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Last Updated:  Monday, 10 March, 2003, 16:31 GMT
'Baby-eating' show censured
An excerpt from Beijing Swings
Beijing Swings prompted a flood of complaints
Channel 4 has been accused by TV watchdogs of showing a "lack of respect for human dignity".

The broadcaster was criticised for a programme which featured a Chinese artist apparently eating a stillborn baby.

The Independent Television Commission ruled that Channel 4 had "exceeded the boundaries of acceptability" with the broadcast of Beijing Swings in January.

Channel 4 had defended the programme, arguing that it had "a right and obligation under its remit to explore and examine challenging and difficult subjects".

The joke was offensive to public feeling, and to Mr Gibb's family
ITC ruling
The ITC also ruled against Channel 4 comic Graham Norton for a tasteless joke he made on his chat show following the death of Bee Gee Maurice Gibb in January.

Thirty-two people had complained that Norton's comment the day after Gibb's death was offensive and in poor taste.

Forty-two people had complained about the China documentary, which included a still photograph of artist Zhu Yu's work Eating People.

In it he appeared to cannibalise the body of a dead baby.


In its ruling, the ITC said: "The broadcast of such images raises serious questions, not only about the morality of the artists in using dead babies in pursuit of their artistic expression, but of the broadcasters' responsibility not to infringe their dignity."

Graham Norton
Channel 4 had claimed Norton was being "affectionate"
Viewers were also upset by images of performance artists Peng Yu and Sun Yuan smearing their blood over the dead bodies of a pair of Siamese twins.

The ITC concluded that the programme had breached its code on taste and decency.

Channel 4, while acknowledging that the images were "deeply shocking and disturbing", had said they were "serious and significant works".

The ITC also upheld the complaints against presenter Norton over his joke about Gibb's death.

The day after Gibb's death had been announced, Norton said: "I bet Maurice Gibb's heart monitor was singing the tune of Stayin' Alive."

The ITC said the comment was "offensive to public feeling, and to Mr Gibb's family, for such a joke to be made in such close proximity to his death".

Maurice's brother Robin had described Norton as "scum", although Channel 4 said the joke was meant as an "affectionate reference" to Gibb.

Baby-eating art show sparks upset
03 Jan 03 |  Entertainment
Bee Gee brands comic 'scum'
10 Feb 03 |  Entertainment
Complaints over Norton Bee Gee joke
15 Jan 03 |  Entertainment
ITC monitors Diana spirit show
10 Mar 03 |  Entertainment

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