British communications regulator Ofcom is investigating how a UK documentary examining possible connections between Muammar Gaddafi and the IRA confused video game play for actual IRA footage of a helicopter being shot down.

Ofcom received dozens of complaints about the misstep and they are investigating to see whether the incident should be considered a breach of its broadcasting code.

In the documentary Exposure - Gaddafi and the IRA, aired last month in the U.K., a voice can be heard saying, "With Gaddafi's heavy machine guns it was possible to shoot down a helicopter as the terrorists own footage of 1988 shows."

On the screen viewers witness shaky footage of what appears to be a heavy machine gun mounted into the bed of a camouflage-painted pick-up truck. The words IRA film 1988 are displayed over the video. In the footage, viewers see a group of men in balaclavas standing around the vehicles as it fires at a distant helicopter.


The footage, described as secret footage captured by the IRA in 1988, was actually gameplay from ARMA 2.

At the time an ITV spokesman told Kotaku that while the events featured in the show were genuine, the footage use was a mistake.


"It would appear that during the editing process the correct clip of the 1988 incident was not selected and other footage was mistakenly included in the film by producers," they said. "This was an unfortunate case of human error for which we apologise."


The spokesman added that ITV does hold the real footage and plans to replace it in the documentary. While the documentary has since been removed from ITV's website, that real footage has yet to be broadcast.

Marek Spanel, CEO of Bohemia Interactive, told Kotaku at the time that he was surprised to see his game in a documentary.


"It is very weird to see our game used this way especially considering the journalists were simply unable to tell difference between reality and game footage and described a short film clearly made using our game Arma II with what they call real IRA footage from 1988," he said. "Our games offer a great level of freedom to our users to create all kind of things but in this particular case, it is very misleading. Plus it is surprising ITV did not seek for permission to use our game in this way."

Ofcom Broadcast Bulletin: Investigations List (PDF) [Ofcom]

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