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Last Updated:  Monday, 24 February, 2003, 18:40 GMT
Brookside creator criticises watchdogs
Brookside Close
The scenes were inappropriate for family viewing
A leading broadcasting figure has attacked watchdogs for diluting the power of television.

Mersey TV boss Phil Redmond was speaking to BBC News Online after the Independent Television Commission upheld complaints about Channel 4's Brookside showing an armed siege which featured drug-fuelled violence and sexual harassment.

The ITC said the episodes, shown in November last year, were in breach of its code and were inappropriate to be broadcast before the watershed.

But Phil Redmond, the show's creator and chairman of Mersey TV, which makes it, told BBC News Online: "This ruling once again indicates how British television has been forced to dumb down through dumb regulation."

Broadcasters have been forced to seek out schedules of banality and safety and we are in danger of losing television as a powerful social force for change.
Phil Redmond

He added the result of the ITC's "family viewing policy" meant that nothing can be shown on television before 10pm which would "challenge or engage in serious social commentary".

He added: "Broadcasters have been forced to seek out schedules of banality and safety and we are in danger of losing television as a powerful social force for change.

"That is why in multi-channel homes viewers are dropping terrestrial channels as they are losing their relevancy to their own lives and daily experiences.

"This is all a great shame."

'Violent situation'

Four viewers complained to the ITC about the Brookside storyline, in which four armed bank robbers held residents of Brookside Close hostage after a police chase.

In its ruling, the ITC said it had taken into account Brookside's established reputation for dealing realistically with social issues.

But it added: "In this case the unremitting nature of the threatening behaviour, drug-induced violence and sexual harassment went beyond what viewers would normally expect during family viewing time.

"The ITC considered that the level of menace in this violent situation was inappropriate when children are available to view."

Respected figure

Mr Redmond is a respected figure in the broadcasting world.

As well as devising Brookside, he created BBC children's drama Grange Hill, first broadcast in 1979.

In 1981 he set up Mersey TV, which also makes Hollyoaks and Grange Hill.

Recently, Brookside was relegated from its prime time evening slots on Channel 4 to a single Saturday afternoon showing.

The show, which was one of the first to be broadcast by Channel 4, is expected to be axed later this year.

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