C5 rapped over Big Brother Facebook voting app

Big Brother contestant Conor McIntyre: comments breached Broadcasting Code
Big Brother contestant Conor McIntyre: comments breached Broadcasting Code

Channel 5 has been rapped by broadcasting regulator Ofcom for the failure of its 'Big Brother' Facebook voting app and for not reprimanding a housemate forcefully enough after an incident of bullying.

However, Ofcom found that in two separate instances where viewers had complained about what they perceived to be racism in the house Channel 5 was not in breach of the Broadcasting Code because it challenged the housemates concerned.

Although Ofcom accepted Channel 5 did not deliberately intend to mislead viewers about the voting process and despite the fact the broadcaster tried to put it right and notified users where refunds were available, the broadcaster was still judged in breach of the Code for the failure of its Facebook app.

Ofcom found Channel 5 in breach because it was the second time there had been a problem with the ‘Big Brother’ Facebook voting app. When it failed last year Ofcom warned it did not expect the problem to happen again.

Last year in the final of ‘Big Brother’ user demand overwhelmed the Channel 5 servers causing the app to fail in the crucial final 10 minutes of voting. Although Channel 5 increased its server capacity it had to scrap Facebook voting in August this year after technical problems.

Ofcom also ruled on bullying and racism complaints about the housemates' behaviour. It found Conor’s comments about fellow housemate Deana, which received 1,139 complaints, amounted to explicit descriptions of sexual violence and were in breach of the Broadcasting Code.

Although Conor directly apologised for his comments in the next day’s episode of ‘Big Brother’ and was challenged on them in his exit interview Ofcom decided this did not remedy the "very high level of offence" caused when they were broadcast.

In two other instances, where housemate Caroline referred to a black contestant as a "gorilla" and where Scott and Ashleigh discussed the way Deana ate her cereal, Channel 5 was not in breach because it immediately challenged the comments.

A spokesman for Channel 5 declined to comment.

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