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ITV has been found in breach of Ofcom’s Broadcasting Code for the inappropriate scheduling of fantasy drama series Jekyll and Hyde.
The first episode of the series was broadcast on October 25th 2015 at 18:30. Ofcom received 504 complaints from viewers about this episode. The majority of viewers who contacted Ofcom considered that the programme’s scenes of violence and its dark and frightening tone were unsuitable for children, and a number of complainants referred in particular to their concerns for younger children.
Accordingly, Ofcom considered the programme raised issues warranting investigation under Rule 1.3 of the Code, which states: “Children must…be protected by appropriate scheduling from material that is unsuitable for them”.
Ofcom requested formal comments from the broadcaster about how the programme complied with this rule.
ITV argued that this programme complied with the Code. It also said that, like Ofcom, it had received “several hundred complaints about the first episode of this series” but had received significantly less regarding subsequent episodes. In its view, ITV considered that a large number of the complaints would “have been encouraged by the press ‘furore’ about the programme following its broadcast”.
In conclusion, Ofcom considered that the programme’s content was not so strong that, with appropriate scheduling, it could not be broadcast pre-watershed. However, in the specific circumstances of this case, it considered that the content would have exceeded the expectations of viewers, and in particular parents and carers, at this time and on this channel. Therefore, while acknowledging this was a finely balanced decision, Ofcom concluded that children were not in this case protected from unsuitable material by appropriate scheduling, and there was a breach of Rule 1.3.