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TV show complaints… is there anything more enjoyable than the ire of the viewing public?
2022 is almost done so it’s time to check in with one of the most eyebrow-raising pop culture lists of the year – the most complained-about TV shows of the past 12 months.
According to UK-based watchdog Ofcom – and thus we are focusing exclusively on UK data here – not a single scripted television show made the sour-tinged rundown. As ever, it’s a mix of reality TV, light topical entertainment, and good old-fashioned news media.
According to Ofcom, the service received 36,543 complaints in relation to 9.500 issues. During this time, Ofcom completed 74 “broadcast standards” investigations.
“We found in 66 of these cases that our rules had been broken,” notes a spokesperson. “We also completed 45 fairness and privacy investigations during the year, of which six complaints were upheld. These figures show the weight we place on freedom of expression, and that we only step in when it’s really needed.”
It also should be noted that the above doesn’t refer to complaints about programmes broadcast on the BBC. Why? Because the BBC handles such matters in-house, you see.
Ofcom, while accepting this status quo, did challenge the BBC during the summer in the form of a lengthy edict in which the complaints body said it expects sharp improvement on the Beeb’s processes. In delivering its 2022 list, Ofcom said it is “pleased” to see BBC recently announce new measures to make it easier for viewers to lodge complaints.
We’ll list the top 10 specific non-BBC complaints in a moment, but first let’s look at the shows that caused the most outrage – Love Island, I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!, Friday Night Live, Good Morning Britain, Jeremy Vine, Sky News and ITV’s coverage of FIFA World Cup 2022.
Here’s how it all breaks down, from #1 to #10…
1. Love Island, ITV2, 17 July – complaints related to alleged misogynistic and bullying behaviour by some contestants in the villa.
2. I’m a Celebrity…. Get Me Out of Here!, ITV, 6-27 November – viewers objected to the inclusion of Matt Hancock in the series.
3. Friday Night Live, Channel 4, 21 October – complaints related to a performance by Jordan Gray.
4. Love Island, ITV2, 19 July – complaints related to alleged misogynistic and bullying behaviour by some contestants in the villa.
5. Good Morning Britain, ITV, 15 February – complaints related to comments made by Richard Madeley about death threats made to Keir Starmer.
6. Jeremy Vine, Channel 5, 24 January – viewers complained about a health consultant’s inaccurate statement about numbers of unvaccinated people in hospital with Covid-19.
7. Love Island, ITV2, 18 July – complaints related to alleged misogynistic and bullying behaviour by some contestants in the villa.
8. I’m a Celebrity…. Get Me Out of Here!, ITV, 13 November – viewers objected to bullying behaviour against Matt Hancock.
9. FIFA World Cup Final 2022: Argentina v France, ITV, 18 December – complaints related to politicised comments from Gary Neville.
10. Sky News, Sky News, 10 September – a Justice for Chris Kaba walk was reported as people on their way to pay tribute to the late Queen. Ofcom is investigating whether this breached our rules on due accuracy.
The complaints figures were captured during the period between 1 January and 19 December, 2022.
“The eagle-eyed among you may have noticed that our complaints numbers are lower this year than in the past two years,” says the Ofcom official.
“In fact, they’re closer to the numbers we received in 2018 and 2019. Some people may speculate that the impact of the pandemic on our watching habits and on the national mood may be a factor. Others might note that no single programme has sparked the controversy seen in previous years.
“But do fewer complaints mean our work has been less important this year? Far from it – it’s been a busy year for Ofcom’s broadcasting standards team.”