UK broadcast regulator OfCom fined the Investigation Discovery channel £100,000 (about $171,000 U.S.) for airing eight graphic episodes of a true crime program.
Ofcom released its ruling July 16.
Last summer, the Investigation Discovery channel aired the documentary program Deadly Women, which included “prolonged and disturbing reconstructions of torture, mutilation and murder,” the OfCom ruling reported.
The program shows three different true crime stories of murders “described through dramatic reconstructions and interviews with investigators and experts in criminal behaviour,” according to Ofcom.
Ofcom ruled that Investigation Discovery’s breaching of the three rules “were serious.”
“The Broadcasts contained prolonged and disturbing reconstructions of torture, mutilation and murder, including: attacks on individuals with hammers and knives, electrocutions and whippings; the murder of a six -year-old boy through beating by his mother and her boyfriend; a dramatized image and accompanying verbal description of an eyeball rolling across the floor after a victim was attacked; and, the dismemberment of a corpse with a circular saw,” according to Ofcom.
Making it worse, the program was shown before 5 p.m. during school holidays, when children could have seen them. “Ofcom found that the cumulative effect of the material would have been likely to have had a significant impact on any children in the audience,” its ruling stated.
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Discovery UK issued a statement about the OfCom ruling. Discovery told iMediaEthics:
“We sincerely apologise for accidentally breaching the code and transmitting episodes from series six of Deadly Women before the 9pm watershed on ID. It was a genuine error and all previous series were correctly classified and shown post watershed only.
“We have put in place additional procedures to prevent a recurrence of this issue.”
The program’s broadcast broke three of OfCom’s rules– rules addressing content for children, violence and offensive content. They are:
- Rule 1.3, which says: “Children must also be protected by appropriate scheduling from material that is unsuitable for them.”
- Rule 1.11 states: “Violence, its after-effects and descriptions of violence, whether verbal or physical, must be appropriately limited in programmes broadcast before the watershed (in the case of television) or when children are particularly likely to be listening (in the case of radio) and must be justified by the context.’
- Rule 2.3 says in part “In applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context.”
In addition to the fine, Investigation Discovery must air OfCom’s ruling.
Investigation Discovery is owned by Discovery Communications, which also owns the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), TLC, the (U.S.) Discovery Channel and Animal Planet.