Ofcom still considering investigation into ‘How to Steal Pigs’ programme

Media watchdog Ofcom has revealed it is still weighing up whether to launch a formal investigation into the controversial Channel 4 programme ‘How to Steal Pigs and Influence People’.

It has received 372 complaints about the programme since it aired on January 14. “The programme is still under investigation so no decision has been taken at this stage regarding any further action,” an Ofcom spokesperson told Pig World.

The programme, part of a series of programmes with an anti-meat agenda, followed activists, focusing mainly on Wesley Omar, a leading figure in the Meat the Victims movement, as they trespassed onto farms and stole pigs.

In the NPA’s complaint to Ofcom, policy services officer Lizzie Wilson said the NPA found it ‘astonishing’ that the programme showed Mr Omar stealing five pigs on separate occasions. It said Channel 4 had ‘acted incredibly irresponsibly and should therefore be held accountable’

“In our opinion Channel 4 could be considered complicit in the theft of those pigs; they accompanied Wesley Omar to film his illegal activity, instead of alerting police,” she wrote. The four UK farming unions issued a statement expressing ‘deep concern’ about the programme and highlighting the ‘dreadful impact these attacks have on the health and wellbeing of those farmers targeted’.

The National Rural Crime Network (NRCN) asked Ofcom to look into whether the programme breached guidelines by broadcasting material ‘likely to encourage or incite the commission of crime or to lead to disorder’.

In her letter to Ofcom, NRCN chair Julia Mulligan said:“The National Pig Association and the four UK farming unions, including the NFU – who are NRCN members – are among those who expressed their worries to Channel 4 ahead of broadcast that the programme glamorised and condoned crime and violence in rural areas. The broadcaster insisted ‘the programme did not glamorise or condone illegal activity’.

“We do not agree. We believe the programme itself, and particularly the title and promotion ahead of broadcast, explicitly glamorises illegal activity and, therefore, we would be grateful if Ofcom would consider whether it has breached Rule 3.1 of the Broadcasting Code.

“We understand that broadcasters often give titles to programmes which are intended to create debate, but we believe this goes beyond that.”

For how to complain about the programme,

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About The Author

Editor of LBM titles Pig World and Farm Business and group editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer. National Pig Association's webmaster. Previously political editor at Farmers Guardian for many years and also worked Farmers Weekly. Occasional farming media pundit. Brought up on a Leicestershire farm, now work from a shed in the garden in Oxfordshire. Big fan of Leicester City and Leicester Tigers. Occasional cricketer.