OfCom finds Sky Arts in breach for failure to warn about The Prodigy at Download

By | Published on Thursday 28 February 2013

The Prodigy

OfCom has found Sky Arts1 in breach of its code for failing to warn viewers about flashing lights used during a pre-recorded performance of ‘Take Me To The Hospital’ by The Prodigy during a broadcast from last year’s Download Festival.

The media regulator noted that at the beginning of the programme the channel had warned viewers to “expect strong language and flashing images throughout”, but also that it had not repeated the warning when coming out of the ad break that preceded the Prodigy spot.

Sky protested, saying that it had given enough warning, and anyway that flashing lights would be expected by most people watching a live performance such as the one shown, “as flashing images are an inherent part of these events”.

However, in ruling, OfCom said: “In this case, OfCom’s technical assessment of this material found that it significantly exceeded the maximum limits set out in OfCom guidance to broadcasters on flashing images and therefore posed a significant risk of harm to viewers in the audience with PSE [photosensitive epilepsy]”.

It concluded: “OfCom’s view was that in this case it was reasonably practicable to follow OfCom’s PSE guidance because the material was pre-recorded and edited. We therefore went on to consider whether there was sufficient editorial justification in this case for the broadcast of this material. In Ofcom’s view there was insufficient editorial justification for including in this pre-recorded general entertainment programme flashing images that so clearly exceeded in intensity and duration the appropriate PSE standards”.

“We noted the warning that was given at the start of the whole programme, but considered that this one warning alone was clearly insufficient taking into account the intensity and extended duration of the flashing images in this case”.