Ofcom’s new Broadcasting Code enshrines freedom of expression

Ofcom today release their new Broadcasting Code (.pdf and HTML versions available on site), which comes into effect on 25 July. It deals a heavy blow to would-be censors such as Mediawatch-UK and the CCTV by focusing on “informed choice” and the importance of “context”.

From the press release:

The Code allows broadcasters more creative freedom. It also allows audiences greater scope to exercise informed choice through the provision of information about what is to be broadcast. For the first time in a broadcasting code, the meaning of “context” is given and its importance highlighted.

The Code provides for 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. The freedom to broadcast this material is, of course, limited at times when children may particularly be expected to be listening or viewing – in television terms, pre-watershed.

The code does put greater emphasis on the protection of under 18s (eg no more hard-core on subscription as kids can access PIN numbers), but that is unlikely to appease campaign groups who think the entire population should be treated as if they have not yet reached the age of adulthood.

16 Responses to “Ofcom’s new Broadcasting Code enshrines freedom of expression”

  1. Christopher Shell says:

    ‘Reached the age of adulthood’? – If adulthood means anything it means maturity. As used in this context, it implies superiority over children. Of what nature is this superiority? Does it consist in having lived on the earth longer? No – there is nothing superior about that. In what, then, does it consist? Presumably, greater maturity and greater wisdom. But nothing can be mature or wise if it is something that is even considered as a bad habit in children. How much more is it inappropriate for those who have attained the age of maturity?

    In truth, the ‘superiority’ of adults does not consist in greater maturity. It consists in greater power, greater ability to do exactly what they want. This is not ethical, it’s just the law of the jungle. I.e. a former stage of civilisation.

  2. tom p says:

    Yet again it’s the same tired pathetic old lines trotted out by the ‘doc’, despite them having been comprehensively been shown to be nonsense before.
    For your benefit, ‘doc’, it’s the greater life experience of adults that means we are able to view images that are not appropriate for youngsters, because the children do not have the experience to know that behaving in certain ways is neither common nor appropriate.
    It is not that adult material is below children, just that it is age-inappropriate, much like sending a 5-year old to the shops on his own.
    The way you write, it sounds like you’re still pissed off that you weren’t allowed to look at nudie mags at school.

  3. Christopher Shell says:

    LOL. You are suggesting that such school rules should be changed? Most ppl know instinctively that they shouldnt.
    Such things are not banned simply because they are age-inappropriate. (Whoever said that they were age-appropriate for older ppl anyway? For mature ppl? For ppl who have learnt the preciousness of exclusivity? They sound even less age-appropriate for them than they are for minors. Though I guess the way a society defines ‘adult’ will help determine the kind of adults that emerge in that society.) There are all sorts of other reasons:
    (1) They buy into a philosophy where a woman’s body is not reserved for her husband, nor a husband’s for his wife. This philosophy is neither argued for nor statistically asserted, merely imposed because it brings short-term pleasure.
    (2) They buy into a philosophy where promiscuity (which any doctor or psychiatrist will say is harmful) is considered ‘ok’ for much the same unargued ‘reasons’.
    (3) They devalue and objectify, tarnishing something precious (namely opposite-gender friendships & relationships).

  4. Andy L says:

    Your comment that “any” doctor will say promiscuity is neccessarily harmful is without doubt the barest face lie I’ve seen anyone say for quite some time.

  5. Christopher Shell says:

    It’s not a lie, given that I believed it to be true when I wrote it. But maybe you are right, and it is a misapprehension of mine.
    What are the arguments of the doctors who disagree? Who are they, anyway?
    Puzzled – not for the first time!!!

  6. tom p says:

    Of course I’m not suggesting such things. Indeed, you’ll notice that I’m clearly making a point that certain things (such as nudie mags) are inappropriate for kids, for the reasons given above.
    Your desire to have people stay virginal until they’re married has already been argued against. Many, many times. It was considered the norm, even though it wasn’t actually so, until we grew up as a society and threw off the shackles of christian-imposed moral hypocrisy. You lost. Get over it.
    Shrinks will also not say that promiscuity is inherently harmful (especially your definition of promiscuity, which seems to be any sex out of wedlock). They do, however, frequently say that repression is harmful.
    How does promiscuity, or nudie mags for that matter, which is what you seem to be writing about, inherently tarnish opposite gender friendships & relationships?
    Finally, I’m not particularly in favour of mainstream british porn magazines. They objectify women, making them seem purely as passive objects to receive the spunk of men. If there is to be porn, then it should be what is known in britain as hardcore (namely pics of people fucking), that way it’s more representative of actual sex.

  7. Christopher Shell says:

    How does one define repression? Refusing to go for anything in a skirt is to an extent repression. But it is also healthy & civilised. And some of the most mature & emotionally healthy ppl one will meet are ‘repressed’, in the sense that they have boundaries.
    Re: the friendship point: The more exclusive, and the more full of integrity, relationships are, the more stable they are (by definition). The more stable they are, the more stable society will be. If people have past relationships, any future relationship will not be exclusive. The bond will therefore be less strong. Divorce or separation will be more likely. The societal instability that goes with divorce, separation and fractured families will be another by-product. Ppl could not seriously argue that these things have not been the case with our society. So nothing controversial here.

    What Im not talking about is what has actually happened historically. History has many phases, and doesnt go in a straight line anyway. For a while, one side ‘wins’, then another, then a third, and so on. But the question of which ‘side’ ‘wins’ (if one has to view things in that competitive way) is in any case a different question from the question of which side is statistically justified. Points of view can win because (for example) people with short-term appetites vote with their feet. You’re not suggesting that that would make the point of view in question necessarily justifiable or right.

    Re: virginity: It’s a common thing in many societies for virgins to marry – this is not an especially Christian thing. What are the factors here?
    (1) A virgin is a normal man’s desire: common sense therefore to have a system which standardises this.
    (2) A man of integrity is a woman’s desire, and no woman likes to think of her man getting up to anything with another woman. Kissing is bad enough to think of, so how bad is sex?
    (3) The domestic factor: Either one belongs in one’s parents’ house or in the house shared with one’s spouse. Societies which have an interim period tend to be less stable (because they are almost sanctioning a period of irresponsibility, which can’t simply be put behind one later), and anyway this is a much less cost-effective system for any individual, as well as splintering families into an unnecessarily large number of households. Homes get built not because the population is increasing much but because there are so many households that consist of one person. As the Beatles sang: ‘Ah, look at all the lonely people’.
    In societies where this is the norm, it tends often actually to happen. Why? Because the number one factor in behaviour is what ppl perceive to be normal.

  8. tom p says:

    Firstly, you seem to be conflating frieship with relationships (in the boyfriend/girlfriend or husband/wife sense). I have scores of female friends. Should I be exclusive to just one of them? Is my friendship with many women harmful to my marriage? Does it harm society? On all three counts the answer is a resounding NO!
    Secondly, your point about sex is total and utter bollocks. Having no experience means that people settle for whatever they’re given and thus are more likely to be unfulfilled. It does not mean that such a relationship is more likely to be stable or long lasting.
    The societies which try to force women to be chaste are societies where women have a lesser place than men. I was only talking about the western world, where abstinence was rammed down our throats by the christians, but you’re right, religious types and repressive bastards all over the world have tried to metaphorically tie women down for centuries.
    A virgin is not a ‘normal man’s desire’ as you put it. It is a controlling man’s desire, a man who wants his women not to be too strong and to yield to his will. Virgins are almost always rubbish fucks, ‘cos they don’t know what they want or how to be sexually satisfied.
    Still, at least we know whatgets you off now.
    How can you speak of a woman’s desire? How much do you know of this? If you are playing by your own rules, then you can know of at most one woman’s desire. That leaves you another 3 billion or so short. While, as has already been discussed, it is obviously better to be a person of integrity, that does not have to be acheived, in a sexual sense, by abstinence even from kissing(!), it is best acheived by honesty. My wife and I are well aware of each others’ entire pasts, and don’t give a damn about them. If anything, I’m glad that she knows what she wants, and she’s glad that I know how to give it to her.
    As for your last comment about either belongiong in one’s parents’ house or one’s spouse’s, that’s utter utter nonsense. To claim that one ‘cant put [a period of irresponsibility] behind one later is twaddle. Are you inferring that across the land people are wracked with guilt about how they used to stay up late, eat kebabs and, if they got lucky, sleep around? You’re living in a dream world.
    Finally, quoting the beatles doesn’t really help your argument. They also sung ‘we all live in a yellow submarine’, but I don’t see any water outside my window.

  9. Christopher Shell says:

    (1) On female friends I agree with you. Friendship is an all-win situation and a bit of a [genuine] cure-all. The exclusivity point applies to husband-wife.
    (2) I feel your second point is long on rhetoric and short on evidence. All that counts is the stats. A society that sets less exclusive store by the marriage bond ends up (as night follows day) with all sorts of problems of the kind created by instability. How do you explain the statistical change in British relationship patterns? Are you saying it does not support my point of view?
    (3) I dont think I spoke of forcing women (as opposed to men) to be chaste. This is something that applies equally to both genders. In fact, parents and teachers (or good parents and teachers anyway) are equally strict about all sorts of other things as well, becasue they have sufficient perspective to see which things are in ppl’s long-term good. Ppl are expected to put in all sorts of effort to purchase a house. Therefore they do. The key factor is societal/familial expectation.
    (4) I think you are playing down the extremely mainstream male desire for virgins. It aint exactly unnatural, in any case.
    (5) Women’s desire can be ascertained by talking to women, surveying women etc..
    (6) Im glad for you and your wife (apart from the slightly uncaring attitude implied: homage to Queen’s ‘Nothing really matters’, which is about as bad a philosophy as one can get). A positive focus on the present is all to the good. But on average, ppl with previous relationships are more likely to split up – in fact, far more likely. And societies where this is normal have higher separation and divorce rates – again, as night follows day. It could scarcely be otherwise.
    (7) Re domicile: ‘utter utter nonsense’ is not an argument. What people view positively and negatively depends in large measure on what happens to be normal in their own society at their own point in history.

  10. Christopher Shell says:

    Re the domestic issue: people gradually easing away from their parents and towards the day when they will be in charge of tehir own household is not a big deal. What is a big deal is the general move away from family, so that there can be an interim period where the person is a member of no particular family at all. This is a pattern conducive to various negative things including lack of responsibility: family membership is more likely to ensure accountability, social health, rough edges knocked off, lack of loneliness, and so on and so forth.

  11. humanist says:

    Dear Christopher,

    would you happen to be the Dr Christopher Shell who works for the Kensington Temple London City Church (kt.org)?

    Just asking…

  12. Christopher Shell says:

    Sherlock, I bow to your genius!

  13. tom p says:

    So you work for them?
    That’s interesting, ‘cos when first asked about this, you said you’d no idea when you’d last been there, and have since claimed to have only ever been loosely affiliated with them.
    Or did you forget the detail in the rush to sarcasm?

  14. Christopher Shell says:

    Tom, really! I didnt say that at all. I said something like I scarcely ever attended services: last time was Feb 27th, before that it was a brilliant Bollywood-style event on 7th November. I would have loved to go to the 40th anniversary on 5th May but owing to family illness/injury it wasnt possible.

    My lack of awareness is illustrated by a telling anecdote: about 5 months ago KT pulled out of something called the G12 network, which was in fact the main thing about the church. But I didnt cotton on to this until 2 weeks ago.

    On second thoughts, this anecdote only illustrates that Im always the last to know about things….

  15. tom p says:

    so you don’t work for them then?

  16. Christopher Shell says:

    Of course I work for them! But I work in their bookshop and sometimes have not a lot of idea of what goes on in the church.