Broadcaster rapped over chicken killing stunt

A broadcaster has been criticised for allowing a talent contest to go to air in which an entertainer cut off a chicken's head and drank its blood.

The horrific scene, featuring a number of close-ups, was broadcast during the school holidays on a week day early evening.

It was repeated that night and at 11am the following day leading to worries that children would have seen it.

The programme Dum Hai Tou - "Entertain, If You Dare" - showed the performer struggle to cut the animal's neck before eventually holding the flapping creature aloft and guzzling its blood.

The broadcaster, ARY Digital which serves a UK Pakistani audience, was blasted today by regulator Ofcom for transmitting "gratuitous", "offensive" material before the watershed without a warning.

The programme, which invites participants to "amaze the audience and the judges by doing something extraordinary", usually features more sedate acts like singers, dancers and comics.

The Ofcom ruling read: "The contestant took several tries to cut through the chicken's throat and appeared to be almost sawing using a blunt knife as the chicken was still moving and flapping.

"The whole sequence lasted several minutes and no measures appeared to have been taken to limit the suffering to the bird whilst it was inappropriately killed."

Only two people complained about the programme, which producers said was transmitted in the UK "almost simultaneously" to going out abroad.

ARY apologised for any offence caused and said it would "try to make sure that in future we do not procure such content".

The company also said it had a disclaimer at the start of the show but investigations proved it merely warned viewers not to copy the stunts. There was no warning about the content.

The ruling stated: "In this case Ofcom considered that the images showing the killing of the chicken went beyond the usual editorial content of this programme."

It went on: "It was clear to Ofcom that this material was capable of causing a considerable degree of offence through its graphic nature and also by it being carried out live on air as an "act" in a game show format.

"The killing of the chicken was done for the purposes of entertainment rather than for any more serious editorial purpose.

"To this extent, in Ofcom's opinion, the killing of the chicken with the associated cruelty was gratuitous and increased the level of offence likely to be caused."