Ofcom disappoints Home Office
A television programme about police community support officers (PCSOs) funded by the Home Office broke broadcasting rules, the communications watchdog said today.
Ofcom said two series of Beat: Life on the Street, which were paid for by the taxpayer and screened on ITV, was “promotional”.
The programmes, which cost £800,000, followed officers in Lancashire and Oxford.
Viewers complained the credits should have made it clear the programme was funded by the Government.
A Home Office spokesman said: “We acted in good faith and are disappointed [there’s that word again!] that Ofcom believe that we were not transparent with our sponsorship and that the product was too closely associated with the sponsor.
“On behalf of Government, the Central Office of Information (COI) has requested a meeting with Ofcom to seek further advice and clarification regarding the regulations and determine the best way forward for the public sector.”
Ofcom did clear the programme from the point of view of sponsor influence, saying that the programme makers had been careful to retain editorial control.
‘Beat: Life on the Street’s two series received £800,000 in funding from the Home Office after the programme was conceived by its media agency Manning Gottlieb OMD.
It was one of a number of government-funded programmes that hit the headlines last year for a perceived lack of transparency over their sponsorship.
Government AFPs [Government Funded Programme] have proved controversial, as they appear indistinguishable from regular shows. Last August, it was revealed that the Government has spent almost £2m on AFPs. In September, Sky handed back £400,000 of funding to the Home Office to ensure that documentary series, UK Border Force, was “wholly independent”.