Monday 25 March 2013

BBC Censorship

Rowan Atkinson made a mild and amusing sketch portraying the Arch Bishop of Canterbury which was recently broadcast as part of the BBC telethon Comic Relief.  It drew around 2000 complaints, citing the subject matter, language used and the timing of the broadcast.  The BBC's response was to issue a grovelling apology, withdraw its support from one of the nation's greatest comedy talents, and cut the clip from the BBC online catchup service, iPlayer.

Why not take a look and see for yourself how offensive it really is...

In reply to a call for action from this blogger, I posted the following complaint on the BBC website.

I am shocked that the BBC has chosen to remove Rowan Atkinson’s Red Nose sketch from iPlayer coverage. While the BBC received many complaints citing the subject matter, language and timing of the broadcast, there is no substance to those complaints. I challenge each of the three justifications, and the decision of the BBC:
BBC Comic Relief is well known for its irreverent humour, and Atkinson’s sketch is entirely in keeping with the spirit and custom of the event. If the BBC is now judging the established religion to be beyond the acceptable limits of mild mockery, then this represents a significant change which deserves open, public debate.
The sketch carries two words, arse and shag, used sparingly, which according to the BBC’s own editorial guidance on language have the potential to cause mild offence, and are generally permitted without referral and for broadcast before the watershed in suitable contexts such as comedic satire.
BBC guidelines permit the use of mild language before the watershed. Furthermore, the sketch was broadcast prior to the decision to censor it from iPlayer, and removing it from iPlayer provides absolutely no remedy for the timing of the original broadcast.
It is evident that the decision of the BBC was made to pander to a hypersensitive religious lobby, and not based on editorial content whatsoever. The decision is without sound justification and threatens democratic free speech.

If you disagree, and think that Rowan Atkinson's sketch was beyond the limits of acceptable humour to be broadcast, please let me know - I really am interested to know why.  If instead you'd prefer to make a complaint yourself, feel free to do so here...