Ofcom Statement clearing Comic relief sketch of Atkinson as a fictional Archbishop:
“In reaching this decision we took into consideration the context of the material.
“This included that Comic Relief is widely known for featuring irreverent and often absurd comedy sketches; the intention of the sketch was to create humour rather than seriously deride Christianity; and that the BBC took immediate action on the night of the broadcast, including issuing an apology for the tone of the sketch, removing it from BBC iPlayer and withdrawing a follow-up sketch due for broadcast later in the evening.” [BBC News emphasis added]
When the Archbishop Sketch for comic relief was pulled from BBC iPlayer I made this comment (where incidentally you can still see video):
The context is a BBC that has had serious problems with comedy (think Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand prank phone call on Radio) and with pulling documentary on Jimmy Saville as a serial pedophile, but still running a tribute programme to him. Having lost a Governor over all this with the final straw being a news programme slandering someone as a pedophile implies a corporation running scared about it’s future in austerity Britain. We can also add that with media outlets, that see the BBC as unfair public competition, out to get them and overshadowing what was a great night for philanthropy, BBC decided to reduce impact of the story by reducing possible viewing so complaint numbers may be even less significant. None of these things justify the action – the sketch was funny and tongue in cheek parody satire. [Emphasise added]
Sadly it seems that pulling the sketch from BBC iPlayer was taken into consideration when deciding, along with the apology.
So while we may welcome the regulator saying the broadcasting code was not breached, that they took into account the actions of the BBC in pulling the sketch suggests this is not quite the victory we may have wanted.
Had the BBC not pulled the sketch from the highlights show, and kept on BBC iPlayer for Internet viewing, would the decision have been different?
That needs to be asked.
Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog