Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Channel 4 vindicated over showing Diana programme

Channel 4 was right to broadcast a documentary that looked at the role played by the paparazzi in the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, the media watchdog, Ofcom, has ruled.

Princes William and Harry urged the broadcaster not to show the film, following inaccurate reports that it contained graphic images from the scene of the car crash that killed their mother. The programme did feature photographs from the accident scene but they were treated sensitively, with upsetting details blacked out.

Channel 4 went ahead and broadcast Diana: The Witnesses In The Tunnel, arguing that the programme was in the public interest.

Yesterday, that decision was vindicated, when in a published ruling, Ofcom described the documentary as "a serious piece of investigative journalism examining issues and events that remain firmly in the public consciousness". It added the programme dealt with matters that were "clearly a matter of public interest".

Ofcom received 62 complaints about the programme, which examined the events surrounding the crash in the Pont d'Alma tunnel, in particular claims that paparazzi had caused the crash by chasing the car and hindering medical help.

Some of the complainants simply objected to the use of photographs from the scene but others specifically mentioned the request made by Princes William and Harry, which came in a letter from their private secretary, Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton.

In its ruling, Ofcom said that Channel 4 had taken steps to reduce the visual impact of the photos, blacking out Princess Diana's face and injuries. "The photographs were not used in a gratuitous manner and were not sensationalised," Ofcom said.

Channel 4's head of specialist factual, Hamish Mykura, who commissioned the film, said: "This programme helped dispel some damaging myths about this tragic event. I am delighted that Ofcom agrees that we made appropriate and careful judgements in dealing with the sensitivities it involved."

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