These reports are case summaries of complaints which appeared to raise issues of substance in relation to the interpretation of the ITC Programme Code. Summary statistics of non-substantive complaints can be found in the full reports which are obtainable from the ITC.
Showing Complaints & Interventions Report for SMACK MY BITCH UP – The Prodigy
Channel: The Box
Date & time: Saturday 17 January: 7.20 pm, Sunday 18 January: 12.20 pm, Monday 19 J
Complaint from: 4 viewers (upheld)
The Box is an interactive cable music channel. It operates with two separate programming sources: videos housed at each cable operator’s local headend, and a satellite feed. The video selections of local viewers are interspersed with the scheduled material provided via the satellite feed. A central computer at The Box's headquarters records the different outputs of the headends.
Four viewers, three in the Cambridge area and one in Telford, complained about the appearance on The Box of a video for the song Smack My Bitch Up by The Prodigy. The video, which had provoked considerable controversy on its release, contained scenes of drug taking, vomiting and sex, and had been restricted by the few licensees who showed it to post-midnight slots.
The Box maintained that there was no record of the video’s appearance and submitted computer records that showed other material as having been transmitted at the times given by the complainants. The only explanation The Box could offer was that the cable operators’ technicians – who undertake updating of the equipment in some areas – had misloaded the tapes and discs. The ITC also contacted the two cable operators concerned, both of which denied any error on their part. The ITC was unable to establish exactly what had occurred.
The ITC pointed out to The Box that as the licensee it was responsible for the content of its service and that the actions of third parties, effectively sub-contractors, did not transfer the responsibility. The licensee was therefore in breach of the Programme Code. Moreover, the absence of any record of the transmission of the Prodigy video meant that The Box was in breach of its licence requirement to retain accurate records of its output for a minimum of 30 days.
The playing of this video at wholly inappropriate times was a serious matter. This was however the first time that The Box had been found in breach of the ITC Programme Code and the ITC therefore took no further action. However, the ITC discussed with The Box what further steps might be taken to prevent a recurrence and to ensure the future availability of accurate records.