ITV News has been found in breach of Ofcom rules after it broadcast the famous “chestburster” scene from horror film Alien on a Saturday morning.
The clip was shown on 28 January in an obituary for actor Sir John Hurt, who had died that week and starred in the film’s most shocking scene.
However the broadcast came at 09:25 GMT, immediately after a block of children’s television programmes.
Ofcom said the content broke its rules on the protection of minors.
The Ridley Scott film famously sees Sir John’s character, Kane, writhe on a table as a blood-soaked alien punches out of his stomach and kills him.
The regulator received five complaints about the clip, which is often voted as one cinema’s most memorable moments.
“The report contained graphic images from a film that was not appropriately scheduled,” Ofcom said, adding that audience figures for ITV News showed 19,000 children, aged four to 15, watched the bulletin.
ITV apologised, saying the clip was shown “in error”.
It said the editorial decision to refer to Alien – rated 15 by the BBFC – was “made in good faith”, but it accepted “that ITN had failed to consider sufficiently the suitability of the material for children, given the violent imagery and time of broadcast”.
It added that the error was recognised shortly after broadcast and the clip was not repeated in subsequent pre-watershed bulletins.
ITV also said that, although news bulletins were not of particular interest to children, the chosen clip was “unsuitable for children who may have been available to view at this time, and was therefore wrongly scheduled”.
Ofcom said it “welcomes the admission” and acknowledged ITN was introducing further compliance measures to ensure appropriate clips from films and dramas were shown in future news bulletins.
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