The broadcasting regulator, the Office of Communications (Ofcom), has published their sanction decision in relation to Starz, a UK satellite TV channel, for broadcasting an antisemitic caricature.
After an investigation, Ofcom concluded that this is a serious breach of the UK Code of Broadcast Advertising and has issued a sanction.
According to the decision published by Ofcom: “On 11 March 2018 at 14:30 Starz broadcasted an image submitted by a viewer alongside a music video. It depicted a cartoon caricature of a Jewish person which conformed to racist stereotypes. In Ofcom’s view, the image, which could be found on various neo-Nazi websites, was likely to have been interpreted by viewers as being highly offensive and antisemitic. Over the next 51 minutes, the image was repeatedly reshown in rotation with photographs submitted by other viewers.” The image was shown 22 times and in total for seven minutes and five seconds.
The image depicted a cartoon caricature of a man with a large hooked nose, wearing a Jewish skullcap or “kippah” and a prayer shawl or “tallit” bearing a blue Star of David. The caricature was set against a backdrop of gold coins, with the man smiling widely and his hands flat against his cheeks framing his open mouth. Antisemitic caricatures often portray Jews as having large noses and being obsessed with money.
Columbia Pictures Corporation, which owned Starz at the time of the incident, described the broadcast of the image as a “very, very big error”, permanently banned the viewer who submitted the cartoon and issued an on-screen apology one hour and fifteen minutes following the first broadcast of the image. Nevertheless, Ofcom decided that the apology was insufficient in view of the gravity of the incident, and rejected numerous other representations made by Columbia Pictures.
Ofcom directed Starz to broadcast details of its breach, ruling: “Ofcom’s decision is that the Licensee should broadcast a statement of Ofcom’s findings in this case, on a date and in a form to be determined by Ofcom.”
In coming to its decision, Ofcom drew on the International Definition of Antisemitism for guidance. Last year, the definition formed the basis of training given to Ofcom staff by Campaign Against Antisemitism in how to recognise the many manifestations of antisemitism.