The editor of topical discussion show The Wright Show has defended last month's 'Do shoot 'em up games lead to real violence?' episode in which panellists linked video game violence to real world violence.
During the show panellists associated 22-year-old murderer Leon Dunkley's London gun rampage with violent video games, and celebrity Anne Diamond dismissed research suggesting there was no link between video games and real world violence.
Jailed for life Dunkley murdered a 16-year-old girl after she went to buy pizza.
UK consumer group Gamers' Voice had accused The Wright Stuff of favouring "uninformed statements and sensationalist representation over a balanced look at the issue" in a letter sent to the UK broadcaster.
"We always make every effort to ensure that discussions on controversial subjects are fair and balanced, and I am happy that we did so on this occasion," Caroline Davies, editor of the Wright Stuff, wrote in a response.
"We are, however, an open access current affairs discussion programme and are strongly committed to fostering robust debate and the expression of strongly held opinions. We are the only such programme on British television.
"We always aim for balance but what we will never do is suppress the expression of legitimate and reasonable opinions simply because we disagree with them.
"Matthew in fact felt they [video games] were not the cause. So far as the research is concerned, he repeatedly stressed that this is inconclusive."
Gamers' Voice has written to regulator OfCom over the showing of a clip from 18-rated Activision shooter Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 at 10.30am on Thursday 14th April – before the watershed.
Davies defended the decision. "We did feel it was essential to use a short clip to illustrate the discussion; many of our viewers are not gamers and it may have been meaningless to them otherwise. It was editorially necessary, but very short, and as you point out, a game image rather than real violence; indeed, in the light of your comments I do not really follow your objection to its inclusion, but as you have referred this to OfCom we will await their response. I am satisfied it was well within the relevant guidelines."
Despite Channel 5's response, Gamers' Voice chairman Paul Gibson remains unsatisfied and awaits word from OfCom on its complaint.
"Whilst their response puts great emphasis on the experience and 'credibility' of the panellists by claiming that they are 'intelligent and reasonable people' they do not in any way refer to the inflammatory and quite frankly insulting remarks made regarding gamers in general," he said.
"Our complaint to OfCom remains a live issue however, and we look forward to the results of that complaint in due course. Overall we are pleased that Channel 5 have taken our complaint seriously and have performed this review. Even though they do not acknowledge any wrongdoing, we hope that our action will cause the broadcasters and the presenters to carefully consider their statements and subject matter in the future."