British Muslims to Refer ’24’ to OFCOM for Possible Breach of ITC Programme Code

26 Jan 2005

A delegation from the Muslim Council of Britain’s media committee met yesterday evening with senior Executives from Sky Television to discuss their concerns about Sky One’s decision to broadcast the fourth series of the American drama ’24’ which begins on Sunday 30th January 2005.

`We are greatly concerned by the unremittingly hostile and unbalanced portrayal of Muslims in this series of ’24’ based upon a preview of the first five episodes that we have seen. There is not a single positive Muslim character in the storyline to date. At a time when negative stereotypes of Muslims are on the increase we feel that Sky – as a major UK broadcaster – has a responsibility to challenge these insidious views, not help to reinforce them. We have urged Sky to urgently make contact with Fox Television – the producers of the ’24’ series – with a view to ascertaining whether they plan to introduce or develop any positive Muslim characters in the series which we understand is still being filmed. Meanwhile, we will be referring the series to OFCOM for investigation, as we believe that the episodes we have already seen are in clear infringement of the ITC Programme Code about the representation of minorities,’ said Iqbal Sacranie, Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Britain.

Rule 1.8 of the ITC Programme Code states:

“Consideration should be given to the treatment of vulnerable minorities bearing in mind the likely effects of both misrepresentation and under-representation.”

Additionally, rule 1.8(i) states:

“No programme should be transmitted which is intended to stir up racial hatred, or taking into account the circumstances, is likely to do so.”

Rule1.8(iii) applies the same to minority religious faiths.

The MCB received assurances from Sky that they would undertake a pro-active review of the ’24’ episodes as and when they receive them from Fox Television, with a view to ensuring that its broadcast of the “24” series complies with domestic broadcasting regulations, which may entail editorial changes. The MCB will be actively monitoring episodes broadcast on Sky to ensure that the Muslim community is not unfairly stereotyped.

The MCB delegation consisted of Inayat Bunglawala, Tariq Hameed and Ehtisham Hibatullah from the media committee. David Smyth, the Head of Acquisitions for the Sky One channel, led the Sky delegation.

[ENDS]

Notes to Editors:

2. 1. The Muslim Council of Britain (www.mcb.org.uk) is the UK’s representative Muslim umbrella body with over 400 affiliated national, regional and local organisations, mosques, charities and schools.

For further information please contact: The Muslim Council of Britain, Boardman House, 64 Broadway, Stratford, London E15 1NT,
Tel: 07708 065 150 or 0208 432 0585/6, Fax: 0208 432 0587, Email: media@mcb.org.uk, Website: http://www.mcb.org.uk