City Homicide: articles

Seven 'sorry' for Bulger ad

CHANNEL Seven has been forced to apologise after using the horrific death of British toddler James Bulger to advertise its police drama City Homicide.

The network used closed-circuit TV images of the two-year-old being abducted in a promotion for last Monday's program, which was loosely based on the Bulger case.

James' mother, Denise Fergus, has criticised Seven's decision to use the clip.

"It's unfortunate that broadcasters tend to use James' image as a token without recognising here was a real person, a real child who was horribly murdered," she told London's Daily Mail. "They should not use his photo this way."

The toddler was abducted from a Liverpool shopping mall in 1993 by two 10-year-olds, Robert Thompson and Jon Venables, who then tortured and beat him to death by a railway track in a crime that stunned the world.

Victoria's Child Safety Commissioner, Bernie Geary, said the advertisement - shown in family viewing time - was "disgraceful".

"It a sensationalist and disgraceful way of gripping people's attention. If this had been an Australian crime they wouldn't dare use it for publicity like this," he said.

Twenty viewers contacted Seven to complain while numerous angry messages were posted on internet message boards devoted to the show.

Some fans have vowed never to watch City Homicide again. "The fact is, they were using a heinous crime to promote their TV program, which is despicable," read one post.

Another stated: "Using that tragedy and the family's painful loss, just to advertise your painfully cliched show, is a new low. I'm not going to watch it again."

A spokeswoman for Seven said: "The issue to which you refer contained four seconds of a still image. City Homicide is sometimes based on true crimes told in a dramatic way … Our aim was never to upset any viewer and for any offence we apologise."

By Tom Reilly
August 30, 2009
The Age