Wednesday 17 November 2010

OFCOM ignored 115 complaints; ITV ignores hundreds more

Data released today shows that OFCOM ignored a total of 115 complaints about Tuesday 9th November's episode of 'This Morning'.

Figures show that the episode was last week's third most complained about television programme, beaten only by two episodes of controversial talent show 'X Factor'.

On Thursday 11th November, just two days after 'This Morning' aired a series of nasty comments by Kelvin MacKenzie about Michael Jackson and his children, OFCOM announced that it had already obtained the footage and conducted an investigation into the incident. The body refused to uphold complaints about the show on the fictitious premise that the segment had not breached the OFCOM code.

Bizarrely, ITV seemed to reach the opposite conclusion. On the same day that OFCOM claimed there had been nothing wrong with the segment, ITV removed the clip from its online catch-up service.

Not content with contradicting OFCOM, ITV have spent much of the last few days contradicting themselves. Despite believing that MacKenzie's comments were offensive enough to warrant removing them from the catch-up service, ITV is now bombarding Jackson's fans with generic and inaccurate emails denying that there was anything wrong with the segment.

The email, apparently written by ITV's head of legal compliance Mark Sunderland, completely re-writes the events of Tuesday 9th November and is successfully rebutted, point by point, in this eloquent and frequently hilarious response by Deborah Ffrench.

In the email Sunderland dismisses those offended by MacKenzie's comments as 'fans', but makes no mention of Jackson's friends and family. This is despite Jackson's nephew Taj publicly voicing his dismay over the comments and US Ambassador Paul W Jones, a personal friend of Michael Jackson, sending a letter of complaint to the broadcaster.

Sunderland also wrongly claims that 'This Morning' host Phillip Schofield made clear that MacKenzie's comments did not represent the views of ITV. The footage tells a different story but, of course, ITV destroyed that evidence on Thursday.