Channel 4 defends ‘deepfake’ Queen’s speech as viewers threaten boycott

Channel 4 have doubled down on their controversial alternative Queen’s speech amid threats of a viewer boycott and accusations the satirical "deepfake" reinforces fake news.

The British television channel sparked fury when it emerged they had created a spoof video of the Queen using "deepfake" methods to make it appear that HM The Queen herself is taking part in a Tik Tok video and making sarcastic comments about the past year.

The alternative message, which is due to air on Christmas Day, caused anger among Royal family supports, but also went beyond to include those who think TV channels should do more to uphold reliable journalism.

While many have threatened to boycott the channel over the video – which was first teased on Wednesday.

One angry viewer commented online: “Channel 4 should be prosecuted for this. Boycott this channel. It’s against our heritage and culture. Treason.”

While another wrote: “What an utterly disrespectful thing to do. This is a direct attack on HM The Queen and action should be taken against channel 4 for the downright disrespect they are showing to the sovereign. Putting words in her mouth quite literally is completely inappropriate.”

Many online have expressed an intention to complain to OfCom over the sketch, and others have called for The Queen to sue Channel 4 over using her likeness to send a false message.

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A spokesperson for Channel 4 has stepped forward to defend the clip, telling Metro.co.uk: “It is very clear in the four-minute film that this is a parody of the Christmas Day address and viewers will be left in no doubt that it is not real.

“However, while the film is light-hearted, affectionate and comedic in tone, it carries a very important and timely message about trust and the ease with which convincing misinformation can be created and spread.

“This is part of a series of programmes examining the spread of misinformation and a Dispatches documentary, Deepfakes: Can You Believe Your Eyes, will further explore the emergence of deepfake technology on 28th December on Channel 4.”

The argument from Channel 4 might only anger viewers further as many are saying the use of “fake news” to highlight the risk of fake news has demonstrated an unforgivable lapse of journalistic judgement.

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One Twitter user seethed: “Channel 4 has earned my undying contempt. If it isn't Jon Snow shouting "F–k the Tories" at Glastonbury it's a grossly disrespectful and rude spoof of our much-loved monarch's Christmas message under the tenuous excuse of demonstrating fake news.”

While another mocked the channel for reinforcing the fact that many think they already spread fake news, tweeting: “Channel 4 showing off how good they are at making fake news.”

However, others have decided to accept the video with a pinch of salt, with one tweeting: "They are not mocking her or just being funny. The whole point is to give a (light-hearted) warning about deepfake tech and I look forward to seeing it in full."

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