Tories pass off faked video as ‘satire’

Dishonesty online is being passed off as satire and humour by political parties and activists responsible for fake videos and websites, says Alastair Reid of First Draft News in an article published by That’s his response to a video faked by the Conservative Party and then published on its official Twitter account, falsely showing Labour’s shadow Brexit secretary unable to answer a question on TV. The BBC’s Andrew Neil had to apologise for sharing a manipulated video of an SNP politician during the 2019 general election. Facebook subsequently said it would ban some deepfake political videos – but not all. It’s a hazard for journalists who need to be wary of being taken in, as happened with a fake website for US election contender Joe Biden. It’s also of interest because satire can be used as a defence in a defamation case.

Read the article here.
See Twitter reaction here.

Station breached licence when building demolished

A Christian radio station was found to be in breach of its licence when it stopped broadcasting to an area of London – because its power supplier knocked down the building from which its power was supplied, without warning. The station knew noting until it went off air. It was found to have failed to alert Ofcom, which found it to be in “serious and continuing” breach of its licence.

The case is detailed in the Ofcom Broadcast and On Demand Bulletin number 393 (December 2019), here.

Sky mic picks up swearing as batsman bowled out

A stump mic used on a Sky broadcast of an Ashes cricket match picked up the sound of a batsman swearing strongly after being bowled out. Commentator David Gower was also caught swearing when he believed his mic was switched off. Sky took action to prevent a repeat of swearing being broadcast on live TV before the watershed, including monitoring audio from mics, but was still found to be in breach of the Ofcom Broadcasting Code.

The episode highlights the need to anticipate problems with live broadcasts and take steps to prevent them.

The case is set out in the Ofcom Broadcast and On Demand Bulletin number 343 (December 2019), here.

Open justice advocate asks: is naming really right?

An article in the British Journalism Review makes familiar points about the threat to open justice caused by the lack of journalists in court; but then goes on to question the idea that people in court cases must always be named, especially in the digital age, when court reports remain searchable online long after print reports would have faded from memory. Academic and campaign Judith Townend says open justice should not merely mean catering to the needs of the media. Read the piece here.