Ofcom criticises ITV for ArmA 2 mistake

UK broadcasting watchdog Ofcom has chastised ITV in its report on last year's incident in which footage from Bohemia Interactive's ArmA II was claimed to be film of the IRA shooting down a British Army helicopter.

The documentary in question, Exposure: Gaddafi and the IRA, was broadcast last September and received a number of complaints at the time. ITV blamed "human error" saying, "it would appear that during the editing process the correct clip of the 1988 incident was not selected and other footage was mistakenly included in the film by producers."

Ofcom has accepted the explanation of human error, but stresses that, "There were significant and easily identifiable differences between the footage of the attack on the helicopter included in the 1989 Cook Report and the footage taken from the internet from the video game ArmA 2.

"Given these marked differences, we were very surprised that the programme makers believed the footage of the helicopter attack was authentic, and we were particularly concerned that ITV failed to double-check the video game internet footage against the footage from The Cook Report, despite the concerns over the internet footage expressed by the ITV Compliance team."

Ofcom's report finds ITV to be in breach of broadcasting code, specifically Rule 2.2, and described the programme as "materially misleading".

"It is not sufficient for a broadcaster or programme maker to rely on footage provided by a third-party source, on the basis that that source had previously supplied other broadcasters with archive footage, and fail to confirm the details of archive film provided," Ofcom's statement continues.

"The viewers of this serious current affairs programme were misled as to the nature of the material they were watching. In the circumstances, this represented a significant breach of audience trust, particularly in the context of a public service broadcaster."