British broadcasting standards agency Ofcom has given broadcaster ITV a very public verbal beating today over labeling a clip from video game Arma 2 as real-life footage of a Libya-funded IRA attack. ITV included a YouTube video featuring shooter Arma 2 footage in a documentary on how the now-deposed (and deceased) Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi gave arms to the IRA. Ofcom concluded that ITV's use of that fake footage constituted a "significant breach of audience trust," and that it's mistake was paramount, "particularly in the context of a public service broadcaster."
"It is not sufficient for a broadcaster or programme maker to rely on footage provided by a third-party source, on the basis that that source had previously supplied other broadcasters with archive footage, and fail to confirm the details of archive film provided," Ofcom's statement reads.
"The viewers of this serious current affairs programme were misled as to the nature of the material they were watching. In the circumstances, this represented a significant breach of audience trust, particularly in the context of a public service broadcaster.
"As such, Ofcom considered the programme to be materially misleading, in breach of Rule 2.2. Ofcom was particularly concerned by this compliance failure by ITV."
While the network took a verbal drubbing, Ofcom stopped short of putting any punitive measures on ITV.
"We do not expect any issues of a similar nature to arise in future."
At the time, ITV simply said the footage being included was "an unfortunate case of human error". The broadcaster apologized for the mistake. Ofcom, who had already received a number of complaints, was obliged to look into the matter anyway.