By Gabriel Princewill-
Channel 4 has stated that television presenter, Piers Morgan, agreed to an insulting tweet directed at him as part of SU2C fundraising activities.
The broadcaster was responding to a request made by The Eye Of Media.Com in relation to a vulgar tweet posted in October 2018 that raised alarm with our publication. On 26th of October, Channel 4 launched a social media initiative @SU2CRewards, inviting users to choose from a list of rewards in response to a donation. ”One of such rewards was the offer to tweet insults at Piers Morgan in exchange for a £50 donation”, the broadcaster told The Eye Of Media.Com. ‘As a number of donations were received, more than one such tweet was sent”, they added.
The broadcaster also added that ”Mr Morgan was consulted in advance of this fundraiser being advertised and willingly agreed to take part”. What Channel 4 representatives failed to state was whether Morgan was informed that the advertising for the fundraiser would take the form of swearing on twitter. They conveniently refused to elaborate on their ambiguous comments indicating Morgan’s consent to the fundraising stunt. Quite frankly, they were evading the question.
There can be no denying that the claim of using a vulgar tweet as a reward is not only ridiculous, but contributes to a deterioration of society.
Short of confirming or denying whether Morgan agreed to the broadcaster using vulgar language against him, it is impossible to conclude that the British television presenter was a party to the bad conduct complained about. However, the idea of using foul language on social media to symbolise a reward should alarm any level headed individual. Channel 4 is reputed for its bold coverage and investigations of diverse issue, but failed woefully in maintaining dignified standards by endorsing such reprehensible language on twitter.
The broadcaster said members of Channel 4 staff who were involved in this fundraising activity do not have a significant responsibility for the expenditure of public funds and/or the creation of public policy, but declined to state who has responsibility for those areas. The broadcaster’s use of offensive language on twitter was in breach of its own policies and regulations, raising the valid question of the relevance of established policies not put into practise.
Morgan himself was the subject of another criticism by our publication this week following an invitation he made for his co host, Susanna Reid to present Good Morning Britain on television drunk. This included his vow to strip naked if Good Morning Britain loose the NTA awards. The comments were shockingly reckless and unethical, calling into question the good integrity of both television hosts and the programme makers. Morgan, the former editor of The Daily Mirror, is an engaging and assertive presenter who need not devalue his charismatic personality in any way.
Representatives of Itv told The Eye Of Media.Com they would not permit either of the television hosts to ever present the show drunk, but provided no official defence to the loose comments except to say ”it must have been a joke”. They declined to comment about the incident relating to the swearing on twitter, stating that they ”don’t comment on other programmes”.
Channel 4 officially subscribes to ofcom codes of conduct in relation to broadcasting of television and radio content, the spirit of which ought to be applied to online content. Notably, Ofcom does not regulate what is posted on the internet, but this does not mean logical deductions cannot be made from the underpinning principles stipulated by the broadcasting regulator.
Ofcom’s rules essentially refers to compliance with ”accepted standards”,in the context of industry led standards of conduct. The submission of our publication is that swearing on social media by a broadcaster departs from accepted standards of conduct on social media by members of the press. Simply put, it is irresponsible behaviour. Although not all accepted standards are reasonable standards, the guideline nevertheless provides a sensible framework for setting boundaries to permissible conduct.
Section 2 of Ofcom’s code states that:
Generally accepted standards must be applied to the contents of television and radio services in order to provide adequate protection for members of the public from the inclusion in such services of harmful and/or offensive material. On this occasion, the broadcaster fell disturbingly short of all reasonable standards, whilst trying to provide an empty justification for its conduct that does not add up. The reality is that Channel 4’s explanation is weak and fails to explain its vulgar conduct, which compromises its highly purported ethical standards.