The Land Cries Out for the Blood that Was Shed
Revelation TV, 23 June 2009, 15:30
Revelation TV is a UK-based Christian channel that features a range of programmes with a religious theme. Ofcom received a complaint about The Land Cries Out for the Blood that was Shed , objecting to the programme's stance against abortion, and
the showing of graphic images of aborted foetuses. The complainant was concerned that the programme had been broadcast in the afternoon and prior to a children's programme called R Kids .
The programme was a documentary film, which consisted of commentary and interviews setting out facts, figures and opinions about abortion. All the interviewees (drawn mainly from anti-abortion organisations in the UK, the US and Israel) put forward
arguments and opinions against abortion, with the views expressed being predominantly delivered from a Christian and Jewish perspective. During the programme, a range of images were shown, which depicted, in photographic form, aborted foetuses or the
process of abortion. In summary, the Images consisted of the following:
Firstly, montages of still photographs of late-stage aborted foetuses shown three times during the programme lasting in excess of thirty seconds in total
second, a number of times, brief but discernable “flash frames” of photographs of late-stage aborted foetuses, shown intermittently throughout the programme.
The programme also touched on: the legal situation pertaining to abortion in the UK, the US and Israel; and the United Nations policy concerning abortion. In addition, a number of interviewees gave their perspectives on the legal situation surrounding
abortion in the above countries, and how it was being dealt with at the UN.
Ofcom considered Rules of the Code:
Rule 1.3: Children must be protected by appropriate scheduling
Rule 2.1: Generally accepted standards must be applied to the contents of
Rule 2.3: Offensive material must be justified by the context and appropriate
information should also be broadcast
Rule 5.5: On matters of political controversy or relating to current public policy
due impartiality must be preserved.
Ofcom Decision: Breach of Rules 1.3, 2.1, 2.3 & 5.5
Ofcom had two broad areas of concern about the programme:
Firstly, Ofcom noted that collectively the Images consisted of depictions in photographic form of late-stage aborted foetuses. Ofcom therefore had to consider whether by broadcasting the Images, Revelation TV had failed to ensure that people under
eighteen were protected, and generally accepted standards were maintained.
Second, given that the programme was touching on and discussing Governmental and international policy on abortion, Ofcom had to consider whether Section Five of the Code (concerning due impartiality) was engaged, and if so, whether due impartiality was
maintained on a matter of political or industrial controversy or matter relating to current public policy.
Ofcom considered the Images collectively as being highly problematic, with real potential to cause harm and offence, including harm to any children watching.
Firstly, the Montages consisted of extremely graphic still photographs showing full images of different late stage aborted foetuses outside of the womb. These images included severed body parts including heads and limbs. Given the very explicit nature of
these photographs, and the length of time they were visible to viewers, Ofcom considered the Montages had the greatest potential to cause harm and offence, including harm to any children watching. There were similar concerns about the graphic nature of
the Flash Frames which included some of the same stills in the Montages.
This programme was broadcast well before the 9pm Watershed, and in fact, at a time when children would be arriving home from school. It also was broadcast only a short time before one of Revelation TV's programmes aimed at children (R Kids). Ofcom
therefore considered that there was a material chance that some children might be in the audience for The Land Cries Out. Ofcom considered that the strength and highly graphic nature of the Images were totally unacceptable to be broadcast at a time when
children might have been watching. The highly graphic nature of the Montages in particular, would have had, in Ofcom's opinion, the likely potential to have caused distress and upset amongst any child viewers exposed to such material. As a consequence,
Ofcom considered the content to be in breach of Rule 1.3.
Ofcom considered that a combination of the Images, and in particular, the Montages, could not be justified by the context given the time of broadcast and the failure to provide adequate information about the nature of the programme, and were, therefore,
in breach of Rules 2.1 and 2.3.
Outside of news programmes, under Section Five of the Code, broadcasters must ensure that they preserve “due impartiality” on matters relating to political or industrial controversy or matters relating to current public policy. Having reviewed the
programme, Ofcom noted that The Land Cries Out contained no opinions or viewpoints that could be portrayed as being from a pro-abortion stance. Ofcom therefore considered the programme to be in breach of Rule 5.5.
Ofcom considered these breaches of the Code to be serious.