Bulger programmes come under attack

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

TELEVISION treatment of the James Bulger case was criticised yesterday by the Broadcasting Standards Council, writes Maggie Brown.

The BBC's Public Eye programme, which mounted a special report for BBC 1 at 9.30pm after the case ended, was reprimanded for sensationalism, relying heavily on dramatised reconstructions 'frequently inappropriate for a real crime so dreadful it had captured the nation's imagination'.

BBC's use of music, slow-motion film and other techniques closer to suspense fiction 'did not contribute anything to the nation's understanding of the circumstances surrounding the case, and tended to sensationalise it'.

It says that the programme's shortcomings were increased by the use of very brief extracts from taped interviews between the police and boys, even though the words were spoken by actors. It requires the BBC to broadcast its findings. The BBC says the programme was made with in a rational perspective.

World in Action was censured for using the actual tapes of interviews with the accused boys. The BSC says this further violated the privacy of the families, already riven with guilt and misery.

Granada, which made the November by the ITV network, said care had been injuries suffered by James Bulger, and it did not believe that the programme added to the distress of the relatives.

The council also criticised The Impossoble Job, the Channel 4 Cutting Edge documentary on the former England football manager Graham Taylor, for its should perhaps have been screened later in the evening, the council said.