CHANNEL 4 is facing an Ofcom probe after a ‘confusing’ fake emergency news broadcast to promote a new drama.
The surreal moment took place on Friday, June 10 at 8.59pm before Celebrity Gogglebox and saw a solemn broadcast come from ‘GCHQ’.
Channel 4 faces an Ofcom probe after a ‘confusing’ fake emergency news broadcast to promote a new dramaCredit: Channel 4 / Tom Barnes
The Undeclared War sees a leading team of analysts at GCHQ secretly working to ward off a cyber attack in 2024Credit: Channel 4
Viewers were told to “remain calm” ahead of an imminent cyber strike from a foreign power.
Actor Adrian Lester delivered the speech as Prime Minister Andrew Makinde, as well as Simon Pegg, who plays Head of Operations at GCHQ, Daniel Patrick in the new drama The Undeclared War.
Channel 4 said it wanted the stunt to be “believable and unnerving” and was inspired by Orson Welles’ 1938 The War of the Worlds radio broadcast.
It famously caused widespread panic across America as listeners believed the US was under attack from a Martian invasion.
However, Channel 4’s broadcast left some viewers “confused” and Ofcom has now been asked to investigate whether the clip breached broadcasting rules which restrict the “simulation” of news in drama.
One wrote on Twitter: “I saw this and was really confused whether it is real or not.
“Wasn’t really explained and then announced ‘Undeclared War’ on screen. Don’t know if this should be in TV or not.”
Another added: “Is it not against Ofcom rules to broadcast an advert or feature that could be mistaken for a real-life news emergency broadcast….? The Undeclared War advert might have just breached that.”
Ofcom’s broadcasting code states: “Simulated news (for example in drama or in documentaries) must be broadcast in such a way that there is no reasonable possibility of the audience being misled into believing that they are listening to, or watching, actual news.”
However, the regulator is yet to confirm whether it will investigate.
Meanwhile Adrian, 53, tweeted after the comments: “I’m not actually the Prime Minster, I’m an actor, and anyway I don’t have blonde hair.”
The Undeclared War is set in 2024 in the run-up to a UK general election, and sees a leading team of analysts at GCHQ secretly working to ward off a cyber attack on the country’s electoral system.
A release date for The Undeclared War is yet to be confirmed.
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