2005-05-25 Ofcom tolère le sexe avec les animaux (EN)
Ofcom says OK to sex with animals
MediaGuardian.co.uk ^ | 05/25/05 | John Plunkett
Clean-up TV campaigners seeking succour in Ofcom's new broadcasting rules suffered an immediate blow today when the regulator gave the all-clear to programmes about "sex with animals". The comments by Richard Hooper, the Ofcom deputy chairman, came at the unveiling of its long-awaited new broadcasting code and will have had the regulator's spin doctors holding their heads in their hands.
Although Mr Hooper was at pains to point out that the new regulations will not give carte blanche to broadcasters, he said certain offensive material would be OK as long as it was shown at the right time and with suitable warnings.
"[What about] a programme about sex with animals? Yes, it's potentially possible. It all comes down to context," he said.
The new code, which will apply across all TV and radio networks, allows broadcasters to "transmit challenging material, even that which may be considered offensive by some, provided it is editorially justified and the audience given appropriate information".
Mr Hooper's comments recalled Channel 4 bestiality documentary, Animal Passions, which featured a man who admitted have sex with his pony and a woman who had sex with her dog.
Although it was cleared by Ofcom last year, it generated 75 complaints from viewers who said it "normalised bestiality" and could encourage copycat behaviour.
The broadcasting code is intended to give broadcasters more "creative freedom" and allow audiences more responsibility in deciding what they watch.
"Freedom of expression does not necessarily mean swearing and offensive language," said Mr Hooper.
"A lot of things have to be taken into account if something is to be seen as generally acceptable. In certain circumstances the c-word is acceptable, and in certain circumstances it is not. What we have done is codify that. That is nothing new."
Ofcom has drawn up a 117-word definition of "context" that broadcasters can use to justify the depiction of sex or violence and the use of bad language, including the time the programme was shown, the channel on which it was broadcast, the size of the audience and whether viewers were warned about the content.
"It's about telling the punter what they are going to get before they get it," said Mr Hooper. He said The Thick of It, Armando Ianucci's acclaimed political satire which began on BBC4, last week "had a quite clear statement before it about the sort of language viewers were going to hear. We are very keen that broadcasters do that."
Tim Suter, the senior partner for content and standards at Ofcom, said previous broadcast regulation had been "about stopping things. The new regime is about what [broadcasters] need in place in order to allow material to be broadcast."
"We are moving into a world which recognises the different responsibilities of the different players. Broadcasters are responsible for what they broadcast, and audiences are responsible for what they consume."
Mr Suter said the new rules leaned towards the "lighter touch" regulation previously seen in the radio industry. "Freedom of expression with editorial justification - that is the central idea."
The new code will also allow companies to sponsor an entire channel, although the proposals still need to go to consultation.