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10/15/2008
UK: Video Highlights BBC Speed Camera Censorship
Cartoon mocks the BBC for censoring a UK government video showing a speed camera causing a major highway accident.

Video Mocks the BBC
A UK motorist is using YouTube to mock the British Broadcasting Corporation for censoring a story damaging to the speed camera cause. On April 21, a driver living in Epsom, Surrey had watched online a BBC News clip intended to showcase the terrible consequences of speeding. Using video footage taken from a safety camera van on a bridge overpass in Norfolk, the story inadvertently showed something BBC executives had not expected. The government broadcaster quickly pulled the video.

"The first part contained the usual dire warnings about the danger of speeding," the motorist recalled. "Later in the sequence actual videos made by the speed camera van were shown. This included one video of a driver braking so hard on seeing the speed trap that he lost control and spun out all over the three lanes of the road. After some violent fishtailing the car eventually collided with the central reservation and lost a wheel."

The motorist petitioned the BBC to release the video. It refused. He asked the Norfolk Safety Camera Partnership for a copy of the raw camera footage that the BBC had used in its story. It refused. He petitioned the UK Information Commissioner who ruled that "journalistic content" is exempt from freedom of information laws. He then decided to recreate the incident in a humorous animation that took about two weeks to create from scratch.

"The cartoon is intended to make people aware of the original accident that was shown and to direct people to a petition to force the authorities to release the video," the motorist explained. "After all it's already been broadcast. If they have noting to hide they have nothing to fear. This film shows categorically that on at least one occasion a camera has caused a serious accident."

Using the British slang term for 'fool,' the video also shows "Norfolk Numpties" driving carelessly through town in their speed camera van. The sight is not unfamiliar to residents in places like Scottsdale, Arizona where reckless speed camera van operators have even been booked for driving under the influence of alcohol. The video also highlights the notorious accuracy problems of the laser-based mobile speed camera units common in the UK.

The Association of British Drivers (ABD) called on the BBC to release the video.

"It would seem that the BBC is not interested in presenting facts to license payers unless they have first been approved by the powers that be," ABD Chairman Brian Gregory said in a statement. "This is the kind of censorship that the BBC reports to exist in Russia, yet here we have indications of the same censorship in Britain. We call upon the BBC to re-instate this video without delay."

View the cartoon.



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