What is Ofcom?
Table of Contents:
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1. Overview / 2. Divisions Within Ofcom that are Relevant to this Complaint / 2.1 Section 5: Due Impartiality and Due Accuracy and Undue Prominence of Views and Opinions [the “Standards” Division and Ruling] / 2.2 Section 7: Fairness [The “Fairness” Division and rulings on Sir David King, the IPCC, and Carl Wunsch] / 3. Lodging a Complaint / 4. Not an Attack on Free Speech
Ofcom is the “Office of Communications”, an independent organisation which regulates the UK telecom and broadcasting industries.
While Ofcom has many roles in its portfolio, the role pertinent to the complaints against The Great Global Warming Swindle is related to Ofcom’s regulation of broadcasters in areas of accuracy, impartiality and fairness.
Ofcom outlines its role as ensuring that (amongst other things):
Ofcom answers to the UK Parliament but is independent of the UK Government. A number of pieces of UK and EU legislation guide Ofcom’s work. They are::
Divisions Within Ofcom that are Relevant to this Complaint
There are two specific sections of Ofcom’s Broadcasting Code (see http://tinyurl.com/32td2j) that are relevant to this complaint.
Section 5: Due Impartiality and Due Accuracy and Undue Prominence of Views and Opinions [the “Standards” Division and Ruling]
Ofcom sets out its statutory duties under this section under the following guiding principles:
There are 13 different rules Ofcom applies with regard to carrying out its duties on accuracy and impartiality, from the rule which states that news “must be reported with due accuracy and presented with due impartiality” to the correction of mistakes and the allegiance of persons involved with the making of a programme. Full details are at: http://tinyurl.com/35xfpz.
Section 7: Fairness [The “Fairness” Division and rulings on Sir David King, the IPCC, and Carl Wunsch]
Ofcom’s main guiding principle concerning its statutory duties to ensure fairness in broadcasting is:
To ensure that broadcasters avoid unjust or unfair treatment of individuals or organisations in programmes
Ofcom has 14 rules about how a broadcaster needs to be “fair” to those it interviews or makes serious allegations about. Full details are at http://tinyurl.com/38x45e.
Lodging a Complaint
Any member of the public can take a complaint to Ofcom about a particular television programme broadcast in the UK. In this case, 243 complaints were submitted to Ofcom about The Great Global Warming Swindle. This complaint was the one Ofcom used as its main reference point when making its rulings about The Great Global Warming Swindle.
Ofcom, when it receives a complaint, is statutorily bound to investigate it. It deals with the Accuracy and Fairness sections differently – with the Fairness rulings it provides provisional rulings for parties to read, and leaves open the right to appeal.
Not an Attack on Free Speech
Ofcom’s Broadcasting Code actively protects the right of free speech. It does so in a way that is intended to ensure that broadcasters adhere to minimum broadcasting standards.
See section 1.2 of the Full Complaint for more details.