
While it understood the complainant’s concerns, the
in which the violence shown towards the dog was
Committee concluded that the weight of the episode had
brief and inexplicit - served the purpose of illustrating
been to uphold responsible relationships. It concluded
the possible connection between cruelty to animals and
that although the scenes of the stag party had been at the
violent crime against people. It was a subject of
edge of acceptability for the transmission slot, they had
legitimate public interest and was not presented in a
not exceeded acceptable boundaries. The complaint was
sensational manner. The complaint was not upheld.
Mercia FM, 12 August 1998, 1800-2200
A listener complained about the use of bad language.
A Standards Panel listened to the song. It recognised that the radio version of the record had been played and
took the view that the content had not exceeded
Merica FM said that the tape was Puff Daddy’s,
acceptable boundaries. The complaint was not upheld.
’Come with me’, and confirmed that the version playedwas the radio edit, which contained no unacceptable
Hale and Pace
Nairobi: True Terror
Five viewers complained of the use of bad language.
A viewer complained about harrowing scenes depicting
One also complained about sexual innuendo.
London Weekend Television said the first sketch
United Broadcasting and Entertainment said a
complained of had been a parody of the style of the
pre-transmission announcement warned viewers that the
American film director Quentin Tarantino and his
programme would show the graphic portrayal of the
customary use of bad language, usually delivered in a
results of the Nairobi terrorist bombing and would
deadpan and unselfconscious way. The point of the
therefore contain harrowing scenes which viewers might
sketch had been to contrast the language with the
find disturbing. In addition, at the start of the
normally well-mannered context of a restaurant.
programme the presenter explained that although the
The sketch had come towards the end of the programme,
very worst excesses of terrorist bombings were usually
an hour after the Watershed, and the programme itself
filtered out, this programme would let the viewers see
what journalists normally see to enable them tounderstand more fully “what happens when terrorists
The sketches involving sexual content had played on the
take on the world, slaughtering the weak and innocent”.
traditional stereotype of children embarrassed by thethought of their parents having a physical relationship
United went on to say that although it was considered
and a running gag involving an Italian waiter wielding
appropriate and important to portray the real human
a pepper mill. The broadcaster believed the hour of
impact of terrorism, great care was taken over the detail
transmission, the brevity and the well-known style of the
of the graphic material to be shown and the context in
programme removed it of offence for those familiar with
which it was presented. The programme treated the
bombing from many different perspectives, includingvictims, camera crews, journalists and medical workers.
It maximised all positive aspects of the situation
A Standards Panel watched the programme, noting
including the unity which was brought to Nairobi, the
particularly the sketch set in a restaurant in which the
devotion of the rescue workers and the emotional and
menu and the conversation used Tarantino style words
physical rebuilding of lives. The context and justification
and ‘fuck’ replaced ‘thank you’. While the Panel
for the harrowing scenes in the programme rendered
understood the potential for offence, especially to those
them neither gratuitous, tasteless nor sensationalist.
viewers joining the programme late, it took the view that the farcical nature of the conversation reduced
the potential for offence in a well-known comedy
The Standards Committee watched the programme,
programme for adults broadcast after the Watershed.
noting that some of the images shown were, indeed,
It also took the view that the sexual content of the
shocking, with a level of explicitness not usually
programme had not exceeded acceptable boundaries
depicted by broadcasters when acts of terrorism
for the time of transmission. The complaints were
have occurred in the United Kingdom. Nonetheless,
it acknowledged the rationale for the programme and the responsible way in which it was handled. In the
Committee’s view, the use of such powerful scenes wasneither gratuitous nor sensationalist, but represented the true horror of terrorism. It therefore served animportant public interest and educative function. The Committee also considered that the clear advicegiven before and at the start of the programme wouldhave alerted viewers to its powerful and disturbingcontent. The complaint was not upheld.
Hale and Pace
A viewer complained about the dangerous and
A viewer complained about the sexual content,
irresponsible use of compressed air in a comedy sketch.
considering it neither educational or informative.
London Weekend Television said the sketch featured two
Meridian Television said that the series took a number
well-known characters in the series who normally engage
of themes and looked at different classes and social
in stupid and irresponsible acts. This choreographed
groups, focusing on diary style excerpts from teenage life.
sequence of mayhem in a garage could best be likened to
Pre-transmission, billings had given a clear indication
a live action cartoon. In one part of the routine, one of
that it would be about sex and the consequences of sex
the character’s eyes had bulged through the use of digital
special effects. The vast majority of people did not haveready access to compressed air.
The BSC’s Finding
A Standards Panel viewed the programme. It considered
that the teenagers followed in the series were involved
A Standards Panel viewed the programme, noting the
in unusual situations and the majority of the audience
sketch complained of in which a variety of silly and
would have been able to recognise this and the
potentially dangerous events took place including the
consequences. It took the view that the content did not
firing of ball bearings using compressed air. It took the
exceed acceptable boundaries for a serious documentary
view that the farcical nature of the scene and its cartoon-
broadcast well after the Watershed. The complaint was
like quality robbed it of any sense of reality. While it
understood the concerns of the complainant, itconsidered that these particular acts were unlikely to
encourage imitation. The complaint was not upheld.
ITV, 9 October 1998, 2000-2100
Two viewers complained that blind people had been
A Standards Panel viewed the programme. It considered
portrayed in an offensive and stereotypical way.
that most viewers would have been sympathetic to thecharacters from the outset. Because they had been
shown as engaging in fierce verbal battles and being very
Carlton Television said that this was a gentle series about
competitive in their relationship, the Panel concluded
a country vet’s practice, and the story of two blind men,
this would have been unlikely to have reinforced any
Pete and Dave, and Dave’s guide dog, Clinton. They did
negative stereotypes about blind people. The complaints
not consider that the part of the plot complained of
would have been seen by viewers as having stereotypedthe men’s disability or given rise to offence. Dave had
turned one stereotype on its head by saying: “We mightbe blind, but we’re not stupid.” The guide dog hadbeen supplied by Guide Dogs for the Blind.
The Truth About.Sex Appeal
A viewer complained about the violent content of a
A viewer complained about the scheduling of this
cartoon and considered it inappropriate for children.
programme, owing to its sexual content.
GMTV said the programme had been running since
The broadcaster said the subject matter and treatment
April without complaint. It was far removed from reality
of the subject had been appropriate to the time of
and had no human characters. The heroes always won
transmission. The title of the programme had indicated
and the villains always lost. Action generally resulted
unequivocally the precise subject matter of the
not in death but transformation. Any violence was brief
programme and that had been supported by television
and set in the science fiction context.
listings. There had also been a clear pre-transmissionwarning. Discussion and comment within the
programme was light hearted and humorous. Although,
A Standards Panel watched the episode. It took the
at times, candid it was believed that the programme
view that the violence in the cartoon was not of a
fulfilled the relevant taste and decency obligations for
significantly different character to that available in many
similar cartoons for children and was unlikely toencourage imitation. The setting was clearly fictional
and bore no relationship to everyday life. The complaint
A Standards Panel viewed the programme noting that
it consisted, primarily, of celebrities talking about sexappeal and their sexual relationships. The Panel
concluded that the programme had not gone beyondacceptable boundaries for broadcast post-Watershed.
The complaint was not upheld.
The Glorious 12th Special
ITV, 12 July 1998, 0135-0420
A complaint was received that the name of this
A Standards Panel viewed the programme. It considered
programme was the same as that given to the main day
that there had been no deliberate intent to cause offence.
in the Orange Order’s marching calendar, which had
Whilst it would have been preferable to have avoided
been associated with illegal and violent acts in this and
the use of this term, most viewers would not have
been aware of the possible link. The complaint was not upheld.
The Broadcaster’s Statement
Carlton Television said this programme had been a
preview of two major international sporting events
shown on ITV later that day, the British motor racingGrand Prix and the football World Cup Final. The titlehad been intended to reflect a glorious day of sportwhich happened to be the twelfth of the month. Formost viewers it would have had connotations of anothersporting event - the opening of the grouse-shootingseason - rather than the marching season in NorthernIreland. ITV Sports had had no intention of causingoffence anywhere in the UK.
The Jerry Springer Show
You’ve Been Framed!
ITV, 21 & 24 September 1998, 1330-1415
Two viewers complained about discussions concerning
Two viewers complained about different aspects of the
relationships and sexual activity involving three people.
programme. One considered that showing people beinghurt was inappropriate entertainment. Both objected to
scenes of children hitting each other.
London Weekend Television said that it took great careto try to ensure that the programmes’ content was both
popular and acceptable to the audience, while complying
Granada Television said that they operated a strict policy
with the ITC Programme Code. It also took school
with regard to all clips submitted to the programme,
holidays into account and consciously chose more
particularly those involving children. No foul play was
appropriate episodes outside term time. These particular
shown and the broadcaster had to be satisfied that no-
episodes had been transmitted during term time.
LWT said that the edition of the programme broadcast
Because of the time constraints of the programme, it was
on 24 September had included a discussion of sexual
not always possible to show viewers the recovery. But
matters and was typical of the series as a whole. The
the programme team discarded any video where anyone
participants had spoken honestly about their “three-in-a-
bed” activities, but the discussion had not been prurientand had not gone into detail. The experiences of the
The broadcaster went on to say that it was a fact that
participants would have acted as a deterrent to viewers
children hit each other, especially young siblings. But the
and the presenter had emphasised the likely problems of
reason for showing the clips was not to encourage such
behaviour amongst the children who watch theprogramme, nor in the ten years the programme had
been broadcast was there any evidence to support this.
A Standards Panel watched the programmes. It believedthat style and content of the programmes were well-
established and considered that the subject matter of the
A Standards Panel watched this episode of the long-
discussions had not been inappropriate for the time of
established programme in which viewers send in clips of
transmission. It also took the view that the sexual
unfortunate mishaps recorded on their own video
content had been inexplicit and that the presentation of
cameras, and usually within their own families. While it
the discussions would not have encouraged viewers to
understood the concerns of the complainants, the Panel
imitate the participant’s behaviour. The Panel concluded
accepted the broadcaster’s reassurance that the clips were
that the programmes had not exceeded acceptable
carefully vetted. In the Panel’s view, the short and
boundaries. The complaints were not upheld.
generally light-hearted presentation had robbed thematerial of potential offence and had not encouraged
imitation. The complaints were not upheld
The South Bank Show
A viewer complained of the graphic description and
Six viewers complained about an item in which three
couples were given Viagra to test and then to discusstheir experiences.
The Broadcaster’s Statement
London Weekend Television said that this edition of
The South Bank Show had concentrated on the work of
Granada Television said the programme was broadcast in
the American author, Bret Easton Ellis, widely regarded
the week that Viagra had been awarded its European
as one of the leading contemporary American writers
licence. It was decided that the most realistic way of
of fiction. His books are controversial. Care was taken
prompting discussion was to hold a trial with volunteers.
in the dramatisation of his work to avoid graphic
Each couple chosen had had their impotency problem
violence. Each extract had been properly contextualised
medically confirmed and all had been keen to try the new
to illustrate points discussed with the author in his
drug and discuss their problems publicly. The volunteers
interview. The programme had also been scheduled later
had felt that their discussion would have helped others,
than usual and had been preceded by an unambiguous
and after the programme had thanked the production
staff and presenters for the opportunity to discuss theissue of impotency, and for the way that the discussion
A Standards Panel watched the programme. It took the view that it had presented a serious examination of
Granada said that the trial had been conducted properly
the work of a novelist whose third book had been
and the programme had also included an extended
controversial because of its violent content. It considered
phone-in on the issue with the programme’s resident GP,
the dramatisations had suggested far more than they had
Dr Steele. He had given advice to viewers and had outlined
shown, and that the author had been tested about his
other treatments available and where to get help.
reasons for writing in this way. In the Panel’s judgement,the content was unlikely to have exceeded the
The broadcaster believed that the programme had been
expectations of the majority of the audience to this late
educational and informative, and despite the enthusiastic
night arts programme, which had been preceded by a
media coverage of Viagra, the volunteers had experienced
clear warning. The complaint was not upheld.
The BSC’s Finding
A Standards Panel watched the programme. It consideredthat the item about the issue of impotency had been oflegitimate public interest and had not attempted tosensationalise the impact of Viagra. It took the view that the discussion about the experiences of thevolunteers had been neither explicit nor gratuitous. The Panel considered that the programme, with the helpof the resident GP, had presented the issue in a factualmanner and had not exceeded acceptable boundaries. The complaints were not upheld
The Chippendales: a Secret History
The Jerry Springer Show
A viewer complained about sexually explicit content and
Five viewers complained about sexually suggestive scenes,
an interview with a contract killer, which he considered
two women who covered themselves in ice cream and
sensationalised and glamorised the link between
chocolate, respectively, and invited men to remove the
substance; a man who offered to do housework in thenude, posing in a thong; and a man who invited women
Granada Television said that Roy Colon gave his firsttelevision interview about his relationship with the
Chippendale’s creator and the part he played in the
London Weekend Television explained that the stock-in-
murder of the group’s choreographer. His testament was
trade of the programme is well established as being
crucial to the narrative. Colon had been charged with
outrageous. Many of those appearing in the programme
various crimes and had been sentenced to seven years’
give the impression of being show business hopefuls.
imprisonment, although this was reduced in the light of
The episode in question, ‘Wild Ways to Make a Living’,
his subsequent co-operation with the authorities.
was edited carefully before transmission to ensure itcontained no nudity and nothing sexually explicit.
The programme was illustrated with archive footage of
Rather than being titillating, the tenor of the scenes was
the Chippendales, which contained no more than partial
humorous and good natured, with the presenter
male nudity. The Chippendales’ activities could be viewed
supporting the intention of the participants’ friends to
as sensational and glamorous but it was difficult to see
discourage them from pursuing such careers.
how such qualities applied to a documentary account ofthe downfall of their creator and his criminal activities.
This was a late night documentary for an adult audience,
A Standards Panel watched the programme, noting the
dealing with the rise of a remarkable phenomenon over
scenes complained of. It acknowledged that the style of
20 years and concentrating on the two principal
these programmes was now well known, but that their
personalities involved. The story, not widely known,
content needed to be considered carefully given the time
of transmission. There was no nudity in the programme,with the various participants dressed in underwear, nor
were any of the scenes sexually explicit. The Panel took
A Standards Panel noted that the Commission had
the view that, on balance, the humour associated with
previously reached a Finding which did not uphold a
the scenes did much to rob them of offence, and that the
complaint relating to the sexual content of this
programme was unlikely to have exceeded the
programme. In considering the question of the
expectations of the majority of the audience. The
glamorisation of crime, it was of the opinion that the
interviews had helped to inform this examination of thedarker side of the Chippendales’ history and were
unlikely to have exceeded the expectations of themajority of the audience. The complaint was not upheld.
The complaints summarised below were not upheld and no statement was required from the broadcaster. Complaints
may not be upheld because the content was considered likely to be within the expectations of the audience for the type
of programme; or the programme was appropriately labelled or scheduled, or the content was deemed acceptable
within the context in which it was broadcast.
The 11 O’Clock Show
Advertisement for Nintendo
The Jerry Springer Show
Channel 4 News
The Pepsi Chart
Soul Night: Soul Weekender
The Big Breakfast
Edge of Blue Heaven
A Royal Celebration
You’ve Been Framed!
North East Tonight
Trail for Naked
Words with Wark
The Heaven and Earth Show
Children in Need
Trail for Naked
Witness: Acting Natural
Research Working Papers
Regulating for Changing Values Institute of Communication Studies; 1997
The Provision of Children’s Television in Britain: 1992-1996 Maire Messenger Davies/Beth Corbett; 1997
Bad Language - What are the Limits? Andrea Millwood Hargrave; 1998
Men Viewing ViolenceStirling Media Research Institute and Violence Research Centre, Manchester University; 1998
Sex and Sensibility Andrea Millwood Hargrave; 1999
Annual Monitoring Reports
Monitoring Report 1: 1992
Research Working Papers of the former Broadcasting Standards Council
Children, Television and MoralityDr Anne Sheppard, University of Leeds; 1990
Television and Fantasy: An Exploratory StudyCRG, Aston University; 1990
3. Morality, Television and the Pre-adolescent
Research International, Young Minds; 1990
Television, Advertising and Sex Role StereotypingCRG, Aston University; 1990
Children, Television and Morality IIDr Anne Sheppard, University of Leeds; 1990
Television and Young PeopleJohn Caughie, John Logie Baird Centre, University of Glasgow; 1992
The Portrayal of Ethnic Minorities on TelevisionAndrea Millwood Hargrave, K Aisbett, M Gillespie; 1992
The Future of Children’s Television in Britain: An Enquiry for the BSCProfessor Jay Blumler; 1992
Perspectives of Women in TelevisionAndrea Millwood Hargrave, CRG, A Sreberny-Mohammadi; 1994
10. A Profile of Complainants and their Complaints
11. Perspectives of Disability in Broadcasting
12. A Review of Research on Children’s ‘Negative’ Emotional Responses to TV
Andrea Millwood Hargrave, Professor J Halloran, P Gray; 1996
Please send any order and cheque to the Broadcasting Standards Commission, 7 The Sanctuary, London SW1P 3JS.
A receipt will not be sent unless requested.
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Ottica sistemica, psicoterapia e psicofarmacologia L’ottica sistemica mi ha insegnato tantissime cose e di un paio ne parlo volentieri. Per prima cosa mi ha fatto sentire di essere parte del tutto. La seconda a non essere troppo fazioso e radicale: credo fermamente che questa ottica possa insegnare ad evitare dogmatismi e fondamentalismi. Come sappiamo il rapporto tra psicoterapia e psicof