Ofcom raps BBC for daytime vice

... but rejects other privacy and unfair treatment complaints

Communications regulator Ofcom has found the BBC guilty of breaching the Broadcasting Code for its four-part Streets of Vice programme.

Ofcom received 58 complaints after the series – which dealt with issues of drugs, pornography and prostitution – was broadcast at 9.15am on BBC1 on consecutive days in February.

Finding the BBC to have breached the Code, Ofcom ruled that, “while challenging subject matter does have a place in the pre-watershed schedule, the programmes’ concentration on intimate themes was unremitting.” The images in the programme “took the content beyond the normal level of discussion in… talkshows at that time of day.”

The BBC told the regulator that it had decided that any future plans to cover sexual themes during the daytime would be scrutinised with particular care and that the series would not be shown again at that time of day.

Separately, among six complaints of unfair treatment and breaches of privacy which were rejected included:

  • Mr ‘A’ complained about his portrayal on ITV’s ‘Tenants from Hell’ on grounds of fairness and privacy. Ofcom found that his inclusion in the programme, the way material was obtained about Mr A, the allegations made about him and the extent to which his views were reflected were not unfair. It also found that his privacy had not been infringed, either by the use of footage of a flat shortly after he had relinquished possession of it (particularly as the condition of the flat reflected positively on him), or by the production team doorstepping him and pursuing him at home and at work.
  • A complaint of unfair treatment by a Miss Ferguson was rejected. A local news bulletin on ITV1 used footage of the complainant’s daughter waving at police officers on horseback during an item on an estate with a reputation for crime and drug related problems. The footage was accompanied by commentary to the effect that residents of the estate were now welcoming a police presence. Her and her daughter did not live on the estate. Ofcom rejected her complaint on the basis that the brief footage was unlikely to lead viewers to believe that Miss Ferguson or her daughter were associated with criminal activity. Although viewers may have believed them to be residents of the estate, given the positive nature of their portrayal, this was not unfair.