Talking Pictures summoned to Ofcom after 3rd breach of rules


Vintage film channel Talking Pictures has been summoned to Ofcom after it was found guilty of a further breach of broadcasting rules.

Racially offensive language was found in an episode of A Family At War, which was broadcast in a pre-9pm slot in November 2017. It was broadcast without a prior warning about strong language. Ofcom got involved after receiving a viewer complaint.

Talking Pictures said that it believed the inclusion of the potentially offensive language in the episode in question was "justified by the context". It explained that the creator of the series, John Finch, had intended it to challenge the 1970s audience’s understanding of the Second World War by being “honest to the realities of the war time period… shocking as that may be, and broadcast within the constraints and conventions of the time”

In its submission to Ofcom, the channel said it opted not to broadcast a warning about language at the start of the programme because its viewers objected to such warnings, and supplied the broadcast regulator with copies of emails from viewers that confirmed this.

As part of its decision, Ofcom noted that Talking Pictures is a channel that specialises in broadcasting examples of programmes originally broadcast decades ago. The series A Family at War was originally produced and shown in the early 1970s when different attitudes about language existed. Citing research on offensive language on TV, which indicated a majority of viewers objected to the type of language used, Ofcom said it expected "strong contextualisation" if it is broadcast. It took a dim view of reports of viewer objections to warnings about strong language and it stated it did not consider that "the time of broadcast, which was before the 9pm watershed, provided sufficient contextual justification for the repeated use of highly offensive racist language in this case".

It's the third such breach of rules by the channel since it launched in 2015, and the second time it has been found guilty this year. As a result, representatives from the channel must now go to Ofcom for a formal meeting to discuss the channel's approach to compliance issues.




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