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Ofcom To Investigate Benefit Street!!!

February 25, 2014

Personally, I’ve been waiting for this for some time. I didn’t make a complaint about the programme, but I always hoped OfCom would get involved.

The biggest problem I have with the process of the programme was that the name of James Turner Street was revealed on air. This led to all the threats towards the residents and the fear and bullying they experienced. I think that was wrong, and I hope that once OfCom investigate, they agree.

Channel 4‘s controversial documentary series Benefits Street is to be investigated by media regulator Ofcom after it generated more than 1,800 complaints from viewers.

The show will be scrutinised over accusations that its portrayal of the residents of James Turner Street in Birmingham was unfair and did not do enough to protect children living on the street.

It will also be investigated over claims that it showed crimes being committed and taught viewers how to shoplift.

The five-part Channel 4 series, made by Love Productions, prompted a storm of protest after its first episode aired on 6 January this year.

The programme, based around a street on which Channel 4 said more than half the residents claimed some form of benefit, polarised opinion between critics who said it demonised the poor and unemployed, labelling it “poverty porn”, and those who said it highlighted a social security system in urgent need of reform.

As well as being controversial, it was also hugely popular, watched by more than 5 million viewers, making it Channel 4’s biggest-rating programme since the Paralympics in 2012.

Benefits Street prompted 960 complaints to Ofcom, the majority of them during its first two weeks on air, and more than 800 to Channel 4.

The complaints are understood to cover a broad range of issues in relation to the show, including the protection and portrayal on TV of people under the age of 18, the way in which the James Turner Street residents were depicted, and the portrayal of crime.

It will be Ofcom’s most high-profile investigation into a TV programme since it cleared Channel 4 of unfair racial stereotyping in Big Fat Gypsy Weddings.

That decision, which followed a year-long inquiry, is being opposed by The Traveller Movement, a campaigning group representing the Gypsy and Traveller communities. It is seeking a judicial review, claiming the investigation was flawed.

The producers of Benefits Street and Channel 4 are now working on a second series of the show, although it will not be based on James Turner Street.

The broadcaster looked to meet criticism of the show with an hour-long debate hosted by Richard Bacon addressing some of the issues around the show last week, as well as a 30-minute programme in which some of the residents discussed the media and public response to the series.

A spokesman for Ofcom said: “Following the conclusion of Benefits Street, Ofcom can confirm that it has launched an investigation into the series.”

A Channel 4 spokesperson said: “We are confident there has been no breach of the Ofcom code and will be providing a detailed and robust response to the investigation.”

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Barry Davies permalink
    February 25, 2014 2:19 pm

    I complained about this programme due to the vicious bile exposed on the twitter feed whilst the program was on. It certainly showed that people regarded everyone who needs benefits to be idle skiving scum, perhaps if channel 5 follow it up with a programme which depicts those working who get benefits, and the private landlords who benefit from the benefits then one which depicts the rich avoiding tax it will balance the outcome.

  2. Sally Moore permalink
    February 25, 2014 3:11 pm

    I watched this programme and wondered why housing benefit was paid to landlords who had clearly not made reasonable repairs to these properties, yet landlord responsibility was not mentioned

  3. Alan Phillips permalink
    February 27, 2014 12:01 am

    I followed the program and the so called ‘debate’ another farce in itself with so many journalists wanting to get their own particular spin across while others wanted to treat ‘damaged’ claimants! Get real Were damaged by the system not damaged so needing the system
    It was supposed to be a safety net now at the age of 56 after screwing my life up in my chosen career I find its a tight- rope but no net.
    The program me WAS a disgrace but in the way it was edited 18 months into 5-6 hours no elderly, no home owners, non of the social events that were filmed !..
    ONLY the shock TV CH4 needed a money spinner it made one – Simple!!!

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