Watch the news at your own riskPosted: 06/12/2011
When a story in the news involves the use of offensive language, major TV networks edit out the provocative words in their broadcasts. Yet for some reason, when putting together stories about visually induced seizures, producers don’t always take reasonable precautions about the triggering images in their own footage. Consider the absurdity: by broadcasting the problem image sequences to illustrate a story, the networks needlessly expose viewers to the same seizure triggers that are the subject of the report.
In 2007 a promotional video was shown to the press to launch the 2012 London Olympics logo. When it was included in TV reports in the UK, viewers reported seizures from a segment of the animation that included rapidly pulsating bright colors. An AP story about the logo causing seizures rebroadcast the same problem sequence! Regulations in the UK were already in place to prevent seizure-inducing images to be shown on TV, so this should not have happened. In the U.S. there is no regulation of broadcast TV that would prevent the airing of seizure-inducing images, and the AP clip is still available online.
I’ve been guilty of perpetuating the cycle, too, by providing links to these TV news stories. On a hunch and with this pet peeve in mind, I just reviewed the media coverage page on my website www.videogameseizures.org, and ran all of the listed clips through the Harding Flash and Pattern Analyzer, an application that tests for video images containing photosensitivity triggers. I’ve now placed seizure warnings next to three TV news clips (including the AP Olympics logo story) about video game- and TV-induced seizures.