Ofcom back off

Just saw this link on Twitter so thought I'd pass it on. Here's a link to the story on the Broadcast now website.

Ofcom backs down to BBC anger over Pedigree Dogs ruling

9 November, 2009 | By Katherine Rushton

Ofcom has held off publishing rulings about the BBC1’s Pedigree Dogs Exposed documentary after sparking “unprecedented” anger from the corporation.

According to sources, Ofcom told the BBC last week that it had upheld three of 19 complaints about the documentary, which famously caused a rift between the BBC and the Kennel Club, and said it would publish the decision today [9 November].

The documentary, by Passionate Productions, identified serious issues affecting the health and welfare of some pedigree dogs and led to a decision to suspend BBC coverage of the annual Crufts dog show. The Kennel Club subsequently changed its “breed standards” and banned the breeding of close relatives.

But the Kennel Club took issue with the documentary and hired law firm Schillings to make a series of complaints. It is understood that two of the complaints centred on misrepresentation of specific dog breeders and one was about a comparison between dog breeding and Nazi eugenicists.

However, the BBC reacted furiously to Ofcom’s decision, privately complaining about the way the investigation was conducted and heaping pressure on the regulator to overturn its judgement.

“I’ve never known such anger inside the BBC about a ruling. Very, very senior figures were furious. Judicial reviews were considered. Ofcom have given in to the pressure,” an insider said. Even as late as last night, it seemed that Ofcom would publish its ruling today – but its fortnightly bulletin was issued this morning with no mention of Pedigree Dogs Exposed.

“Odd” questions

BBC sources claimed Ofcom asked “odd” questions in its call for evidence, and then would not allow the corporation to submit any additional material which would have supported its argument. They also raised concerns that Ofcom’s Kath Worrall oversaw both the initial complaint and the appeals process as a member of the media regulator’s content board as well as chair of its fairness committee.

“They got the same person to be judge and jury. It took a record time for Ofcom to rule on and there was an unprecedented level of protest to Ofcom, right up until the last minute,” a source said.

It is understood that Ofcom restructured its appeals process following the complaints but maintained that it would stand by its decisions on Pedigree Dogs Exposed. It is not clear whether Ofcom will use the extra time to reconsider its ruling.

Ofcom, the BBC and Pedigree Dogs producer/director Jemima Harrison all declined to comment.


Anonymous said…
is it "Ofcom backs down to BBC anger over Pedigree Dogs ruling" or the BBC being a bully when it does not get its own way? The BBC held their own investigation into the program whcih they claimed to be independent (yet they were the broadcaster/commissioners) so their complaint that someone else cannot ne both Judge and Jury seems a little two face
Anonymous said…
not sure what this says other than the bbc were annoyed to have been found in the wrong on any counts.

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