Media: Mind Your Language ; Broadcasters Are Increasingly Breaching the 9pm TV Watershed, Reports IAN BURRELL. So Should There Be a New System to Protect Television Viewers?
Burrell, Ian, The Independent (London, England)
As one of the Monty Python troupe, he continually courted controversy, but as an erudite and culturally sensitive travel presenter, Michael Palin shocked viewers when he looked into the camera on a crowded station and spat out the F-word. The outburst, during a gruelling train journey across Africa, was screened in the early evening and made Palin one of a series of unlikely programme- makers to be censured by the broadcasting watchdog last week.
The BBC's long-established Crimewatch UK team was also criticised, for reconstructing sexual assaults and re-enacting shockingly violent crimes ahead of the 9pm watershed, before which it is assumed children could be watching unsupervised. As well as attacking Palin and Crimewatch, the Broadcasting Standards Commission also expressed concerns over inappropriate pre-watershed content in pop videos, sci-fi films and charity fundraising programmes.
With the expansion of digital television and competition for ratings at unprecedented levels, concerns are growing over the blurring of the significance of the traditional 9pm cut-off. Paul Bolt, the director of the BSC, says television viewers should now receive the same type of warnings that come with computer games, videos and DVDs, and at cinemas. He thinks the classifications would be especially valuable in the case of dramas and documentaries. "Most television dramas are shot as films nowadays," he says. "I don't see any particular reasons why they could not be classified in the same way."
Mr Bolt thinks there is scope for improvement in the way programmes are previewed. The BSC does not want to impose the classifications as a "Big Brother system" but hopes that broadcasters will introduce such changes themselves, Bolt says. "If you think of what types of things children consume, video games are classified," he says. "I think television will gradually get sucked into that kind of expectation. I think it's in its interests to do so."
The criticism of Palin followed the screening last October of the documentary Sahara with Michael Palin: Destination Timbuktu. In a mitigating statement to the BSC, the BBC said: "[Palin] was very travel-worn (and obviously exasperated), and it was in this frame of mind that he responded to the question of a man on the platform, replying that he hadn't `a fucking clue'." But the commission ruled that the …
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Publication information: Article title: Media: Mind Your Language ; Broadcasters Are Increasingly Breaching the 9pm TV Watershed, Reports IAN BURRELL. So Should There Be a New System to Protect Television Viewers?. Contributors: Burrell, Ian - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: April 1, 2003. Page number: 10. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.