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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 October, 2004, 12:54 GMT 13:54 UK
New Ofcom code 'could ban Bambi'
Songs of Praise
Songs of Praise may have to carry a warning
Proposed new rules on broadcasting standards could be so tough they end up banning Bambi, the BBC has said.

A draft broadcasting code being drawn up by industry watchdog Ofcom threatens the BBC's long-established tradition of self-regulation, the corporation said.

In a consultation, it argued that a clause requiring children be protected from "psychological harm" could hit Bambi because it scares some children.

Ofcom said the BBC's response would be taken into account.

In what the corporation describes as a "detailed and considered response" to the proposed code, it complained rules would have a "chilling effect" on broadcasters' freedoms.

It believes the code's section on broadcasting to children has the "potential to severely restrict the programme choice accessed by adults in the UK".

Programmes featuring religious content - such as Songs of Praise - may have to carry a warning, which the BBC said could "severely restrict" its religious coverage.

A recommendation that adult scenes be shown "well after" the 2100 watershed, seemed excessive when the majority of households do not have children, the corporation added.

Some children are distressed by Bambi and others by natural history programmes
BBC response

The BBC argues that a phrase in the code that under-18s must be protected from "potential or actual moral, psychological or physical harm" is too vague.


"Some children are distressed by Bambi and others by natural history programmes," the BBC said.

Many programmes and films can disturb and distress children, like Schindler's List or even news coverage on a subject like the Soham murders, it continued.

A suggestion that violence "easily imitated by children" should not be shown before the watershed is also too restrictive, the BBC said.

The broadcaster said: "Children enjoy a good deal of violence in action-packed films and drama, both real life and animation.

"Is it intended to prevent such broadcasts in the future?"

The proposed code says demonstrations of exorcism or the occult must not be shown before the watershed - but BBC asked where this left the likes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Harry Potter.

The Ofcom consultation closed this week and the regulator is expected to publish the finished version of the code by the end of the year.

"We're looking at all the responses - that's what the consultation was for," said a spokesman for the watchdog.

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