A training video to help producers of UK programmes and advertisements comply with the Independent Television Commission's (ITC) Guidance Note on the Use of Flashing Images and Regular Patterns in Television has been launched.
The 13-minute video "Impact With Responsibility" aims to educate media professionals on the medical impact of certain visual techniques on viewers susceptible to photosensitive epilepsy - a tendency to recurrent convulsions caused by flickering light or patterns.
Louise McMurchie, ITC policy advisor on photosensitive epilepsy said:.
"As part of our duty to protect the interests of viewers, we commissioned the video to help the broadcasting community understand the possible impact of their work and to minimise the medical risks to viewers."
"The video should be particularly useful to non-technical production personnel as it puts the ITC rules on flashing images and regular patterns into context and provides a reference guide to measure material against the Guidance Note. The ITC understands the production community's desire to engage viewers and our aim is to help them to manage risk without restricting creativity."
There have been a number of reports of seizures triggered by television content. In Japan in 1997, a four-second sequence in a Pokemon cartoon resulted in 685 children being admitted to hospital, most having experienced a seizure.
Louise McMurchie added:
"Television is a flickering device that, by its nature, creates risks for photosensitive viewers. The Guidance Note sets out to keep those risks within acceptable limits. Developed in consultation with leading medical authorities and ITC licensees, our rules are based on scientific research and aim to make compliance with the guidelines as simple as possible. This video completes the remit of our photosensitive epilepsy working group to improve industry understanding of photosensitive epilepsy and acceptable technical parameters for certain visual material."
Copies of 'Impact With Responsibility' are available from the ITC, price £12 and can be ordered via the ITC website: www.itc.org.uk
Epilepsy Action information: Photosensitive Epilepsy
Epilepsy Action News Archive (June 2002): New System To "Correct" Live TV Images