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UK broadcaster mistakes computer game attack for real 'IRA film'

The ITV documentary showed footage of a helicopter being shot down – but the clip came from a 2009 video game.

A screen grab from the documentary
A screen grab from the documentary
Image: YouTube

A DOCUMENTARY SCREENED last night on ITV has come under fire after it emerged combat footage presented as a 1988 “IRA film” was actually from a 2009 computer game.

The programme, called Exposure – Gaddafi and the IRA, set out to document how the Libyan leader supplied militant republicans with heavy weapons including jeep-mounted machine guns.

In one sequence – flagged in a screen caption as “IRA film 1988″ – in which a number of men in camouflage uniforms use a heavy machine gun to shoot down a helicopter. A voiceover narrates: “With Gaddafi’s heavy machine guns it was possible to shoot down a helicopter – as the terrorists’ own footage of 1988 shows.”

However, PC Gamer reports that the footage is actually drawn from a 2009 ‘tactical shooter’ video game called Arma 2. The confusion appears to have arisen as the same clip also appears on YouTube under the title “PIRA Shoot Down British Helicopter 1988″.

At the time of writing, ITV had not yet responded to requests for comment. However, the Guardian reports that the commercial broadcaster has acknowledged its mistake, blaming “an unfortunate case of human error”.

Viewers and gamers took to the website of Bohemia Interactive, who developed the game, to complain about the footage’s misuse. One contributor, who appears to be a staff member, writes:

We’ve had requests in the past to use Arma2 footage for scenes in a documentary and the request was turned down because of the possibility it showed Arma2/Bohemia Interactive in a negative way, now using our game to show the actions of terrorists is potentially a very negative and damaging use.

Marketing material for the game describes it as having “authentic and extremely detailed modern units, weapons, vehicles and environments.” However, all the action takes place in the “fictional post-Soviet country of Chernarus”.

Here’s the original clip that seems to have caused the confusion:

About the author:

Michael Freeman

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