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Channel fined over graphic content
A broadcaster has been fined £100,000 by Ofcom for screening graphic depictions of "extreme violence" including torture, a child murder and dismemberment of a corpse with a circular saw hours before the watershed.
The scenes, screened in the morning and afternoon during school holidays, were shown over several days by the Investigation Discovery channel last year.
Imposing the financial penalty on Discovery Communications Europe, TV regulator Ofcom said the breaches of its programme code were "blatant and repeated over a period of five days".
The broadcaster has also been ordered to broadcast a statement about the findings.
The footage featured in a documentary series called Deadly Women, which examines real-life murder cases, with eight of the 60-minute episodes found to have breached broadcasting rules.
In its report published today, Ofcom said the programmes contained "prolonged and disturbing reconstructions of torture, mutilation and murder".
:: Attacks on individuals with hammers and knives, electrocutions and whippings;
:: The murder of a six-year old boy through beating by his mother and her boyfriend;
:: A dramatised image and accompanying verbal description of an eyeball rolling across the floor after a victim was attacked;
:: The dismemberment of a corpse with a circular saw.
Ofcom said the sequences were "highly likely to have caused distress to any children in the audience".
And it pointed out that the screenings in August of last year indicated a failure by the firm "to ensure that it had robust compliance procedures in place".
Discovery apologised "unreservedly" and accepted that it was a "significant" breach of the programme code. It said it has since improved its compliance procedures.
Ofcom imposes financial penalties when it considers the broadcaster has "seriously, deliberately, repeatedly or recklessly breached" its requirements.
It marks the first time a broadcaster has been fined for screening violent content before the watershed.
In May, ESPN was fined £120,000 for failing to provide enough audio descriptions for blind and visually impaired viewers.