Ofcom raps ARY Digital for “graphic” shows


Ofcom has rapped ARY Digital for broadcasting two shows in March and April containing graphic images.

The first show ‘Hourly Urdu News’ included a news item with a report featuring images of a small baby, which appeared to be in distress, bleeding from its eyes and through slits in the skin of its arms and torso. These images were shown for over thirty seconds, while the news presenter read the script above, and continued to be broadcast in silence for more than fifteen seconds after the voiceover had ended.

The second was ‘Criminals Most Wanted’, which aired in April during an afternoon slot included both real footage and reconstructions, which were indicated onscreen. Lasting approximately fifty minutes, it concerned “the strange news” that cannibals exist and told the true story of two brothers in Pakistan, who had removed a dead body from its grave and cooked parts of it. Shortly into the programme the following warning was broadcast, both as an onscreen graphic and voiced by the presenter: “We request that viewers do not allow children or people of a weaker disposition to watch this episode of ‘Criminals Most Wanted’, as the facts and truth are very painful.”

ARY Digital apologised for its lack of attention on both schedule errors. The broadcaster said it had “instructed [its] broadcast division and…will…make sure that any such [news] item in future will be given special attention during broadcast”, giving Ofcom an assurance that it would no such mistake would recur.

On the second incident, ARY Digital noted the warnings that had been given near the beginning of the programme and just before the images of concern to the complainant were broadcast. Nevertheless, ARY assured Ofcom that such material “will no longer be available to the UK library in its Pakistan transmission hub”.

Ofcom concluded that ARY Digital was in breach of three errors.

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