Ofcom raps Geo UK over “violent” news scenes


Media regulator Ofcom has raised concerns over certain scenes Pakistani broadcaster Geo UK showed in its news bulletin on 27th July at midday.

A viewer complained about the footage, which was shown including images of the aftermath of a bomb blast in Pakistan.

Ofcom did not ask for comment on the majority of the images. It believed these were justified by reference to the context in which they were shown. However the content broadcast included the repeated use of footage of a crowd surrounding a vehicle in which a man had been killed. There were extreme close up shots of the dead man�۪s face revealing in detail the facial injuries sustained. Ofcom asked for a statement from the broadcaster over the violent and offensive scenes (pre-watershed).

The channel offered no justification for showing the image. It apologised for broadcasting the material and said it regretted that the scenes were aired. It said that the footage was sent live from the scene and the broadcast was as a result of an error of judgment from the local crew in Pakistan. It explained that the error occurred because of a lack of footage being available from the scene.

As a result of the error new procedures have been put in place by the broadcaster, including a review of the channel�۪s Standard Operating Procedure and additional training being given in Ofcom regulations for staff based in foreign regions.

Ofcom said, “The footage complained of was particularly disturbing and graphic. It was so strong in nature that, even in the context of a news channel, with a largely adult audience with certain audience expectations.”

Ofcom concluded that Geo UK’s use of the images could not be justified. The potential to cause offence was compounded by the fact that it was broadcast on a number of occasions. Further, the fact that the broadcaster repeated the image no fewer than sixteen times before the watershed within a short news report meant that the violent nature of the image was not appropriately limited.

Ofcom was particularly concerned at the broadcaster�۪s admission that the repeated use of this image was due to a lack of available footage.

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