Tuesday 1 July 2014

The Watershed

Broadcasting is the point in time after which programmes with adult content may be broadcast. Examples of the adult content that may be included are: graphic violence, horror, strong language, nudity, sexual intercourse, gambling and also drug use (or references to these without showing them). Watershed times vary around the world and some have multiple watershed layers where different things may be restricted throughout the evening. In the UK the Watershed is between 21:00 and 05:30 for main channels and for pre-pay/premium stations the watershed is reduced to 20:00. However not all programmes are allowed to be aired straight after the watershed has begun, there has to be a gentle transition into the more explicit programmes so those which contain large amounts of adult content and may be seen as an 18 must not air until 22:00. It isn't just television programmes that have to comply with the Watershed but also advertisements. 

‘There is ... a ... subtle sense in which soaps can be considered instructive. Since they concentrate on inter-personal relations ... set in a social and political milieu intended to parallel the surrounding society, they can hardly fail to send messages about appropriate or expected behavior.’ 
[Other Worlds: Society Seen through Soap Opera, D. Anger, Bradview Press, 1999.]

All of the soap operas that we have looked at so far have been shown before the Watershed which means that there may be younger viewers watching and broadcasters and producers need to take this into consideration. Soap operas do however raise awareness of certain situations and create discussion particularly between family members that may not have been discussed before. This is one of the positives of some scenes that are shown pre-watershed however some are considered to inappropriate and graphic for that time. Parents however are concerned although this is decreasing.

Its said that 36% of parents had expressed concerns about their children's viewing habits in 2009, but that figure had now dropped to 31%. In addition, 77% of parents thought the watershed fell at the right time, and 73% believed the amount of regulation of television was "about right". According to Ofcom's research, the types of pre-watershed programmes that caused most concern to the parents surveyed were soaps (14%) and film (14%), followed by reality programmes (12%) and music videos (11%). Ofcom's guidance reminded soap opera producers to be mindful of their pre-watershed audience, particularly with regard to violence.

This followed several complaints investigated by the watchdog - including a graphic fight between the King Brothers on Emmerdale and a gang attack on EastEnders, which resulted in Honey Mitchell going into premature labour. [Source: www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-15123049]

‘The emphasis on the family as a supportive structure and the difference between deviant or troublesome characters within the family and those outside it helps to explain why certain issues are taken up in the way that they are. In soaps ... problems are attached to or worked through with particular characters and the handling of a specific issue depends very much on the way in which that character has already been established.’ 
[Social Issues and realist soaps: A study of British soaps in the
1980/1990s, C. Geraghty in R. C. Allen (ed) To Be Continued ... Soap operas around the world, Routledge, 1995]

If anything within the soap opera is classed as 'distressing' then a helpline needs to be displayed at the end of the episode for viewers to call for any help or information regarding what has been shown during the programme. Most soap operas are shown early evening because this is the most convenient time for the mass audience.

The fact that soap operas raise issues for discussion, either within the family or outside, has

already been seen. Both the viewing of soap operas as a family and this element of
discussion are noted significantly more often in homes where there are children, with family
involvement increasing as a child gets older. [http://www.ofcom.org.uk/static/archive/bsc/pdfs/research/soap.pdf]

Soap Opera

Usual viewing time
Coronation Street
Between 7:30-8:30
Between 7:00-8:30
Between 6:30-7:00
Between 7:00-8:00

1 comment:

  1. This is very interesting information about the watershed. It is interesting that most 'soaps' are still shown before 21.00. Do you think this is still relevant considering the content of some soaps?
    17th July 2014