NEWS SNIPPETS____________________

 

OCTOBER 2003

 

 

TV Hardman hits out over violence

 

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ormer EastEnders star Martin Kemp has blasted ‘cartoon’ style violence in TV soaps.  The actor, who played hard-man Steve Owen, said the programmes made violence look too easy and he had battled with BBC producers over the issue.  Kemp is now starring as a criminal in the new ITV1 drama Family which goes out after 9.00pm.  “I insisted the violence had to look real”, he said. 

 

Daily Mail 1/10/2003

 

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The Den Effect

 

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irty Den Watts proved he still has the old pulling power.  EastEnders viewing figures rocketed to over 17 million (64 per cent audience share) when he made his much hyped return to the show on Monday after a 14-year absence.  Speculation has resurfaced that the BBC wants to extend the soap to five nights a week.

 

Daily Mail 1/10/2003

 

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Promiscuity: why we must terrify our teenagers

 

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romiscuity amongst teenagers has led to dramatic increases in sexually transmitted diseases.  The removal of any link between sex and love, commitment or stable relationships has had terrible consequences.  Teenagers want to emulate their contemporaries, and the overwhelming pressure to be sexually active comes from all quarters.  Seven year olds are taught about sex in schools.  Modesty, dignity and decorum are seen as ridiculously old-fashioned qualities.  In Coronation Street, a 36-year-old man has been sleeping with a 16-year-old schoolgirl, and her parents are portrayed as unreasonable for being angry.

 

Linda Lee Potter wring in the Daily Mail 1/10/2003

 

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Copycat fears over TV Russian roulette

 

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olice have condemned as irresponsible a Channel 4 programme in which an entertainer has promised to play Russian roulette with a loaded gun.  A “mind control expert” plans to fire a revolver loaded with one bullet at his head until he reaches the chamber he believes contains it.  He will the fire away from his body.  Channel 4 is broadcasting the stunt live on Sunday evening, although there will be a delay of several seconds in case “something goes wrong”.  The filming will take place overseas to get round British legislation.  The vice-president of the Police Superintendent’s Association said: “you’re going to get copycat kids doing this and we’re possibly going to end up with some tragedies.  If this were staged here it would be committing umpteen offences.”  But Channel 4 said: “People who are suggestible to that sort of behaviour should not have access to handguns.  The programme will be accompanied by strenuous warnings reminding people it is taking place in a controlled environment and must not be replicated”.

 

The Times 2/10/2003

 

Speaking today John Beyer, director of mediawatch-uk, called upon the Independent Television Commission to intervene and stop the programme going out.  He said: “This is another example of Channel 4 TV completely disregarding their obligations and of the regulator failing in their statutory duties.  This programme shows a total lack of respect for Human Dignity and seems to be in clear breach of General Requirements the ITC’s Programme Code.  One wonders how such a programme can be in the public interest?”

 

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Is this the sickest TV stunt yet?

 

I discovered that Channel 4 is screening a programme on Sunday night in which a 32-year-old illusionist will hold a gun to his head and pull the trigger.  Every care has been taken to ensure the viewer believes that bloody and instant death is a real possibility.  Can there be a more dramatic example of the perversity which our television moguls today so often confuse with programming?  Channel 4 is peddling the trill of sudden death.  It will glorify guns, encourage impressionable children to take similar risks and it will exalt violence and undermine attempts to combat the gun culture that has grown up in some inner cities.  Even the possession of the revolver that will be used in this act would be illegal in Britain – that is why the producers have had to skulk away to a studio in some secret foreign location.  Channel 4 aims to appeal to the basest of human instincts – the hideous attraction, which mercifully appeals only to a minority of the population, of physical degradation.

 

Extracts from an article by Roy Hattersley writing in the Daily Mail 3/10/2003  

 

Click here for ‘Promoting a Culture of Violence 2’

 

For news and information visit: www.channel4.com

 

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Europe backs BBC curriculum project

 

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he BBC has finally received approval from Brussels to launch its controversial digital curriculum project.  The BBC plans to spend £150 million of licence fee money over five years on online educational material which will be freely available to all pupils and parents.  The plan was vigorously opposed by educational publishers on the ground that the BBC’s project would damage their future market opportunities.

 

The Times 3/10/2003

 

For news and information visit: www.bbc.co.uk

 

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Delay to licence fee’s day in the dock

 

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 High Court hearing on the legality of the BBC licence fee due to be heard today is likely to be delayed for weeks.  A Canadian living in Oxfordshire who has filed a civil case against the BBC under the European Convention on Human Rights, has asked for an adjournment so that he can find a QC to argue his case.  If he were to win, he believes that Tessa Jowell, the Culture Secretary, would have to submit proposals to Parliament for a “more proportional and egalitarian public funding package for the BBC”.  Ms Jowell has already begun the process of reviewing every aspect of the BBC’s operations including its funding.  The BBC remains confident that the fee does not breach the convention.

 

The Times 3/10/2003

 

Click here for ‘Funding the BBC’

 

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Green light for £4bn ITV merger

 

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he UK’s two largest commercial television companies will hear next week that they will be allowed to merge on more favourable terms than they dared hope for.  The £4 billion deal will strengthen ITV in its battle with the BBC and satellite broadcaster BSkyB and release an extra £50 million for new programmes.

 

The Times 4/10/2003

 

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BBC shows Del repeats 47 times in one year

 

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he BBC came under fire last night over the number of repeats it shows after it emerged that re-runs of Only Fools and Horses had been screened 47 times in the past year.  More than a third of programmes on BBC1 and BBC2 have been shown before.  The corporation, recently criticised for crowding out new shows with repeats, will feature re-screened programmes in 36 per cent of the channels’ autumn schedules.  In July, television watchdog mediawatch-uk criticised the BBC for showing twice as many repeats as it did ten years ago, describing the trend as ‘highly regrettable’.

 

Daily Mail 4/10/2003

 

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Paranormal damaging to viewers

 

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howing paranormal practices on television can be damaging to viewers, the Methodist Church has claimed.  The Church expressed its concerns in a submission to the Independent Television Commission, which is reviewing its code on programmes exploring the paranormal.  The submission said producers should not present paranormal practices as entertainment.  “Exorcism and the use of Ouija boards clearly falls into this category,” it argued.

 

The Times 4/10/2003

 

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Time to adjust your set for the new-look ITV

 

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ranada and Carlton should this week get the green light from the Government to merge.  That is to be applauded.  It is a merger that needs to be done, creating a national commercial competitor to the BBC and BskyB.  The service the two companies provide, as separate entities, to shareholders are simply not good enough.  Together they will be better placed to screw down costs and improve programming.  My personal hope is that at long last there will be something decent to watch on ITV.

 

William Lewis, Business Editor, Sunday Times 5/10/2003

 

Government expects Board shake-up at merged ITV

 

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he £3.8 billion merger of Carlton and Granada will be approved this week, with senior government sources expecting a shake-up of the top management at the new united ITV.  One government source said: ‘A strong ITV is very important.  It is not good that there is no real opposition to the BBC and Sky.’  The government is keen for ITV to be run more efficiently, not least because it would help preserve the group’s independence from foreign ownership.

 

Sunday Times 5/10/2003

 

Click here for mediawatch-uk submission to the Competition Commission

 

For news and information visit: www.Competition-Commission.org.uk

 

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A gay TV kiss may not be as liberating as they thing

 

Writing in the Sunday Times John Humphrys examined the ‘social engineering’ role of television:

 

“The law has changed but so have attitudes.  That is partly down to television.  It has been in the vanguard of social change.  Much of what we take to be reality comes from the box.  The norms of what is acceptable on television become the norms of what is acceptable in society at large.  This is the way prejudice is challenged.

Tonight, for the first time in its 43 years, Coronation Street will show two men kissing.  Lets be charitable and say it has more to do with changing attitudes than chasing ratings.  It is still a risky business … too much social engineering might produce too much “Ugh”.”

 

Sunday Times 5/10/2003

 

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Parents demand more warning of violence on TV

 

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arents believe TV soaps are continuing to ‘push the boundaries’ of early-evening viewing with scenes of sex and violence.  They want more on-screen warnings about explicit content before the 9.00pm watershed, a survey found.  More than 4,000 adults and 1,500 children were asked which programmes they believed showed scenes that were unacceptable before the deadline.  Most felt soaps were going too far with storylines to boost ratings with 95 per cent of adults backing the watershed and 72 per cent of youngsters agreeing.  The study also revealed that 52 per cent of four to nine-year-olds, and up to 76 per cent of tne to 15-year-olds, have a TV in their room.

 

Daily Mail 6/10/2003

 

Click here for mediawatch-uk comment of the watershed (blue text)

 

For further information on this report visit: www.ofcom.org.uk where there is a link to the old ITC website

 

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ITV merger angers advertisers

 

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n influential trade association representing some of Britain’s biggest advertisers last night expressed ‘serious concerns’ that Granada and Carlton Communications would use their position to dominate the TV advertising market if the Government approves a proposed merger of the two companies today.  Shares in both ITV companies raced higher yesterday amid hopes that the Trade and Industry Secretary will allow the companies to keep their advertising sales units as part of the £4 billion merger.

 

The Times 7/10/2003

 

Click here for Ofcom: latest developments

 

For news and information visit: www.ofcom.org.uk

 

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Bullet was fake but complaints are real

 

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roadcasting regulators are investigating complaints about the Channel 4 programme in which a man appeared to play Russian roulette, even though it turned out to be a hoax.  Three million viewers saw Derren Brown, a “mind control expert”, fire a revolver said to contain a live bullet at his temple on Sunday night.  The Independent Television Commission said that it had received 31 complaints about the stunt.  The admission that no live ammunition was involved will not help Channel 4.

 

The Times 8/10/2003

 

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Bono’s TV f-word not indecent

 

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omplaints against U2 singer Bono swearing while on stage at the Golden Globe Awards ceremony have been dismissed by a US TV watchdog, it emerged yesterday.  The Federal Communications Commission ruled the singer’s colourful language did not violate federal indecency rules.  The FCC rejected complaints from the Parents Television Council and more than 200 people who accused dozens of television stations of violating restrictions on obscene broadcasts.

 

Western Daily Press 8/10/2003

 

Click here for ‘The Daily Grunt’

 

For news and information on US TV regulation visit: www.fcc.gov

 

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Man of 60 shot dead after 100mph ‘road rage’ chase

 

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ritain’s growing gun culture claimed another victim yesterday when a 60-year-old man was shot dead in a possible road rage attack.  He was fatally wounded in front of three friends after their car had been chased for more than 15 miles at speeds of 100mph.  Detectives said the four were returning after an ‘innocent night out’.  There was no obvious reason for the killing.  The shooting comes after a week of gun violence on Britain’s streets.

 

Daily Mail 9/10/2003

 

Click here for ‘Promoting a Culture of Violence 2’

 

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I’ll axe ‘tired’ shows says new ITV chief

 

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he new head of ITV has signalled that he plans to clear out ‘tired’ shows and talent from the network.  Only a day after the Government gave the go-ahead to a £4 billion deal to create a single ITV, network director of programmes, Nigel Pickard said the 48-year-old channel is in a ‘mid-life crisis’.  Unless you’re working hard to bring on the next generation, you’re in trouble.  Mr Pickard also suggested that he may cut religious programming, alarming those who have questioned ITV’s public service commitment following yesterday’s merger of Carlton and Granada.  The 104 hours of religion that ITV is bound by TV regulators to show sticks out ‘like a very sore thumb’ in the schedule.  Critics fear ITV will dumb down even further and focus on entertainment and drama.

 

Daily Mail 9/10/2003

 

For ITC/Ofcom joint briefing on the merger decision visit: www.ofcom.org.uk

 

For news and information visit: www.Competition-Commission.org.uk

 

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Unreality TV makes Henry VIII a rapist

 

ITV is being accused of sensationalism after depicting Henry VIII as a rapist in a new historical drama.  Ray Winstone, as the monarch, is seen assaulting Anne Boleyn after they argue about her failure to produce a son.  The scene has no apparent basis in fact and television watchdogs and historians say it seems to have been included by programme makers Granada to boost ratings.  John Beyer, director of mediawatch-uk said: ‘I think there is far too much emphasis on rape, violence and sexual assault on television today and to put this rape in some kind of clever historical setting is far from what viewers expect.  Television makers do this sort of thing all the time.  They write in particular scenes, sex it all up – and it adds to the idea that this is an acceptable activity, which it isn’t.  I am sure the aim to attract more viewers and improve the ratings, and including the rape scene is another example.  Derek Wilson, a historian who specialises in the reign of Henry VIII said: “This rape doesn’t seem as if it ever took place.  It goes against everything we know about their relationship.  Although he was know for being a bully as he got older, in his younger years the king was extremely courteous and witty and he abided by the conventions of his time.”  Miss Bonham-Carter, who plays Anne Boleyn, admits the rape depiction will shock viewers and said it was difficult to film.

 

Daily Mail 9/10/2003

 

Click here for Joining Form

 

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‘Vampire’ killer who drank fiend’s blood jailed for life

 

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man who claimed that he had been driven to murder his best friend and drink his blood after making a pact with a character from a vampire films was jailed for life yesterday.  Allan Menzies, a former security guard, claimed he was visited by a female vampire called Akasha, the lead character in the Hollywood film ‘Queen of the Damned’.  He told the court that on her instructions he had killed Mr McKendrick at home in December last year.

 

The Times 9/10/2003

 

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BBC claims £12m Disney film deal is good value

 

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he BBC has claimed that a £12 million deal to screen 100 Disney blockbusters, including Chicago, is good value for licence-fee payers.  The largest film deal signed by the BBC gives it first terrestrial screenings of hits including Calendar Girls and Pirates of the Caribbean.  But MPs have warned the BBC to forget ratings-grabbing Hollywood hits and invest more in production of British films after it spent £10 million buying the rights to screen the first Harry Potter film earlier this year.  The package includes The Hours and films yet to open, including Cold Mountain, from award-winning director Anthony Minghella.  The BBC is also hoping to secure the rights to two other Buena Vista releases, the animated tale Finding Nemo and Quentin Tarrantino’s Kill Bill.

 

The Times 9/10/2003

 

For news and information visit: www.bbc.co.uk

 

For news and information on film classification visit: www.bbfc.co.uk

 

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ITV rivals consider merging ad sales businesses

 

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TV’s biggest commercial rivals have launched urgent talks to consider merging their advertising sales business to fight off the effect of the combined Carlton and Granada group.  The rival group of broadcasters have already had regular discussions in advance of this week’s decision to allow the merger to go ahead with minimal conditions.  The Independent Television Commission and Ofcom, the new communications regulator, have launched a far-reaching review.

 

The Times 9/10/2003

 

For ITC/Ofcom joint briefing on the merger decision visit: www.ofcom.org.uk

 

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Quentin misses the point

 

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uentin Tarrantino’s fourth and worst film is a 112-minute gorefest: the first half of what threatens to be the most pornographically violent movie in history.  For those who just can’t giggle enough at murder and mutilation, Volume 2 follows in February.  Uma Thurman plays a professional killer understandably annoyed when five former colleagues spoil her wedding day by murdering her groom, the guests and (she assumed) the baby she was carrying.  Five years later, she wakes up from a coma and embarks on killing spree.  This culminates in a finale where she butchers about 90 people.  Tarrantino has tried to excuse the violence in Kill Bill by arguing that it is deliberately stylised, unrealistic, cartoonish.  When dozens of characters have limbs amputated, they spurt blood … which comes across as cold, inhuman, even psychotic.  Tarrantino is no fool, and he knows how to make young juices flow.  He senses that the US is in the mood for revenge, that it is prepared to kill those who have hurt it … Kill Bill is a post 9/11 movie, and the nastiest, most cynical and exploitative one yet.

 

Extract from Review by Christopher Tookey

 

Daily Mail 10/10/2003

 

For news and information on film classification visit: www.bbfc.co.uk

 

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Bono’s TV F-word not indecent

 

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omplaints against U2 singer Bono swearing, while on stage at the Golden Globe Awards ceremony have been dismissed by a US TV watchdog, it emerged yesterday.  The US Federal Communications Commission ruled the Irish singer’s colourful language did not violate federal indecency rules.  The FCC rejected complaints from the Parents Television Council who accused dozens of television stations of violating restrictions on obscene broadcasts by airing portions of the awards programme last January.  The PTC, a Los Angeles-based group said it would appeal against the decision and said: ‘the FCC don’t take indecency seriously and that’s why you see it proliferating on the broadcast airwaves.’

 

Western Daily Press 8/10/2003

 

For news and information on the regulation of US television visit: www.fcc.gov

 

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Carter warns Ofcom will face unparalleled legal challenges

 

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fcom chief executive Stephen Carter has predicted that the new super-regulator will face an unprecedented amount of legal threats.  Carter has said that the new regulatory set-up had created “more and more routes” for people to contest Ofcom’s judgements.  He added that Ofcom would need “first rate legal expertise” which “leads me to the conclusion that Ofcom better make sure it is overlawyered”.

 

Broadcast 10/10/2003

 

For news and information about Ofcom visit: www.ofcom.org.uk

 

For latest industry news visit: www.broadcastnow.co.uk

 

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Williams attacks adverts’ tyranny over young

 

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he Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has criticised the “tyranny” of advertisers and accused them of using children to persuade their parents to buy them things they do not need.  Dr Williams, in an interview to be broadcast on Channel 4 tonight, calls on the Government to consider what can be done to limit the targeting of young people by advertisers.  “What makes me wince” he said “is the conscious targeting of young people – who don’t actually have purchasing power themselves call ‘pester power’ with parents – in a way which trains children into certain assumptions about what ought to make … their live satisfactory.”

 

The Times 10/10/2003

 

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Porn star is 10th at the last lap

 

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erhaps it was the “Porn for Pistols” amnesty programme, or her campaign pledge to make lap dances a tax-deductible business expense, but Californian voters seemed to warm to Mary Carey, an “adult” actress who produced 30 films last year alone.  Carey won 10,110 votes and a respectable tenth place in the governorship election.  During a normal election, of course tenth place would not sound so good but in a race with 135 names on the ballot, it was positively a victory.

 

The Times 10/10/2003

 

For news and information about the fight against pornography in the US visit: www.moralityinmedia.org

 

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Carlton-Granada seek control of news broadcaster

 

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arlton and Granada are planning to take control of Independent News (ITV) when their merger is completed, if those who hold the rest of the stake are willing to sell.  At present both Carlton and Granada each own 20 per cent of the television news organisation that provides national and international news for ITV Channel 4 and five.  The two media groups are keen to take control of the group after the Communications Bill ruled that the present ownership limit, preventing any company holding more than 20 per cent of ITN, should rise to 40 per cent.

 

The Times 11/10/2003

 

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BBC’s top station gets the feminine touch

 

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he female grip on the upper echelons of the BBC has tightened after Leslie Douglas was handed the reins of Radio 2, Britain’s most popular station.  Ms Douglas joined the high flyers yesterday, when she was named the new controller of the award-winning station.  She inherits 13 million listeners and immediately made clear that there was no going back on the station’s policy of toning down the soft rock in favour of something noisier.

 

The Times 11/10/2003

 

For news and information visit: www.bbc.co.uk

 

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Faith News

 

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he ITV network may stop broadcasting religious programmes if they fail to bring in viewers, its director of programmes has said.  Nigel Pickard argued that ITV could not “tolerate indefinitely” unpopular arts, news and religion slots, although it said it was still committed to public service broadcasting.

 

The Times 11/10/2003

 

For news and information visit: www.itv.com

 

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ITV goes for Gold growth plan

 

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TV is to offer a series of new channels including ITV Gold, a children’s channel and channels that show “delayed” coverage of favourite programmes such as Coronation Street.  The strategy is revealed today in an interview with Charles Allen and Michael Green, the men who will run the merged company.  They vow to work closely together and say they will stave off any American takeover by implementing a seven-point plan.  That plan will include a commitment to produce more format television programmes like I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here and a push to overturn regulations that demand ITV pays £300 million for its licences.  Granada chairman Allen and his counterpart Green vow to make the new company more “outward looking” after a period of introspection by ITV companies in recent years.  In bullish mood, Green refutes the idea that an American bidder would go for ITV when it was capitalised at £4.2 billion.  A reorganisation of the news function will be central to the new plan, which will govern how ITV is run in its first year.

 

Sunday Times 12/10/2003

 

For news and information visit: www.itv.com

 

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Big Brother’s teen sex at prime time

 

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hannel 4 has been bitterly criticised over a teenage version of Big Brother which shows two 18-year-olds having sex.  The show, recorded over ten days in the summer, was to have been shown in a daytime educational slot.  When TV executives realised the salacious highlights on offer, they decided to show the programme at peak time every evening this week.  Channel 4 has claimed the programme, made for its educational off-shoot 4Learning by the production company Endemol, was a ‘challenging learning experience’.  The programme is said to look at ‘citizenship, leadership, status, living and learning together’ and the winner is promised a ‘vocational trip of a lifetime’.

 

Daily Mail 13/10/2003

 

Click here for mediawatch-uk letter to Government

 

Click here for mediawatch-uk Directory

 

For news and information visit: www.channel4.com

 

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News Corp may sue BBC over breach of licence

 

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he News Corporation is considering suing the BBC because it is broadcasting News Corp programmes such as The Simpsons outside its agreed licensed area.  The problem stems from the BBC’s decision to change the way it broadcasts digital channels.  To save money the BBC ended a deal with BSkyB and now broadcasts its digital channels unscrambled.

 

The Times 14/10/2003

 

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Populist Idol as TV seeks an MP

 

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TV is planning a Pop Idol-style programme aimed at making someone an MP.  Called ‘Vote For Me’, it will stage a nationwide search for potential parliamentary candidates.  A panel of experts will whittle down the chosen contenders, with the public making the final decision.  The winner will then stand in a by-election.

 

Daily Mail 14/10/2003

 

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66,000 yob incidents in one day

 

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he Home Secretary, David Blunkett, has called for police and council officials to be sacked if they fail to take action against anti-social behaviour.  ‘They are paid by the community and should be held accountable by the community.  Mr Blair urgerd police and councils to make full use of the powers introduced since Labour came to power, and promised more if needed.  He said loutish behaviour must be tackled ‘with real energy’ adding: ‘We owe it to the victims of anti-social behaviour, often the poorest in society, and get together.  The Home Secretary said that, overall, the Government would spend £22 million on strengthening responses to anti-social behaviour in the next year as aprt of a three-year, £75 million programme.

 

Daily Mail 15/10/2003

 

Click here for ‘Battle against yobs’

 

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Internet paedophiles face longer jail sentences

 

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 manipulative paedophile who ensnared young girls in an internet chatroom and the “groomed” tham for under-age sex had his jail term increased by half yesterday.  The Attorney General agreed that the original sentence of three years had been unduly lenient.  Increasing the sentence, Lord Justice Kay issued a warning that men who use the Internet to prey on young girls risked even more substantial prison terms.

 

Daily Telegraph 16/10/2003

 

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GPs face growing violence in surgeries

 

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he level of physical and verbal abuse against doctors working for the National Health Service was “shocking” and showed no sign of decreasing, the British Medical Association said yesterday.  While hospital doctors working in accident departments and psychiatry are the main targets, family doctors are experiencing growing levels of violence in their surgeries.

 

Daily Telegraph 16/10/2003

 

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‘Coupling’ undone in US

 

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he BBC sitcom ‘Coupling’ has failed to replace Friends as America’s favourite comedy series.  The NBC network has moved the US version of the show from a prime-time slot after its risqué humour proved a turn-off for viewers. 

 

The Times 16/10/2003

 

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Tories raise doubts over BBC’s commercial arm

 

The Shadow Culture Secretary John Whittingdale launched an attack yesterday on BBC Worldwide, the broadcaster’s commercial arm.  Mr Whittingdale said that he could not understand why the BBC had launched ten magazines this year, published books or launched its own record label.  “I have very serious doubts about the legitimacy of BBC Worldwide,” the Conservative MP said.  “Of course the BBC has to maximise its resources, but it should not necessarily be engaged in commercial activities itself.”.  He argued that the BBC licence fee had become harder to justify in the modern broadcasting landscape.

 

The Times 17/10/2003

 

Click here for ‘Funding the BBC’

 

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ITC chief wants to see less regulation

 

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ne of Britain’s top regulators, Patricia Hodgson, has called for less regulation and fewer targets.  Ms Hodgson is the current chief executive of the Independent Television Commission, which will hand over its regulatory duties to Ofcom, the new communications regulator at the end of this year.  The Uk’s new breed of super-regulators should concentrate on as few high-level duties as possible.  Ofcom, she said should focus on competition duties.  “Minimise burdens, sustain competition and much will follow” Ms Hodgson argued.

 

The Times 17/10/2003

 

Click here for ‘Ofcom: latest developments’

 

Click here for mediawatch-uk Directory

 

For news and information visit: www.ofcom.org.uk

 

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BSkyB in £20m push for digital recorder

 

BSkyB, the satellite broadcaster, yesterday unveiled its biggest marketing campaign since the launch of Sky Digital five years ago.  The company is spending £20 million to promote Sky Plus, its personal digital video recorder.  The device can record up to 40 hours of television and pause “live” TV should a phone call interrupt viewing.  With a single click the gadget is programmed to record all episodes of a favourite type of programme.

 

The Times 17/10/2003

 

For news and information visit: www.sky.com

 

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Hollywood accused over sex and violence alerts parents can’t see

 

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ritish censors have criticised some of Hollywood’s largest film distributors, including some owned by Walt Disney, for failing to warn parents of the sexual and violent content of films approved for children.  Under a change to the classification system introduced last year, films given the new 12A rating can be viewed by children only if they are accompanied by an adult.  A clearly visible warning of the content of the film should be carried on material advertising the films, however.  The British Board of Film Classification has uncovered many cases in which the warnings have been non-existent or so small that they are hardly visible.  The Board has contacted several of the offending companies warning them that they must comply with the rules in future.  The 12A rating is highly prized by the film industry because it means that children can go to see films previously regarded as unsuitable for them.  It has been granted to more than 100 films already generating millions of pounds in extra box office revenue.  David Turtle, of mediawatch-uk, a viewers’ campaign group, said: “I think some of the distributors are acting in a very irresponsible manner.  People can only make proper choice if they are given adequate information.  Far too often parents have to rely on what they read in a particular film review and that is an unacceptable situation.”

 

Sunday Telegraph 19/10/2003

 

Click here for mediawatch-uk response to BBFC consultation on Classification Guidelines

 

For news and information visit: www.bbfc.co.uk

 

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Power struggle hits ITV merger after rebellion by shareholders

 

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shareholders’ rebellion threw the management of the £4.5 billion ITV network into disarray last night.  Granada and Carlton – which were given government permission to merge earlier this month – are facing a tough ultimatum over their choice of leaders for the new firm.  The revolt has stunned Carlton directors, who held an emergency board meeting at their Knightsbridge headquarters last night.

 

Daily Mail 20/10/2003

 

Click here for mediawatch-uk submission to the Competition Commission

 

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Internet lured boy into world of child porn

 

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 mother has spoken of her horror at how easy it was for her teenage son to become hooked on child porn and convicted as a paedophile.  He had managed to download images of child sex without even needing to pay for them.  She said that they had been aware of the many dangers posed by the internet and had tried to monitor what their children accessed, even placing the computer in the living room.  But without their knowledge their son, then 16, downloaded a program that enabled him to trawl the internet for free pornography after the rest of the family had gone to bed.

 

The Times 22/10/2003

 

For Home Office information visit: www.thinkuknow.co.uk

 

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Outrage at TV porn

 
Explicit ‘sex industry’ documentary shocks viewers

 

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graphic documentary about the sex industry provoked fury when it was screened last night.  Pornography: the musical’ shocked viewers with its explicit scenes, which included depictions of sex acts, stripping and fetish films.  The Channel 4 documentary features six women who work in the sex industry … despite being shown well after the watershed, with warnings … many viewers branded it too shocking for broadcast at any time … containing some of the sickest scenes yet shown on television.  Tory culture spokesman John Whittingdale said the documentary went beyond what most people would consider acceptable for terrestrial television.  Miranda Suit of mediamarch, which campaigns for quality television, said: ‘Even though it was shown well after the watershed, nearly half of British children have a television in their bedroom and it is difficult for parents to control their viewing.  Another worry is that graphic descriptions of potentially dangerous or unhygienic sex acts could encourage behaviour that raises serious health concerns.’  Channel 4 said: ‘We have always promoted this as a very hard-hitting documentary which reflects the visceral and unpleasant aspects of the porn industry’.

 

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he TV critic Peter Paterson commented that Channel 4 was up to its old tricks again … trying to extend the boundaries of what is widely recognised as acceptable on TV.  What can’t be right is for Channel 4 … to become a place where the sleaziest type of pornography is available.  Mr Paterson expressed a preference that, without prompting, the Independent Television Commission ’would come down hard on Channel 4 with a hefty fine for exhibiting gross indecency … They must also warn Mark Thompson that if he tries anything like this again both his job, and that of chairman Vanni Treves, will be on the line.’

 

Daily Mail 22/10/2003

 

Click here for ‘Time to strengthen the law against pornography’    

 

For news and information about mediamarch visit: www.mediamarch.org.uk

 

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BBC offers footage of more police racism

 

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he BBC is to hand over secretly filmed footage that was not included in the final version of The Secret Policeman, showing further scenes of racism in the force.  Senior officers for Greater Manchester Police, including the head of discipline, were in London yesterday for talks with the programme makers.

 

The Times 24/10/1002

 

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Listeners switch on to classical

 

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lassical music is striking a chord with radio audiences, figures revealed yesterday.  Thousands of new listeners are tuning into classical stations Radio 3 and Classic FM, including a new generation of young people.  BBC Radio 3 now has a total audience of 2.2 million, according to the figures from the Radio Joint Audience Research Board.

 

Daily Mail 24/10/2003

 

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Bazalgette unrepentant over Teen Big Brother sex

 

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ndemol UK chairman, Peter Bazalgette, has hit back at claims that it was irresponsible in its handling of a teenage couple who had unprotected sex in the controversial Channel 4 Teen Big Brother series last week.  Bazalgette claimed the two teenagers and their parents had given their consent for the broadcaster’s decsion to move the show, which featured night-vision footage of the couple having sex, into a prime time slot.  The show was originally commissioned for a daytime slot.  Peter Dale, C4 head of documentaries, admitted regret over the incident but said that the girl and her mother were “happy with what was shown”.

 

Broadcast 24/10/2003

 

Click here for mediawatch-uk letter to Government

 

For industry news and information visit: www.broadcastnow.co.uk

 

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Foreign companies court Green for possible ITV bid

 

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arlton boss Michael Green could re-emerge in a leading role at ITV if foreign media groups have their way.  Potential predators such as Disney, Viacom and Haim Saban are interested in hiring Green to advise them on potential bids for the UK broadcaster.  That could even put him back in charge of Granada’s Charles Allen – the ultimate irony.  Green’s ousting as chairman-to-be of ITV has caused consternation among many media experts.

 

Daily Mail 25/10/2003

 

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Desmond sees his profits flop at TV porn channels

 

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ichard Desmond, owner of the Daily Express newspaper, has reported a big decline in profits from his television sex channels.  Desmond’s latest company account reveal that profits at his broadcasting division – which includes Television X and the Fantasy Channel – fell from £15.7m in 2001 to £8.9m last year.  A spokesman for Northern & Shell Network, Desmond’s company, said that accountancy changes had caused a dip in earnings and that the television business was still one of the group’s most profitable.  Some industry watchers have speculated that the rise of the Internet, which has already hit sales of top-shelf magazines could also be affecting the television business.

 

Sunday Times 26/10/2003

 

Click here for ‘Time to strengthen the law against pornography’

 

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Government may strip BBC of £500m in licence fees

 

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he BBC faces losing a fifth of its £2.6 billion licence fee income under changes to its charter being considered by the government.  Ministers say £500m of the money raised from Britain’s 24m licence fee payers could go to independent broadcasters to help pay for their public service commitments such as news, education and religion.  This reflects concern within the government about the power of the BBC and the fact that its huge licence fee income gives it an unfair financial advantage over its tightly regulated competitors.  Lord Puttnam said that taking 20 per cent of the corporation’s income would become “irresistible” as the government sought to stabilise the struggling commercial channels.

 

Sunday Times 26/10/2003

 

Click here for Summer 2003 newsbrief. See ‘License fee funding for C4?’

 

Click here for ‘Funding the BBC’

 

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Celebrity fatigue

 

Viewers want a break from star-studded commercials

 

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here was a time when the advert break meant a break from TV personalities.  Nowadays, it seems, no commercial is complete without a celebrity endorsement.  Research suggests, however, that casting the famous in promotional campaigns may not be having the desired effect.  In a surevy of TV viewers, more that half said they had failed to be influenced by stars in ad campaigns, with one in five going as far as to say they found such adverts ‘irritating’.

 

Daily Mail 28/10/2003

 

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We were cynical on sex, says C4

 

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he head of Channel 4 admitted yesterday it had been guilty of a ‘lazy and cynical’ reliance on sexual content to boost ratings.  Chief executive Mark Thompson said he wants to move the station up market.  Channel 4 has recently come under renewed fire for airing footage of teenagers having sex in Teen Big Brother and Pornography: the musical.  Ratings are down and it is fast being caught up by Channel 5, which has just recorded its best-ever monthly figures.  Launching Channel 4’s winter schedules in London Mr Thompson said: ‘I think that what we need to do is have a broad range of late night programmes.  I do think that in the past the channel has been guilty of making slightly cynical choices.’

 

Daily Mail 30/10/2003

 

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r Thompson described ‘Pornography: the musical’ as ‘a self-evidently serious piece of work defending it as a legitimate examination of changing modern attitudes to sexual behaviour’.  Channel 4 will next month screen Pleasureland, a provocative drama about the first sexual encounters of a trio of girls aged 14.

 

The Times 30/10/2003

 

Speaking today mediawatch-uk director, John Beyer, squarely blamed the Independent Television Commission for failing to regulate Channel 4.  “Any objective assessment of the history of Channel 4 shows that it has done more to overthrow the ‘good taste and decency’ requirements of the Broadcasting Act than any other terrestrial TV channel.  This has been achieved because the ITC has progressively relaxed its Programme Code in order to accommodate the excesses of the programme and film-makers.”

 

For news and information visit: www.channel4.com

 

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Children in US ‘hooked on television at two’

 

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ore than half of American children are hooked on television by the age of two and master the use of a computer not long after learning to walk, according to research.  Sixty-eight per cent of two-year-old children spend an average of 125 minutes a day using a screen of one type or another, a nationwide study by the Henry J Kaiser Family Foundation, a private group devoted to promoting health, has found.  Fifty-nine per cent of children under two watch television every day and 42 per cent of them watch videos or DVDs.

 

The Times 30/10/2003

 

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Is this the cruellest reality TV show yet?

 

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ky One is set to spark controversy with a reality show that will see a group of men woo and kiss a gorgeous woman, only to be told at the end of the show that the object of their desire is actually a transsexual.  The programme, being made by Endemol-owned Brighter Pictures, is likely to stir up the debate about the limits of reality television when it airs next month.  The Show, Find Me a Man, pits seven ‘lively and outgoing’ single men aged between 20 and 35 against each other in a bid to win the affections of the ‘woman’.

 

Broadcast 31/10/2003

 

For news and information visit: www.sky.com

 

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TV and radio ads may fall under ASA

 

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TV has welcomed proposals for new super-regulator Ofcom to hand over responsibility for television and radio advertising to the Advertising Standards Authority.  Ofcom is to carry out consultation on the plans for the ASA – which currently handles only print and poster campaigns – to become a ‘one stop shop’ for all advertising complaints.  Ofcom would retain back-stop powers to deal with unsolvable problems.  At the moment TV advertising goes through the Broadcast Advertising Clearance Centre before it airs, with complaints (after transmission) being dealt with by the ITC.

 

Broadcast 31/10/2003

 

Speaking today John Beyer, director of mediawatch-uk, said: “As with TV and radio programmes, the most important aspect of regulation is the Code of Standards and Practice.  If this is well defined and clearly understood by the public and the advertising agencies it really does not matter whether Ofcom regulates or the ASA.  However, the original intention and purpose of merging the regulators was to overcome public confusion with regard to regulation in an age of converged technology.  By devolving responsibility for TV and radio advertising to the ASA, Ofcom appears to be going in the opposite direction with this proposal.

 

For news and information visit: www.ofcom.org.uk and www.asa.org.uk

 

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