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 VICE
Channel: ITV1 (Carlton)
Date & time: Tuesday 10 June: 9.00pm
Category: Sexual portrayal
Complaint from: 4 viewers
In this episode, the Vice squad is working undercover in a lap-dancing club investigating a prostitution ring.
Viewers were concerned about the amount of nudity and sexual behaviour in the opening part of this episode, and that no warning was given. They felt that it was too soon after the 9pm watershed, when some children might still be watching television.
Carlton believed that most viewers would be familiar with the content of this drama, now in its fifth series. Similar material had been shown in previous series in opening scenes. For this reason, the licensee did not believe a warning about the sexual content was necessary before the episode.
Carlton considered that the nudity in the opening part of the episode was not unduly explicit, given the nature of the episode. Apart from this nudity, a scene showing Vickers having sex with a prostitute was not seen until 12 minutes into the programme. By this time, Carlton believed viewers would be aware of the subject matter and would not be taken by surprise.
The ITC acknowledged that this series often dealt with themes such as brothel keeping and prostitution rings. Although the subject matter of this episode was in this familiar territory, the ITC felt that some viewers might not have been prepared for the strong sexual content from the start of the episode. The nudity was strongly associated with sexual activity, in both its portrayal and the dialogue. Although the sex scene was not at the start of the programme, given the preceding scenes, the ITC felt that the overall amount of sexual activity was close to the margins of acceptability so soon after the 9pm watershed. The ITC believed that the licensee should have provided a warning for viewers about the concentration of sexual content at the beginning of this episode.
The ITC concluded, on balance, that the content of the episode itself was not in breach of the ITC Programme Code. However, the ITC judged that a pre-transmission warning should have been given and, consequently, the episode was in breach of Section 1.3 (Information, Advice and Warnings) of the Programme Code.