Saturday, January 21, 2006


There's nothing less edifying than the sight of the British media in full pursuit of kiddie-fiddlers, turning what is a serious and sober issue (the right of children to live unmolested) into a three-ring circus. Today's low comes from the Mirror, which claims an exclusive "Perv Radio Band".

They're going to ban perverts from the radio? Erm, no.

What's happened is a man has heard a Gary Glitter song being played on a kids TV programme, and complained to Ofcom. Ofcom wrote back saying, in effect, that no rule has been broken, and there's no evidence of anyone much being upset, but if lots of people did complain, they'd investigate the matter again. And then the man - Phil Clayton from Gloucestershire - has sent the letter to the Mirror. (The Mirror claim this is "a leaked document", as if it was secret and, erm, hadn't been sent to a member of the public already.)

So Ofcom's ruling was "there's nothing wrong here and we're not going to do anything. But if enough mad people complain again, we'll waste more time sending out placating letters." The Mirror, though, reports this as:

SONGS by paedophile pop stars face being banned from TV and radio.

A leaked document from broadcast watchdog Ofcom admits it is "concerned" records by Gary Glitter, right, and Jonathan King are still being played on UK stations.

A recent episode of Lizzy Maguire, a show for teenage girls, included Glitter's hit Rock 'n' Roll Pt 2. Dad Phil Clayton from Gloucestershire told the Mirror: "Material produced by a paedophile can be broadcast to children for profit and without restriction. It is totally immoral."

But what exactly is Clayton worried about? That Glitter is making money from the songs - but that's how he makes his living; is Clayton suggesting that people convicted of offences against children be barred from earning a living? Should, say, a baker who gets caught with pictures of fifteen year old girls flashing on his hard drive never be allowed to make a fairy cake again?
(This is slightly different, of course, from when broadcasters use their music to illustrate news reports or programmes about their crimes, where they are effectively making money off what they've done.)

Or is Clayton worried that if children hear a song made by a person who has convictions for hoarding child pornography, the children will be, in some way, abused by the song; perhaps fearing that radios and televisions are two-way devices and besides getting a PRS cheque every time Glitter has a song played on the radio he gets delivered video of people listening to it?

There is a question, of course, if broadcasters want to be thought of as endorsing the careers of people like Glitter, but that's a judgement call rather than a thing that should be imposed by a central government body. For example, we still think it's surprising that George W Bush resumed using Glitter as a soundtrack for his re-election campaign stops after being informed every time he was taking the stage he was helping fund Glitter's jaunts round the Far East - indeed, there's something curious to think that cash from the extreme religious right went from the Republicans, through the royalty payment network, and ended up buying off a family whose underage daughters Glitter had been "teaching English" to.

We'd love to know, incidently, what radio station anywhere in the country the Mirror thinks has been playing Jonathan King records often enough to worry Ofcom.