On Monday the BBC received a last minute court order instructing that they did not broadcast a program scheduled to be shown that evening at 9pm. The program that caused the controversial interference from the courts was a docu-drama which explores the experiences of rioters who took part in the disturbances that occurred in UK last summer entitled ‘The Riots: In their own Words.’ The court order stated that the program was not allowed to be broadcast “by any media until further notice.”
The program was one of a two-part series that analyzed the riots and was made using interviews and research carried out by the Guardian and the London School of Economics. The second part of the series features interviews with police officers who were involved in the disturbance and has also been banned from being broadcast.
According to the Guardian, the BBC tried unsuccessfully to appeal against the order via telephone and the organization’s legal team is currently working on the argument for another appeal.
Understandably the BBC is none too pleased with the court order preventing them from showing the programs. It is quite unusual for courts in the UK to interfere with television broadcasting.
The program features actors playing the roles of rioters speaking about their experiences during the unrest, the script was written by award-winning playwright Alecky Blythe who used transcripts of interviews with actual rioters for the piece.
The court order has angered those who oppose censorship and advocate freedom of the media. Kirsty Hughes, the chief executive of Index on Censorship told the Guardian: “This is a disturbing move…As we approach the anniversary of the riots, it is important that broadcasts and discussion about the events are allowed to take place. Censoring television programs is not in any way helpful to our understanding of the important issues and factors underlying the disturbances.”