Tuesday, December 14, 2010

X Factor sleaze storm grows: TV watchdog to act after thousands protest over 'disgusting' prime-time scenes

By Paul Revoir

The images below have been published to show the fury they've caused

Shown before 9pm: Christina Aguilera and her dancers perform an explicit routine. Ofcom demanded an inquiry

ITV faces a huge backlash after thousands of viewers protested about lewd performances on the X Factor final.

Critics called on media regulator Ofcom to launch an inquiry into why ‘disgusting’ routines were shown before the watershed.

The performances by U.S. pop stars Christina Aguilera and Rihanna could have broken Ofcom’s broadcasting code which seeks to protect children from sexualised content.

'Christina's blonde dancer with the suspenders and bum hanging out is soft porn,' said one disgusted viewer

Horrified parents – who watched the show with their sons and daughters – also accused ITV of breaking the bond of trust with viewers by failing to tone down the performances for younger fans.

By last night ITV had received about 1,000 complaints about the routines with Ofcom understood to have received a further 1,000-plus.

The media regulator is assessing the points made before deciding whether to launch a full-scale investigation into whether the raunchy material was ‘editorially justified’.

Ofcom’s Broadcasting Code states that ‘children must be protected by appropriate scheduling from material that is unsuitable for them’.

It adds: ‘Material that is unsuitable for children should not, in general, be shown before 9pm or after 5.30am.’

The ITV show aired between 7pm and 9pm on Saturday night.
The code also states that: ‘Any discussion on, or portrayal of, sexual behaviour must be editorially justified if included before the watershed.’

So sleazy: Simulated sex, porn imagery and provocative costumes surprised and upset many viewers, who complained in their thousands

Triple X Factor: Christina Aguilera's racy performance should never have been shown before the 9pm watershed, said pressure group Mediawatch UK

Simulated sexual moves, ‘porn imagery’ and provocative costumes stunned many who had expecting a more sober final weekend on the show.

During her Saturday night performance of What’s My Name, Rihanna shed her gown and cavorted around the stage in underwear, performing a series of suggestive dance moves.

She was surrounded by an army of dancers who performed in a similar way. This was then followed by Miss Aguilera’s performance which saw her in an extremely low-cut black dress writhing around the stage with her troupe of scantily-clad dancers.

They were seen sitting in chairs striking suggestive poses in nothing more than stockings, knickers and bras.

Parents are dismayed that the UK’s biggest family TV show resorted to such lurid tactics when it was already guaranteed to get massive ratings.

Raunchy: Rihanna's routine also came under fire with viewers unhappy about her suggestive dance moves and skimpy clothing

They accuse it of providing a ‘sad’ and ‘terrible’ role model for children with what they called ‘soft porn’ routines.

Others claimed it would effectively encourage sexism in young boys and encourage young girls to dress inappropriately.

There were further complaints that boyband member Harry Styles was seen mouthing an obscene quip at winner Matt Cardle after Sunday night’s result was revealed.

The TV pressure group Mediawatch UK said it too had received complaints from the public about Saturday night’s final.

Director Vivienne Pattison said: ‘I don’t think it was suitable for a pre-watershed broadcast, I think that’s quite clear.

‘It was the simulated sexual stuff, that was the problem. I think Ofcom should look into this. Whether the X Factor like it or not they are commanding audiences of more than 19million. They are role models whether they like it or not.’

She added: ‘We have a broadcasting code that expects certain things to be post-watershed and I think that one crossed the line.’

Obscenity: Other viewers complained that One Direction singer Harry Styles (second left) was seen mouthing an obscenity at winner Matt Cardle after the result was revealed on Sunday

Former Conservative MP Ann Widdecombe, who appeared on this year’s Strictly Come Dancing, said: ‘It is before the watershed so parents are entitled to some consideration from the TV bosses. I think it is a pity. It isn’t necessary and it should be a family show. If you are going to that sort of thing they should put it on after the watershed and it ceases to be a family show.

‘I think Ofcom should take it seriously. What is the point of having a watershed? I think Strictly by comparison is serious family fun.’

Liberal Democrat culture spokesman Don Foster said: ‘One of the routines was particularly inappropriate and it may lead a number of parents to consider whether or not next year’s show is something that their younger children watch.

'It was unnecessary and I think they should have toned it down. I just think it went a step too far.’

An Ofcom spokesman said: ‘Ofcom has received complaints about Saturday night’s X Factor. Like all complaints we will assess them against the broadcasting code and consider whether to investigate.’

A spokesman for the programme maker Talkback Thames said: ‘We are confident that the performances given by our guest artistes on Saturday were appropriate for the show.’

An ITV insider said what was aired on the show was no worse than much of what goes out on dedicated music TV channels during the day.

It was also claimed that Miss Aguilera’s routine, based on her movie Burlesque, had been toned down from what was in the film, which has a rating of 12A. The source pointed out that there was no swearing or nudity in the routine.

At the UK premiere of the film last night Miss Aguilera was asked whether she thought her routine on The X Factor was too raunchy. She said: ‘I don’t think there is such a thing as being too raunchy when it comes to the art form of burlesque.’


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