BBC rejects Michael Jackson’s complaint for documentary

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Channel 4 is to air a controversial documentary about Michael Jackson, despite receiving a letter of complaint from the late singer’s estate.

Leaving Neverland focuses on two men who claim the pop superstar abused them when they were children.

The four-hour documentary, which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival on January 25, tells the story of two men – Wade Robson and James Safechuck – who both allege they were sexually abused by Jackson in the 1990s.
The family of the late singer have asked the broadcaster not to show it, saying the film-makers did not ask them for a response to the allegations.

In a statement, Channel 4 said it had followed the right response procedure.

Channel 4 viewers will make their own judgement about the testimony of the two victims interviewed in the film,” it said.

In the letter, which was released to the Associated Press, the Jackson estate claimed the documentary’s makers broke programming guidelines by failing to get a response from the singer’s family and friends.

“I think we can all agree that the false allegations being made in your ‘documentary’ are ‘significant allegations’,” the letter said.

“It is hard to imagine more significant accusations that can possibly be made against anyone.”

A similar letter was also sent to US broadcaster HBO, which co-produced the documentary.

Last month, viewers of the documentary described it as “brutally upsetting”, with attendees at the viewing reporting that the festival enlisted mental health counsellors for audience members who were upset or affected by the film’s content.

Responding to their views, director Reed said: “It is a four-hour documentary by an experienced documentarian with a long track record in investigation and telling complex stories and this is a complex story.

“I’d say it’s beyond doubt a documentary. Anyone with any knowledge of that form would recognize a documentary. A four-hour piece, is that a tabloid? I didn’t characterize Jackson at all in the film — I think if you watch it you’ll have noticed that it’s a story about these two families and Jackson is an element of that story.

 

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