ITV receives 400 complaints over Woolwich terrorism video report featuring bloodied assailant

By Stephen Lepitak | -

May 23, 2013 | 3 min read

ITV has received over 400 complaints of its coverage of the Woolwich terrorism attack last night, while the PCC, Ofcom, Sky and the BBC have also received complaints in the last 24 hours.

A spokesperson for ITV revealed that they had received around 400 complaints since their broadcast of the attack which saw one man, now named as Lee Rigby, killed apparently by two men, one of whom was broadcast speaking directly to a camera phone with bloody hands and still holding a meat cleaver.

The Press Complaints Commission (PCC) has told The Drum that it has received 41 complaints about newspaper, magazine and website coverage of the attacks in the last 24 hours, but had yet to break those down into categories, while 13 other complaints about ITV, BBC and broadcast coverage had also been received, although are not covered within the PCC remit.

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Ofcom has also revealed the while ITV was the most complained about station, this was followed by BBC and then Sky respectively, with complaints made on two grounds - the mobile phone footage of the assailant with blood on his hands and carrying the weapon, and that the Rigby’s body could clearly be seen in shot also.

A spokesperson for the BBC explained its viewpoint to The Drum: “We thought very carefully about the pictures we used in our coverage of the Woolwich murder and gave great consideration to how we used the footage of the attacker. The footage, captured by a bystander, was an important element of the story and shed light on the perpetrators and the possible motives for the attack. We did not show this in its entirety, we gave warnings for pre-watershed transmission and dealt with the material as carefully as we could. Where there were distressing images we used them sparingly and again, we gave warnings for pre-watershed transmission. We acknowledge that some of the images central to reporting the story were distressing and we were very mindful of possible audience sensitivity when we used them.”

Sky has told The Drum that it has received ‘a handful of complaints’ despite not airing the video but showing a still from the video instead.


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