Hollyoaks violence breached rules and prompts Ofcom watershed warning to all broadcasters
The Hollyoaks episode broadcast at 18:30 showed one of the main characters being beaten and violently killed by a speeding train. A viewer complained that the scene was unsuitable for broadcast before the watershed, particularly as children might have been watching. The scene in question marked the conclusion of a long running revenge story line between two characters: the former undercover policeman, Walker, and the former drug dealer, Brendan. Walker believed Brendan was responsible for the death of his brother Cam, who had died from taking drugs supplied by Brendan. This scene was broadcast at 18:54. From the point at which the characters first made physical contact with one another to the immediate aftermath of the train collision was one minute and nine seconds in duration.
Ofcom’s view was that the cumulative effect of the violence in the final scene was not sufficiently limited for this time of the evening, nor was it justified by context given that a significant number of younger children were viewing and available to view. Ofcom therefore concluded that this episode was in breach of Rule 1.11.
Breaches of Rules 1.3 and 1.11
Ofcom also issued this Note to Broadcasters and announced it is commissioning research into audience attitudes to violence on TV:
Violence in pre-watershed programmes
“Ofcom reminds television broadcasters of the need to ensure that all material broadcast pre-watershed which features violent scenes is appropriately limited. Broadcasters should consider whether individual acts of violence within a programme are suitable, as well as where the overall tone is malevolent, menacing and threatening, that this also remains suitably limited.
Given the lack of recent detailed studies specifically into viewers’ attitudes to violence on television, Ofcom has commissioned new independent research on this subject. This research will further inform us about the level of concern about violence included in television programmes scheduled before and immediately after the watershed, and any areas of particular concern to viewers e.g. specific types of violence or genres of programme. The research should be complete this year and Ofcom plans to publish the results as soon as possible in 2014.”