Channel 4 to defy ruling on violence

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The Independent Online
Channel 4 has attacked the television standards watchdog for ruling against a scene in the harrowing Ken Loach film Ladybird Ladybird and has said it will show the film again uncut.

The channel was forced to air the Broadcasting Standards Commission ruling about the film last night, but in a statement the channel's chief executive, Michael Jackson, described the BSC as extremist and arbitrary.

The BSC said violence and language in the film was "beyond acceptable boundaries" because of a scene where a man beats up his partner in front of her child. Forcing the channel to air its adjudication on complaints about a programme is the BSC's strongest sanction.

Mr Jackson said: "Channel 4 is very concerned that the BSC should take such an extreme view of a distinguished feature film by one of Britain's most outstanding contemporary film-makers, Ken Loach.

"The channel was proud to back this film and transmit it," he added. "And will be equally proud to repeat it in due course. The violence and strong language were necessary in the telling of a distressing story and the channel would not consider cutting it. It is at least reassuring that the BSC has no power to prevent repeats, otherwise such an arbitrary finding could deny British viewers such a critically acclaimed film."

Channel 4 preceded the 10pm broadcast of the film in November last year with two warnings about the content. The Independent Television Commission, which can fine broadcasters and withdraw their licence to broadcast, was satisfied with the warnings and has told Channel 4 the film does not breach its programme code.

Broadcasting the BSC adjudication will cost the channel several thousand pounds in lost advertising, but it maintains it is most angry about the challenge to artistic freedom.

Mr Jackson said: "We are disturbed by the recent trend for the BSC to hand down value judgements about cinematic works that have been responsibly scheduled with clear warnings." Yesterday the BSC said it was not seeking to ban the film but believed there was a strength of public feeling about the depiction of domestic violence and re-stated its belief that the scenes went too far.

"The BSC respects Channel 4's integrity on this," said a BSC spokeswoman. "Genuine dispute is infrequent. In 40 per cent of upheld cases the broadcaster has offered a statement agreeing that there was a problem with the material." Ladybird Ladybird, nominated for a film of the year award in 1995, tells the true story of Maggie, a Liverpudlian pub singer in London fighting to stop social workers removing her children.

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