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 2008: July
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31st July   

Update: Watershed Inanity...

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Harmful committee recommend more internet censorship
Link Here  full story: Harmful Content...Parliament Inquiry: Internet And In Video Games:

Culture Media Sport Committee The internet industry must take more responsibility for protecting young people from the "dark side" of digital content relating to abuse, violence and suicide, according to a committee of MPs.

The investigation recommended the establishment of a self-regulatory body to create better online safeguards to protect children from being exposed to unsuitable material. The body would police websites, adjudicate on complaints and could help crack down on piracy and illegal file-sharing in Britain.

The culture, media and sport committee report, on harmful content on the internet and video games, said that leaving individual companies to introduce their own measures to protect users had resulted in an unsatisfactory piecemeal approach which lacks consistency and transparency.

The committee chairman, John Whittingdale, criticised YouTube for not going far enough with proactive measures, beyond a pledge to take down material when it is "flagged" up by users: We had a lively debate with YouTube [who said they have] millions of users who act as regulators. They understandably say they can't look at all the material uploaded.

The report recommends a "proactive review of content" as standard practice for sites hosting user-generated content. The idea would be to introduce technological tools to "quarantine" material which potentially violates terms and conditions of use until ... reviewed by staff.

The report recommended a host of measures including improving the "shocking" industry-accepted standard takedown time of 24 hours for the removal of child abuse content. Whittingdale said a key concern was that many young people did not realise when they are putting information on social networking websites such as Bebo and Facebook it was being "made available to the world".

The report recommends a default setting for social networking website user profiles with heavily restricted access that would require a "deliberate decision" to display personal information. The increasingly worrying role of the influence of suicide websites was also highlighted in the report. It said that it could be possible to look at blocking such websites on a voluntary basis, in the same way that ISPs already do for child sex abuse websites with the Internet Watch Foundation.

The report also agrees that parents need to take on a greater responsibility to protect their children. The report also recommended introducing the rating system used by the BBFC for computer games.

Based on article from mirror.co.uk

Internet sites such as YouTube should adopt TV-style watersheds to protect youngsters from porn and violence, MPs said today.

Users posting home-made films would have to give them a cinema-style age rating under the proposals. Those containing sex, bad language or violence could be blocked before 9pm.

The move is among curbs proposed by the Commons Culture, Media and Sport select committee.

 

31st July   

Update: IOC Stuck on the Blocks...


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Olympic officials brushed off as China continues to block the internet
Link Here

Olympic handcuffs A deal with Beijing has allowed the Chinese authorities to continue to block internet sites, the International Olympic Committee has disclosed.

Journalists at the main media centre in Beijing found that the BBC Chinese language site was inaccessible, as were the websites of human rights organisations such as Amnesty International and Reporters without Borders — whose welcome page at present shows the five Olympic rings replaced with interlocking handcuffs. The US broadcaster Radio Free Asia and the German radio station Deutsche Welle are also out of bounds.

Kevan Gosper, the head of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) press commission, confirmed that some of its officials had agreed to Chinese demands that sensitive sites be blocked on the ground that they were not related to the Olympics.

Chinese organisers said that the censorship would not hamper journalists in their job of reporting on the Games. Sun Weide, a Bocog official, said that the plan had always been to provide “sufficient” internet access for foreign reporters. Sites run by the Falun Gong religious sect remain inaccessible, as do most sites with the word Tibet in their internet address.

The revelation that China's censors had never considered relaxing internet curbs further tarnishes the image of the Games amid persistent fears of pollution and security so tight that cafés are not allowed to place tables on pavements and hotels cannot change their brand of shower gel without checks.

 

30th July   

Update: BBFC to win the Battle of Milton Keynes...

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BBFC to win the Battle of Milton Keynes
Link Here  full story: The Byron Report...Tanya Byron reports on media child protection

BBFC logo Ministers will tomorrow give the go-ahead to the first strict and legally binding classification system for video games.

Culture Minister Margaret Hodge is understood to be ready to accept recommendations from television psychologist Dr Tanya Byron, who conducted a review for the Government.

The proposed changes would mean all games coming under a system of statutory labelling, backed up by heavy penalties for underage sale.

Mrs Hodge is expected to give the go-ahead to a compulsory age classification system set down in law, expected to include 18, 15, 12, PG (parental guidance) and U (universal), the same as the system used for films.

The BBFC is likely to have to certify all games attracting a 12 certificate and above. The ratings will have to be displayed prominently on the front of the games.

Retailers who sell video games to underage children in defiance of the new ratings are likely to face heavy fines or up to five years in prison.

Tory MP John Whittingdale, chairman of the Commons Culture, Media and Sport select committee, said: 'Computer games, like films, provide entertainment, but some content is quite plainly unsuitable for children.

A report from Whittingdale's committee is tomorrow expected to back moves to give
the BBFC responsibility for legally-enforceable ratings for video games.

It will also point to risks to children from the Internet, particularly from social networking sites.

The moves to enforce cinema- style ratings are likely to anger games manufacturers.

The world's largest games developer, Electronic Arts, said the new scheme would be confusing for parents and would lead to games being released later in Britain than in the rest of the world.

 

30th July   

Update: GTA IV Ad OK at ASA...

ASA find against those whinging about Grand Theft Auto IV advert
Link Here  full story: Grand Theft Auto...Grand Theft Auto brings out the nutters

Grand Theft Auto IV game A TV ad for the release of Grand Theft Auto IV (Cert 18) in association with Microsoft Xbox. The ad showed a man walking towards the viewer with the background scene and his clothes changing frequently. In the background there were several scenes of people firing guns and cars exploding. Towards the end of the ad, the man broke into a car by smashing the window and then drove away.

Issues:

  • 10 viewers challenged whether the ad was offensive and harmful, especially to children and young people under 18 years of age, because it condoned violence and criminal behaviour.
  • 7 viewers complained that the ad was scheduled inappropriately because it could be seen by children. Two viewers pointed out that the ad was shown during televised European football matches, which, they believed, were watched by audiences with a large number of children and young people.

The ad was cleared for TV by Clearcast who said the ad merely focused on the hero as he walked down a street. They maintained the action in the background was cartoon like and over-the-top as a graphic representation of a popular computer game, which was in its fourth version. Clearcast acknowledged that stealing a car was a criminal act but believed its depiction in the ad was extremely unlikely to encourage emulation in viewers or cause widespread offence. Clearcast believed, had the ad been for a film, viewers would not have complained. They said numerous film ads that contained violent images had less stringent timing restrictions.

Clearcast said the game Grand Theft Auto IV carried an 18 rating. They said they automatically gave games with 18 ratings an "ex-kids" restriction and they therefore were not shown around programmes made specifically for children. In addition there was a warning to broadcasters for sensitive scheduling because the game was available for only adults to buy. They had considered that the current ad contained no violent scenes and was not threatening in tone. They also believed it did not glorify the trappings of a gangster lifestyle. They had nonetheless taken a cautious approach and had given the ad a post 7:30 pm restriction.

ASA Assessment

The ASA noted that the main character did not engage with the background sequences and, in any case, they did not depict inter-personal violence or graphic scenes of injury. We considered that viewers were likely to regard the background scenes as dramatic action sequences associated with the game and they were unlikely to be seen to condone violent behaviour. We also considered that the sequences shown were relatively mild and fleeting and were therefore unlikely to cause harm to children by condoning violence. Although we noted the ad's climax featured a depiction of car crime, we noted Clearcast had given the ad a post-7:30 pm restriction, which reduced the number of unaccompanied children and young people who might see the ad.

We acknowledged that some viewers might object to the themes of the actual game itself. However, we concluded that the ad was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence or harm by condoning violence and criminal behaviour.

We concluded that the ad had been appropriately scheduled and the post-7:30 pm restriction was sufficient and did not find the advert in breach of the code.

 

30th July   

Nutters Feed off the Media...

Beyer recommends Wire in the Blood
Link Here
John Beyer

Beyer Recommends...
Wire in the Blood

A grisly cannibal sex plot is set to spark nutter outrage over the new series of Wire In The Blood.

The drama will show a Hannibal Lecter-type serial killer who eats his victims while they are still alive. Realistic scenes of severed hands, fingers and body parts will be shown after the 9pm watershed.

Graphic scenes set in a fet club will show a leather-clad dominatrix played by former Doctor Who actress Mary Tamm.

Cristian Solimeno plays a kinky cop who is strung up with ropes by the killer. He defended the scenes saying: It's fictitious and you have to suspend disbelief.

John Beyer, of Mediawatch UK, said: If this is what ITV thinks is acceptable, they are mistaken. I wish they would reconsider showing it. People are longing for family viewing.

 

30th July   

Update: Shanked...

Nutters stick the knife into a Facebook application
Link Here

Facebook logo A Facebook game that lets users 'shank' each other - street slang for stabbing - has been removed following complaints from anti-knife crime nutters.

The virtual "shank" appears as an icon within the Facebook Superpoke! application. Superpoke! allows users to send virtual actions to other users such as smile, wink, take part in the Tour de France or send a bouquet.

Although the application consists of mostly humorous actions, some of the options, such as smack, slap and shank, have darker connotations.

When the knife icon is sent to a Facebook friend they receive a message saying that they have been "shanked".

Superpoke! and Facebook came in for criticism in the Sun. The uncle of Rob Knox, the Harry Potter actor who died after being stabbed in May, told the paper that the application "incited violence".

Slide, who make the Facebook application, have now removed the 'shank' option from Superpoke!.

 

30th July   

Home Advantage...

China undisputed champions of the Olympic sport of internet blocking
Link Here

Olympic handcuffs Sohoxiaobao, not the prettiest but definitely one of the earlier blog service providers in China, has been out of operation for a week now.

Based on article from rinf.com

Journalists working from the Olympics press centre in Beijing are unable to access amnesty.org, the Amnesty International website, the organisation claimed today.

A number of other websites are also reported to have been blocked, they claimed.

It comes as Amnesty International prepares to launch a new report evaluating the Chinese authorities' human rights performance in the run-up to the Olympics.

It is embarrassing to the International Olympic Committee, who had highlighted the loosening of restrictions on foreign media in China as an example of an improvement in human rights brought about by the hosting of the Olympics.

Earlier this month Jaques Rogge, the IOC President, had claimed that there will be no censorship on the internet.

Based on article from telegraph.co.uk

Competitors staying in the Beijing Olympics athletes village will be able to purchase a wide variety of soft pornography - but websites such as the BBC Chinese news page are still banned.

When Beijing won the right to hold the Games, officials had to promise that journalists would be allowed the same freedom to report as in previous host cities.

There have been repeated cases of journalists detained or otherwise stopped from reporting while covering Olympic and political issues in recent weeks. Officials had to apologise after a Hong Kong photographer was detained for six hours after scuffling with police while trying to film fights among those queuing for the last Olympic tickets on Friday.

Based on article from menassat.com

China will tighten its control over the Internet as the Olympic Games approach by ordering Chinese Web sites to censor certain content, Interfax sources with several online community and blogging platforms said this week.

We received notices from the Public Security Bureau and the Propaganda Department this week, asking us to closely watch for 'unhealthy' information. We have added many key words into our supervision system to watch for such information, said a source who works for an online community platform under a state-owned newspaper.

In the past, we generally watched for posts that contain Party leaders' names, pornography or violent content. Starting this week, more words have become sensitive, the source said.

The source said that some posts containing sensitive key words will be deleted. The key words include Olympic-related themes, names of Chinese nationalities or ethnic groups and comments about terrorism.

When contacted by Interfax, several other sources working for online communities and blogs in Beijing and Shanghai confirmed that Internet censorship has tightened due to the Olympic Games.

Shahe99.com, a Guangzhou-based online community, went so far as to announce on July 3 that it will forbid users from discussing any political news during the Olympics. A section of the forum called News from around China will be closed from July 3 until the end of the Olympics.

Thanks to Nick
Based on article from Art Knowledge News

As the Chinese government attempts to control the country's image during this summer's Olympics games, censors have forced two art galleries to delay the openings of their shows, Bloomberg reports. Galleri Faurschou postponed a show of work by Andy Warhol of Olympic athletes that was set to open this weekend, because censors felt it was inappropriate to exhibit foreign artwork during China's biggest public event. Xin Beijing Art Gallery canceled a show of oil paintings by Ma Baozhong, because censors did not like his depictions of the Dalai Lama and former president Jiang Zemin.

This week, Dongcheng district council put up posters telling residents of the city to avoid picking their noses or sitting with their legs apart in public. The posters also warned residents not to ask foreigners about their salaries, love lives, or health.

Galleri Faurschou is now hoping to open the Warhol show on August 7, after enlisting the help of the Royal Danish Embassy to convince censors to rethink their decision. Xin Beijing may postpone its show until as late as October or November, apparently giving the artist time to enhance the details in a couple of his larger paintings, according to gallery director Li Feng.

 

30th July   

Update: Economic Woes...

Iran president bans newspaper associated with an electoral rival
Link Here

Iran flag Bitter rifts within Iran's leadership came to the surface on Friday when the authorities banned the evening edition of a newspaper controlled by Tehran's mayor, a leading rival of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Hamshahri , a daily owned by Tehran's municipality, angered the president by reporting an argument between his ministers and the central bank governor, Tahmasb Mazaheri.

The story struck a nerve because it highlighted the reasons behind the president's acute political vulnerability. One year before he faces re-election, Iran's economy is stagnant, living standards are falling and unemployment remains at crushing levels. This is in spite of the windfall gains brought by record oil prices.

Mohammed Baqer Qalibaf, the mayor of Tehran, has emerged as Ahmadinejad's leading opponent and a possible challenger in the next presidential election. Hamshahri , which Qalibaf indirectly controls, has made a point of reporting Iran's economic woes and linking them to Ahmadinejad.

The president has now retaliated. Of the newspaper's two editions, one has been shut down. By a decision of the press supervisory board, Hamshahri evening edition has been banned. The reason for banning this publication was the propagation of untruthful news with the aim of creating disruption in the country's economic condition, reported the official news agency, IRNA.

 

30th July   

Censors Make Hay in Turkey...

Protests against the shutting of Hayat TV
Link Here

Turkey flag Hundreds of Turkish people gathered for the call of the Association of Intellectuals for Democracy to protest the shutting of Hayat TV. The group faxed the protest text Turn On My Television to the Ministry of Interior, the Supreme Council of Radio and Television (RTK) and Trksat A.S.

A press release organized by the Association of Intellectuals for Democracy supported Hayat TV, which is banned from broadcasting right at the centenary celebration of the end of censorship in Turkey.

Writer Adnan Özyalçiner read the press release said that shutting of Hayat TV was an arbitrary measure: That Hayat TV helped another TV station by becoming its voice cannot be true, because Hayat TV does not have this kind of technical capability.

He declared they would continue their action until a just solution was implemented.

 

30th July   

Update: Holy Cretins...

The Daily Mail wade into the Batman nonsense
Link Here

Dark Knight The days in which a punch was thrown in jest and accompanied by a cartoon Kerpow! seem as distant as Bagpuss. Nothing in this new Batman is in jest. Not even the Joker. This film is doing serious business - and, make no mistake, its business is violence.

I saw The Dark Knight on Monday; or at least I saw the bits that I could bear to watch from behind my giant Diet Coke.

Within the first five minutes, the body count was in double figures - and that was before a detonator was shoved down the throat of a dying bank manager.

Soon afterwards, the Joker, played with diabolical brilliance by the late Heath Ledger, explained how he got that permanent blood-red clown's grin.

His father had been attacking his mother's face with a knife when he caught his young son watching with a serious expression. Dad slashed the boy's cheeks to make sure that the kid would never look down-in-the-mouth again.
More from Allison Pearson...

Horrifying? You bet. But, believe me, that counts as a quiet, reflective moment in a symphony of sadism.

...Read full article

 

30th July   

Offsite: Age Old ID Technology...

Proof of age system moves net ID a step closer
Link Here

NetIDMe logo NetIDme's

The UK moved one step closer to online ID for all last week as the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) decided to give accreditation to NetIDme's age verification software. But for once this may be not cause for complete doom and gloom. Also added to the list are GB Group (with their URU product) and 192.com.

...

Opponents of ID in any form will be outraged. Well-known anti-censorship site MelonFarmers inveighed against NetIDme (19 July) on the grounds that a database of people's porn-viewing habits would undoubtedly be of great interest to government. In this case, however, the chances are that they are wrong.

The principles underlying NetIDme's technology are far closer to the Open Source ID project and involve the assembling of key data items to create a “token” that users may use as future verification of age. Thereafter, they claim, the data is then disassembled again. Hey presto! Individual ID, without a massive underlying database.

...Read full article

 

28th July   

Animated to Censor...

Minister seeks classification review of 4 Hentai DVDs previously passed R18+
Link Here

Bondage Mansion DVD Someone is unhappy about the R18+ ratings awarded to Siren Visual Entertainment's Hentai collection.

The R18+ ratings of four titles are to be looked at by the Review Board this coming Wednesday.

The application has been made by Bob Debus, the Minister for Home Affairs.

This is just further proof that Rudd's Government is no better than Howard's when it comes to censorship.

The films are Classes in Seduction, T & A Teacher, Holy Virgins and Bondage Mansion.

 

27th July   

Nutter Outrages Public Decency...

With a ludicrous private prosecution over a plaster dick
Link Here  full story: Jesus Hard Up...Terrence Koh's Jesus with erection shocks

Terence Koh's Jesus A leading art gallery is being taken to court over claims that it outraged public decency by displaying a statue depicting Christ with an erection.

The sculpture was the most provocative item in an exhibition at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead.

Despite signs warning of the exhibition's explicit nature, the gallery received complaints.

A private prosecution has now been launched and the first hearing in what could prove a landmark case has been set for September.

Legal documents claim that the gallery has both offended public decency and breached Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986. The maximum penalty for outraging public decency is six months' imprisonment and a £5,000 fine.

The documents claim that the foot-high sculpture was ‘offensive and disgusting' and likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to Christians and those of other faiths.
Controversial: Chinese-born artist Terence Ko

Legal experts said yesterday that the hearing would be the first test of public decency legislation since the Government scrapped Britain's ancient blasphemy laws in May.

The prosecution has been launched by Emily Mapfuwa who read about the exhibition in newspapers. I don't think this gallery would insult Muslims in this way, so why Christians? she said.

Father Christopher Warren, of the Roman Catholic cathedral of St Mary's in Newcastle upon Tyne, said: For Christians the image of Jesus is very special and to interpret it in a sexualised way is an affront to what we hold dear.

Update: Jesus Dick in Court

4th September 2008

The case in now scheduled to be heard in Crown Court on 23rd September 2008

 

27th July   

An Insult to the People...

A new crime of cyber insult created in South Korea
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in South Korea...Repressive new internet censorship law

South Korea flag A new crime, the ‘cyber insult,' and expansion of the ‘real names system' could stifle freedom of expression in South Korea.

The government will impose punishment against administrators of Internet portals if they do not respond to defamation claims by deleting messages, raising questions about censorship. The move is expected to curb the freedom of expression and undermine the use of the Internet as a positive tool for communication because it could prompt Internet portals to voluntarily remove messages from their Web sites they deem objectionable in order to avoid possible punishment.

In addition, the government plans to expand the “real names system” on the Internet and introduce a new crime, the “cyber insult,” which will allow police to punish Internet users who post messages with defamatory content.

On July 22, the Korea Communications Commission announced a flurry of measures titled, Comprehensive Measures for Information Protection on the Internet, which place heavy penalties on Internet portals for rule violations and expand coverage of the real names system. Under the proposed measures, the operators of Internet portals and peer-to-peer Web sites will be required to immediately remove a message from the site if a third person claims to have been defamed. The operators of the Internet portals and P2P Web sites will be punished if they do not accept the third person's demand.

Coverage of the real names system will be expanded to include Internet portals with more than an average of 100,000 visitors daily. If the measure goes into effect, Internet users will be required to register with their real names in order to log on to small- and medium-sized Web sites, as well as to most of the large portal sites, to post a message or reply. Currently, the real names system is mandatory for Internet portals with more than an average of 300,000 visitors per day and Web sites owned by media companies with more than an average of 200,000 visitors daily.

 

27th July   

Offsite: Nutter Press Enjoying Dark Knight...

Our attitude to violence is beyond a joke as The Dark Knight, shows
Link Here

Dark Knight Sadistic

But the greatest surprise of all – even for me, after eight years spent working as a film critic – has been the sustained level of intensely sadistic brutality throughout the film.

...

What's the problem? I can already hear some people asking. It's all a comic-book fantasy, and comic books are well known for their surreal, cartoonish bursts of violence. But the director, Christopher Nolan, hasn't sought to ramp up the cartoonish aspects of his superhero story, as other directors before him have. He has tried instead to make the violence and fear as believable as possible, and in this he has succeeded.

...

Britain appears to be gulping down entertainment values wholesale from a Hollywood intent upon mining the profit margin from barbarism. America, for all its manifold strengths, is still a country in which the population can be roused to a frenzy of condemnation by the sight of Janet Jackson's escaped nipple on the Super Bowl, but views the sight of a bound man being torched to death as all-round family entertainment.

...

Is there a link between screen violence and actual violence? Fans of violent films will tell you – frequently in the most aggressive terms – that there is not. Yet we know that children are, to greater and lesser degrees, highly imitative of what they see. We know that there is escalating public concern about violent crime, particularly knife crime, among teenagers.

...Read full article

 

27th July   

Offsite: The Max Effect...

Max Mosley's victory has a hollow ring for the rest of us
Link Here  full story: Max Mosley Privacy...Max Mosley, spanking and Nazi sex

News of the World Max Mosley Max Mosley's victory in the High Court should be celebrated because it exposed the hypocrisy of the News of the World: its mean and suicidal decision to reduce payment to the call girl and main witness, Woman E, by more than half; the pomposity of editor Colin Myler, who insisted that he was motivated by public interest; and the blackmail, unreliability and inconsistencies of its reporter, Neville Thurlbeck.

Since the judgment, there has been much hand-wringing about the freedom of the press. Most of it is self-serving. The damage to the press has not been done by Mosley, or the law, but by the practices of the News of the World. The public-interest defence still remains, but because of the Mosley case, newspapers are now going to have to justify such exposés under the chilly gaze of Mr Justice Eady and the accumulation of privacy law.

That's no bad thing, but my joy at the vanquishing of the News of the World is tempered by the knowledge that while our society haphazardly builds the law to protect privacy in this one limited sphere, we are busily destroying it in almost every other area.

...Read full article

The latest high-profile, UK privacy case raises critical questions for press freedom

See article from indexoncensorship.org by Jo Glanville

The ruling on the Max Mosley case has turned out to be less chilling for free speech than originally feared. Mosley, the president of FIA, Formula One's governing body, has successfully sued the News of the World for invading his privacy, but he was not awarded the ‘exemplary damages' he was seeking. So while the damages he will receive of £60,000 may be the highest award yet in a privacy case, it is not the kind of sum that will deter the press from reporting similar cases in the future.

...Read full article

 

26th July   

Update: Holy Blade Blame Batman!...

Victim lead censorship calls focus on Batman film
Link Here

Dark Knight Sadistic violence in the new Batman movie will send knife crime soaring, a victim's mum claimed last night.

Barbara Dunne whose son Robert was killed with a samurai sword, blasted block-buster The Dark Knight for glorifying blades.

She said scenes showing the knife-obsessed Joker, played by the late Heath Ledger, relishing maiming victims will numb kids to the horror of stabbings.

And Dunne said: It's encouraging children to buy the same knife and actually end up using it. The next day somebody's dead.

The campaigner, who vowed to grill bosses on the film's horror scenes, slated its 12A rating.

Comment: Easy Scapegoats

From Dan

It's always odd how parents of victims of violent crime lash out and blame easy scapegoats like films for their loss. They become campaigners against knife crime but instead of trying to campaign to tackle the root causes of young people turning to knife and violent crime they blame films.

Surely they must know that unless society deals with the real problems that lead youngsters down the road of crime and violence the killings and tragedies that befall families will not stop and blaming films won't change that.

Comment: Knives don't kill people

From Andrew

Kudos to Dan, victims of crime always end up stereotyping, and once again films come under the critical microscope.

When will people realise that films don't create killers. Parents do. There I said it. If your child is too fucked up to know where a film ends and life begins then I'm sorry, you failed as a parent.

You can still see kids walking around now dressing like Eminem and thinking that 8 Mile was real. ITS A FUCKING FILM! you know that bit at the end with all those strange markings, well their called words, commonly known at the end of a FILM as credits, telling you the FILM is over. Go back to your life. Now I'm not placing the blame solely on parents, children will imitate, fact of life, but if your child can't distinguish where the end of the film is then you have some real issues.

When I was 14 Natural Born Killers was released and caused a massive divide on what was acceptable in modern mainstream cinema, however unphased by this argument I landed a bootleg copy and watched it...14 years later I still don't have a criminal record.

The bottom line is films are not responsible. People are responsible. Knives don't kill people, irresponsible motherfuckers who carry knives kill people. Instead of looking for things to blame, point that judgemental finger at a mirror. Your child's carrying a knife? you fucked up as a parent. Ipso facto.

 

26th July   

Get Some Nuts...

Snickers withdraw Mr T tank advert
Link Here

Snickers Mr T tank advert A UK television advertisement been withdrawal after a gay rights group called it offensive.

The Associated Press is reporting that Mars is pulling a Snickers television ad that offended gay groups.

The commercial features 80's star Mr. T in an armoured truck shooting snickers bars and ridiculing a gay stereotyped jogger.

During the advert, Mr T, who played B.A. Baracus in the 1980s series The A-Team, pulls up in a large truck next to a speed walker and shouts: "Speed walking. I pity you fool. You are a disgrace to the man race. It's time to run like a real man."

He then fires Snickers bars at the man until he breaks into a sprint.

Mars says the ad was meant to be funny. But gay rights group Human Rights Campaign failed to find the humour: These kinds of ads perpetuate the notion that the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community is a group of second class citizens and that violence against GLBT people is not only acceptable, but humorous.

 

26th July   

That Ain't Right...

Nike withdraw ad for basketball shoes
Link Here

Nike said it will drop ads for its Hyperdunk basketball shoes that critics said played off some viewers' homophobia.

Nike spokesman Bob Applegate told The Oregonian that three separate print, poster and billboard ads would be removed as expeditiously as possible. The ads were titled That Ain't Right, Isn't That Cute, and Punks Jump Up .

One ad showed a basketball player dunking over another. The crotch of the player dunking was planted firmly in the other player's face. The ad sported a large tagline: That Ain't Right.

Nike stood by the ads earlier this week, saying the ads were based purely upon a common insight from within the game of basketball - the athletic feat of dunking on the opposition, and is not intended to be offensive.

 

26th July   

Tiananmen Scare...

China censors newspaper with protest picture
Link Here

China collage A tabloid newspaper was withdrawn from newsstands in China after running a photograph from the 1989 crackdown on Tiananmen Square protesters.

The photo - of two wounded young men being taken away on a rickshaw - was carried in Thursday's Beijing News.

The picture was simply captioned The Wounded , and no mention of the protests was made in the text.

But observers suggest newspaper staff could face further punishment for broaching what remains a taboo subject.

The photograph was printed alongside an interview with the Hong Kong-born American photographer Liu Xiangcheng as an example of his work. It seems most likely to have been a mistake by staff who did not realise the significance of the photo.

As soon as Chinese officials noticed, they ordered the removal of the paper from the news-stands and part of its website was blocked.

 

25th July   

Update: Shock Horror: News of World Editor Spanked by Judge...

Max Mosely wins privacy case against the News of the World
Link Here  full story: Max Mosley Privacy...Max Mosley, spanking and Nazi sex

News of the World Max Mosley Max Mosley won his case against the News of the World over the newspaper's allegations he had engaged in "Nazi style orgy" with five prostitutes.

In a powerful judgement, Mr Justice Eady, declared that however morally distasteful the public might find such activities, the press had no right to publish them as they did not constitute a 'significant' crime.

In his ruling the judge acknowledged the growing influence in British national life of the European Court of Human Rights, which gives people's privacy precedence over the right of the media to investigate them.

Lawyers claimed that the judgement effectively introduced a privacy law into Britain, even though Parliament has never passed one.

Mosley, the President of motor sport's governing body, was secretly filmed conducting a five hour sado-masochistic session at his Chelsea flat with the women, one of whom was the wife of an MI5 agent. As well as being published in the newspaper, video footage of the session was then posted on the paper's internet site and viewed by 3.5m people

Mosley, the son of fascist leader Sir Oswald Mosley, sued the paper claiming they had breached his privacy.

The judge, in a passage which was seen by lawyers as a serious breach of press freedom, stated: It is not for the state or for the media to expose sexual conduct which does not involve any significant breach of the criminal law.

The fact that a particular relationship happens to be adulterous, or that someone's tastes are unconventional or "perverted" does not give the media carte blanche.

Mr Justice Eady also suggested that journalists would not be entitled to secretly film someone in order to catch them committing a crime.

The question has to be asked whether it will always be an automatic defence to intrusive journalism that a crime was being committed on a private property, however technical or trivial.

Would it justify installing a camera in someone's home, for example, in order to catch him or her smoking a spliff? Surely not.


Mosley won £60,000 damages - a record for a privacy case - with the judge ruling the paper had produced no evidence of a Nazi link. The newspaper now faces costs of £850,000.

 

25th July   

Update: Fag End Censorship...

Manchester council pushes for adults only certificates for movies with smoking
Link Here  full story: Adult Rating for Smoking...Anti-smoking lobby for 18 for smoking in films

Humphrey Bogart smoking Council leaders in Manchester will discuss the proposals, which have been backed by health officials.

They are asking for special powers to put "restrictive" ratings on films that they believe encourage smoking.

This could mean films that have PG ratings elsewhere in Britain are rated 18 in Greater Manchester's cinemas. Children could even be banned from watching cartoons such as 101 Dalmations because it shows people smoking cigarettes.

Local councils have the power to overrule BBFC cinema certificates.

A report by the Greater Manchester Health Commission, to be discussed by the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA), says town halls should take into account smoking when giving a classification to film.

 

Clint Eastwood smking in a Fistful of Dollars
Very talented, rich,
world renowned and a smoker...

Thanks to DavidT

The region's 10 councils may also cut funding to theatres that put on plays involving smoking.

The GMHC's report also urges the Government to ban drivers from smoking, to reclassify all films featuring smoking to be rated 18 and to ban smoking in television programmes.

Neil Rafferty, of pro-smoking lobby group Forest, said: It is nannyism of the worst kind.

The BBFC insisted there was no need to classify all films as 18 just because they showed characters smoking. A spokesman said: If we see smoking in films which is actively promoting smoking to young people we would take action against them, give them a higher rating if necessary. But there is less and less smoking in films these days simply because people are unable to smoke in public locations.

 

25th July   

Update: New Proscription Arrangement...

Consultation: Protecting the consumer at heart of future for media services in the UK
Link Here

DCMS logo Plans to regulate video-on-demand services and product placement on British television are set out in a consultation document published by Culture Secretary Andy Burnham.

The proposals are part of a comprehensive consultation on how the UK should implement the EU Audio Visual Media Services (AVMS) Directive. The Directive includes both compulsory and optional elements, some of which are expected to lead to new legislation.

The Directive updates EU minimum standards on scheduled television services. It also for the first time brings in common standards for video-on-demand services.

Secretary of State Andy Burnham said:

Preserving standards must be the guiding principles as we look to the media of the future. We need to ensure that traditional protections against inappropriate content and advertising standards are secured as technology advances.

While citizens embrace the opportunities offered by massively increased choice of content, and can watch on demand on TVs, online or phones, it's right that the same standards apply.

These proposals are designed to protect the consumer without causing unnecessary burden on industry. Media regulation in the UK has been effective in offering safeguards and at the same time, workable for broadcasters. We want to keep that balance.

The consultation focuses on the Government's proposals on three specific issues in the Directive. These are:

- product placement in television and video-on-demand services
- introducing a system for regulating video-on-demand services in the UK
- and controls over the content of non-EU satellite channels which are uplinked from a ground station in the UK.

Under the Directive the UK has an obligation to ensure its video-on-demand services meet new cross-EU standards. It encourages Member States to seek a 'co-regulatory' solution in which the system of regulation is owned and run by the video-on-demand industry, but with backup powers for Government or a national authority such as Ofcom to intervene if need be. The consultation seeks views on a number of different options designed to achieve this.

AVMS will also give the UK new responsibility under EU law for the content of a small number of non-EU satellite TV channels which legally broadcast into Europe from ground stations in Britain. New legislation is required to allow Ofcom to exercise this responsibility and the document sets out some options to consider.

The consultation concerns three parts of the Directive that require changes to the law in the UK. Other parts, which do not require changes to UK law, are not discussed in the consultation document in any detail. in particular an enhancement to existing procedures under which a Member State can raise concerns about television broadcasts from another Member State which do not comply with the first Member State's own domestic rules

The consultation runs for three months and closes on 31 October, 2008.

 

25th July   

Update: Remembering the Good Old Days...

Richard Attenborough blames violent media for knife crime
Link Here
Richard Attenborough in Brighton Rock

It's part of normal existence .

Richard Attenborough has blamed violence in films for rising levels of knife crime.

But he claimed that as violence has become more prevalent in films, viewers have become desensitised to real-life crime - making the carrying of knives almost an acceptable commonplace.

Now 84, Lord Attenborough began his career as an actor and came to prominence after starring as the vicious gang leader Pinkie in the 1947 film adaptation of Graham Greene's novel Brighton Rock . He also played the serial killer John Christie in the 1971 film 10 Rillington Place .

He told the Brighton Argus newspaper that he abhors the pornography of violence in modern films.

Lord Attenborough said: Thirty years ago if Gary Cooper pulled out a gun the audience would give a sharp intake of breath.

Now the act of violence with a gun or a knife is the norm and we in the entertainment industry are partly responsible in making the presence of weapons such as knives almost an acceptable commonplace.

So now knife crime is not thought of as something that is horrific and to be abhorred. It's part of normal existence.

 

25th July   

Still Censoring in Ireland...

Police raid on Dublin adult video stores
Link Here

IFCO Gardai have seized 1,300 pornographic films during a raid on a sex shop in central Dublin.

The DVDs were recovered under suspected breaches of the Video Recording Act as being uncertified for sale or supply.

Investigating officers who targeted the premises at South William Street have also notified the Irish Film Censorship Office. No arrests were made.

 

25th July   

Update: Never Ending Game...

Law to restrict games sales to minors submitted to US Senate
Link Here  full story: Violent Games in the US...Attempts to restrict video games from minors

US Senate Senator Roger Wicker has introduced a bill in the United States Senate which would:

  • prohibit the distribution or sale of video games that do not have age-based content rating labels
  • prohibit the sale or rental of video games with adult content ratings to minors...

The full text of the bill, S.3315 is not yet available on the Senate's legislative website. Thus far the bill has no co-sponsers. The measure has been referred to the Senate's Committe on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

GamePolitics has received unconfirmed word that Wicker's bill is the Senate version of the Video Games Rating Enforcement Act introduced in the House by Reps. Jim Matheson  and Lee Terry earlier this year.

 

24th July   

Protest Pens...

Chinese Olympic protest zones somehow resemble prison cells
Link Here

Olympic handcuffs China will create three "protest pens" in the capital's parks to allow people to demonstrate during the Olympics, an official said.

This will allow people to protest without disrupting the Olympics, said Ni Jianping, the director of the Shanghai Institute of American Studies, who had lobbied for the creation of the zones.

But Human Rights Watch attacked the decision, arguing that the restrictions undermined the right to demonstrate under international law. Nicholas Bequelin, a spokesman for HRW, said: The obstacles and deterrents are so high as to negate the right to demonstrate. We are also concerned about the possibility that the authorities might use the existence of these zones to justify repressive measures against demonstrators outside of the zones.

Protest zones have been created at previous games, including Athens in 2004, because the International Olympic Committee's charter bans demonstrations or political, religious or racial propaganda at Olympic venues or sites.

We have dedicated places for demonstrations at several parks, Liu Shaowu, the director of the security department at Beijing's Olympics organising committee, told a news conference. He stressed that under Chinese law all demonstrations must be approved by police in advance, but declined to say whether that applied to the zones, or whether approval would be granted for protests outside them.

Meanwhile Reporters Without Borders said police arrested a prominent internet dissident this week supposedly for violating his probation terms. Du Daobin, given a suspended sentence for subversion after posting essays online in support of another dissident, was arrested this week for posting articles on overseas websites and receiving guests without permission.

The family of another dissident, Ye Guozhu, said he was due for release this weekend after serving four years for organising protests against forced eviction, but had been taken away by police. His brother, Ye Guoqiang, said: We believe that the police took him away to silence him during the games, and that he will not be released until after the Olympics, when most foreign journalists will have left Beijing.

 

24th July   

More Mummy for your Money...

Uncut Mummy/Mummy Returns boxset
Link Here

The Mummy and The Mummy Returns boxset The Mummy (1999) and The Mummy Returns (2001) are US action films by Stephen Sommers (Universal Pictures).

The Mummy Returns was passed uncut in 2007. and features in the 2008 boxset. The appallingly edited headbutt is now reinstated.

The 2008 double disk boxset (released to coincide with the 3rd Mummy film) contains the uncut versions of The Mummy and The Mummy Returns .

The overall rating of the boxset is a family unfriendly "15", for some reason the distributors haven't pushed for a downgrade to a "12" ( The Mummy 's original rating). This can probably be attributed to the glorification of a Butterfly knife rather than the hanging sequence that caused them concern originally (the BBFC seem to be a bit more tolerable on hangings in "12"'s now, see The Goonies ).

 

24th July   

Real Life Horror...

UK horror fans...beware the Dangerous Pictures Act!!!
Link Here

Warning horror fans Dark Angel warns horror fans about the impact of the Government's noxious Dangerous Pictures Act.

The new law is passed in the Criminal Injustice & Immigration Act 2008 and is expected to come into force in January 2009.

 

24th July   

Update: Rated Hard X but Pushing for Limp R...

Supporting the X Rated hype for Zack and Miri Make a Porno
Link Here

Zavk and Miri Make a Porno trailer It's no secret that director Kevin Smith has been having a rough time in getting an R-rating for his new comedy Zack and Miri Make a Porno .

Well now Zack and Miri has been officially hit with the NC-17 kiss of death.

A search on the MPPA's official site lists Zack and Miri Make a Porno as “Rating: NC-17”. Reason for the rating? As expected, Rated NC-17 for some graphic sexuality.

Though I think we'd all rather see the NC-17 cut and watch the movie as its director originally intended it to be seen, slapping any movie with an NC-17 spells box office doom. Not because people won't show up to see it, but because most major theaters will refuse to carry it, thus taking away our right to choose whether or not we want it in front of our eyes. The really frustrating thing in this particular case is that if any filmmaker has the kind of audience necessary to blow up the stigma attached to an NC-17, it's Kevin Smith. Heck, an NC-17 rating might even help his ticket sales… his crowd is going to be there money in hand regardless. Sadly if it's not playing, they're powerless to support it.

The fight's not over for Kevin Smith's Porno. Under the movie's rating on the MPAA site, there's a little note which reads: “Pending Appeal”. That means they're fighting the rating, and there's still reason to think this thing will eventually get the R it needs to show up in a theater. Of course who knows what sort of cuts Kevin will have to make to his film in order to achieve that.

 

24th July   

Offsite: Extreme Interest...

Regulating UK Web Erotica
Link Here

XBiz logo In the UK, there has been much discussion over how adult entertainment should be regulated on the Internet. Parliament has been considering some controversial legislation that would make it a felony to download what some British politicians have been loosely describing as "extreme pornography," and the BBFC — which has been critical of the proposed "extreme porn" law — is launching a voluntary program that will extend its rating system to online entertainment, including erotica.

No one can say for sure exactly where the regulation of adult online content will go in the UK in the future, and like so many things pertaining to the Internet, the rules are still being worked out.

...Read full article

 

23rd July   

Update: Overbroad and Vague...

Appeal court agrees that child online protection act is unconstututional
Link Here  full story: Internet Minors...Criminalising internet comms harmful to minors

Lock up all dads A panel of the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has affirmed Judge Lowell A. Reed, Jr.'s opinion that the Child Online Protection Act (COPA) is impermissibly overbroad and vague.

COPA was the "fix" to the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which banned all "indecent" and "obscene" speech from the Internet – and which was quickly found by the U.S. Supreme Court to be unconstitutionally vague. COPA, on the other hand, limited the banned speech to material that is harmful to minors posted only for commercial purposes, and incorporated a definition of material harmful to minors that has been widely copied by state legislatures attempting to craft anti-adult zoning and other censorious measures aimed at restricting adults' access to adult sexual speech.

The court found that age verification services and obtaining credit card numbers on sites are virtually useless in preventing minors from accessing explicit material since they can easily be circumvented by children who generally know the first and last name, street address and zip codes of their parents or another adult.

The District Court discussed Internet content filters at length in its Findings of Fact, Judge Greenburg stated. We will review these findings in detail, as the need to determine whether filters are more effective than COPA to effectuate Congress's purpose in enacting that statute was the primary reason the Supreme Court remanded the case.

Judge Reed also found that filtering programs are now harder for children to bypass; that filters will block foreign sexually-oriented sites that COPA can't; and also that the government had failed to show that COPA would be less restrictive than filtering because, unlike COPA there are no fines or prison sentences associated with filters which would chill speech. Also unlike COPA, . . . filters are fully customizable and may be set for different ages and for different categories of speech or may be disabled altogether for adult use.

The Third Circuit also perceptively noted, the circumstance that some parents choose not to use filters does not mean that filters are not an effective alternative to COPA. Though we recognize that some of those parents may be indifferent to what their children see, others may have decided to use other methods to protect their children – such as by placing the family computer in the living room, instead of their children's bedroom – or trust that their children will voluntarily avoid harmful material on the Internet. Studies have shown that the primary reason that parents do not use filters is that they think they are unnecessary because they trust their children and do not see a need to block content.

It seems almost a foregone conclusion that the Justice Department's next stop will be a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court.

 

23rd July   

Update: The Ratings Game...

New York State Governor signs bill mandating video game ratings
Link Here  full story: Violent Games in the US...Attempts to restrict video games from minors

New York state seal New York Governor, David Paterson, has signed video game legislation passed by the Senate and Assembly into law.

The Video Game Bill establishes an advisory council to conduct a study on the connection between interactive media and real-life violence in minors exposed to such media.

This bill will also require new video game consoles to have parental lockout features by 2010, and mandate that games sold at retail disclose the ratings obtained from the gaming industry's voluntary rating system.

Will there be a court challenge? Game Politics put this question to the trade association ESA, who said that they are reviewing their options. For a variety of reasons, the main one being that the bill has no real teeth, it's entirely possible that the industry will just live with it.

 

23rd July   

Banned Books...

Russia bans muslim books as extremist
Link Here

Russia flag Russia's highest Muslim council on Saturday issued a protest against a ban on some Islamic publications considered by the authorities to be "extremist".

The Council of Muftis has taken a decision to request that the relevant institutions of the Russian Federation carry out a repeat analysis of the books, the council said in a statement.

Starting last year, the authorities have compiled a regularly updated list of publications seen as breaking sweeping new laws against extremism. Most of the banned books are linked to Islam.

 

22nd July   

Comment: Press Crusaders vs Caped Crusaders...

Supporting the hype for The Dark Knight
Link Here

Dark Knight A clearly deranged suspect sits apparently alone in a dimly lit interrogation room. Suddenly, a menacing figure looms out of the shadows and proceeds to rain powerful, thudding blows on the suspect, reducing him to a cowering, whimpering wreck.

Doesn't sound like family entertainment, does it? But, from Friday, anyone will be able to watch these scenes - and many others like them - in the latest Batman movie. Its 12A certificate means that even the tiniest tot will not be refused entry to the cinema, as long as he or she has an adult in tow.

The Dark Knight may well be judged the best of this summer's blockbusters. It's a thrilling action movie laced with psychological subtleties, its haunting crepuscular images underpinned by an edgy, nerve-jangling score. And at its heart is a spine-tinglingly incandescent performance from Heath Ledger as Batman's crazed arch-nemesis the Joker.Without doubt, this is a major cinematic achievement. And, without doubt, it's not for kids.

...Read full article

See also decision from bbfc.co.uk

BBFC logo The Dark Knight tells the story of Batman's continuing war on crime and in particular his personal battle with the psychotic Joker. It was passed ‘12A' for moderate violence and sustained threat.

The BBFC Guidelines at ‘12A' state that ‘violence must not dwell on detail' and that ‘there should be no emphasis on injuries or blood' and whilst The Dark Knight does contain a good deal of violence, all of it fits within that definition. For example, in one of the stronger scenes, Batman repeatedly beats the Joker during an interrogation. The blows however are all masked from the camera and despite both their weight and force; the Joker shows no sign of injury. There are also scenes in which the Joker threatens first a man and then a woman with a knife and whilst these do have a significant degree of menace, without any actual violence shown they were also acceptably placed at ‘12A'. In the final analysis, The Dark Knight is a superhero movie and the violence it contains exists within that context, with both Batman and the Joker apparently indestructible no matter what is thrown at them.

The Dark Knight also contains some special make up effects that whilst clearly not real, have the potential to be moderately frightening.

 

22nd July   

Update: FCC Malfunction...

Wardrobe malfunction fine found to be arbitrary and capricious
Link Here  full story: FCC TV Censors...FCC wound up by nudity and fleeting expletives

Janet Jackson boob In a decision that clears CBS of any wrongdoing for airing the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show that featured Janet Jackson's infamous “wardrobe malfunction,” a federal appeals court overturned the $550,000 fine that the Federal Communications Commission levied against the station, calling the fine arbitrary and capricious.

The decision was handed down by a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, which found that the fine was unfair because the commission, in imposing it, deliberately strayed from its practice of exempting fleeting indecency in broadcast programming from punishment. The commission also erred, the judges ruled, by holding CBS responsible for the actions of Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake, who were characterized by the judges as independent contractors hired for the limited purposed of the Halftime Show.

Like any agency, the FCC may change its policies without judicial second-guessing, the court said: But it cannot change a well-established course of action without supplying notice of and a reasoned explanation for its policy departure.

The live broadcast on Feb. 1, 2004, sparked headlines around the world with one swift motion that came at the end of the halftime show, when Justin Timberlake tore off part of Jackson's bustier during the song Rock Your Body , exposing her right breast. The network quickly cut to an aerial shot of the stadium, but not before the image was seen — and in many cases replayed on video recordings — in millions of homes. Although the exposure appeared to be pre-planned, CBS said it was surprised by the incident, and a spokesman for Ms. Jackson later said that Mr. Timberlake had accidentally removed too much of her outfit, calling it a malfunction of the wardrobe.

CBS said: We are gratified by the court's decision, which we hope will lead the FCC to return to the policy of restrained indecency enforcement. This is an important win for the entire broadcasting industry, because it recognizes that there are rare instances, particularly during live programming, when it may not be possible to block unfortunate fleeting material.

 

22nd July   

Update: Credibility Theft...

New Zealand nutters granted leave to appeal against certificate for GTA IV
Link Here

Grand Theft Auto IV game The Nutter Society for the Promotion of Community Standards was today granted leave to appeal against the classification of the Grand Theft Auto video game.

The society wants to appeal the R18 classification given to Grand Theft Auto IV (unedited US version) by the Chief Censor's Office.

It will apply to the Film and Literature Board of Review to review the classification.

The action driving game which features beatings, drugs and prostitutes has drawn fire from nutters and politicians.

 

22nd July   

Offsite: Heated Debate...

The censorship of minority scientific opinion re global warming
Link Here

The Great Global Warming Swindle DVD As the former chair of the Internaltional Panel on Climate Control, I welcome Ofcom's ruling today, which states that The Great Global Warming Swindle was unfair in its treatment of the IPCC and leading scientists such as Sir David King and Professor Carl Wunsch, and that it was in breach of due impartiality on matters of major political and industrial controversy and major matters relating to current public policy.

However, I am very disappointed that Ofcom did not find that the programme materially misled the audience as to cause harm or offence.

In my opinion, The Great Global Warming Swindle did a major disservice to the public at large and tried to undermine the scientific basis which governments and the private sector are using to address cost effectively one of the greatest challenges the human race has ever faced. I believe it inaccurately portrayed the scientific evidence, was not impartial – which, in my view, a documentary should be – and was unbalanced and totally misrepresented the scientific consensus on the role of human activities in causing global warming. Therefore the program should have emphasized far more than it did that it was portraying a minority opinion.

...Read full article

 

21st July   

Government Censor...

CPS director to become boss at the BBFC
Link Here

Gerard Lemos Alison Hastings The BBFC is pleased to announce that, following an open competition, Alison Hastings and Gerard Lemos have been appointed as Vice Presidents of the BBFC. They will take up their posts in November when Janet Lewis-Jones and Lord John Taylor of Warwick step down after ten years as the Board's Vice Presidents.

Alison Hastings is a media consultant; a member of the BBC Trust and Chair of the Audience Council England (as Trustee for England) and a member of the Audience and Performance Committee. She is also a member of the BBC Trust's Editorial Standards Committee. She was a member of the Press Complaints Commission from 1997 to 2002.

Gerard Lemos is a Partner in Lemos and Crane Social Research and Visiting Professor in International Social Policy at Chongqing Business and Technology University, China. He is also a non-executive Director, Crown Prosecution Service; Chairman of the Banking Code Standards Board and Deputy Chair of the British Council.

Sir Quentin Thomas, President of the BBFC said:
The BBFC owes a debt of gratitude to Janet Lewis-Jones and Lord Taylor of Warwick for their dedication and wise counsel over the last ten years and I would like to thank them personally for their support and advice. They will be a hard act to follow, but I am confident that Alison Hastings and Gerard Lemos will bring a depth of highly relevant experience and expertise to the Board when they take up their posts in November. I am very much looking forward to working with them.

The Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport, the Rt Hon Andy Burnham MP, will lay an order before both Houses of Parliament proposing to designate Ms Hastings and Mr Lemos under the Video Recordings Act 1984 as the authority responsible for making arrangements for the classification of videos and, where appropriate, video games. This must be done when Parliament is sitting.

From British Council

Gerard Lemos is a partner at social researchers Lemos & Crane. He leads a team of researchers investigating social policy issues including race and community and the needs of vulnerable people. He is the author of numerous reports and books including The Communities We Have Lost and Can Regain (with Michael Young), Steadying the Ladder: Social and emotional aspirations of homeless and vulnerable people and The Search for Tolerance: Challenging and changing racist attitudes and behaviour in young people. Under his direction Lemos & Crane has also created a range of web-based learning networks including the award-winning RaceActionNet for practitioners and policy makers tackling racist attacks.

Gerard has served on a range of working parties and task forces for British Government departments including the Treasury, the Cabinet Office and the Social Exclusion Unit. Gerard is Deputy Chair of the British Council. He is also the Chairman of the Banking Code Standards Board, a regulator of the retailing banking industry and Chair of the board of the Akram Khan Dance Company and a non-executive Director of the Crown Prosecution Service. He is a visiting Professor at Chongqing Business and Technology University. He was formerly the Chair of the Arts Council of England's cultural diversity panel, Vice-Chair of Homeless International, an NGO, a Civil Service Commissioner and an Audit Commissioner. In 2001 he received a CMG for services to the British Council in the Queen's Birthday Honours.

 

21st July   

A Totalitarian State Encourages Stupidity...

Emos protest about Russian laws against their lifestyle
Link Here

emo Dozens of black-clad emo (emotional hardcore punk) music fans protested Saturday in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk against plans by Russian lawmakers to ban their style from the country's schools.

The protesters, many of them with piercings, streaks of dyed hair and studs, held up placards reading: Kill the State in Yourself; Why Do We Have To Think The Same? and A Totalitarian State Encourages Stupidity.

How can you stop people from expressing themselves, from dressing how they like, from living a way of life that doesn't harm anyone?" one woman said.

Russian lawmakers last month gave broad approval to a broad concept for the spiritual and moral education of children, including plans for curfews, bans on emo and goth fashions in schools and censorship of text messages.

The proposals are to be examined as draft laws over the next year.

 

21st July   

The Most Offensive Song Ever...

South Park creators say censorship backfires
Link Here

Censors are responsible for putting a lot MORE filth into American homes, the creators of South Park have claimed.

Matt Stone and Trey Parker say that the stringent conditions imposed by the MPAA, which awards film certificates in the US, has led them to creating more depraved material than they would otherwise have done.

While making Team America , for example, the duo were keen to get a sex scene between two puppets past the regulators.

So they decided to shoot extra footage in which the dolls appeared to shit and piss on each other, which they had no intention of ever really releasing, but could be sacrificed at the censor's insistence, and so protect the footage they really wanted included.

But when it came to releasing the DVD, they decided to include the deleted footage as an extra in an unrated adults-only version of the disc – which ended up outselling the approved version nine copies to one.

If it wasn't for the MPAA, that footage would never have been shot and never have got into so many homes, the duo told an audience at Montreal's Just For Laughs comedy festival.

Mr Hankey's Christmas Classics They also revealed the words of a song written for their album Mr. Hankey's Christmas Classics. The record company weren't happy and the lyrics to The Most Offensive Song Ever were muffled.

The song was about the Virgin Mary worrying that she was not a virgin as she had given oral sex. Lyrics included the archangel Gabriel singing: You can suck all the dick you want and still be a virgin. Just because you went down and sucked some semen down, you can still be a virgin in the eyes of the Lord.

 

20th July   

Update: The Welsh People's Affront of Judea...

Lifting the ban on Life of Brian in Aberystwyth
Link Here  full story: Monty Python...Monty Python winds up the nutters

One of the stars of Monty Python's Life of Brian is to look into lifting a long-standing ban on it in the town she presides in as mayor.

Sue Jones-Davies, the mayor of Aberystwyth, rose to fame when she played the part of Judith, Brian's girlfriend.

The film caused outrage among Christian nutters all over the world who complained its content was blasphemous. As a result some areas, including Aberystwyth, prevented the film from being shown in cinemas.

The ban in Aberystwyth still stands to this day, nearly 30 years after the film's release.

Sue Jones-Davies, who is now a Plaid Cymru town councillor and yoga teacher, said she is going to investigate the possibility of lifting the ban: I didn't even know the ban was in existence until Friday. It isn't something I have been worrying about. It is intriguing to think it is banned but I suppose these things come into place and, unless they are revoked, the ban remains. Maybe you can still get prosecuted for showing it. I think it has been shown in the town before but it was shown quietly.

I don't think it would harm the religious faith. I'm going to talk to my town clerk Jim Griffiths and we will be investigating.

Update: Local Nutter Weighs In

27th July 2008

Reverend Nutter Stuart Bell said: If it was an unpleasant film 30 years ago, then it remains an unpleasant film 30 years later. I have not seen the film, nor have I any wish to do so. And I would have thought there are many issues of more importance to the people of Aberystwyth for the mayor to consider than having a ban on this film removed.

 

20th July   

Immoral Compass...

Nutter protests blamed for lack of The Golden Compass sequel
Link Here

Dark Materials Trilogy It looks increasingly unlikely that cinema audiences in this world will get to see the planned film sequels in Philip Pullman's children's fantasy trilogy, His Dark Materials.

Sources in the film industry said that plans for a sequel to The Golden Compass appeared to have been put on ice following the fervent Christian protests surrounding the first film, which led to boycotts and box office disappointment in the United States.

Pullman told The Independent that he had not yet been contacted by Shepperton Studios and was not aware of any imminent plans to film the sequel, The Subtle Knife .

When The Golden Compass was released last year, New Line Cinema had high hopes for the trilogy, and the sequel was due to be released by the end of 2009.

But then the Christian boycotts started and the film sunk in the US, making a meagre $70m (£35m), although it took a hefty $300m internationally. New Line has since been merged with Warner Brothers.

 

20th July   

Comment: The BBFC, money for nothing!...

Campaign to scrap this tax on independent movies!
Link Here  full story: Diary of a Bad Lad...What’s wrong with the British Film Industry

Diary of a Bad Lad logo I first wrote Diary of a Bad Lad as a novel. It's a lot more graphic than the film. If it was published it would be available in High St. stores and anyone could buy it - including seven year olds.

Anyone can buy unrated DVD's from sites such as amazon.com and many others, and the same goes for downloads.

But to legally sell a typical DVD - film plus extras - in the UK you have to hand over around £1,200 to the BBFC for a ‘certificate' and an inane collection of words (contains ‘mild peril') that you have to put on the cover.

What's more this doesn't cover the film for theatrical distribution you'll have to pay them another £1,200 for that as well. Nearly £2,500 all together.

Now this sort of sum of money is nothing to a multi-million budget 'studio' film - whether British or American. In fact classification adds up to the shortest synopsis money can buy: 12, 15, 18 or whatever. It one of the ways in which the multiplex audience is organised and controlled, and I don't have a problem with that.

But real independent films - British or foreign - never get shown in a multiplex, they get shown in Art Houses and Arts Centres - places that under 18's don't go to. So what's the point? It's just a completely unjustified tax!

£2,500 for someone to spend about 2-and-a-half hours watching something? That's £1,000 per hour. What a total, and totally unjustified rip off. Making Diary of a Bad Lad cost us £3,500 in cash with everyone on a royalty deal. Why should we have to pay the BBFC more than 60% of the budget - or two weeks wages for an actor? And there are other films that have been made for less than £10,000 - so it's at least a 25% tax on them. And what about small distributors trying to bring interesting foreign films to the British public - they're having to pay this tax as well before anyone starts making anything!

So, under 18's can't/don't go to Arts Centre venues. Indie filmmakers want to give their audiences a clear idea of ‘what's in the box' so they are quite capable of writing not suitable for children , or contains scenes of sex and violence . There are enough laws as it is governing content from Trades Description to Obscene Publications.

 

20th July   

Saying No...

Brazil backs off from registration of internet users.
Link Here

Say no campaign advert On July 10, the Brazilian Senate passed the Digital Crimes Bill. The proposal will now be proceeding to the House of Representatives for a review of the last amendments, and the next step is its approval or veto (in full, or any of its articles).

Thanks to the pressure from many fronts, the initial draft proposed by Senator Eduardo Azeredo, which gathered unanimous rejection by the blogosphere, has been re-written for the better. The demand for user identification before they can take any action on the Internet, such as blogging, e-mailing or chatting, has been dropped, and some advances have even been made with the inclusion of an article to criminalize online racism.

On the other hand, many acts that would be considered trivial conduct when surfing the Internet are still typified as a crime, while the online pedophilia issue, which was supposed to be the main motivation behind the new law, has been touched only superficially in just one of the proposed articles.

Bloggers and Internet users in general demand more transparency and are mobilizing to fight for it. However, there is still a lot of confusion around the issues and many people are still referring to the earlier pre-amendment text to question the law. This doesn't come as a surprise considering that the public has not been invited into the debate and that only agreeable people were allowed to attend the open sessions discussing the law at the Senate.

It is a general consensus that the matter was not debated enough, and to help with it a blog carnival against censorship has been called for July 19.

An online petition in defense of freedom and progress of knowledge on the Brazilian Internet created by some very respected Brazilian cyberculture academics and activists has been signed by over 58,000 citizens in just one week.

 

19th July   

Disneyification...

Californication too adult for Australian TV
Link Here

Californication The TV censor, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), has found that Network Ten breached the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice on 29 October 2007, by broadcasting an episode of Californication that was incorrectly classified MA (Mature Audience). The finding is in response to two separate complaints about sexual activity and nudity depicted in episode 10 of the series.

ACMA found that sexual activity depicted in a scene in the program was not discreetly implied or discreetly simulated (as required under the code), due to the length of the scene, the amount of detail it contained and its conceptual strength. While Network Ten advised that the program had been edited to meet the Australian classification guidelines, ACMA decided that the editing was insufficient and as a result the program was not suitable for television. The MA category comprises the strongest material that is permitted for broadcast on commercial television (apart from the Adult Violence (AV) category).

 

19th July   

Lyrical Censorship...

Germany considers marketing ban on homophobic lyrics
Link Here

Elephant Man CD The homophobic lyrics of several Jamaican reggae musicians has moved the German government to consider blacklisting them and restrict their sales and distribution.

The CDs by Elephant Man and T.O.K. could be put on the Index of Harmful Materials , which, while it would not censor the materials in Germany, would severely limit their advertising and marketing.

The Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons will decide over the next several months if the music will be included on the index, the government said in its response to a parliamentary inquiry.

Volker Beck, the leader of the Green Party parliamentary group, called on large Internet music sellers to already begin removing the CDs in question from their sales inventory: Those in Jamaica who invoke hatred should not earn money with their music in Germany .

Homosexual acts are punishable by law in Jamaica and many musicians from the Caribbean island are accused of promoting violence against gays and lesbians. In its travel advisory on Jamaica, the German foreign ministry reports that homosexuals are often the targets of assault.

 

19th July   

Update: Prima Donna Chinese...

China bans foreign performers who may have offended the state
Link Here  full story: Performers Banned in China...Quick to ban star performers from the west

Declare Independence single At a March concert in Shanghai, China, Björk took time out from Volta's "Declare Independence" to shout out "Tibet!"

Shortly after the incident with Björk, the Chinese Ministry of Culture issued a statement claiming her outburst broke Chinese law and hurt Chinese people's feelings, with an additional suggestion that the nation would increase restrictions on foreign performers.

This week, the Chinese government made good on that suggestion with a declaration of its own: as noted in a Reuters report, all overseas entertainers (including those from Hong Kong and Taiwan) posing a threat to China's sovereignty will be banned from performing in China.

A statement on the Ministry of Culture's website reads: Any artistic group or individual who [has] ever engaged in activities that threaten national sovereignty will not be allowed in. What's more, any entertainers who threaten national unity, whip up ethnic hatred, violate religious policy or cultural norms, or advocate obscenity or feudalism and superstition during live events will also be banned from performance.

Beijing has also banned pop festivals and tightened the rules for approval of outdoor events in advance of this summer's Olympics in and around the city. Nothing that has not been approved will be allowed to be performed, the Ministry of Culture said.

 

19th July   

The Biggest Dick in Politics...

Well endowed star stands for Sao Paulo City Council
Link Here

Kidd Bengala The Porn star is Candidate for a seat on the Sao Paulo City Council

Known to everyone in the porn industry of Brazil and internationally successful, Kidd Bengala says that he is more than just a porn star veteran. He announced his candidacy for the office of city council with the support the PPS (Party Popular Socialist).

He received the nickname Kidd Bengala from a producer in Rio de Janero when he first started in porn because of his 33 centimeter penis, and it has followed him for 27 years since he first participated in an erotic movie. “Bengala” means “cane” in Portuguese, and “Kidd” is a reference to the cowboy icon Billy the Kid's shooting talents.

In his 53 years, Kidd Bengala has worked with the biggest producers in Brazil, and also some major international players. In a market where women rule the box office, Kidd Bengala has the distinction of being one of the only straight male porn stars to draw fans. His name is so powerful that he is running under the name Kidd Bengala for city council, instead of using his birth name.

Kidd Bengala opted for the PPS because he shares the same liberal concepts of the party, and mentions that they did not have any objections about his pornographic career. The PPS has supported me a lot, and so has the GLB community (Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual) of São Paulo.

The elections will be held in October of 2008. Until then, Kidd Bengala will keep his career as a porn star active, and his dream of his future in politics alive.

 

19th July   

Net ID Me Not...

Do we really want to have ID verified to watch porn?
Link Here

NetIDMe logo NetIDme's age-verification software has today been accredited by the BBFC for its new media download classification scheme.

The BBFC scheme also requires e-tailers and VoD services to have in place age-verification software such as that produced by NetIDme to enable parents to monitor and control underage viewing.

Glasgow-based NetIDme launched the world's first online ID card for adults and children two years ago. Chief executive Alex Hewitt said: BBFC.online is a revolutionary scheme that enables the application of the same rules in the online world that have been developed over many years to protect people in the real world.

He added that NetIDme is the first company to be accredited under the BBFC scheme and it is the only company currently capable of verifying under 18s.

Andy Cooke, Business Manager for BBFC.online, said: We are pleased to commend NetIDme as a novel solution for our members in meeting their obligations to age-verify viewers of digital content in the 12, 15 and adult categories, whilst minimizing the exposure of younger viewers to potential abuse of their personal information.

 

19th July   

Mummified Chinese Censors...

Minor cuts to Mummy 3
Link Here

Mummy 3 film poster After some 11th-hour suspense, China is ready to unwrap Universal's The Mummy: The Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.

We now have a certificate giving us permission to release the film in China and outside, said Bill Kong, producer and Universal's distributor in Hong Kong and China.

Last week, China's State Administration for Radio, Film & Television told Daily Variety that it was seeking unspecified changes before giving the pic a release permit for the mainland.

Kong said the changes demanded by Chinese authorities were so minor that they scarcely amounted to a cut. Remember, China doesn't have a rating system; films have to be passed so they are suitable for children, he said.

Indeed, it was a coup that the film was approved as a Chinese co-production in the first place since themes involving ghosts are usually taboo in China.

 

18th July   

Update: Internet Censorship...

Australia internet industry publishes its Content Censorship Code
Link Here  full story: Age Verification in Australia...Internet censorship hiding as age verification

ACMA logo The Australian-based Internet Industry Association (IIA) has announced its new code of best practice censorship for online and mobile service content providers.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), which regulates the industry, reviewed and approved this code of industry practice to oversee, monitor and enforce.

It took effect on July 16, following a 30-day public comment period.

According to IIA's chief executive, Mr. Coroneos: It provides a way for locally-based commercial content service providers and live content service providers to ensure that potentially restricted commercial stored content services or live content provided by commercial content services now comply with Australian classification schemes .

The code provides the Internet and mobile industries with guidance on a variety of subjects, including handling complaints; taking-down notified content; means of promoting online safety for Australian families; implementing restricted access systems for some content services; and regulating certain chat services.

According to the ACMA, any content that is likely to be rated MA15+ (for mature audiences over the age of 15) must be assessed and classified by "trained content assessors."

As part of the code, ISPs will use access controls to provide content that is rated MA15+ or R18+ (restricted to those over 18).

Standard hardcore material rated X18+ is banned.

 

18th July   

Update: Marriott Opts in to Porn...

Whilst nutters opt out of tolerant civilisation
Link Here

Marriott logo The Arlington Group, a coalition of Christian nutter organizations that includes Focus on the Family, met with Marriott International officials in April to try and persuade the hotel chain to stop offering pay-per-view adult movies in its rooms.

Marriott offers the programming in most of its 3,000 U.S. hotels, and the Arlington Group representatives urged the chain to adopt an "opt-in" television system, in which guests would have to contact the front desk to receive adult entertainment. Currently, the programming is available in hotel rooms until guests opt out.

At the meeting, the group presented Marriott officials with 102,000 signatures from people wanting the chain to stop offering adult entertainment. Of those signatures, 9,000 were from Marriott Rewards Card members.

Marriott responded in a letter dated June 26 to Donald Wildman, president of the nutter action group American Family Association, which is part of the coalition.

The letter said the company was in conversation with its adult-entertainment provider, Lodgenet, about the opt-in procedure, said Roger Conner, vice president of communications for Marriott International. Marriott took no other action but promised it would raise the issue at its owners meeting in late July, Conner said.

In a terse letter to Marriott dated July 14, Wildman imposed a deadline of Aug. 15 to hear a definite response on concrete actions taken toward the removal of pornography from your properties.

 

18th July   

Update: Behind the Green Door...

Court bailiffs knock on Stephen Green's door and find the coffers bare
Link Here

Christian Voice banner The BBC have just sent a bailiff to serve a statutory demand on Christian activist Stephen Green in respect of Mark Thompson's costs of £55,000 in the Jerry Springer the Opera case.

The demand could see Green made bankrupt and homeless.

The High Court ruled last December that Stephen Green could not prosecute Mark Thompson, the Director General of the BBC, and Jonathan Thoday of Avalon over the BBC2 broadcast of Jerry Springer the Opera and its subsequent theatre tour. The Court ordered costs against him.

Last month, Stephen Green wrote to both Mark Thompson and Jonathan Thoday inviting them to waive their costs in the interests of goodwill and justice. The appeal to the better nature of Thompson has fallen on deaf ears.

 

18th July   

I Hate Cops...

Russian gets a 1 year suspended sentence for bad mouthing police in blog comments
Link Here

Russia flag On July 7, Savva Terentyev, a Russian blogger and musician from the city of Syktyvkar, received a one-year suspended jail sentence for a comment he posted on the blog of a local journalist.

Here is a rough translation of some of the comment:

I hate cops [swear word omitted]

I don't agree with the thesis that policemen still have the mentality of a repressive stick in the hands of the powers that be. First, they are cops. Second, their mentality isn't still here. It's simply ineradicable.

Once filth, always filth.  Would be great if there was an oven, similar to those in Auschwitz, in the center of every Russian city, at the main square, and there'd be a daily ceremony - or, even better, twice a day of burning a dishonest cop there. The people would be doing the burning. This would be the first step towards cleansing the society of the dirt that the thuggish cops are.

The court found Terentyev guilty of inciting enmity and publicly humiliating representatives of a social group.

 

17th July   

Gremlins Take to Writing Mischievous Complaints...

ASA clears BT Gremlins advert
Link Here

BT Gremlins A TV ad, for BTs 24/7 Business service, showed Dragons' Den presenter Peter Jones working late in his darkened office. Gremlins (from the feature film of the same name) appeared from a lift and one chewed through a cable whilst Jones wasn't looking. His computer malfunctioned and as he went to try and fix it the Gremlins caused more havoc with the electrics, cackling, photocopying themselves, swinging from the ceiling fan and tampering with the mains. A voice-over at the end stated Because you never know when an IT problem might strike, BT offers all business customers 24/7 IT and communications support.

The ad was cleared by Clearcast with an ex-kids restriction, which meant it should not be shown in or around programmes made for, or specifically targeted at, children.

Eleven viewers challenged whether the scheduling restriction was sufficient, and objected that the ad was unsuitable to be broadcast at times when children might be watching, because they said their young children had been frightened by the Gremlins and some had suffered from nightmares as a result of seeing the ad.

ASA Assessment

Not upheld. No further action required.

The ASA acknowledged that the pointy teeth, green-grey skin, large ears and goblinesque features of the Gremlins might scare very young children. However, we noted that the Gremlins in the ad were shown delighting in the creation of chaos in Peter Jones' office rather than revelling in menacing him in any way. We considered that, overall, the Gremlins' antics were likely to be seen as comedic rather than threatening.

Whilst we acknowledged some parents were concerned their young children had been scared by the Gremlins, we noted Clearcast had applied an ex-kids restriction to the ad, which meant it could not be shown in or around programmes made specifically for, or targeted at, children. Given the overall light-hearted tone of the ad (which we considered was likely to be apparent to all but the very young) we concluded that the timing restriction was sufficient.

 

17th July   

Olympic Sport of Torturing...

Amnesty ad winds up the Chinese
Link Here

Amnesty ad An advertising campaign for Amnesty International combining Olympics imagery and scenes of torture has come under attack in China – even though it was never shown.

The series of images includes a man being pushed headfirst into a swimming pool, a policeman walking away from a man who has been shot while lashed to an archery target. In a third, a woman is chained to a dumbbell in the colours of the Olympic rings.

The slogan reads: After the Olympic Games, the fight for human rights must go on.

They were commissioned from the advertising firm TBWA by Amnesty's French offices. Even though the organisation decided not to use them because they were too graphic, the firm entered them for a website competition, from where they began to circulate on China's internet bulletin boards.

Some commenters called for Chinese employees of the firm to resign, while others pointed out the connection to France, which has become a prime object of nationalist outrage following disruption of the Olympic torch relay in Paris.

A spokeswoman for Amnesty in France said: We didn't feel comfortable with the proposed visuals, which were perhaps too violent. But the message that the fight goes on we support 200 per cent.

 

17th July   

Prison Games...

Philippines proposes state enforced age restrictions on computer games
Link Here

Philippines flag A lawmaker in the Philippines has introduced a bill designed to prevent minors from purchasing violent video games.

The measure proposed by Rep. Narciso Santiago could imprison retailers for up to one year for selling mature-themed games to underage buyers.

Santiago cited studies showing increased aggressiveness following violent game play. The lawmaker commented: [The state has] compelling interests to prevent violent, aggressive, asocial behavior [and] prevent psychological harm to minors who play violent video games, and prevent physical harm to the victims of violent minors, including other minors.... It is also the responsibility of the state to eliminate any societal factors that may inhibit the psychological and neurological development of the youth and facilitate the health development of the youth into well-meaning productive adults.

 

16th July   

Update: Nutters and Reputation...

Muslim cleric sues Wilders for damages after appearing in Fitna
Link Here  full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

Fitna The Muslim cleric Sheikh Imam Fawaz Jneid is claiming 55,000 euros in damages from far-right Freedom Party MP Geert Wilders for allegedly damaging his reputation. The cleric was shown in Wilders' film Fitna .

Wilders, quoted by Radio Netherlands says Jneid's claim is the world upside down.

 

16th July   

Senator Censor...

Senator calls on YouTube to remove terrorist related videos
Link Here

YouTube logo A prominent US Senator has called on Google to remove terrorist YouTube videos.

Responding to a letter the senator Joseph Lieberman  wrote in May 2008, the site's owner, Google, agreed to remove 80 videos that violated YouTube's terms of use. But Lieberman says that isn't enough, and he wants the remaining videos taken down.

Bruce Abramson, president of Informationism Inc. and an expert on intellectual property issues, said Lieberman's message to YouTube raises troubling issues. You have a very complicated issue here. You certainly don't want government action that requires a company to put in place ... [a] content review. You don't want to say to YouTube, 'Invest in new ways of monitoring what goes up and who's posting it so you can pull it if it's inappropriate.' It's bad for the free market, bad for technological development, bad overall.

Daniel Ballon, Ph.D., a policy fellow in technology studies at the Pacific Research Institute thinks YouTube's system already in place should determine censorship on the site: The federal government should not force private companies to censor legal and protected free speech. By forbidding the posting of videos that depict or solicit violent criminal acts, YouTube's policies already ban materials posing a legitimate threat to national security.

In a letter to The New York Times, Lieberman wrote, What is ludicrous is the claim that YouTube has been pressured to pull down videos just because I don't like them. Al Qaeda and its affiliates are engaged in a wartime communications strategy to recruit, amass funds, and inspire savage attacks against American troops and civilians. Their Internet videos are branded with logos, authenticating them as enemy communications. They are patent incitements to violence, not First Amendment-protected speech. And they fall outside Google's own stated guidelines for content.

 

16th July   

Scandalous Press Gagging...

Italy proposes laws to limit press freedom
Link Here

Italy flag Italians are protesting against proposed laws that could make investigative journalism almost impossible.

The new ‘scoundrel-laws', as organisers of the demonstration have named them, will limit press freedom and make a mockery of Italy's judicial system.

Ten days after winning the elections, Berlusconi threatened to ban ‘disturbing' TV programmes, such as Annozero , a weekly current affairs show directed by Michele Santoro. Fifteen days later, two issues that had been central to his electoral campaign, the Alitalia crisis and the waste scandal, vanished from the agenda.

A month later, three new bills were proposed. The first concerned wiretaps, the second proposed suspending for a year legal proceedings in cases of crimes committed prior to 2002 (where the sentence is less then 10 years) and the third promised immunity from prosecution for the holders of the highest public office.

The bill on wiretaps includes a proposal which would make it illegal to report investigations until criminal proceedings have begun. Explaining the context of the crime and why a person has been arrested will be illegal too.

The blog Voglio Scendere claims that this bill is not designed to defend reputations since, there is already a law on defamation; nor it is really designed to prevent wiretapping, but rather it aims to prevent citizens from being fully informed about scandals taking place in the country. Moreover, to investigate allegations against a member of the Roman Catholic Church, permission would be required from the direct superior of the person investigated. This would be particularly problematic in the case of the Pope.

The proposal has caused alarm and indignation among many journalists and citizens. This is why a demonstration has been organised. Those who participate want to make the rest of Italians aware of the danger these bills pose to the very liberty of each citizen.

 

16th July   

Offsite: Australian Wowser...

Michael Atkinson defends Australia's ban on games for adults
Link Here

Fallout 3 game Someone who has contacted the South Australian Attorney Generals office regarding the lack of an R18 rating in video games, and they received a response from Michael Atkinson! Quoting a segment from the letter:

Given this data, I cannot fathom what State-enforced safeguards could exist to prevent R18+ games being bought by households with children and how children can be stopped from using these games, once the games are in the home. If adult gamers are so keen to have R18+ games, I expect children would be just as keen. I have publically argued that because electronic games are interactive, the violence and other adult content in games have a strong impact. I am particularly concerned about the impact these games have on children, who can spend a lot of their unsupervised leisure time gaming.

As per usual, it's all about 'protecting the children', and skirts around the issue of adult gamers HAVING the choice to play the games they want. I didn't realise it was the job of the government to do the parents job for them.

...Read full article

 

15th July   

Update: Australia Falls Out with Freedom...

Sign the petition to save Fallout 3
Link Here

Save Fallout 3 To Robert McClelland (Australian Attorney-General)

We the undersigned wish to express our disappointment with the recent decision to ban the game Fallout 3 .

The decision is inconsistent with previous rulings where games with similar content were granted an OFLC rating and their sale permitted.

There are many precedents for games with similar content passing classification, and no precedent that justifies Fallout 3 's banning.

We request that you review this assessment. We welcome fair and just assessment of computer games, but we feel strongly that this decision causes confusion and can only result in a lack of faith in the ratings system for computer games.

We are concerned that this decision will result in Fallout 3 being purchased from overseas sources, which in turn will hurt the computer games industry as a whole.

We are especially concerned that this is yet another example of computer games being viewed needlessly harshly when compared to other forms of media with more mature content.

Thank you for your consideration in this matter.

Sign the petition at gameplayer

 

15th July   

Offsite: Ooze of the World...

Taking News of the World to task over their reprehensible Max Mosley expose
Link Here  full story: Max Mosley Privacy...Max Mosley, spanking and Nazi sex

Dances with Werewolves book cover There's something so Dickensian about that word. Prostitute. And I just love the way it's being bandied about in the press these days, along with "orgy". Sells more papers, to be sure.

Max Mosley never wanted to be a crusader for the rights of fellow "perverts" or he'd have outed himself. But Ooze of the World decided to expose his private life and now the journalistic Eye of Sauron is turned on all of us.

...Read full article

 

15th July   

Comment: Lame Blade Blame...

Beyer's gang challenges Brown's gang
Link Here

The current spate of knife related violent killings around the country (and in particular in London) has given the tabloid press the perfect chance to whip up a panic of knife wielding youngsters going around stabbing people to death. This has in turn given John Beyer and Mediawatch UK the perfect bandwagon with which to jump on to boost their own agenda and push their campaign to garner more support.

From Mediawatch-UK :

Gordon Brown weilding scissors

Oi families!
Cut out the blades
or we'll cut off your balls!

Brown Targets 'Problem Families'

More than 110,000 "problem families" with disruptive youngsters will be targeted as part of a crackdown on knife crime, Gordon Brown has said. They will get parenting supervision, with the worst 20,000 families facing eviction if they do not respond. He aimed to make it "unacceptable" to carry a knife, with "prevention, enforcement and punishment" the focus. The prime minister also urged more councils to impose 90-day teenage curfews "where there is a problem".

The comments came as he used his monthly news conference to defend the government's plans for tackling knife crime, which have been derided as "half-baked" by the Liberal Democrats. BBC News online 14/7/2008

John Beyer

Oi Brown!
Cut out the violent stuff
or we'll kick you in the polls!

Speaking today, John Beyer, director of mediawatch-uk, said that the Prime Minister's wide ranging solution to the current knife crime crisis lacked one essential component: the media.

In his briefing today there was no mention of the harmful influence of violence in entertainment which, over the years, has done a great deal to glamorise and normalise gun and knife use. We believe that the problem of knife crime will never be solved until the culture of violence and killing, aggressive and anti-social behaviour portrayed in entertainment is stopped, he said.

We believe the Prime Minister should initiate urgent talks with the top executives of the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Five, BSKYB, Virgin Media, the BBFC and the Computer Games Industry to discover exactly what they intend to do to stop portraying violent gun and knife use in the entertainment that they think is acceptable. It is in the public interest for them to declare what part they intend to play in the overall effort, that must involve everyone, to reverse the culture of violence they have created. It is no longer credible for the Government, despite its long-standing principle of non-interference, to exclude the influence of the media from the "root causes" of this most serious and urgent problem.

 

15th July   

Update: Eutelcensor...

China pressurises Eutelsat to end broadcast of critical TV channel
Link Here

Eutelsat logo Eutelsat, the French satellite operator that suspended an independent TV station's broadcast to China on June 16 blamed a technical “anomaly” for the shutdown.

Yet the press freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RWB) has obtained evidence that it says shows the shutdown by Eutelsat was a premeditated, politically motivated decision, openly violating the free flow of information.

New Tang Dynasty Television (NTDTV) and RWB called on Canada and France to urge the France-based satellite provider to immediately resume NTDTV's broadcast.

Katherine Borlongan, executive director of RWB Canada, said the organization procured a recorded conversation on June 23 between a Eutelsat employee in Beijing and someone the employee thought was an official of the Chinese regime's propaganda department.

The recording exposes that the CEO of Eutelsat, Giuliano Berretta, stopped NTDTV's broadcast under pressure from the Chinese regime, she said.

It revealed that when Eutelsat's W5 satellite suffered technical problems and had to shut down several transponders, Berretta deliberately chose one that would stop the transmission of NTDTV.

Eutelsat has been attempting to sign lucrative contracts with China for several years. In the recorded conversation, the employee said Eutelsat had received complaints and reminders from the Chinese government about NTDTV, and Chinese authorities had told Eutelsat two years ago to turn it [NTDTV] off before we can talk.

Founded in 2001, New York-based NTDTV is an independent, not-for-profit station that has been broadcasting via satellite into mainland China and across Asia since 2004. It is the only Chinese-language media broadcasting news into China that is uncensored by the communist authority.

 

15th July   

Censorship Hangover...

Turkey to ban alcoholic drinks from TV
Link Here

Turkey flag Turkey's Supreme Board of Radio and Television (RTK), the TV censor, has announced that it will ban scenes in TV series in which alcoholic drinks are shown.

According to a Zaman report, RTK president Zahid Akman said the body was preparing for an amendment to the existing RTK regulation, noting that its aim was to prevent any broadcasts that encourage alcohol consumption in society.

Zaman wrote that RTK is planning to have program makers censor their production during filming instead of censoring images of alcoholic drinks, by blurring such images when they appear on screen. RTK experts will decide to what extent an image of an alcoholic drink on a TV program might promote alcohol consumption among individuals and they will then decide whether to punish the producers of that TV program.

 

15th July   

Spreading Panic Amongst the Authorities...

Al-Jazeera journalist find in Morocco for reporting unrest
Link Here

Morocco flag A Rabat court fined Hassan Rachidi, Al-Jazeera's Morocco bureau chief, 50,000 dirhams (nearly $6,000) for maliciously publishing false news likely to disrupt public order and spread panic among people. Authorities also suspended Rachidi's press accreditation.

The case stemmed from Al-Jazeera coverage of social unrest that shook the southern city of Sidi Ifni on June 7. The Qatar-based satellite television station quoted an NGO source that claimed people died following clashes with the police, but made it clear that official sources denied any fatality. Other local and international media outlets reported the alleged deaths, but none of those were prosecuted.

Khalid Soufiani, coordinator of Rachidi's defense team, told CPJ that the verdict is null because it has no legal ground whatsoever. The failure of the court to grant more time to the defense team and to summon witnesses involved in the Sidi Ifny unrest, including high-ranking security officials, led the defense lawyers to walk out of the courtroom on July 4. But we will make it to the court of appeal, Soufiani said.

 

14th July   

Update: Zed Rated Hype...

Perhaps the acclaimed Hindu leader Rajan Zed is an alter ego of Mike Myers
Link Here  full story: Love Guru Nonsense...Love Guru Mike Myers movie winds up hindus

The Love Guru Rajan Zed, acclaimed Hindu leader has given a United Kingdom (UK)-wide boycott call for Hollywood movie The Love Guru by Hindus and other religious Brits because it lampoons Hinduism and Hindu concepts and uses Hindu terms frivolously.

Zed has also criticized BBFC for giving it "12A" classification, when he says it deserved the highest "18" classification. Although BBFC claims We help to protect vulnerable viewers and society from the effects of viewing potentially harmful or unsuitable content, but by giving The Love Guru a "12A" rating, it is leading the highly impressionable British children between 12 to 18 years to grow-up with a distorted view of Hinduism, Zed adds.

The Love Guru , a comedy starring Mike Myers (of Austin Powers fame) will be released in UK on August 1st.

Update: Ireland's Turn

16th July 2008

Zed has also criticized Irish Film Censor's Office (IFCO) for giving it "15A" (suitable for 15 and upwards) classification, when he says it deserved the highest "18" (over 18) classification.

Although IFCO claims We have a duty to protect children and young persons from harm, but by giving The Love Guru a "15A" rating, it is leading the highly impressionable Irish children between 15 to 18 years to grow-up with a distorted view of Hinduism, Zed adds.

Update: Sweden's Turn

18th July 2008

Zed said the guru in The Love Guru instigates a bar fight, repeatedly narrates penis jokes, mocks yoga (one of the six orthodox schools of Hindu philosophy), wears female jewelry, mocks the concept of third eye, makes disciples drink tea passed through his nose, orders alligator soup, induces elephant copulation in front of the crowd, introduces himself as “His Holiness”, lives in a lavish ashram staffed with scantily clad maids, and whose goal in life seems to appear on Oprah Winfrey show.

He predictably called for a Swedish wide boycott of the film and for the Swedish film censors to award the highest rating.

 

14th July   

BBFC Still Classified as Censors...

BBFC slacking as they only cut 18% of R18s in June
Link Here

R18 Story Update for R18s butchered by the censors in June 2008

June: 17 R18s cut out of 92 (18%)

The R18 cuts stats 2008:

  • January: 23 R18s cut out of 71 (32%)
  • February: 28 R18s cut out of 90 (31%)
  • March: 29 R18s cut out of 97 (30%)
  • April: 30 R18s cut out of 98 (30%)
  • May: 22 R18s cut out of 72 (30%)
  • June: 17 R18s cut out of 92 (18%)

 

14th July   

Diary: Threats To The Open Book...

International Symposium On Neo-Censorship
Link Here
 

Amsterdam World Book Capital 18-20 September, Amsterdam

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers
Article 19, Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The main objective of this symposium is to examine on an international level the erosion of free expression. The concept of neo- censorship refers to a type of censorship that is not imposed by any state authority but by private parties. It is becoming increasingly evident that there are growing threats to the freedom of expression and the free dissemination of ideas and texts, which are being kept on a tight rein or even deterred by censorship-like phenomena. These include self-censorship, market censorship and silent repression and threats to writers, journalists and publishers.

The censorship-like phenomena of recent times could in the longer term have a stifling impact on free expression and the freedom of information, and thus on the overall quality of society, with drastic consequences for the whole province of writing and publishing. That is why there is an urgent need for authors, publishers, librarians and booksellers to take stock of neo-censorship's rise and determine what they can do to counter it.

The symposium will be attended by authors, publishers, librarians and booksellers from all over the world and is organized in collaboration with with Index on Censorship and Amnesty International. The official language of the symposium is English.

On the eve of the symposium, at the opening ceremony on Thursday September 18th the IPA Freedom to Publish Prize will be presented.

 

13th July   

Update: Harry Potter and the Disputed Age Ratings...

Authors write of their opposition to age banding for books
Link Here  full story: Age Ratings for Books...Publishers propsose age ratings for books

Harry Potter book, adult edition A dispute between publishers and authors over controversial plans to introduce age bands for books remained unresolved last night.

J K Rowling and Philip Pullman, two of the biggest names in children's literature, are leading a revolt by thousands of people across the country who are furious at plans by publishers to categorise books by the age at which they should be read.

An emergency summit between the Society of Authors and the Publishers Association this month failed to resolve the standoff. The SoA claims that 77% of children's authors are opposed to having age guidance on books. But publishers maintain that three-quarters of authors have agreed to it.

Pullman, the best-selling author of the His Dark Materials trilogy, has galvanised protests through his website www.notoagebanding. org, which condemns the proposals as ill-conceived and damaging to the interests of young readers.

Rowling has joined his campaign, alongside other well-known children's writers such as Anthony Horowitz and Terry Pratchett. It is also being backed by the Children's Laureate, Michael Rosen.

Pullman dismissed industry assurances that books would not be age-banded without consultation. Every author... knows what 'consultation' means. It means the publishers saying, 'This is the cover of your new book', and our saying, 'Well, it's horrible', and their replying: 'Well, tough'.

While writers are presenting a united front, publishers are divided. Walker Books, opposed to the move from the start, has now been joined by Rowling's publisher, Bloomsbury. But other publishers, such as Random House, Puffin and Macmillan, remain in favour of age banding.

 

13th July   

Sadistic Abuse of Censorship Power...

Australian censor bans Pasolini's Salo again
Link Here

Salo The Australian classification board have again banned Pasolini's Salo. This is a controversial 1975 Italian/French film based on the writing of deSade.

In Britain the film has a long history of being banned but was eventually passed 18 uncut in the year 2000.

See a good history of the censorship of Salo in Australia from Refused Classification

 

13th July   

Update: German TV blocked from Great Wall...

German journalists call on China honour its Olympic promises
Link Here  full story: Internet Blocking in Olympic China...Chinese Olympics herald a lull in internet censorship

Olympic hand cuffs Germany's journalist union and the German chapter of Reporters Without Borders have called on China to stick to its own rules regarding press freedom during the Olympic Games, which are due to open in Beijing next month.

The head of the German Union of Journalists (DJV), Michael Konken said that Chinese officials should grant journalists free access to cover the games.

We call on the Chinese authorities to honor the rules for foreign journalists in China, he said, referring to directives issued by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in December 2006 that were meant to make it easier for reporters to work in the country during the Olympics.

The directives call for journalists to only need to get the permission of organizations or individuals they want to interview, but not state authorities. Konken said that officials had begun to prohibit interviews or threaten Chinese interview partners.

Konken welcomed an official Chinese apology for a botched live broadcast of German public broadcaster ZDF from the Great Wall. Officials had blocked the broadcast by holding their hands in front of the cameras.

 

13th July   

Somaliland Community Censorship...

Wahabi students storm music festival as unislamic
Link Here

Somaliland flag It was not until the last minute when the conference-hall was set for the music festival, as well as the local invitees, key-note speakers, folklore dancers, government officials, journalists, and foreign guests were soon to arrive there that the students unleashed a wave of protest. They violently emptied the conference-hall of all the chairs and tables for the invitees, and they removed from the walls all the slogans, pictures, and decorations for the event.

Inspired by local Wahabi clerics, who had been preaching in advance against this event in their daily sermons in the mosques in the town, these students justified their acts of rejection and obstruction on the grounds that the music was un-Islamic.

The event was apparently supposed to have been part of the Somaliland authorities' relentless campaign for international recognition. It was the first time in the history of their yet internationally unrecognised country, Somaliland's Ministry of Culture and Tourism had organised a celebration for the World Music Day in the capital Hargeisa. By locally promoting and celebrating the international events, the Somaliland authorities wanted to show that the country is governed from democratically established institutions. The zone of Somaliland generally is considered more peaceful than the rest of Somalia.

However, local Wahabi clerics have strongly challenged their campaign by proving on their part that they also govern the county from the platforms of the mosques. 'Community censorship' of music is not only limited to the conflict parts of Somalia.

 

13th July   

Ensuring the Retention of Repressive Traditions...

Egyptian draft law proposes to control all media
Link Here

Egypt flag The Egyptian government is reportedly reviewing a draft law, sponsored by the Ministry of Information, which would tighten the state's control on audio and visual transmission in Egypt.

Independent newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm published a draft law which the Minister of Information Anas El-Fiqi has allegedly written and sent out to several governmental bodies to review.

The law, which creates new legislation giving the government authority to control all audio and visual transmission in the Egypt, also includes the establishment of a supreme censorship authority to monitor will monitor media.

Human rights watchdogs and journalists were outraged by the proposed law.

We are facing the latest innovations of the Egyptian government for achieving its ultimate goal, which is placing the Egyptian citizen inside the ‘spiral of silence,' said Magdy El Gallad, editor-in-chief of Al-Masry Al-Youm in his column: The draft law for the National Authority for the Regulation of Audio and Radio Transmission … is the most dangerous in the legislations arsenal and the procedures restricting general freedom .

The law for regulating audio and visual transmission and censorship on all broadcast media will be presented to the People's Assembly for approval at their next round, which is scheduled to start in September, a.

The draft law, which includes 44 articles, includes all visual and audio visual mediums as potential subjects for monitoring in a wide definition that also incorporates “computer networks.”

The law would also make the minister of information the head of the proposed monitoring body, the National Authority for the Regulation of Audio and Radio Transmission.

Under the draft law, the authority would protect the welfare of the public and the producers, providers and distributors of these services [audio and visual transmission] and monitor the material transmitted to ensure the retention of traditions and peace in society.

The draft law requires those responsible for “transmission” to observe the audience's right to receive accurate information and not to have a negative affect on social harmony, national unity, nationalism, public order and public moral.

 

12th July   

Update: AOL Hell...

US ISPs falling over themselves to ban more and more of usenet
Link Here  full story: Usenet Censorship...ISPs abandon Usenet over a few news groups

Usenet.com logo Bowing to continued pressure from the New York Attorney General, two more big-name American ISPs have shutdown access to dozens of Usenet newsgroups that contain child pornography - and many more that don't.

AT&T and AOL have agreed to eliminate access to usenet newsgroups where state investigations have turned up nearly 11,000 sexually lewd photos featuring prepubescent children.

This follows similar promises from Time Warner Cable, Sprint, and Verizon. All five of these mega-ISPs have also agreed to rid their web servers of child pornography, as identified by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC).

And some have gone even further. Time Warner, AT&T and AOL decided to extend their Usenet crackdowns well beyond the 88 groups flagged by the AG.

AT&T will eliminate direct access to all binary newsgroups - i.e. all groups that serve up full-blown data files.

Meanwhile, AOL tells the The Associated Press it will block access to every newsgroup there is - binary and ASCII.

Update: Cable & Broadband ISPs Toe the Line

24th July 2008

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association Thursday announced that 18 of the nation's largest cable and broadband Internet service providers have agreed to block access to any Web sites known to host or distribute illegal child pornography files.

By signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU), these cable operators serving 87%, or more than 112 million homes, of Internet service subscribers will work with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG).

In addition, the member companies will also report any instances of child pornography they unearth to the NCMEC CyberTipline and, where appropriate, revise their policies around other potential sources of child pornography such as newsgroups and other online bulletin boards.

 

12th July   

New Zealand Party Wants to Ban Computer Games...

Gangs of good for nothing politicians hang about looking for trouble
Link Here

New Zealand First logo Political party, New Zealand First, is calling for a ban on violent video games as part of a new anti-gang policy.

They want R16 and R18 games off the shelf in a bid to stop them influencing young people. The party says the games encourage young people to be more violent and join gangs.

Well if you are going to fill your children in this country with pulp and with mush, why are you surprised the way they react and the way they head off into criminal behaviour, says New Zealand First leader Winston Peters.

But experts say the violent on screen images do not translate to real life.

It would be a very big leap to imply that violent video games are going to inflate gang membership, says John Fenaughty from Netsafe.

The Chief Censor, who rates these games, says putting R16 and R18 labels on them should make them off-limits to children anyway.

Winston Peters is also planning to make gangs illegal, boost drug and alcohol rehab for ex-gang members and to get young people involved in military style training - instead of these games.

 

12th July   

Update: Registering as Repressive...

Belarus introduces repressive media legislation
Link Here

Belarus flag The Committee to Protect Journalists wrote to  the Belarus president calling on him to veto a severely restrictive draft media law, which will further curb press freedom conditions in Belarus:

The bill was adopted by the upper chamber of the Belarusian parliament on June 28 and now awaits your consideration.

The bill was rushed through parliament in a few days without ever being made public, and without due discussion, raising doubts about your government's stated intentions to improve the work climate for the press in your country. CPJ research and interviews with local sources show that the proposed draft aims at nothing but facilitating state agencies to further crack down on Belarus's embattled independent media outlets, and broaden the control of the state over critical news outlets and their reporters. Furthermore, despite your government's assurances that the new law is not aimed at controlling the Internet, the bill contains provisions that enable state agencies to exercise strict control over information published on the Web.

CPJ joins the Belarusian and international media community in urging you to veto the bill. Here are the provisions we are particularly concerned about:

  • Journalists' accreditation

    Article 35 of the new bill gives broad power to various state agencies—on both the local and federal levels—to deny accreditation to individual journalists and their outlets on unidentified grounds. The article prohibits international journalists from working in Belarus without accreditation.
     
  • Control over the Internet

    The crackdown on traditional mass media outlets under your administration has turned the Internet into the last refuge for independent journalists, but the proposed draft allows the government to censor the Web. The new bill equates Internet-based publications with traditional mass media outlets, making them subject to the same restrictions. In addition, Articles 11 and 17 of the bill give extra power to the Council of Ministers to single-handedly deny the registration of Web news publications, and to restrict the distribution of Internet-based information.
     
  • Financing

    The broadly worded Article 8 bans mass media outlets from accepting money and other donations from international persons and groups, as well as from anonymous sources.
     
  • Registration

    Article 14 requires media outlets to re-register with every technical change, such as a replacement in the founders' board, a change of name of the media outlet, or a change in the editorial staff. The proposed draft also requires that all media outlets re-register within a year after this new law takes effect (Article 54)—a measure that grants Belarusian authorities the power to deny a license to publish to any outlet they deem undesirable on re-registration.
     
  • Responsibility

    Under the new bill, the Ministry of Information receives broad authority to suspend media outlets; the ministry and state prosecutors are given the authority to shut down outlets permanently. These state agencies can suspend or close the outlets if they find their content to be inaccurate, defamatory, “not corresponding to reality,” or “threatening the interests of the state or the public.” The bill leaves the interpretation of these terms in the hands of state authorities.

 

12th July   

Cameroon Back on Air...

Cameroon allows banned radio and TV stations to resume
Link Here

Cameroon flag Cameroon authorities have lifted a ban on three private broadcasters summarily closed in connection with their critical coverage in February, but police are withholding equipment seized from one station, according to local journalists and news reports.

Equinoxe Télévision, sister radio station Radio Equinoxe, and Magic FM were authorized to return to air on July 4 by Communications Minister Jean Pierre Biyiti bi Essam. However, police continued to hold the broadcasting equipment of Magic FM, a popular station and partner of international U.S. broadcaster Voice of America.

All three stations were distinguished for their pointed political coverage of a national debate on constitutional reform marred by violence, according to local journalists.

We are relieved that Equinoxe Télévision, Radio Equinoxe, and Magic FM have finally been allowed to return to air, said Tom Rhodes, CPJ's Africa program coordinator: We call on the government to abandon such crude tactics of censorship like these arbitrary closures of media outlets, and ask that authorities to ensure that all of Magic FM's equipment is returned immediately.

 

12th July   

Offsite: Civilised Values...

A million miles from the values of the News of the World
Link Here  full story: Max Mosley Privacy...Max Mosley, spanking and Nazi sex

Dances with Werewolves book cover From Alan:

I don't know how closely you've been following Max Mosley's case against the News of the World.

I suppose it creates a bit of a dilemma for Melon Farmers. For once,

I find myself in favour of censorship, because the rag had no business sticking its nose into Mosley's private life with its sanctimonious finger-wagging. There's a brilliant piece about this on Niki Flynn's site.

See full article from Niki Flynn

Have you been following the Max Mosley Affair? Shame on you if not, as it potentially affects all of us) into "sadomasochistic cruelty" (ie, consensual private CP play). This is UK gutter journalism at its absolute slimiest - an unconscionable invasion of privacy and public humiliation by the Screws News of the World.

According to NotW's counsel, Sadomasochistic cruelty is contrary to civilised values and is corrupting of those involved. That's rich coming from the same rag that stalks celebrities and taps the phones of the Royal Family.

...Read full article

 

11th July   

Update: Tommy Tankers at Ofcom...

TV censor fines babe channel GBP 17500
Link Here  full story: Babe Channels...Ofcom have it in for free to air babe channels

Smile TV TV censors Ofcom have fined Square 1 £175000 for a scene on a free to air babe channel. Square 1 operate the channel Smile TV which has since renamed to Blue Kiss TV.

Ofcom received a complaint about the explicit sexual nature of the content broadcast on Smile TV on 22 May 2007 at around 22.25. The complainant referred to shots in which a female presenter appeared to insert her fingers into her anus several times and masturbate for a number of minutes.

In the material complained of the presenter wore only a thong and appeared to carry out the actions described by the complainant. There were also prolonged shots of her lying on her back, with her legs wide apart in front of the camera, apparently masturbating through the thong. She also encouraged viewers to call her by saying, for example: Well, I tell you what, you're not lasting a second tonight guys. Maybe it's all my oil on my shaved minge…If you'd like to hear some explicit chat tonight, while you're having a good old tommy tank… [rhyming slang for ‘wank' – i.e. masturbation].

Ofcom concluded that the sexual content on the programme was so explicit and prolonged, particularly the visual images, that it was 'adult-sex' material. This meant it fell within Rule 1.24 and accordingly should have been broadcast under encryption. The programme was not protected by encryption or in line with the other requirements of Rule 1.24 and therefore the broadcaster had breached Rule 1.24 of the Code.

Given that the material appeared on a free-to-air unencrypted channel, Ofcom also decided that it breached Rules 2.1 and 2.3 of the Code. These require broadcasters to protect viewers from material that is harmful or offensive and which cannot be justified by the context. In Ofcom's view the breaches were sufficiently serious that the case should be referred to the Committee for consideration of a statutory sanction.

For reference:

Rule 1.24: Premium subscription services and pay per view/night services may broadcast ‘adult-sex' material between 2200 and 0530 provided that in addition to the other protections named above:

  • there is a mandatory PIN protected encryption system, or other equivalent protection, that seeks satisfactorily to restrict access solely to those authorised to view
  • and there are measures in place that ensure that the subscriber is an adult

Rule 2.1: Generally accepted standards must be applied to the contents of television and radio services so as to provide adequate protection for members of the public from the inclusion in such services of harmful and/or offensive material

Rule 2.3: In applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context

 

11th July   

Freer Speech...

Irish parliamentary recommendation to drop the offence of blasphemy
Link Here  full story: Blasphemy in Ireland...Irish politicians enact blasphemy law

Ireland The offence of blasphemy is likely to be dropped from the Irish Constitution after recommendations from a Dail committee.

The joint committee on the Constitution said that changes to the Constitution in the areas of freedom of expression and blasphemy are required and should be voted on in a future referendum.

The Oireachtas report concluded that constitutional references to freedom of expression are unsatisfactory and focus too much on the limitations on free speech.

The Defamation Bill 2006 now proposes to repeal the 1961 Act and thereby abolish the common law offence of blasphemy. Committee chairman, Sean Ardagh, said the Constitution should be amended along the lines of Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights in order to ensure greater emphasis on the freedom of speech: The committee is of the view that amendment is not immediately necessary but recommends that change be made when an appropriate opportunity presents .

A constitutional reference which deems publication or utterance of "blasphemous, seditious or indecent matters" as an offence punishable in accordance with the law should also be deleted, according to the report.

 

11th July   

Pressed Out...

Christopher Meyer resigns from the Press Complaints Commission
Link Here

Press Complaints Commission logo Sir Christopher Meyer will stand down as chairman of the Press Complaints Commission next March.

The press watchdog will now search for a new chairman to replace Meyer after his second three-year term expires.

His replacement will be recruited by the Press Standards Board of Finance, the industry body that funds the PCC, which will advertise for a new chairman.
 

I have found the challenge of strengthening the independence, effectiveness and credibility of self-regulation as stimulating and demanding as any job I did as a diplomat, said Meyer: Thanks to the dedication and professionalism of all at Halton House, the PCC has made a lot of progress in the last few years and today provides a service to record numbers of the public.

But more remains to be done - especially in the digital age - and it is right that, after six years as chairman, I should pass the baton to a successor. I came into this job convinced that self-regulation administered by an independent PCC was the only system of regulation compatible with a free press in a democratic society. I will leave the PCC reinforced in that belief."

 

11th July   

Shits at Ofcom...

Ofcom whinges over 'fuck' in pre-watershed subtitles
Link Here

Rock Rivals DVD The Rock Rivals
ITV2, 7 March 2008, 20:00

Rock Rivals is a drama based around the concept of a popular television talent competition. It was broadcast on ITV1 at 21:00 earlier this year and repeated on ITV2 at 20:00 each week. One viewer complained that the ITV2 repeat of the first episode of the series contained strong language, including “tosser” and “shit”, and one use of “fuck” (which was also subtitled). The viewer was offended that inappropriate language was broadcast before the 21:00 watershed. On reviewing the material, the word “fuck” was included in the subtitles but from the audio track it could not clearly be determined what was actually said. Ofcom wrote to Channel Television, who complies this programme for the ITV Network, asking it to respond under Rule 1.14 (the most offensive language must not be broadcast before the watershed).

Ofcom Decision

Ofcom does not normally regard the infrequent use of what are considered to be milder terms of bad language such as “tossers”, “shits” and “sodding” to be at odds with the Code when broadcast in a drama not intended for children. However, “fuck” is considered one of the most offensive forms of language. Rule 1.14 states that the most offensive language should not be broadcast before the watershed.

Breach of Rule 1.14

 

11th July   

Transparent Mean Mindedness...

Malaysian Internet cafes to suffer a new swathe of mean minded rules
Link Here

Malaysia flag All internet cafes will have to close by midnight daily and operate only from the ground floor of buildings once Malaysian guidelines to control them are enforced.

Deputy Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Hamzah Zainuddin said that under the new guidelines, cyber cafe operators were also banned from using tinted glass: Operators must ensure their shops can be seen from the outside . The new rule also requires those below 12 years old to be accompanied by their parents or guardians to cyber cafes and they are only allowed to stay until 10pm.

The guidelines have been drawn up and the ministry is going to start enforcing them as soon as possible.

Hamzah said cyber cafes were also banned from other co-business activities, including having games, gambling, pornography, music and publications with negative elements: Cigarettes and alcohol cannot be sold or consumed at these premises .

Hamzah said operators were required to keep a register to record the entry and departure time of their patrons: The owners of the business must also send the names of students who come to their premises to their schools .

Cyber cafes which did not comply with the guidelines would be blacklisted.

See full article from The Inquirer

Philippines flag Internet gaming establishments in Marikina, Manila have been warned against allowing students to play during school hours, under pain of losing their business licenses.

Chief Superintendent Sotero Ramos said: We are strictly implementing our ordinance that strictly prohibits Internet establishments from allowing students to use their computer equipment especially during school hours.

Police authorities in Marikina are also using the opportunity to monitor Internet cafés for any violation of anti-pornography laws. Ramos urged the Internet cafés catering to students doing projects, homework and research, to block off pornographic websites.

 

10th July   

Update: Rockstar do their Homework...

Bully advert passes the ASA test with flying colours
Link Here  full story: Bully Video Game...Scholarship Edition re-ignites moral campaigners

Bully Scholarship Edition A TV ad, for a computer game called Bully: Scholarship Edition , showed a schoolboy in a headmaster's office. The headmaster said Ah, so you must be Hopkins. You're quite the nastiest little boy I have ever encountered to which Hopkins replied I'm just trying to fit in.

Hopkins was then shown kicking a wooden box apart, firing a catapult and shielding himself from a burning substance in a science classroom. The ad went on to show students running away from a mouse and Hopkins emerging from a locker, creeping around the school and skateboarding.

Two other characters were shown lifting another student up by his underpants. Hopkins kissed a girl and watched the canteen chef laughing and sneezing into a cooking pot. A voice-over stated Bully:Scholarship Edition . Rated BBFC 15.

31 complainants took issue:

  1. Several viewers, some of whom had experienced bullying, complained that the ad was offensive and distasteful.
     
  2. Most viewers complained that the ad glorified, trivialised and encouraged bullying and violence. Some of them were concerned that the ad gave the wrong message in the current climate of bullying, suicides and violent crime amongst young people.
     
  3. Some viewers complained that the ad was scheduled inappropriately because it could be seen by children.

ASA Assessment:

  1. Not upheld

    The ASA noted scenes that depicted property being damaged, a weapon being fired, and pupils fleeing were played in quick succession. Although some viewers might see those actions as the work of a bully, we noted the only scene that showed bullying behaviour was where two larger boys lifted a character by his underwear. We considered that that scene was cartoon-like in nature, and would be seen as representative of the contents of the game, rather than as a realistic portrayal of intimidation or bullying. We concluded that, although many might find the name and content of the game to be in poor taste, the content of the ad was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence.
     
  2. Not upheld

    We noted the character of Hopkins was not intended to be a bully and would often be tasked with overcoming bullies. We considered that the ad did not contain explicit or graphic violence and that young people would see the lifting of a boy by his underpants as comic and exaggerated, rather than as realistic or condoning intimidating behaviour. We also considered that viewers were unlikely to draw a direct analogy between the computer-generated, stereotyped school setting and contemporary society. We concluded that the ad did not glorify or encourage bullying and violence among young people.
     
  3. Not upheld

    We noted the game carried a 15 rating and the ad had an 'ex-kids' restriction, which would help prevent younger children from seeing it. We noted the advertiser had taken care to schedule appropriately through the extra measures it had taken to ensure that the ad was not seen by a significant number of under-15s. Although some complainants reported viewing the ads in prime-time programmes and football matches, we considered that the ad was unlikely to present a problem if seen by older children and adolescents. We concluded that the ad had been appropriately scheduled and the 'ex-kids' restriction was sufficient.

 

10th July   

Update: Australia Falls Out with Censor...

Confirmation of ban on the computer game Fallout 3
Link Here

Fallout 3 game Australian Gamer managed to get its hands on the OFLC's report for Fallout 3 . The ban had nothing to do with decapitation, gore or dismemberment. It was the drugs, and only the drugs.

From the report:

The game contains the option to take a variety of "chems" using a device which is connected to the character's arm. Upon selection of the device a menu selection screen is displayed. Upon this screen is a list of "chems" that the player can take, by means of selection. These "chems" have positive effects and some negative effects (lowering of intelligence, or the character may become addicted to the "chem"). The positive effects include increase in strength, stamina, resistance to damage, agility and hit points.

Corresponding with the list of various "chems" are small visual representation of the drugs, these include syringes, tablets, pill bottles, a crack-type pipe and blister packs. In the Board's view these realistic visual representations of drugs and their delivery method bring the "science-fiction" drugs in line with "real-world" drugs.

The report then states that "material promoting or encouraging proscribed drug use" is grounds enough to refuse classification. Furthermore, the use of morphine is highlighted, as well as its in-game effect: allowing the player to ignore damage.

 

10th July   

Update: Game Over...

Anti-games nutter, Jack Thompson to be permanently disbarred
Link Here  full story: Jack Thompson...Winding up the Florida Bar with frivilous filings

Jack Thompson cards Judge Dava Tunis has recommended the the anti-games nutter and lawyer Jack Thompson be permanently disbarred from the profession with no opportunity for reinstatement.

Judge Tunis also recommends an assessment of $43,675 for the costs incurred by the Florida Bar in prosecuting his case.

Thompson was up in court on ethics charges brought by the Florida Bar.

Judge Tunis wrote:

The Florida Bar has recommended disbarment for a period of ten (10) years. This Court respectfully declines to follow the Bar's recommendation... This case involves factual findings of cumulative misconduct, a repeated pattern of behavior relentlessly forced upon numerous unconnected individuals, a total lack of remorse or even slight acknowledgement of inappropriate conduct...

Additionally, the Court is taking into consideration a review of the Respondent's conduct not only as proven by the evidence, but by what this Court has witnessed of the Respondent's behavior throughout the eighteen (18) months of litigation. The undersigned finds no evidence whatsoever to indicate that the Respondent is amenable to rehabilitation, or even remotely appreciates the basis upon which a need or purpose for such rehabilitation is warranted...

Over a very extended period of time involving a number of totally unrelated cases and individuals, the Respondent has demonstrated a pattern of conduct to strike out harshly, extensively, repeatedly and willfully to simply try to bring as much difficulty, distraction and anguish to those he considers in opposition to his causes. He does not proceed within the guidelines of appropriate professional behavior, but rather uses other means available to intimidate, harass, or bring public disrepute to those whom he perceives oppose him.

 

10th July   

God Resigns...

Publishers pulps books claimed to be an attack on God
Link Here

Fall of the Imam book Two books by Egyptian feminist author Nawal El-Saadawi have become the center of debate among writers and intellectuals after prominent publisher Mahmoud Madbouli gave an interview explaining his reasons to halt their publication.

In an interview with AFP, Madbouli said he had pulped those copies of the books held in stock and halted the printing of more 3,000 more copies.

Madbouli, one of the most important publishers in Egypt, decided to cease publication of two novels — Fall of the Imam , published in 1987, and God Resigns from the Summit Meeting , published in 1996 and translated into Arabic two years ago — after one journalist told him that the two books offended core religious values and constituted an attack on God.

The company is famous for printing controversial social and political books that other publishers usually refuse to take on. The owner says he wonders why this issue is being discussed these days although the incident happened a long time ago.

He was recently quoted in the Egyptian press as saying that he is definitely pro-freedom of expression, but is unable to accept insults against God. He also said that he informed the author before taking this action, and claims that she was understanding.

In God Resigns from the Summit Meeting the writer symbolically depicts God as a 60-year-old man dressed as a king and surrounded by soldiers with a lake of water and rivers of wine under his feet. The devil, meanwhile, appears as a handsome 30-year-old man, and Radwan, the keeper of heavens, is pictured as God's private secretary.

Both books were condemned years ago as a violation of Islam by the Islamic Research Center, which urged the Egyptian government to ban them.

 

9th July   

Dying for Canal+...

Muslims threaten to blow up Canal+ headquarters over monthly porn film
Link Here

Canal+ logo Anti-terrorism investigators in Paris are probing threats against a leading French cable TV channel over pornographic films it airs that can be viewed in North Africa, a judicial official said.

Canal-Plus, France's first pay-TV channel, received letters from one or more people claiming to be Muslim and threatening to blow up its headquarters if it continues to broadcast once-a-month adult films, the official said.

Canal-Plus filed a legal complaint about the threats late last month, which prompted the anti-terrorist probe. No other details about the threats were available.

Canal-Plus and its sister channels show a range of programming, much of it family-friendly. It can be viewed via satellite in largely Muslim North Africa, where French is widely spoken.

As a new broadcaster in 1984, Canal-Plus introduced hardcore films on the first Saturday of the month to build its image as a more exciting alternative to France's traditional channels.

 

9th July   

Update: Good for Nothing TV Censors...

Ofcom object to being labelled as imbeciles
Link Here

Ofcom logo It's 40 long years since the Theatres Act swept the Lord Chamberlain's censorship squad away. Goodbye to immobile, goose-pimpled nudes, shivering on plinths. Hail to the drugged-out hippies of Hair. Welcome, up to a point, to Oh! Calcutta! Here was one great liberal battle won. We'd pulled the dead hand of prim, bureaucratic authority away from our action. Unless, that is, it happened to be called Ofcom.

...Read full article

Reply: We are not official imbeciles at Ofcom

Letter to the Guardian by Stewart Purvis Partner for content and standards, Ofcom

Peter Preston attacks Ofcom's regulation of broadcast standards as "officialdom's apparatus of imbecility" (Comment, July 7). Parliament requires Ofcom to regulate what appears on British television and radio, and the foreign-language services which fall into our jurisdiction under European directives. Ofcom's content and standards group is currently regulating 2,101 TV and radio outlets. Ofcom's broadcasting code was drawn up after extensive research and consultation with broadcasters and their audiences.

We regularly research changing public attitudes and expectations. We receive an increasing number of complaints about broadcast content each year and consider them in processes which are fully explained on our website, and involve not only Ofcom executives, but also non-executives appointed in a public process. We regularly review our processes; one such internal review is under way at present. We publish all our findings, some in great detail.

All our processes are open to challenge in court through judicial review. All this is done as part of Ofcom's statutory responsibility to represent the interests of citizens and consumers. Which of these would Peter Preston dismiss as imbecilic?

 

9th July   

Update: Games Industry vs BBFC...

BBFC doesn't seem to have many friends in the trade...I wonder why?
Link Here  full story: The Byron Report...Tanya Byron reports on media child protection

Manhunt 2 game cover A quartet of leading publishers have come out in favor of the Pan-European Game Information (PEGI) rating system for the UK market.

The game industry there, including publishers association ELSPA, does not look favorably upon the BBFC, which itself hopes to claim a bigger piece of the UK's video game content rating pie.

The BBFC is probably best known to gamers for its 2007 ban on Manhunt 2 which was later overturned on appeal.

As reported by Next Generation, ELSPA head Paul Jackson minced no words in remarks to British government officials at a media forum in Whitehall: PEGI is the solution for today, and the solution for tomorrow.

Execs from Nintendo, EA, Ubisoft and Sega also weighed in, with Sega Europe CEO Mike Hayes adding: If you look at the PEGI system against the film ratings board in the UK, you will see that PEGI is the only system that has the power to prevent games publishers distributing unsuitable content to children. It can ban a publisher's entire output, rather than just a single title. This power is backed by the entire industry.

See full article from the BBC

BBFC logo Margaret Hodge, minister for culture, creative industries and tourism, speaking at the Westminster Media Forum, encouraged the two sides to work together: Please try and prevent this from becoming a battle between two regulatory frameworks.

The BBFC's Peter Johnson said: Our view is that Dr Byron spent six months looking at all the evidence and all the arguments, including those of Elspa, and her conclusion was that the BBFC and Pegi should work together to achieve the best possible outcome. She placed the BBFC as the senior partner in that arrangement.

Johnson said the BBFC was "disappointed that Elspa is trying to unpick Dr Byron's careful analysis".

Johnson said the BBFC had tried to engage Elspa in dialogue ahead of government consultation so that any new system could "hit the ground running". He added: Unfortunately, Elspa have said they don't want to talk to us about that until after consultation. They have also encouraged some of their members not to talk to us.

Update: ESA

29th July 2008

Michael Gallagher of the US games trade organisation, ESA has Backed PEGI Over BBFC System

Speaking in regards to the PEGI or BBFC debate, he said: The success of the ESRB rating system only goes to prove that industry self-regulation is the best way forward.

 

9th July   

Update: Zed Rated Appeal...

Blasphemy not an issue in Finland
Link Here  full story: Love Guru Nonsense...Love Guru Mike Myers movie winds up hindus

The Love Guru It seems that the protesting Hindus will not be able to appeal against the “K11” rating given by Finnish Board of Film Classification to the Hollywood movie The Love Guru , which they wanted to be raised.

Maarit Pietinen, Senior Examiner of the Board, in a communiqué to Hindu leader Rajan Zed, said, Only the distributor can appeal against the decision of the Board.

Criticising this, Zed has said that other affected parties by the movie, in this case Hindus, should also have same rights of appeal against rating decisions as the distributor/owner, if they are not satisfied with the classification.

When asked, Does not the Board think that this movie ridicules a religion?, Pietinen replied: In the Act which we are obliged to follow, there are no such ground as blasphemy or ridicule of religion, therefore it was not discussed.

Denouncing Finnish Board of Film Classification for giving it “K11” rating when it deserved the highest “K18” rating, Rajan Zed stresses that while Board says The primary purpose of the classification of audiovisual programs is to protect children, but by giving The Love Guru a “K11” rating, it is leading the highly impressionable Finnish children between 11 to 18 years to grow with a distorted view of Hinduism.

Zed says that in this fast changing world, Board's classification criteria seems to be outdated and it needs immediate revision.

Supported by some other organisations, Zed has given a Finland-wide boycott call for Hollywood movie The Love Guru by Hindus and other religious Finns because it lampoons Hinduism and Hindu concepts and uses Hindu terms frivolously.

 

9th July   

Update: The Last Act of Censorship...

Nitschke under duress for showing short film about suicide
Link Here  full story: Euthanasia...Euthenasia campaigns wind up the censors

Australian euthanasia campaigner Philip Nitschke could be hit with a fine of up to $NZ10,000 for publicly showing a euthanasia film in New Zealand that has yet to be classified there.

Part of the short film, in which an elderly woman teaches individuals how to use an oven bag to end their lives, was played to about 50 people attending a public meeting on voluntary euthanasia held by Nitschke in Dunedin.

The film is banned in Australia and could run foul of New Zealand's censorship laws.

It is one of a series of three films called Doing It With Betty which describe the steps involved in taking their own lives using helium and a plastic bag.

Nitschke said he had shown the films in public in Australia without rebuke since the recent change in government, but had only ever shown stills from the film in New Zealand. However, the film was available online.

Chief censor Bill Hastings said Nitschke risked prosecution if they were shown and found to have required classification first.

 

9th July   

Empowering Government Censors...

Passing new media law a dark day for Ethiopia
Link Here

Ethiopia flag The new media and information law passed by the Ethiopian parliament this week encounters strong opposition from different media groups.

The new law bans censorship of private media and detention of journalists but retains other threats to freedom of expression.

The press, UNESCO and the  UN higher commissioner for human rights organised a workshop about the law.

Many media groups have expres
sed their deep concern and frustration: The law invokes national security as grounds for impounding materials prior to publication and distribution participants said: The law grants state prosecutors for unlimited rights to lay charges Medias as they wish even after plaintiff drops charges. The implication is to secure law-protection to government officials.

The participants have demanded ministry of information to be suspended from the authority issued to monitor Medias and they called for a neutral body to take over the authority instead.

Bulcha Demeksa, opposition chair-person for Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement to his side called the bill as “draconian”: I consider the day this bill passed as one dark day in the memory of the nation's history.

Update: Journalists continue to be charged using obsolete media laws

29th August 2009. See article from cpj.org

Two Ethiopian journalists were thrown in prison on Monday after a judge convicted them under an obsolete press law in connection with coverage of sensitive topics dating back several years, according to local journalists and news reports.

Ibrahim Mohamed Ali, editor of the weekly, Muslim-oriented newspaper Salafiyya, and Asrat Wedajo, former editor of Seife Nebelbal, a now-defunct weekly that was banned amid the 2005 government crackdown on the press, have begun serving one-year sentences at Kality Prison.

Federal High Court Judge Zewdinesh Asres convicted Ali and Wedajo on several charges under Ethiopia's criminal code and its now-obsolete Press Proclamation of 1992, according to Ababulgu. The 1992 media law was reformed as the Freedom of the Mass Media and Access to Information Proclamation, which officially took effect in December 2008, according to CPJ research.

Prime Minister Meles Zenawi assured CPJ in 2006 that his government would end the practice of sending journalists to prison on charges dating back several years, said CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Tom Rhodes: But independent journalists continue to be charged and intimidated using obsolete media laws.

 

9th July   

Offsite: Ratings Creep...

Joan Graves head of MPAA ratings board
Link Here

MPAA logo Parents all over America rely each day on Joan Graves's judgment, but almost none of them know her name. What they know is G, PG, PG-13, R and NC-17, the code she administers as head of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) board that assigns movie ratings.

The ratings board is made up of 10 parents who, when they are hired, have children ages 5 to 17. Except for the names of three senior raters, the board members' names are not made public, to shield them from industry pressure. If a company does not want to market a film with the assigned rating, a senior rater may provide feedback about what caused the rating to be given: language, nudity or so on. If the company wants to re-edit, specific scenes may be discussed.
Sample letters

The greatest change Graves has seen during her tenure has been that “ratings play a bigger role in a studio's financial plan.” Where films used to be made and then marketed, Graves says, now studio executives planning a film will say: “We want to market this as a PG-13 movie,” largely because PG-13 films get the broadest audience. Nowadays Graves' office even accepts scripts to review for a ratings opinion. “We don't guarantee the film made from a script will get a certain rating, but we can give them an idea. We can say, well, you've got two ‘fucks' in the script, or the violence on Page X sounds brutal. One of our senior raters is very good at assessing scripts. Another is the filmmaker liaison, to answer production questions like: ‘How much nudity can we show in this scene?' ” Graves says the liaison issues are “the most interesting part of the job for me, and growing larger.”

There is a phenomenon Graves refers to as “ratings creep.” As social mores change, some elements in film become more tolerated over time, some less. Drug use is much more harshly judged now than it was in the 1970s, she observes, whereas violence—especially what Graves calls the “stylized violence” made possible by special effects—is much more tolerated. Ratings creep is different, she adds humorously, from the fact that “there are always trends: One year it seemed every film had someone urinating. Another year everybody was throwing up.”

...Read full article

 

8th July   

ITV Get a Good Kicking...

The Jeremy Kyle show rapped over daytime strong language
Link Here

The Jeremy Kyle Show titles The Jeremy Kyle Show has been rapped by TV censor Ofcom for failing to bleep out an expletive during a daytime transmission.

Two viewers complained that, during a heated discussion on the ITV1 talk show between Jeremy Kyle and a Scotsman on the programme, the man – who spoke in a very strong accent - said I don't see you going out there saying [blanked] to people in the street you'd get your cunt kicked in.

The word cunt was described by Ofcom as "most offensive and abusive" was deemed "unacceptable" by Ofcom.

ITV said the show's Manchester-based staff missed the word due to the guest's strong Scottish accent. ITV added that none of its subtitlers or compliance officers had picked up on the expletive.

Ofcom conceded it was "unintentional" but issued ITV with a warning.

 

 

8th July   

Update: Dark Sector: Children's Version...

Game has been cut to achieve an Australian MA15+ certificate
Link Here  full story: Dark Sector Banned...Australian Censor bans Dark Sector video game

Dark Sector video game Dark Sector will finally get an Australian release after a series of cuts enabled the PS3 and Xbox 360 game to secure an MA 15+ rating.

Released in March in Europe and North America, the Digital Extremes developed third person action title had been deemed too ‘violent, gruesome and sinister' for Australian gamers by the country's Classification Board.

The ratings body has now granted the game an MA 15+ rating following a series of cuts. The revised version of Dark Sector still features strong violence, according to the censors.

 

8th July   

Extreme Anger, Upset and Confusion...

Irish children's TV rapped over use of the word 'tinker'
Link Here

Broadcasting Complaints Commission TV host Patrick Kielty has been rapped by Irish broadcasting watchdogs for referring to travellers as ‘tinkers'.

His comments, broadcast on a children's show co-hosted by the puppet Dustin The Turkey, were ruled offensive by the Broadcasting Complaints Commission.

On RTE2's Once A Week Show , he asked: Is it just me but is it mostly just, you know, lorry drivers and tinkers on the Holyhead ferry?

When co-host Sinéad Ní Churnáin asked, What are tinkers? Kielty pointed to her hoop earrings, and said in a mock-traveller accent: Come here missus, come here. She said in riposte: I'm only a part time knick-knack.

Pavee Point Travellers' Centre complained that the exchange was ‘seriously offensive' and caused extreme anger, upset and confusion among young travellers who might reasonably expect a Saturday morning children's entertainment slot to be relatively free from casual or targeted racism.

RTÉ said Kielty's comments were made in a gentle and non-threatening way in a humorous, irreverent show. The broadcaster added: It is important to state that comedy must be given licence to cause offence on occasions.

However, the BCC upheld the complaint, saying the jokes were derogatory as: The terms used are known to be offensive.

 

8th July   

Nutters vs The Lads...

Philippines church nutters take lad's mags to court
Link Here

Phillippines Playboy A group of pastors and preachers belonging to different churches in Manila have filed criminal complaints against editors and publishers of popular men's magazines and so-called smut tabloids before the Manila Prosecutor's Office.

The group was led by Manila Rep. Bienvenido Abante, a pastor of the Metropolitan Bible Baptist Church and anti-porn nutter.

Charged in the joint complaint affidavit were editors and publishers of Philippines Playboy magazine, FHM, Maxim, Playhouse, Sagad, Hataw and Toro .

The group accused the respondents of grave scandal and obscene publication. The respondents also cited violation of Ordinance No. 7780 of the City of Manila, which prohibits the printing publication, sale, distribution and exhibition of obscene and pornographic acts and materials.

The group said the magazines and tabloids violated anti-pornography laws for containing obscene, erotic, indecent, or lewd pictures/poses that show, depict, exhibit, or describe nude or semi nude bodies sexual acts, sexual intercourse, private parts of the human body of both male and female, with no educational, artistic, cultural or scientific value.

Abante said this will be the first time that a class suit will be filed against the said magazines and tabloids. Abante said he is hoping that there are still judges who have the moral conscience to look into their complaint.

 

8th July   

Update: Zed Rated Whingers...

Nutters whinges at Love Guru's Australian M rating
Link Here  full story: Love Guru Nonsense...Love Guru Mike Myers movie winds up hindus

The Love Guru Rajan Zed, a nutter Hindu leader has criticised Australia classification board for giving it 'M' (recommended for mature audiences) classification when he said it deserved the highest 'R18+' (restricted to 18 and over) classification.

Nobody wants the next generation of Australians, who are under 18 and passing through highly impressionable period of their lives, growing up with distorted view of Hinduism, Zed says.

According to reports, a protest has been planned outside Brisbane theatres, when the movie is released in Australia on July 10.

 

7th July   

Losing Credibility...

British Medical Association want smoking rated adults only
Link Here  full story: Adult Rating for Smoking...Anti-smoking lobby for 18 for smoking in films

BMA logo Film stars who smoke on screen should attract the attention of the censor in the same way as they would if they were engaged in extreme sex or violence, doctors say.

Films that show smoking in a way that condones, encourages or glamorises the activity should be considered for reclassification – restricting them to an older audience, the British Medical Association said.

More than one in five adults smokes and most start before they are 18 when they are most vulnerable to images that "increase the allure of the habit", the BMA said in a report from its board of science.

The portrayal of smoking in films declined from 1950 to 1990, but has since increased. The poster for the 1994 movie Pulp Fiction, showing a sultry Uma Thurman smoking, was a gift to the tobacco industry and an example of the sort of image the BMA wants to outlaw. In the US, smoking has increased in films targeted at teenagers since 2002, the report says.

The BMA says films showing smoking in a positive light should also be preceded by an anti-smoking advert. A similar strategy to curb the promotion of cigarettes on television led to the voluntary withdrawal of tobacco advertising in the 1970s.

 

7th July   

Update: Objectional Censors...

Manhunt 2 banned in New Zealand
Link Here

Manhunt 2 game cover The computer game Manhunt 2 was classified on 12 June 2008 by the New Zealand Office of Film and Literature Classification as objectionable due to the manner in which it depicts and deals with matters of sex, horror, cruelty and violence. This classification means that it is illegal to import, sell, supply or possess this game in New Zealand.

Manhunt 2 was not submitted by the game's producers. A pirated copy of the game was seized by Customs, and submitted for classification under section 13(1)(a) of the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993.

The game was examined under the criteria set out in the Act and was classified as objectionable. In its classification decision the Office noted that the game is constructed around fatality moves which involve vicious and bloody action, with a more gory death resulting in a higher score.

This classification means that it is an offence to import, sell, distribute, supply or possess this game . The penalty for doing so is, in the case of an individual, a fine not exceeding $10,000 or a term of imprisonment not exceeding 10 years, and in the case of a body corporate a fine not exceeding $200,000.

 

6th July   

Endless Nutters...

The Defenders USA take on the sex industry
Link Here

The Defenders USA logo A coalition of nutters who are taking a stand against all forms of commercial sex have launched a contest to encourage people across the nation to speak out against pornography, prostitution, and other forms of commercialized sex.

We are launching The Film Festival to END DEMAND on July 4 because, what better day than Independence Day to not only celebrate our freedom but to take action for those who are not free? reported Bill Smith, director of The Defenders USA, in a released statement prior to the contest's launch.

The Defenders 'believe' that pornography, prostitution, escort services, strip clubs, peep shows, and erotic massage parlors all contribute to the commercial sex industry, a market that produces nearly 100,000-300,000 exploited victims a year – the majority of which are women and children.

The hope behind the Film Festival to End Demand is that it will fight the demand for commercial sex by spreading awareness in a creative way.

Participants have been instructed to create a film three minutes or less, which they should upload on a free online video sharing service such as YouTube, iTunes, MySpace Video, Yahoo! Video, or Google Video.

Participants have until Sept. 5 to submit their entry at an Internet link, and each film will be judged on the impact of the message, not the professional level of the film – though applicants will still be judged for artistic quality.

 

6th July   

Update: The Lord Still Works in Mysterious Ways!...

Stephen Green faring badly in his petition to get court costs waived
Link Here

Christian Voice banner As reported earlier Stephen Green is having difficulties with the legal fees resulting from his failed attempt to prosecute some of those involved with  Jerry Springer the Opera. He initiated a petition to ask for court costs to be waived.

Green has achieved about 1200 signatures in support of his cause, but many of these have been added to take the opportunity of recording distinctly unsupportive messages. Surely worth a read.

There is now a counter petition with 900 signatures that reads:

We the undersigned call upon Mark Thompson of the BBC and Jonathan Thoday of Avalon to insist the £90,000 costs awarded to them against Stephen Green in the Jerry Springer the Opera case are paid in full.

We note that Mark Thompson's salary is more than £750,000 pa and that Jon Thoday's wealth was estimated at £12 million in 2001 and yet find this information irrelevant.

We note that Jonathan Thoday's company lost £500,000 on the tour of Jerry Springer the Opera due to the unpleasant actions of Mr Green and that £35,000 is really the least Mr Green can stump up.

We note that Mr Green says the BBC spends millions on inflated salaries for celebrities, rebranding logos and the news and on channels hardly anyone watches and that it would not even notice £55,000 , like that's some kind of defence.

Finally, we regard the costs orders made against Stephen Green as justice and hope this small-minded individual now realises that gaining fair access to the courts against ANY opponents carries with it the threat of punitive costs hanging over them.

 

6th July   

Offsite: Holylands Warzone...

Blogger cleared of internet intimidation
Link Here

Holylands Warzone logo A blogger who faced charges of intimidation in cyberspace has won a legal judgment that anti-censorship campaigners claimed this weekend will protect freedom of expression across the worldwide web.

Alan Murray's blog highlighting violence, vandalism and creeping sectarian division in a part of Belfast's university district landed him in court on Friday.

He was charged with three counts of intimidating a member of a local residents' committee, which included intimidation on the internet. The judge, however, found Murray not guilty on all counts at Belfast's Magistrates' Court.

Index on Censorship - a global campaign group that defends free speech - welcomed the judge's ruling this weekend.

...Read full article

 

6th July   

Offsite: Olympic Sport of Heavyweight Gagging...

Not looking good for the internet at the Olympics
Link Here  full story: Internet Blocking in Olympic China...Chinese Olympics herald a lull in internet censorship

Olympic hand cuffs Beijing's Olympic Plan for the mainland China-based portion of the blogging and BBSing netosphere is starting to take shape.

While on one hand it's coming coated in talk of self-restraint and uses words like “professional” and “responsibility”, the wording in an official notice [zh] which appeared online this week and is being spread by webmasters of sites that stand to be affected suggests that the coming month will see a similar massive shutdown similar to the one we saw leading up to the seventeenth National People's Congress last year.

...Read full article

 

5th July   

Update: Oasis Dries Up...

Pop music to blame for sad deterioration of performers minds
Link Here
Dont Believe the Truth CD

Don't Believe the Truth...
Believe the Daily Mail
By Oasis

Noel Gallagher has waded into the debate over youth knife crime..

The Oasis guitarist said it was a "pity scumbags are taking over our streets", and claimed video games were partly to blame for violence.


Gallagher revealed that he and partner Sarah McDonald were worried about their children growing up and said they talked about knife crime in bed at night: People say it's through violent video games and I guess that's got something to do with it.

If kids are sitting up all night smoking super skunk [cannabis]and they come so desensitised to crime because they're playing these video games, it's really, really scary.

Eighteen teenagers have been murdered in London so far this year.

 

5th July   

Update: Rating Gurus...

Singapore nutters whinge that The Love Guru should be rated 21
Link Here  full story: Love Guru Nonsense...Love Guru Mike Myers movie winds up hindus
The Love Guru

Rated as 12A in the UK

Hindus do not seem to be pleased with Singapore Board of Film Censors classifying Hollywood movie The Love Guru with “NC16” [16+] rating. They are demanding this be raised to R21 [21+].

Bhavna Shinde, who represents Hindu Janjagruti Samiti and Sanatan Sanstha, has appealed to Singapore Censor Board to assign The Love Guru its highest “R21” rating. She said that the film blatantly ridicules and denigrates Hinduism and Hindu concepts.

While writing to Singapore Media Development authority, she wrote: Cinema is a powerful medium and it can create stereotypes in the minds of some audiences, especially in the minds of younger audiences, who are passing through an impressionable phase. We do not want the next generation of Singapore growing up with a distorted view of Hinduism and Hindus.

The Love Guru is reportedly scheduled to be released in Singapore on September 4, 2008.

 

5th July   

Update: Registered as Unconstitutional...

Bad law thrown out in Indiana
Link Here

Indiana state seal A federal judge threw out a new Indiana law requiring bookstores and other retailers to register with the state and pay a $250 fee if they want to sell sexually explicit material.

U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker, ruled on the day the law took effect, found it too broad and said it could be applied against unquestionably lawful, non-obscene, non-pornographic materials being sold to adults.

'A romance novel sold at a drugstore, a magazine offering sex advice in a grocery store checkout line, an R-rated DVD sold by a video rental shop, a collection of old Playboy magazines sold by a widow at a garage sale ... would appear to necessitate registration under the statute,' Barker wrote.

The American Civil Liberties Union took on the case for a team of plaintiffs that included the Indianapolis Museum of Art, bookstores and publishers.

It's a victory for booksellers and the arts community but most importantly for the First Amendment, said Maxwell Anderson, the art museum's CEO. I'm concerned as we all should be about restrictions on free expression.

Bill sponsor Terry Goodin said he would confer with the state attorney general before decided what to do next, but one option included taking the matter back to lawmakers in the 2009 legislative session: I've got pencil in hand. I'm ready to go. I'm not going to let this sleeping dog lie.

 

5th July   

Cyprus Not Playing the Censorship Game...

But now they are feeling left out and are debating video games law
Link Here

Cyprus flag Currently, Cyprus is one of only four European Union member states that doesn't regulate the sale of violent video games to children.

Government officials are planning to rectify that situation, however.

According to a report in the Cyprus Mail, the island nation's House Education Committee is considering how to go about it:

According to DISY deputy Tasos Mitsopoulos... it has been scientifically proven that bad and excessive use of these games can have a negative effect on children and teenagers' brains, pointing out that Holland had opened the first rehabilitation centre for youths addicted to computer games.

Deputies linked violent games to a number of teenage rampages, such as last year's mass murder of 32 people at Virginia Tech in the US by student Seung-Hui Cho.

Government official Athena Kyriakidou said: With the Internet, it is not easy to protect our children, but at least an effective law will enable the authorities to have some control over the [video game] market.

The other three EU countries without video game laws are Slovenia, Romania and Luxemburg.

 

4th July   

Too Much Reality...

Complaints about real shooting on the BBC News
Link Here

BBC News at Ten logo The BBC News at Ten sparked almost 100 complaints after showing footage of a Palestinian man being shot dead after running amok with a bulldozer in Jerusalem.
The construction worker killed three people and injured at least 45 others when he crushed cars and overturned buses on a busy street.

The programme warned viewers: We did film the moment when the attacker was shot dead. Two men were seen to climb on board the bulldozer, before an off-duty soldier in a blue T-shirt shot the driver from close range.

The BBC received 61 complaints, and Ofcom a further 32.

 

4th July   

Fallout from a Lack of R18+...

Rumours of another Australian games ban
Link Here

Fallout 3 game Rumours are circulating that the Australian Classification Board has banned the video game Fallout 3.

Apparently the game includes the use of Morphine by your character. By all accounts this did not sit well with the Board as the portrayal of the unregulated use of proscribed substances is a bit of a no no and will damage the fragile minds of Australia's game-playing populace.

The post says the information comes from a "senior" person in the organisation.

 

4th July   

Update: Australians Treated Like Children...

Second Sydney sex shop suffers police raid
Link Here

NSW police badge Police have seized over 7000 explicit pornographic films in the second Sydney sex shop raid in a week.

Detectives raided a Parramatta adult book shop on Church Street, seizing about 7000 DVDs and 1000 videos on sale in the store.

A police spokeswoman could not confirm the exact nature of the films, but said they were likely to be X-rated pornography, which is illegal to retail in  most Australian states, including NSW, but not in the ACT and Northern Territory.

The films seized in today's raid will now be viewed and classified by the classification board.

Police expect to lay charges against the owners of both stores.

 

4th July   

Update: Guru of Ridiculing Faith...

Australian nutters whinge at Love Guru
Link Here  full story: Love Guru Nonsense...Love Guru Mike Myers movie winds up hindus

The Love Guru Australia's Hindu community has called for a boycott of Mike Myers' new film The Love Guru .

Sajana Nand, president of the Australian Hindu Multicultural Association, said he believed a comedy should make people laugh... BUT ... not at the expense of ridiculing faith or spreading misinformation.

Nand called on other religious and community leaders to support the boycott: We support free speech ...BUT... our faith is sacred and attempts at belittling it has hurt the devotees.

Any attempt by an individual or an organisation to make a mockery of a guru shouldn't go unchallenged. Based on the information I have got, I would strongly urge a nationwide boycott of the movie.

Nand said he would call on the Film Classification Board to review the suitability of the fun.

 

4th July   

Offsite: Siding with the BBFC...

The Times on the BBFC battle with the games industry
Link Here  full story: The Byron Report...Tanya Byron reports on media child protection

BBFC logo The debate is whether Mr Cooke's BBFC powers should be extended, making it compulsory for him to rate 12 and 15 games - and so help to stop children spending hours in front of the screen absorbing unsuitable images. But he faces opposition from the games industry, which believes existing self-regulation is enough.

...Read the full article

 

4th July   

Offsite: Tartan ReFolded...

More on the sad demise of British film distributor Tartan Films
Link Here  full story: Tartan Film Distributors...Important UK film distributor folds

Tartan Films Last Thursday, Tartan staff turned up at its central London offices to discover that the doors were locked and that the company had ceased trading. By the beginning of this week, administrators Chantrey Vellacott DFK were already scrambling to find buyers for the company's vast back catalogue. There was no shortage of interest.

...Read full article

 

3rd July   

Update: Family Arseholes...

US nutters harangue Heinz over the UK deli kissing advert
Link Here

A right-wing and outspokenly homophobic group in the United States organised a campaign against an advert that was only shown in the UK.

The ad, which featured a kiss between two men, was targeted by what gay equality group Stonewall called an organised campaign here in Britain.

It has emerged that a similar tactic was used by the American Family Association. Heinz's corporate headquarters in Pittsburgh was deluged with complaints from some of the estimated 3.5 million fundamentalist Christians in the AFA.

We suggest you forward this to all your family and friends letting them know of the push for homosexual marriage by Heinz, the AFA said in an email to supporters, reports The Guardian: This ad is currently running in England, but no doubt can be expected in the US soon.

Heinz UK had already decided to pull the advert from British TV before the AFA became involved, a decision that has led everyone from gay groups to MPs to condemn them.

See full article from the Guardian

ASA logo The UK's advertising regulator has decided not to investigate Heinz's "male kiss" TV ad, despite 215 complaints from viewers that it was offensive and inappropriate to see two men kissing.

The ASA council considered that while some viewers may have personal objections to any portrayal of same sex kissing there was nothing in the content of the advertisement what would constitute a breach of the advertising code, said a spokesman for the ASA.

The Heinz TV ad carried an "ex-kids" restriction, meaning it cannot be shown in or around children's programming, because Heinz Deli Mayo falls foul of Ofcom's TV ad restrictions relating to junk food products.

A spokesman for Heinz said that despite the ad being cleared of breaching the advertising code the company had no plans to put the Heinz Deli Mayo TV commercial back on air.

 

3rd July   

Quick to Complain...

BBC reduce time window for complaints
Link Here

The BBC has halved the amount of time viewers have to make a complaint to 30 days.

In an effort to streamline and speed up the corporation's complaints process, the BBC Trust today issued new guidelines.

From August, there will be a new "general complaints procedure" and viewers will be able to ring a new 0370 complaints hotline number, rather than an 0870 one, making it cheaper for them to voice their criticisms.

However, certain types of complaint will still be dealt with separately - including those relating to programming matters; fair trading; the digital switchover help scheme; criticism of the BBC Trust itself; and for the first time, complaints to the BBC Trust about TV licensing.

Currently viewers have 60 working days to make a complaint.

 

3rd July   

Tartan Folds...

The sad demise of British film distributor Tartan Films
Link Here  full story: Tartan Film Distributors...Important UK film distributor folds

Tartan Films Patchy, eccentric and very prolific, Tartan was one of the most recognisable and risk-taking British film distributors. We wave them a fond farewell

It wasn't entirely unexpected, but the sudden slide into administration of independent distributor Tartan Films is still a moment to give the British cinema world chills.

Fronted by the enthusiastically eccentric Hamish McAlpine, Tartan had been going in one form or another since 1984, but began its run as a major art-film player when it merged with another distributor, Metro, in 1991.

Tartan had been haemorrhaging top staff for some time, and been the subject of tentative takeover talk - but industry talk suggests that the outfit was undone when it set up its US arm (which itself closed its doors and auctioned off its catalogue on June 1 this year). Tartan USA went big on Red Road to launch itself - a film not likely to sustain any commercial ambitions in America.

Whatever repercussions develop from all this messiness, McAlpine and Tartan deserve our gratitude for identifying and capitalising on specific trends in international cinema - most notably as pioneers, in this country at least, of J-horror and Korean body-shock cinema, as well as pushing the envelope in all sorts of ways.

 

3rd July   

Ragtime in the Park...

Censorial c-words ban play over use of the n-word
Link Here

The N Word DVD cover Officials in suburban Chicago's Wilmette Park District shut down a planned outdoor staging of the play Ragtime , citing concerns that passersby on the park grounds would take offense to the N-word, which is used several times in the script and score.

We had grave concerns that people would take the language they heard over the amplified sound system out of context from a performance that was being held in the bowl, Wilmette Park District executive director Tom Grisamore told the Pioneer Press.

The district got the rights to present Ragtime in January, but the content of the show was not examined until recently.

This is something we very honestly should have known about and hopefully we could have acted on this sooner, but we did as soon as we found out what was there, said Grisamore.

Ragtime , a show about racism, community, family and justice, was already in rehearsals with a cast of more than 40 when the bad news was handed down.

According to Playbill.com, a June 17 letter from Wilmette Park District's performing arts supervisor, Robert Bierie, to the show's licensing agent, Music Theatre International, asked for the script to change the N-word to the no-less-offensive (out of context) words "darkie," "coon" and "boy."

I find this sad and also hilarious,
Ragtime lyricist Lynn Ahrens told Playbill.com: It seems to sum up the blind ignorance of people who sit busily cherry-picking bad words, while not even bothering to read the script they are producing to understand its ideas or the context in which these words are spoken.

 

3rd July   

Cherry Picked Upon...

Burma magazine editor sacked over poem
Link Here

Burma flag The Burmese editor of the monthly magazine Cherry was forced to resign from his work for publishing a poem named De Pa Yin Ga , written about the historical Depayin town.

The notorious Censorship Board under the Ministry of Information summoned the editor and questioned him on June 24 for publishing the poem. He was later ordered to resign from his post.

The poem, written by poet Kyi Maung Than, depicts about the historical events connected to Depayin town.

The poem speaks of how historically Depayin town was famous for producing great heroes such as King Ahlaung Sithu and great warrior Mahabandula and many others. The poet, however, said it is sad that the town has become a place of birth for dacoits, and thugs.

While it is still unknown what has enraged the Burmese censorship board, it is believed that the poem made officials unhappy for picking Depayin town, which is notoriously known in the recent years, for becoming a place where the Burmese opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was attacked brutally.

In May 2003, the Junta-backed thugs made a brutal attacked on the Burmese Nobel Peace Laureate's motorcade while on she was on a political tour. The attacked killed at least 60 innocent supporters and injured several others of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, but she was saved.

Former military intelligence officer Maj Aung Lin Htut, who defected from the army, in a recent interview with Voice of America (VOA) Burmese Service radio revealed that the 'Depayin massacre' had been an orchestrated plan and was ordered by junta chief Snr. Gen Than Shwe.

As a replacement for the editor, who has been sacked, the magazine, Cherry, said it has submitted a new editor's named whom it wants to hire as the editor but this has to be approved by the Censorship Board.

 

3rd July   

Having a Stab at Censorship...

Japan to solve the problem of homicidal maniacs
Link Here

Japan flag After a madman documented his plans to go on a stabbing rampage on a mobile Web Site, Japanese ISPs think the world would be a better place if they censored such content to prevent that sort of thing ever happening again.

Mobile telephone content providers have promised to set safeguards to protect young people after Tomohiro Kato posted dozens of messages warning of plans for a massacre as he drove a rented two-tonne truck to Tokyo.

Now the mobile content industry has announced restrictions on mobile online sites that would label such content as unsuitable for minors. Mobile phone websites to be labelled as 'safe' would have to closely monitor postings and report suspicious messages to the coppers.

The government said it would research new technology to filter messages on the Internet, because censorship is very effective at stopping homicidal maniacs committing random acts of mass murder because they are lonely.

 

2nd July   

Update: Nonsense Summons...

Jordan summons Geert Wilders to stand trial for blasphemy
Link Here  full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

Fitna A Jordanian prosecutor has charged Dutch politician Geert Wilders with blasphemy and contempt of Muslims for making an anti-Koran film and ordered him to stand trial in the kingdom, judicial sources said.

In Riyadh, the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), a league of 56 Muslim nations, said it was deeply annoyed after Dutch prosecutors said they would not take action against Wilders as he was protected by the right to free speech.

The decision ... encourages and supports the irresponsible defamatory style followed by some media outlets and instigates feelings of hatred, animosity and antipathy towards Muslims, the Saudi Arabia-based OIC, said in a statement. The OIC said the prosecutors' decision showed they ignored the thin line separating freedom of speech and the instigation of hatred, animosity and discrimination.

Judicial sources in Amman said Jordanian prosecutor Judge Abdallat had charged Wilders after a legal complaint by a coalition of Jordanian activists and community leaders. An order was issued through the Dutch embassy in Amman to bring Wilders to stand trial. The charges carry a maximum sentence of three years in prison, lawyers said.

Wilders said he was concerned about the Jordanian case against him which could limit his freedom to travel.

 

2nd July   

Bible Banned...

Nutters in Colorado fear anti-discrimination law bans the Bible
Link Here

Colorado state seal Christian leaders have gathered in Denver in opposition to an anti-Christian censorship law that could open the door to censoring the Bible.

Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter signed the state bill, SB 200, which aims at silencing all publications that discriminate against homosexuality.

Section 8 of Senate Bill 200 is a wide open door for any judge to censor anything that condemns homosexuality, including Scripture, Colorado State Rep. Kevin Lundberg said.

I do believe that the Bible is banned, under the plain language of this new statute, Steve Crampton, general counsel of the pro-family Liberty Counsel, said, indicating he believes that day is already here.

Section 8 reads, No person, being the owner. agent, or employee of any place of public accommodation. shall publish. distribute, give away. except as provided in this section, any communication. book, pamphlet, writing. or advertisement of any kind. intended or calculated to discriminate. against. sexual orientation, marital status (which) is unwelcome.

 

2nd July   

Update: Returning the Kiss...

Calls for Heinz gay kissing advert to be reinstated
Link Here

MPs are calling for an advert showing two men kissing to be reinstated after it was pulled following complaints. More than two decades after the first gay kiss on teatime TV, a kiss is clearly not always just a kiss.

Twenty-one years after Britain's first gay kiss on primetime TV prompted condemnation from MPs, a show of intimacy between two men clearly still has the capacity to shock television audiences.

Heinz has withdrawn an advert for its Deli Mayo brand one week into a five-week schedule. It depicts a man with a New York accent and dressed like a chef, making sandwiches in a homely British family kitchen. After a schoolboy and girl - who refer to the wise-cracking chef as "Mum" - dash through to pick up their sandwiches, their harried father appears, seemingly late for work. The father says a fleeting goodbye but is summoned back by the chef for a more intimate farewell - a brief kiss.

A spokeswoman for the ASA says it's still assessing whether to investigate, but added that homosexuality in itself is not a breach of the code and complaints in the past about adverts showing same-sex kissing had not prompted any action.

Yet one organisation failing to see the funny side is the American Family Association, which issued an action alert to members over the advert urging them to register their disapproval with the firm's US headquarters.

But the withdrawal of the advert has prompted some MPs to insist it be reinstated, while gay rights group Stonewall is leading a campaign to boycott Heinz.

Some people could be offended by seeing a mixed race couple but the real issue is whether it's proportionate to withdraw an advert on that basis, says chief executive Ben Summerskill: No nine or 10-year-old child is going to be outraged by two men kissing unless someone tells that child to be upset.

 

2nd July   

One Filter Fits All...

Israel models their internet on Iran's Revolutionary Guards
Link Here

Knesset building The Israeli Knesset Economics Committee heard views on a controversial Internet content-filtering bill which would establish a public council to judge which Web sites are inappropriate for minors.

The bill has already passed its first reading. It seeks to shield children from violent and obscene material on the Internet, but critics say the mandated filtration would violate privacy rights and be a vehicle of censorship.

Shas MK Amnon Cohen collaborated with Eti Bendler, the committee's legal adviser, to amend the bill to address the constitutional issues that might arise.

In the bill's original version, the communications minister would decide which Web sites to filter out so that children could not access them. In addition, those who did not indicate whether they wanted filtration of sites would lose Internet service altogether.

However, the updated version of the bill allows all existing customers to continue receiving service whether or not they have indicated a preference for the filtration service.

Despite these changes, Meretz MK Avshalom Vilan, who opposes the bill, said it allows Big Brother to see everything and compared the role of the proposed council to that of Iran's Revolutionary Guards.

Representatives of advocacy groups who attended the meeting said the correct balance between protecting minors and protecting freedoms had still not been reached by the new version of the law because the censorship had the potential to go too far.

People have varying world views and the world view of the council's members is what will decide if a Web site is appropriate," said attorney Ron Gazit, who is acting head of the Israel Bar Association: Except for a few cases such as terror, pedophilia and racism, it is not right for the state to have a say in the educating of children because that is the job of parents.

Some at the meeting were worried that the result of involving such a council in resolving the issue would yield the opposite of Gazit's prediction and would result in too little filtration. The council will only block a minimal amount of material, in essence putting a stamp of approval on material that some parents may find inappropriate, said Yitzhak Kadman, director of the National Council for the Child.

 

2nd July   

Protect Every Kiss...

Croatia debates gay kiss on TV
Link Here

Croatia flag A public service announcement showing a kiss between two men which was banned was finally aired on Croatian television this week.

The video Protect Every Kiss which was produced by a German film academy in an anti-violence campaign, was aired by Croatian Television (HTV) editor Aleksandar Stankovic.

The video was first offered by the Queer Association, but was rejected by HTV because the television deemed that it showed an explicit kiss between two men.

The HTV council did promise to the Croatian gay association, however, that all sides will be heard in a program focusing on violence against homosexuals.

The topic of the show in which the video was aired dealt with homosexuality, the rights of gays, the Church, and political messages coming from the altar.

Stankovic's guest Ivica Šola said that he is against all censorship as it leads nowhere. Speaking of the position of the Catholic Church in the contemporary world, he said that Catholicism is the only societal prejudice that is allowed today.

 

1st July   

Update: The Battle of Milton Keynes...

BBFC reply to opposition from the games industry
Link Here  full story: The Byron Report...Tanya Byron reports on media child protection

BBFC logo The BBFC have issued a press releases in response to recent criticism from the the games industry.

It is has also been noted that Tanya Byron's position may have changed. The Times reported Dr Tanya Byron stating that, ...her wish to have the BBFC rate all games 'may be changed slightly as a result of the consultation.'

The BBFC press release reads:

The BBFC's Director, David Cooke, today rejected criticisms from some quarters of the games industry of the Byron Report proposals for games classification. He said:

“We are disappointed and concerned about attempts by one or two video games publishers to pre-empt, through recent press statements, the forthcoming public consultation on video games classification. Their statements are misleading in several respects:

The BBFC's current average turnaround time for games classifications is eight calendar days. In terms of international comparisons, this is notably quick. There is no reason why the increased role for the BBFC envisaged by Dr Byron should lead to delays.

BBFC classifications are already cheaper for many games than those under the Pan European Games Information System (PEGI). Because the BBFC currently deals mainly with the most problematic games, BBFC costs will fall if, as Dr Byron recommended, we take on all games, physical and online, rated ‘12' and above.

It is absurd to imply that the BBFC could not cope, or would need “a building the size of Milton Keynes”. The BBFC is a larger and better resourced organisation than PEGI, and is well used to gearing up, and to providing fast-track services where appropriate.

We reject any suggestions that the Byron proposals for dealing with online games are not future-proof. Countries such as the USA and Germany already classify such games in a way which reflects national cultural sensibilities. The BBFC has made clear that we are prepared to work through PEGI Online, which already recognizes BBFC symbols. But, with online games, the real need is not a pan-national grouping of markets, but rather soundly based and independent initial classification, full information provision, and responsible self-regulation of online game-play backed by properly resourced independent monitoring and complaints mechanisms.

“The games industry really does have nothing to fear from a set of proposals which would provide more robust, and fully independent, decisions, and detailed content advice, for the British public, and especially parents. The Byron proposals, far from envisaging the collapse of PEGI, specifically provide for a continuing PEGI presence in UK games classification. They also provide significant opportunities to reduce duplication of effort and costs. And they would make wider use of a system, the BBFC's, which British parents recognize, trust and have confidence in.”

 

1st July   

The Battle of Estonia...

EU recommendation to register all bloggers
Link Here

EU flag Swedish media have erroneously reported that the EU plans to register and bill all bloggers, setting off a firestorm of reaction in the country.

Politicians of all political stripes and most major media outlets have since furiously attacked the idea as another example of Big Brother snooping into people's daily lives, while the MEP at the heart of the controversy has been compared to Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.

The papers later specified that the proposal had originated in a month-old report on media pluralism from the parliament – a document that has little legal weight – and intended to clarify the legal situation of bloggers, but by then the debate in the press had already reached a fevered pitch.

Exchange the EU for China, and you would have a real media outcry, wrote Sören Karlsson, publisher of the daily Helsingborgs Dagblad and himself an eager blogger, who damned the 'blogger registry' as a threat to freedom of speech: We would have found it insane.

The Estonian MEP who drafted the media pluralism report, socialist deputy Marianne Mikko, has been the target of much of the criticism.

In Ceausescu's Romania, everybody who owned a type writer had to hand in a paper with typing samples, so that the authorities more easily could fight enemies of the state and ordinary criminals, recalled Peter Swedenmark, an editorial writer for daily Västerbottens Folkblad: Unfortunately, in the naive proposal from Mikko, there seem to be some kinship with the Romanian line .

The media storm reached such a frenzy that the European parliament's Swedish press sector on Thursday afternoon was forced to send out a press release to all Swedish media, explaining that MEPs' own-initiative reports such as that of Ms Mikko had next to no legal weight.

The main recommendations in the report call on the European Commission and EU member states to apply competition law to the media to ensure media pluralism.

The report also calls for a clarification of the legal status of webblog authors and wants to see a disclosure of interests, and the voluntary labelling of webblogs.

Speaking to the EUobserver, Ms Mikko clarified her intentions: We do not need to know the exact identity of bloggers. We need some credentials, a quality mark, a certain disclosure of who is writing and why. We need this to be able to trust and rely on the source.

 

1st July   

Update: The Battle of the Breeders...

Canadian magazine cleared over Maclean's magazine article
Link Here  full story: Human Rights in Canada...Canada's Human Rights works against free speech

America Alone book The Canadian Human Rights Commission has dismissed a Muslim group's complaint against Maclean' s magazine.

The long-running case came before the Commission after the Canadian Islamic Congress (CIC) complained that the highly-regarded magazine published an article in October 2006 likely to expose Muslims to hatred and contempt.

The article, entitled The Future Belongs to Islam, by Canadian writer and commentator Mark Steyn claimed that Muslims were on the verge of taking over Europe and the West because of demographic shifts.

The article said that their greater numbers will eventually allow Muslims to dominate Western countries, pointing out that: Muslims are reproducing like mosquitoes.

In January this year, Steyn, writing in the Calgary Herald, said: That line certainly appears in my text, but they're not my words. Rather, they were said by a prominent Scandinavian Muslim, Mullah Krekar, to a respectable Norwegian newspaper. The imam was boasting at how Islam would outbreed Europe . . .

This is the nub of the complaints against Maclean's: They're objecting to a Canadian magazine quoting accurately the statements of leading Muslims. And at least two of Canada's ‘human rights' commissions, to their shame, have accepted their absurd proposition that accurately quoting leading Muslims is somehow ‘Islamophobic'.

According to this report, The CHRC concluded last week that the views in the article: When considered as a whole and in context, are not of an extreme nature, as defined by the Supreme Court.

But The Commission noted that Steyn's writing is: Polemical, colourful and emphatic, and was obviously calculated to excite discussion and even offend certain readers, Muslim and non-Muslim alike.

Nothing wrong with that, in any country that values freedom of expression!

 

1st July   

Update: Fitna Fit for Viewing...

Netherlands finds that Fitna does break any laws
Link Here  full story: Geert Wilders...Geert Wilders winds up the muslim world

Fitna Fitna , the short feature film on Islam and violence put together by MP Geert Wilders does not break the law, the Duthc public prosecution department has said.

In addition, a number of statements about Islam made by Wilders over the past few months are also within legal limits, ANP reported Amsterdam's chief public prosecutor Leo de Wit as saying.

Some 40 individuals and largely Muslim organisations have accused Wilders of encouraging religious hatred.

According to NOS, no action is being taken against Wilders because he attacks Islam as a religion but not its followers While his comments are sometimes offensive, Wilders does not overstep any boundaries, the public prosecution department said.

A Dutch anti-discrimination group, The Netherlands Shows its Colours, said it would appeal the prosecutors' decision.

 

1st July   

Star Wars Censorship...

How has China knocked out critical satellite TV?
Link Here

Eutelsat logo New Tang Dynasty Television (NTDTV)'s broadcasts into Asia have been disrupted since June 16, 2008, with some fearing that it is an extension of the Chinese Communist Party's media censorship.

NTD is one of the few independent television networks broadcasting into mainland China and carries many reports on issues such as Falun Gong, Tibet, human rights in China, and the international movement to quit the Chinese Communist Party.

The satellite provider, EutelSat, told the New York-headquartered station that their W5 satellite unexpectedly stopped because of a "technical anomaly," and that they did not know when it could be repaired.

EutelSat told the station that four of the five transponders for the satellite had experienced an anomaly to part of its power generator subsystem, which affects the operating transponders used by NTD and prevents NTD from using the alternate transponders.

This incident has meant a complete shutdown of NTD's broadcasts into Asia.

 

24th June   

Update: Terminating Usenet...

California urges its ISPs to ban access to Usenet
Link Here  full story: Usenet Censorship...ISPs abandon Usenet over a few news groups

Usenet.com logo California's governor and attorney general are asking Internet service providers to follow the lead of Verizon Communications, Time Warner Cable, and Sprint in blocking the wide ranging Usenet. This is over concerns that a few news groups are used to disseminate child porn.

Protecting the safety of our children must be a top priority, not just for government, but also for businesses with the direct power to reduce the ability to conduct illegal activity, they said in a joint letter to the California Internet Service Provider Association.

Schwarzenegger and Brown said in their letter that it's important that ISPs in California take action that is similar to the steps Verizon, Time Warner, and Sprint have agreed to in New York. The Internet Service Provider Association is the largest association of Internet service providers in the country, representing more than 100 ISPs. These providers include small ISPs, as well as big ones such as AT&T and AOL.

While no one disagrees that distributing child pornography is illegal, some civil liberty experts worry that the way in which ISPs will block access to it could limit free speech for people discussing and distributing perfectly legal content.

For example, Time Warner Cable said it will cease to offer customers access to any Usenet newsgroups, a decision that will affect customers nationwide. Sprint said it would no longer offer any of the tens of thousands of alt.* Usenet newsgroups. Verizon's plan is to eliminate some "fairly broad newsgroup areas."

My colleague Declan McCullagh points out in a story he wrote following the New York announcement that this tactic will most likely silence thousands of legitimate user groups that use the alt.* hierarchy for Usenet discussions.