Tom and Jerry

One of the most disturbing events this summer was Time-Warner’s agreement to cut smoking out of ‘children’s’ cartoons after Ofcom requested them to do so, apparently after one parent’s complaint. I can’t find any info on Ofcom’s site regarding this ludicrous decision; Tom apparently rolls a cigarette in order to impress a ‘dame’. No doubt the parent’s nipper(s) was so impressed by this that they will go on to become a smoker: the ‘effects’ theory is alive and having an undue influence on policy still (my guess is Tom’s ploy failed and so if the ‘effects’ theory is correct the child would not have become a smoker).

I think this amounts to an Orwellian rewriting of history and am going to complain to Ofcom.

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One comment

  1. Nick Lacey

    Here’s Ofcom’s reply:Thank you for contacting Ofcom. You have raised concerns about media coverage of our report on Tom and Jerry. Perhaps it would be helpful if we explained the actual position. In Ofcom’s broadcast bulletin 67, we published a report on action taken by Turner, the licensee for Boomerang, following its receipt of a viewer complaint about scenes of smoking in Tom and Jerry sent via Ofcom. You should be aware that Ofcom has taken no regulatory action in this matter and has not banned images of smoking in Tom and Jerry or in any cartoon or in fact any programme.Independently of Ofcom, Turner decided to conduct an extensive internal review of the Tom & Jerry archive library to reassess the volume and context of smoking in these cartoons. The licensee has subsequently decided to edit any scenes or references in the series where smoking appeared to be condoned, acceptable, glamorised or where it might encourage imitation. We are not aware of evidence from research in the UK that shows a direct correlation between children who see smoking on television with a greater propensity to take up smoking. (However, broadcasters and Ofcom are required to protect those under eighteen and that protection is particularly important where the youngest children are concerned.) Research published in September 2005 by Ofcom indicates that broadcasters are very aware and responsible in the way they include smoking pre-watershed. It is important however that there is editorial justification when smoking is featured in such series. We noted in the report that “Stylised and comic actions in cartoons are not intrinsically a concern in themselves – including violence and other activity which in a different context would be unacceptable. However it depends on treatment and context. We recognise that these are historic cartoons, most of them having been produced in the 40s, 50s and60s at a time when smoking was more generally accepted. Depictions of smoking may not be problematic given the context, but broadcasters need to make a judgement about the extent to which they believe a particular scene may or may not genuinely influence children. We note that in Tom and Jerry, smoking usually appears in a stylised manner and is frequently not condoned.” On this occasion, Turner decided to adopt a precautionary approach. As this resolved the complainant’s issue, there was no need for Ofcom to look into the matter further. The full report is below. Yours sincerely :: Broadcast Support Team Tel: 020 7981 3040 Fax: 020 7981 3334 Email: OCCbroadcast@ofcom.org.uk

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