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C5 disappoints Bellator fans


Fans of Bellator didn't get what they were bargaining for, after UK coverage had to be cut short.

Channel 5 was carrying live coverage from the US of the Bellator206 Mixed Martial Arts event when the channel has to abandon coverage due to it overrunning, clashing with the start of the morning watershed.

At 6am, Channel 5 returned suddenly to its normal morning output of children's programmes for the pre-school age group, starting with Peppa Pig. The abrupt change angered many fans, as the main event was only just getting underway.

At the time of publication, Channel 5 hasn't yet issued a statement to viewers, however under Ofcom rules, broadcasters are not allowed to schedule programmes which might be unsuitable for children for most of the day. The watershed provides broadcasters with opportunities to screen content that would fall foul of the rule after 9:00pm. The rules are reinforced after 5:30am, which meant that continuing coverage of Bellator 206 would have created compliance issues.

In determining potential breaches of broadcasting rules such as the watershed, Ofcom investigations routinely look at the likelihood of children seeing the broadcast. Channel 5 has a long-standing children's TV strand starting at 6am, which means it is highly likely any overruning coverage of the fights would have been seen by pre-school children.

Officially sanctioned online apps and streaming services, which limit access to users under 18, may provide broadcasters with ways of getting around TV restrictions. Additionally, on some platforms, it's possible to restrict access to children by using a PIN system, however this is not possible for Channel 5.

Ofcom research confirms 93% of the general public understand the watershed rules. 74% think 9pm is the right time for restrictions on content to be eased.

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