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    Friday, 12 September 2008

    Contested territory: Ofcom and BBC Trust elaborate on regulatory boundaries

    Ofcom has published an addition to its March 2007 memorandum of understanding with the BBC Trust as to which regulator will review which supposed content code infractions (1). The position has been that the Trust deals with all matters relating accuracy or impartiality, while Ofcom reviews allegations of inclusion of offensive and harmful material.

    The new 'addition' is intended to cover situations in which a single programme gives rise to an issue both of offence and/or harm, and accuracy. This clarifies that Ofcom will enjoy jurisdiction where three conditions are satisfied, even if the allegation involves accuracy. Otherwise matters remain the sole preserve of the Trust. These conditions are:
    - It is not an issue arising from News/news headlines or Current Affairs content as defined in the Memorandum of Understanding; and
    - It arises from deceptive or misleading content; and
    - It arises from (a) an explicit on-air invitation to the audience to participate in a vote or competition and harm or offence to members of the public is, or is likely to be, caused or (b) an on-air invitation to the audience/members of the public to act in a manner likely to result in material harm and/or offence (for example, actions likely to result in detrimental life changing consequences such as injury to health or financial well being).

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