Friday, 15 October 2010

Ofcom: failing to protect children?

This week we saw what has been described as ‘the bonfire of the quangos’.

Ofcom is to be merged with the postal services watchdog Postcomm but will continue to enforce the Broadcast Code in the UK.  As Jeremy Hunt told Mediawatch-UK last year ‘independent enforcement of this code is one of the things that we think Ofcom has done well’.

Mediawatch-UK can’t agree with this assertion.  It appears to us that Ofcom’s light touch regulation is not protecting the public.  This is summed up in a letter which I received from Ofcom which said:
 ‘material which has been previously broadcast on television without regulatory intervention is not, by definition, material which might seriously impair the physical, mental or moral health’ of children.
And this from the body which is responsible for upholding the watershed and protecting children from harmful broadcast content.  If this is their reasoning perhaps it’s only matter of time before True Blood is broadcast at teatime and the ultra-violent Saw films are shown during children’s television.

As one of my correspondents pointed out to me: “the lack of proper and effective regulation [in the banking industry] almost brought the country to bankruptcy and this emphasizes just how important regulation really is.”  Could we be facing a similar meltdown in broadcasting standards?

My correspondent considers Ofcom’s response to a complaint he made to be unsatisfactory and so he has referred it to the Parliamentary Ombudsman via his MP.  We will be watching his progress with interest. 

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