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Ofcom taken to court over Big Fat Gypsy Wedding

BFGW stars Sam and Pat pictured at a BAFTA awards party in 2011. Credit: PA

Gypsy campaigners are coming to the High Court over Ofcom's handling of their complaints about the Big Fat Gypsy Wedding television programmes.

The Traveller Movement, a charity supporting gypsies and travellers, has won permission to seek a judicial review against the communications watchdog.

It accuses Ofcom of conducting a flawed and biased investigation into accusations by the movement and eight individual women that the BFGW programmes perpetuated racist stereotypes.

They also complain the Channel 4 series broke broadcasting regulations regarding consent, sexually exploited traveller children and "caused untold harm to social cohesion" by reinforcing misconceptions and prejudices.

Ofcom has indicated it will defend its actions and contends the gypsy case is unarguable.

Watchdog: Ukip should be treated as a 'major party'

Broadcasting watchdog Ofcom has ruled that the UK Independence Party (Ukip) should be given the same status as the Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats.

Ofcom said Ukip must be treated as a "major party" in England and Wales for election broadcasts.

"We hope that all broadcast outlets will reflect on the fact that patterns of support in British politics are changing very quickly and that more and more people are supporting and voting for Ukip," the party's director of communications Patrick O'Flynn said.

The Ofcom rules state that "due weight must be given to the coverage of major parties during the election period" and there must be "due impartiality."

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New plans to tackle 'confusion' over service numbers

Ofcom has announced measures to make the cost of calling businesses and services more transparent for consumers from June 2015.

They include:

  • Clearer pricing for all numbers starting 08, 09 and 118.
  • Cost of service numbers will be broken down into an ‘access charge’ to phone company, plus a ‘service charge’ to the company or organisation.
  • The service charge for premium rate (09) numbers will be capped.
  • Consumer calls to Freephone (0800, 0808 and 116) numbers which are generally free from landlines, will become free from mobile phones too.
  • Confusion around 0845 numbers - which are sometimes tied to the cost of a geographic call - will be addressed.

Telephone call charges 'to be made simpler' from 2015

Charges for telephone calls to business and services will be made simpler from 2015 with clearer pricing for all numbers starting 08, 09 and 118, Ofcom has announced.

Under new plans, 080 freephone numbers will be free from mobiles as well as landlines.

Ofcom said the changes should all be implemented by 2015. Credit: Press Association

Ofcom said the measures are designed to tackle "consumer confusion" over non-geographic’ service numbers that have a range of uses, from finding out information to banking, directory enquiry and entertainment services.

Its aim is to make prices more transparent, improve competition, restore consumer confidence in non-geographic service numbers and increase their usage.

Children using tablets 'are on the increase'

Some 91 percent of parents with a tablet computer say their children use it or have one of their own, an Ofcom report suggests.

The watchdog's "State of the Nation" report found 41 percent said their children use it every day and 17 percent have children who use it more than once a day.

  • 71 percent use the tablet to play video games
  • 44 percent watch short video clips
  • 40 percent browse the internet
  • 37 percent watch TV or films

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Ofcom: Living room is now digital media hub

The traditional living room has been transformed into a digital media hub where the household watches television while multi-tasking via tablets and smartphones, Ofcom said.

Households are increasingly reverting to just one television, and 91 percent of adults tune in to the main set in the living room at least once a week, according to Ofcom's annual "State of the Nation" report.

The traditional living room has been transformed into a digital media hub, Ofcom says. Credit: Patrick Pleul/DPA/Press Association Images

A quarter of viewers regularly partake in "media meshing" - using devices to communicate about the programme they are watching.

Of those surveyed, 49 percent said they engage in "media stacking" to carry out completely unrelated activities such as social networking or online shopping.

Tablets creating 'a nation of media multi-taskers'

The huge growth in take-up of smartphones and tablets is creating a nation of media multi-taskers, an Ofcom report published today suggests.

Tablet ownership is driving the use of second screens, and enticing people to the main television room, according to the annual study.

Ofcom says the UK is becoming a nation of media multi-taskers thanks to tablets. Credit: J.M. Guyon/Candybox Images/Press Association Images

More than half of tablet owners - 56 percent - use their device for viewing audiovisual content, and half of these do so while in the living room.

A fifth of families with a tablet said they watch different content on different screens while in the same room all or most of the time.

Tablet ownership 'more than doubles' over past year

Tablet ownership has more than doubled in the past year alone, with 24 percent of homes now owning at least one of the devices, up from 11 percent the year before, according to a report by Ofcom.

Tablet ownership has more than doubled in the past year alone, Ofcom says. Credit: J.M. Guyon - Copyright 2012/Candybox Images/Press Association Images

More than half of adults - 51 percent - own a smartphone, up from 27 percent two years ago.

Two-thirds of tablet users say they use the device every day, and 95 percent use it at least once a week.

Ofcom to investigate BSkyB after BT Sport complaint

The battle for armchair sports fans escalated after the telecoms regulator Ofcom launched an investigation into BSkyB's alleged refusal to share its Sky Sports channels with BT on "fair terms".

Ofcom said it has opened an investigation into Sky's "alleged abuse of a dominant position" regarding the wholesale supply of Sky Sports 1 and 2 - its flagship sports channels.

BT has complained that BSkyB is taking advantage of its market dominance. Credit: Dave Thompson/PA Wire

BT wants to offer Sky Sports via YouView set-top boxes to complement its own newly-launched sport offer.

But BT said Sky will not allow the channels to be broadcast over BT boxes unless it offers its rival wholesale access to its own BT Sport channels in return.

Rio Ferdinand has been signed by BT Sport as an "interviewer, programme-maker and football expert" Credit: PA

Ofcom said it will "consider whether Sky has abused a dominant position under UK and/or EU competition law".

The regulator added it will decide by next month whether to grant "interim relief" - which could temporarily give BT access to Sky Sports.

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