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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 June, 2004, 10:31 GMT 11:31 UK
C4 exonerated over abortion film
Julia Black
Film-maker Julia Black had an abortion when she was 21
Complaints against a Channel 4 abortion documentary were dismissed by the UK's media watchdog Ofcom on Monday.

The controversial film My Foetus, shown in April, drew eight viewer complaints over images of aborted foetuses and footage of a termination.

But Ofcom ruled in favour of the show, saying it had "treated a difficult subject responsibly and with appropriate sensitivity".

Derren Brown's Seance was also cleared after 244 viewers complained.

Three of those complaining about My Foetus had lodged objections before the show, saying the documentary was "distressing, offensive and voyeuristic".

The programme was made by a heavily-pregnant film-maker Julia Black, who had undergone an abortion 14 years earlier.


Ofcom said the show, watched by 1.5 million people, "was preceded by a very clear warning about the nature of the content".

"In our view, Julia Black was suitably objective in the programme, which was described as her 'journey from abortion to motherhood'.

"We considered that the still images shown of aborted foetuses were an integral part of the debate being explored," Ofcom said.

Derren Brown
Derren Brown's show centred around a fake seance

The images "were not used in a sensationalist or gratuitous (in the sense of being unnecessary) manner. The footage of the termination procedure revealed nothing that was recognisably human."

As such it did not breach the Programme Code, Ofcom said.

Derren Brown's Seance, which was broadcast on Channel 4 on 31 May, had drawn complaints from people who were "concerned at the dangers involved of experimenting with the paranormal".

'Psychological illusionist'

One hundred and seventy of the complaints had come before the programme was broadcast and 74 after it was shown, Ofcom said.

A further 11 people had complained that the programme was showing spiritualism in a bad light. The show centred around a fake seance, with people believing they were communing with a dead student's spirit.

Ofcom defended Brown's seance, saying he was "well known as a psychological illusionist".

"It was clear from the outset of this programme that none of the experiments he was about to embark on, in his view, actually involved genuine psychic practices".

Ofcom added: "We further felt that to show viewers how mediums who are fraudulent might possibly use these techniques to trick the vulnerable and susceptible was an acceptable element of the programme."

Ofcom also ruled that the gay kiss between the characters Todd Grimshaw and Karl Foster, on the ITV1 soap Coronation Street, was not in breach of programme code, after 89 complaints were received.

Some had said their relationship, shown throughout April and May, was too controversial to be shown before the 2100GMT watershed, while others thought the broadcast of the kiss on Easter weekend was insensitive.

Hundreds protest at TV 'seance'
03 Jun 04  |  TV and Radio
Coronation Street's Todd leaves
23 Apr 04  |  TV and Radio
Few complaints over abortion film
22 Apr 04  |  TV and Radio
Channel 4 defends abortion film
05 Apr 04  |  TV and Radio

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