Thursday, 21 April 2011

Ofcom criticises the Mail

Yesterday, Ofcom published its ruling on the 2,868 complaints it had received about the final of last year's The X Factor. Although it did not find the programme in breach of the Code it did say:

In view of our concerns about the material under consideration in this case, and the fact that we considered it was at the limit of acceptability for transmission before the 21:00 watershed, Ofcom is requiring the compliance licensee to attend a meeting to discuss the approach taken to ensuring that the programme complied with the requirements of the Code.

However, it wasn't only The X Factor that came in for some criticism from Ofcom:

Approximately 2,000 of the 2,868 complaints about this programme were received following coverage about the performances in a daily national newspaper. The newspaper coverage reported on concerns that the performances were too explicit for a family programme, and included a number of still images of the performances.

However, from a comparison of the images it is clear that the photographs that were published in the newspaper were significantly more graphic and close-up than the material that had been broadcast in the programme, and had been taken from a different angle to the television cameras. Readers of the newspaper would have therefore been left with the impression that the programme contained significantly more graphic material than had actually been broadcast.

Hmm. Now which paper could Ofcom be referring to? Could it possibly be the Mail, which infamously published several photos in a double page spread under the not-exactly-convincing headline:

We apologise to readers but you have to see these pictures to understand the fury they've stirred.

Their online article about how 'racy' the show was helpfully included 13 pictures and two videos.

Their online article about Ofcom's decision helpfully includes 11 pictures and two videos, with the handy information 'Scroll down to see video of the performances...' in bold at the top.

Although this article mentions the criticism of the 'national daily newspaper' the Mail website has, unusually, decided not to allow comments. Why would that be?

If the Mail really thinks this was too much, why make the pictures and videos so freely available so often? And, of course, all this faux outrage is from a newspaper whose website is obsessed with publishing 'racy' photographs of singers and actresses (such as these of Rihanna, at one of her own shows), which made their coverage more than a little hypocritical.

But according to a Mail spokesman, it was nothing to do with them, guv:

"We note that the Ofcom report did not actually name any newspaper itself – but it has been suggested in other media that they were referring to the Daily Mail.

"We wholly reject any criticism, which Ofcom may or may not be making.

"The fact is that all the pictures we used were provided by ITV and X Factor's official photographic agency – with the exception of one, which was an actual screen-grab of the show's transmission. They gave an accurate and fair representation of the show. We also made it clear why we felt it was important to show them.

"Thousands of our readers had clearly been incensed by the programme before we carried the pictures. What we raised was the legitimate question as to whether these scenes were suitable for pre-watershed TV and presented the facts in a fair and reasonable manner."


  1. It was definitely a win-win situation for the Mail. They got to bemoan the "filth" on television and publish lots and lots of provocative photos which, no doubt, attracted a lot of traffic for their website.

    The apex of hypocrisy, in other words.

  2. "Thousands of our readers had clearly been incensed by the programme before we carried the pictures."

    OfCom reckons around 868ish, and there's nothing to say all these are screaming-Mail-drama-queens.

    More realistic to say "Thousand of our readers had clearly been aroused by the pictures we carried after the programme."

  3. Yes, the Mail is a past master of faux outrage. Remember the Ross/Brand affair where it was "so few people were outraged when it was broadcast by this despicable stuff that we're giving you the chance to be outraged too by printing a transcript".

    Horrible people, just horrible.


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