UPDATE, AUG 19 AM: British media regulator Ofcom has decided to investigate a Sky News dispatch from last month that showed one of its on-air reporters rummaging through luggage of one of the victims of the Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 crash. Ofcom received over 200 complaints following the broadcast. Having assessed them, the org said in an e-mailed statement today, “There are grounds to investigate under our rule on potentially offensive material.” The watchdog will “take relevant circumstances into account, including any action taken by the broadcaster, in reaching a decision.” At the time of the incident, Sky News quickly issued an apology for journalist Colin Brazier’s actions. In the clip that aired, Brazier can be heard saying, “We shouldn’t really even be doing this, I suppose.” Ofcom sets itself a six-month timeframe in which to conduct an investigation. If it determines rules have been breached, penalties generally come in the form of a fine.
PREVIOUS, JULY 20 PM: Sky News issued an apology after one of its reporters sifted on air through luggage from one of the victims of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17, the jetliner shot down earlier this week over the Ukraine by what U.S. officials said were pro-separatist rebels using sophisticated anti-aircraft missile systems. All 298 passengers and crew members were killed, their bodies, luggage and other wreckage scattered across several square miles of countryside. One of the reporters covering the resulting investigation, Colin Brazier, was recorded live picking through some of the belongings in a victim’s small yellow suitcase, showing what appears to be a child’s belongings and talking about the enormity of the tragedy. After a few seconds, Brazier can be heard in the clip saying, “We shouldn’t really even be doing this, I suppose.”
The incident sparked a huge negative response on Twitter and beyond, with protesters calling for Brazier’s removal. Sky News quickly issued an apology through a spokeswoman: “Today whilst presenting from the site of the MH17 air crash, Colin Brazier reflected on the human tragedy of the event and showed audiences the content of one of the victims’ bags. Colin immediately recognised that this was inappropriate and said so on air. Both Colin and Sky News apologise profusely for any offence caused.”