Media: Talk of the Year


THE most complained- about programme of the year was Panorama, says the Broadcasting Complaints Commission (BCC). This is because the once dry and worthy current affairs slot is turning a less than impartial eye, say critics, to social issues. This has resulted in hundreds of complaints to the BCC for its unsympathetic portrayal, in September, of single motherhood in Babies on Benefit. Meanwhile, a soon-to-be-published adjudication on an earlier Panorama called Dumping Granny - about the way families allegedly abandon their old folk - has apparently found flaws in the way it was made. Surely John Birt must have reservations about Panorama's tone?


That other regulator, the Broadcasting Standards Council (BSC), is wielding a bigger stick under its new chair, Lady Howe. In the 12 months ended last November the council upheld, in full or in part, 62 complaints about sex, violence and bad taste, compared with 44 for the same period in 1992. This month, for the first time, it used its most extreme sanction - forcing Channel 4 to publish in a national newspaper its ruling over the repeated use of bad language in The Camomile Lawn. This tough stand reflects growing concern among some members of the Government about televised violence.


HOW and if to regulate the press was another issue of the year. The Government kept delaying its proposed White Paper on the matter, while the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) was embarrassed by the Daily Mirror's sneaked pictures of the Princess of Wales working out in a gym. The White Paper is now due at the end of January, but before that the national papers may announce their own Ombudsman to supplement the PCC.


IN September, BSkyB switched to full subscription service (bar Sky News) and emerged with an enlarged income from broadcasting. John Clements, head of Continental Research, which compiles statistics on cable and satellite installation, predicts 4.4 million homes will receive the channels by the end of 1994, compared with 3.6 million now.