UK broadcast regulator OfCom ruled against Sky News’s Colin Brazier for potentially “causing considerable offence” when he riffled through the wreckage of Malaysian Airlines’ MH17, which crashed in Ukraine in July.
OfCom received 205 complaints over the report.
Brazier went through a suitcase and picked up items among the rubble. In the middle of the live clip, Brazier remarked, “We shouldn’t really be doing this, I suppose.”
“These actions were capable of causing considerable offence and this was not mitigated by an immediate broadcast apology,” OfCom ruled.
However, it was good that Sky News apologized and OfCom acknowledged that “the editorial decisions taken by reporters were particularly challenging, especially when made in the context of a live report broadcast on a rolling news channel.”
Sky News admitted that it “fell short of the high standards” necessary and pointed to its apologies over the incident, OfCom said.
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In addition, Sky News told OfCom that its staff was told they need to be sensitive moving forward.
“Following the broadcast, Sky said it had reminded its news teams of the need to exercise sensitivity and: ‘to respect the dignity of all those involved in reporting such harrowing events’. The Licensee said it would also re-emphasise the point in its updated guidelines for its journalists.”
The OfCom code for causing offense states:
“In applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must endure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context. Such material may include, but is not limited to, offensive language, violence, sex, sexual violence, humiliation, distress, violation of human dignity, discriminatory treatment or language (for example on the grounds of age, disability, gender, race religion, beliefs and sexual orientation). Appropriate information should also be broadcast where it would assist in avoiding or minimising offence.”
iMediaEthics is writing to Sky News for comment.
Hat Tip: Guardian