Ofcom: TV press conference needed health warning

A new Ofcom ruling suggests that news broadcasters need to issue health warnings for viewers before going live to press conferences.

Sky News has been criticised by the broadcasting watchdog after it broadcast a press conference at which Sam Allardyce gave his reaction to being appointed manager of football club Blackburn Rovers.

No warning was given that the report would contain flash photography.

Flashing images can present a risk of triggering seizures in viewers with photosensitive epilepsy. The Ofcom broadcasting code requires broadcasters to take precautions to keep this risk low.

Ofcom said in a ruling published today: “In working very quickly to prepare a report to be shown soon afterwards in a sports bulletin, the producer failed to include a warning about the flash photography as regards the live pictures.

“Sky agreed that as there was a lot of flashing, and that viewers should have been warned.

“After the sequence was broadcast for the first time, it was edited within 10 minutes to reduce the amount of visible flashing when shown subsequently. No warning accompanied this edited package.

“The broadcaster pointed out that the issue of flash photography is a difficult one for rolling news channels like Sky because they cover a number of live events where the level of flashing images cannot be accurately predicted in advance.

“In this case, Sky agreed there was no reason why a warning could not have been given to viewers before the item was broadcast.”

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