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Censor Watch

2023: December

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The 2023 Ofcom Top 10...

Ofcom publishes its list of most complained about TV

Link Here28th December 2023
Ofcom has published an end of year review. Ofcom writes:

Over the course of the last year, we received 69,236 complaints about 9,638 cases. That's nearly twice as many complaints as we dealt with in 2022

In 2023, we published 23 Broadcast and On Demand Bulletins which announced 57 new broadcast standards investigations, as well the outcome of 46 investigations. We found a total of 35 programmes in breach of our broadcasting rules and are working to conclude the others as quickly as possible. We also published 15 adjudications on complaints from individuals and organisations that complained to us that they had been treated unfairly and/or had their privacy unwarrantably infringed in TV and radio programmes.

We imposed sanctions on four broadcasters for content breaches, including a £40,000 fine to the Islam channel and £10,000 to Ahlebait TV , both for broadcasting antisemitic content.

We also found GB News in breach of our rules on five occasions after our investigations found it broke our rules that protect audiences from harm twice and our due impartiality rules three times.

Most complained about programmes of 2023

  • Dan Wootton Tonight, GB News, 26 September 2023 -- 8,867 complaints

    Viewers objected to the misogynistic comments made by Laurence Fox about journalist Ava Evans.

    Ofcom's investigation of this programme under our rules on offence is ongoing.

  • King Charles III: The Coronation, ITV1, 6 May 2023 -- 8,421 complaints

    The majority of complaints related to a comment made by actress Adjoa Andoh during the live broadcast, which focused on the 'whiteness' of the Royal Family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.

    While we understand some viewers had strong feelings about this comment, after careful consideration we concluded that the comment was a personal observation which was part of a wide-ranging panel discussion which also touched on other diversity-related topics, and which contained a range of viewpoints.

  • Good Morning Britain, ITV1, 17 October 2023 -- 2,391 complaints

    We carefully assessed complaints about the presenter's line of questioning towards MP Layla Moran.

    We considered his live, unscripted remarks were potentially offensive. However, taking the entire interview into account, and in particular a preceding discussion about Hamas using civilians as human shields, we considered the question sought to explore whether civilians were aware of a potential escalation in hostilities, rather than suggesting that Ms Moran or her family were aware of specific plans for the Hamas attack on 7 October 2023. In her response, Ms Moran spoke about her surprise at the scale and sophistication of the attack. In light of this, we will not be pursuing further.

  • Jeremy Vine, Channel 5, 13 March 2023 -- 2,302 complaints

    We carefully considered complaints from viewers about a discussion on the junior doctors' pay dispute.

    While we recognise that some references about progression timelines and corresponding pay-scales were not strictly accurate, we do not consider that the errors were sufficient to have materially misled viewers so as to cause harm.

  • Breakfast with Kay Burley, Sky News, 23 November 2023 -- 1,880 complaints

    We carefully considered complaints about the presenter's line of questioning during an interview with Israeli spokesperson, Eylon Levy.

    Taking account of Mr Levy's forceful challenge to the premise of the question about the value of Israeli versus Palestinian lives, and the context of the wider discussion about the terms of the temporary ceasefire, we will not be pursuing further.

  • Lee Anderson's Real World, GB News, 29 September 2023 -- 1,697 complaints

    Complaints related to Lee Anderson's interview with Suella Braverman, on the grounds that they are both Conservative MPs.

    We published our assessment of this programme which found that it included an appropriately wide range of significant views on immigration and border control which were given due weight.

  • Breakfast with Kay Burley, Sky News, 10 October 2023 -- 1,640 complaints

    Complainants alleged Kay Burley misrepresented comments made by the Palestinian ambassador.

    We are assessing the complaints, before we decide whether or not to investigate.

  • Naked Education, Channel 4, 4 April 2023 -- 1,285 complaints

    We understand that some viewers were concerned about this programme, which included pre-watershed nudity.

    In our view, the programme had a clear educational focus, and the young participants reflected positively on their involvement. We also took into account that there were warnings to the audience before the programme aired.

  • This Morning, ITV, 18 December 2023, 1,092 complaints

    Complaints related to comments made by Vanessa Feltz about coeliac disease.

    We are assessing the complaints, before we decide whether or not to investigate.

  • Love Island, ITV2, 9 July 2023 -- 992 complaints

    The majority of complaints about this episode related to bullying against Scott.

    We carefully assessed complaints about this series on a range of issues including alleged bullying, homophobia and racism.

    We recognise that emotionally charged or confrontational scenes can upset some viewers. But, in our view, negative behaviour in the villa was not shown in a positive light. We also took into account that the format of this reality show is well-established and viewers would expect to see highs and lows as couples' relationships are tested.

    Viewers also complained about a contestant being voted off and returning to the programme, but this was an editorial decision for the broadcaster.



Drinks censor takes an unusual position...

And bans a rum, Kama Sutra and sex toy gift box

Link Here28th December 2023

Pirate's Grog Love Potion No.9 Gift Pack and Love Potion No.9 Spiced Rum

Tthe Pirate's Grog Love Potion No.9 Gift Pack included a copy of the Kama Sutra, a Durex Intense Vibe Ring and a bottle of rum.


'This can't be allowed? Sex Toys with alcohol'

Decision: Complaint upheld

Code paragraph 3.2(d): A drink, it's packaging and any promotional material or activity should not in any direct or indirect way suggest any association with sexual activity or sexual success.

Code paragraph 3.2(j): A drink, its packaging and any promotional material or activity should not in any direct or indirect way suggest that the product has therapeutic qualities, can enhance mental or physical capabilities, or change mood or behaviour.

The company stated that the Love Potion No 9 Gift Pack had been removed from sale and it was this item which had been subject to complaint rather than the packaging of Love Potion No.9 Spiced Rum.

Pirate's Grog Love Potion No.9 Spiced Rum 3.2(d)

The Panel discussed the packaging of Pirate's Grog Love Potion No.9 Spiced Rum to determine whether it created any association with sexual success or sexual activity. The Panel considered the product name Love Potion No.9 and noted that love potions were typically depicted in popular culture as creating feelings of love but that this element alone did not necessarily create an association with sexual activity.

When assessing the back label, the Panel noted that it included text which read 'Love Potion No.9 entice your pirate lover with shimmering lust dust' and 'a proven aphrodisiac... let the fireworks begin!'.

The Panel considered that referring to the drink as a means to entice a romantic partner, or as a substance alleged to increase sexual desire, created a direct association between the drink and sexual activity as well as sexual success. Accordingly, the Panel found the packaging in breach of Code rule 3.2(d).

In light of the decision under Code rule 3.2(d), the Panel considered whether there was merit in discussing whether there was anything on the packaging which suggested the drink had therapeutic qualities, could enhance physical or mental capabilities, or change mood or behaviour.

The Panel discussed the product name Love Potion No. 9 and considered that love potions were generally understood by the average consumer to be potions which invoked intense feelings of love, attraction, and sometimes obsession in the recipient. The Panel therefore considered that the name alone suggested that consumption of the drink could change a person's mood and behaviour by creating feelings of love and romance.

The Panel assessed the overall impression of the packaging and noted that the front label included a heart and cross image in the style of a skull and crossbones, thereby combining the association of a warning and recognised medicinal logo.

The Panel also noted that the back label text included the line 'a proven aphrodisiac' which suggested that the drink could create sexual feelings and therefore change an individual's mood and behaviour. Taking all of these elements into account, in the context of a 'love potion', the Panel concluded that the name and packaging of Love Potion No.9 Spiced Rum directly suggested the drink could provide therapeutic qualities and change mood or behaviour. Accordingly, the Panel found the name and packaging in breach of Code rule 3.2(j).

Pirate's Grog Love Potion No.9 Gift Pack 3.2(d)

The Panel then assessed the Pirate's Grog Love Potion No.9 Gift Pack which had been the original subject of complaint and included a copy of the Kama Sutra and a Durex Intense Vibe Ring. The Panel considered that the inclusion of the Kama Sutra, a well-known book related to the depiction of sexual positions, and a sex toy in a gift pack with alcohol was wholly inappropriate under the Code. The Panel concluded that the combination of items in the gift pack, including the product packaging of Love Potion No.9 Spiced Rum, created a direct association with sexual success and sexual activity. Accordingly, the complaint was upheld under Code rule 3.2(d).

As the Love Potion No.9 Spiced Rum bottle was also included in the gift pack, the Panel considered whether the concerns raised regarding the name packaging of Love Potion No. 9 Spiced Rum under Code rule 3.2(j) would apply to the gift pack, as the drink formed part of it. The Panel concluded that the same rationale would apply to the gift pack as its overall impression included the drinks packaging which directly suggested it could provide therapeutic qualities and change mood or behaviour for the reasons stated above. Accordingly, the gift pack was also found in breach of Code rule 3.2(j).

Action by Company:

The company has now agreed to change the name and packaging of Love Potion No.9 rum.




The UK 4K Blu-ray release of the Abyss has been cancelled as the BBFC are still insisting on censor cuts

Link Here28th December 2023

The Abyss is 1989 US adventure film by James Cameron.
With Ed Harris, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and Michael Biehn. Melon Farmers link  BBFC link 2020  IMDb

Formerly married petroleum engineers who still have some issues to work out. They are drafted to assist a gung-ho Navy SEAL with a top-secret recovery operation: a nuclear sub has been ambushed and sunk, under mysterious circumstances, in some of the deepest waters on Earth.

The Digital Bits reports that the 4K digital release of The Abyss has been cancelled in the UK because the BBFC is still insisting on censor cuts to the rat scene on grounds of animal cruelty.

The scene has been cut by 45s by the BBFC for all releases to date.

The Digital Bits reported:

We've learned from industry sources that the 4K Ultra HD release of James Cameron's The Abyss (1989) in the UK has been cancelled, and for exactly the reason you think204the scene in which the rat is made to breath underwater. UK censors asked for the scene to be cut, Disney apparently wanted to comply, but [producers] Lightstorm vetoed it. So if you want this title in 4K and you live in the UK, you'll have to import it from elsewhere. On the bright side, 4K discs are region free.

The BBFC still want the scene to be cut despite the fact that the rats involved in the shooting of the scene weren't harmed. As noted on Wikipedia:

The idea for The Abyss came to James Cameron when, at age 17 and in high school, he attended a science lecture about deep sea diving by a man, Francis J. Falejczyk, who was the first human to breathe liquid through his lungs in experiments conducted by Johannes A. Kylstra at Duke University. The breathing fluid used in the film actually exists but has only been thoroughly investigated in animals. Over the previous 20 years it had been tested on several animals, who survived. The rat shown in the film was actually breathing liquid and survived unharmed. Production consulted with Dr. Kylstra on the proper use of the breathing fluid for the film.



Playing a miserable game...

China censors restrict monetisation of video games

Link Here22nd December 2023
China is to bring in new rules that will limit the amount of money and time that people can spend on video games.

The restrictions are aimed at limiting in-game purchases and restricting time spent gaming. The planned curbs also reiterate a ban on forbidden online game content that endangers national unity and endangers national security or harms national reputation and interests.

Online games must not offer rewards that entice people to excessively play and spend, including those for daily logins and topping up accounts with additional funds, said the industry regulator, the National Press and Publication Administration (NPPA).

Pop-ups warning users of irrational playing behaviour are also set to come into force and game publishers would need to house their servers processing and storing user data in China, rather than elsewhere.

The news sent shares in tech giants tumbling and wiped tens of billions of dollars off their value.

According to Reuters, the censor is seeking public comment on the proposals by 22 January.



Renaissance: A Film By Beyoncé...

Pre-cut for UK cinema release

Link Here22nd December 2023

Renaissance: A Film By Beyoncé is a 2023 US music documentary by Beyoncé, Ed Burke
Starring Beyoncé, Blue Ivy Carter and Diana Ross BBFC link 2020 IMDb

Pre-cut for a BBFC 15 rated cinema release.

Summary Notes

Beyoncé in performance at her record-breaking RENAISSANCE World Tour and the creative mastermind behind it.


MPAA UnratedUS: Uncut and MPA Unrated:

From IMDb:

Several uses of 'cunt' during the song PURE/HONEY as well as 57 frequent uses of fuck, 42 shit, 40 bitch and 30 nigga.
run: 169:28s
pal: 162:41s
15UK: A cut pre-cut version was BBFC 15 rated for strong language:
  • 2023 Trafalgar Releasing cinema release (rated 27/11/2023)

The BBFC commented:

There is strong language ('fuck', 'motherfucker'), as well as milder terms such as 'bitch', 'whore', 'shit', 'ass' and 'God'. There are also uses of reclaimed racial language ('nigga', 'negro').

Thanks to Scott:

This concert film apparently contains use of the c-word in its original form, hence the Aus OFLC rating it MA15+ for Strong coarse language, however it seems the word has been removed from the UK release as the BBFC have given it a 15 for just strong language rather than very strong. Listed as uncut on the website, so presumably it was pre-cut by the distributor in a failed attempt to get a 12A.



Taking the moral high road...

Google limits the authorities access to people's location histories

Link Here16th December 2023
Full story: Gooogle Privacy...Google's many run-ins with privacy

Google announced this week that it will be making several important changes to the way it handles users' "Location History" data. These changes would appear to make it much more difficult--if not impossible--for Google to provide mass location data in response to a geofence warrant , a change we've been asking Google to implement for years.

Geofence warrants require a provider--almost always Google--to search its entire reserve of user location data to identify all users or devices located within a geographic area during a time period specified by law enforcement. These warrants violate the Fourth Amendment because they are not targeted to a particular individual or device, like a typical warrant for digital communications. The only "evidence" supporting a geofence warrant is that a crime occurred in a particular area, and the perpetrator likely carried a cell phone that shared location data with Google. For this reason, they inevitably sweep up potentially hundreds of people who have no connection to the crime under investigation--and could turn each of those people into a suspect .

Geofence warrants have been possible because Google collects and stores specific user location data (which Google calls "Location History" data) altogether in a massive database called " Sensorvault ." Google reported several years ago that geofence warrants make up 25% of all warrants it receives each year.

Google's announcement outlined three changes to how it will treat Location History data. First, going forward, this data will be stored, by default, on a user's device, instead of with Google in the cloud. Second, it will be set by default to delete after three months; currently Google stores the data for at least 18 months. Finally, if users choose to back up their data to the cloud, Google will "automatically encrypt your backed-up data so no one can read it, including Google."

All of this is fantastic news for users, and we are cautiously optimistic that this will effectively mean the end of geofence warrants. These warrants are dangerous. They threaten privacy and liberty because they not only provide police with sensitive data on individuals, they could turn innocent people into suspects. Further, they have been used during political protests and threaten free speech and our ability to speak anonymously, without fear of government repercussions. For these reasons, EFF has repeatedly challenged geofence warrants in criminal cases and worked with other groups ( including tech companies) to push for legislative bans on their use.

However, we are not yet prepared to declare total victory. Google's collection of users' location data isn't limited to just the "Location History" data searched in response to geofence warrants; Google collects additional location information as well. It remains to be seen whether law enforcement will find a way to access these other stores of location data on a mass basis in the future. Also, none of Google's changes will prevent law enforcement from issuing targeted warrants for individual users' location data--outside of Location History--if police have probable cause to support such a search.

But for now, at least, we'll take this as a win. It's very welcome news for technology users as we usher in the end of 2023.



Next Goal Wins...

Cinema release cut in the US and Australia

Link Here16th December 2023

Next Goal Wins is a 2023 UK/US comedy drama by Taika Waititi
Starring Michael Fassbender, Oscar Kightley and Kaimana BBFC link 2020 IMDb

Originally rated PG-13 by the MPA for strong language and some crude material. It was then cut and resubmitted prior to release to achieve a PG-13 rating for some strong language and crude material. Presumably it was some strong language that had been removed. The Australian PG rated cinema release was also cut so presumably the cut US version was used.

Summary Notes

The story of the infamously terrible American Samoa soccer team, known for a brutal 2001 FIFA match they lost 31-0.


BBFC uncut
run: 103:46s
pal: 99:37s

IFCO cinema 12A




UK: Uncut and BBFC 12A rated with a trigger warning for injury detail, discrimination, sex references, infrequent strong language:
  • 2023 Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures UK cinema release (rated 17/11/2023)
Thanks to Scott. The short insight has been altered to change the original wording of 'transphobia' to simply 'discrimination'. I can only assume this was done at the request of the distributor who didn't want transphobia associated with their film.
Ireland: Uncut and IFCO 12A rated with a trigger warning for very infrequent strong language, some discriminatory language:
  • 2023 Disney cinema release (rated 14/11/2023)

US: Uncut and PG-13 by the MPA for strong language and some crude material. Unreleased as a cut version was preferred for theatrical release

Australia: Uncut and ACB M rated for occasional coarse language:
  • 2023 Walt Disney Studios Motion cinema release (rated 27/10/2023) Unreleased as a cut version was preferred for theatrical release
mpaa cut
run: 104m
pal: 100m


US: Cut and PG-13 by the MPA for some strong language and some crude material.

A little strong language has been removed, the word 'fuck'.

Australia: Cut and ACB PG rated for mild themes and coarse language:

  • 2023 Walt Disney Studios Motion cinema release (rated 23/11/2023)

Presumably this was based on the cut US version.



Offsite Article: What to do about Sunak's silly plan to curb social media for under-16s?...

Link Here 16th December 2023
Linking encryption so closely to the protection of children suggests the plans to raise the minimum age at which users can access social networks is a response to companies' defiance over encrypted messages

See article from



The internet gets safer against the wishes of the UK government...

Launching Default End-to-End Encryption on Messenger

Link Here 8th December 2023
Full story: Internet Encryption...Encryption, essential for security but givernments don't see it that way

I'm delighted to announce that we are rolling out default end-to-end encryption for personal messages and calls on Messenger and Facebook, as well as a suite of new features that let you further control your messaging experience. We take our responsibility to protect your messages seriously and we're thrilled that after years of investment and testing, we're able to launch a safer, more secure and private service.

Since 2016, Messenger has had the option for people to turn on end-to-end encryption, but we're now changing private chats and calls across Messenger to be end-to-end encrypted by default. This has taken years to deliver because we've taken our time to get this right. Our engineers, cryptographers, designers, policy experts and product managers have worked tirelessly to rebuild Messenger features from the ground up. We've introduced new privacy, safety and control features along the way like delivery controls that let people choose who can message them, as well as app lock , alongside existing safety features like report, block and message requests. We worked closely with outside experts, academics, advocates and governments to identify risks and build mitigations to ensure that privacy and safety go hand-in-hand.

The extra layer of security provided by end-to-end encryption means that the content of your messages and calls with friends and family are protected from the moment they leave your device to the moment they reach the receiver's device. This means that nobody, including Meta, can see what's sent or said, unless you choose to report a message to us.

End-to-end encryption gives people more secure chats in Messenger. These chats will not only have all of the things people know and love, like themes and custom reactions, but also a host of new features we know are important for our community. These new features will be available for use immediately, though it may take some time for Messenger chats to be updated with default end-to-end encryption.



The Holdovers...

BBFC censors object to a retro MPAA R rating card

Link Here8th December 2023

The Holdovers is a 2023 US comedy drama by Alexander Payne
Starring Paul Giamatti, Da'Vine Joy Randolph and Dominic Sessa BBFC link 2020 IMDb

Cut by the BBFC for cinema release in 2024.

Summary Notes

A cranky history teacher at a remote prep school is forced to remain on campus over the holidays with a troubled student who has no place to go.


BBFC uncut
MPA RUS: Uncut and MPA R rated for language, some drug use and brief sexual material:
  • 2023 release (rated 26/04/2023)
BBFC cut
run: 133:16s
pal: 127:56s
15UK: BBFC 15 rated for strong language, brief nudity for strong language, brief nudity after BBFC cuts:
  • 2024 Universal Pictures cinema release (rated 20/11/2023)

The BBFC commented:

This work had a compulsory cut made. A cut was required to remove a misleading category symbol.

Scott commented:

This 1970s-set Christmas comedy has been cut to remove what the BBFC refer to as a misleading category symbol. The film is styled like the films of the 70s, including opening with the era's Universal logo, and as part of this has an old MPAA R rating card at the start. This is clearly a creative decision made by the filmmakers to play up the retro tone, yet the BBFC think audiences are too stupid to realise and have cut it. They claim that even old BBFC cards are no longer allowed to be included in resubmissions of older films due to this unfounded misleading belief, yet the recent reissue of the 1960 Powell and Pressburger film Peeping Tom has the original X card at the start - did the distributor not include that upon submission?



Offsite Article: Online Safety Act 2023...

Link Here4th December 2023
Full story: Online Safety Act...UK Government legislates to censor social media
A summary of the current position of the UK's (anti-)pornographic internet censorship provisions

See article from



Offsite Article: Setting up a centralised EU health database...

Link Here4th December 2023
EU Committees Vote in Favor of Mandatory Interconnected Digital Patient Health Records for All Citizens

See article from

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