OFCOM January Swear-Words Round-Up

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In Breach

Steve Peter’s Crazy Wake-Up
Radio Solent, 3 December 2009, 05:30

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Introduction

A listener was concerned that during this breakfast show, the presenter openly promoted the word “fuck” on numerous occasions. A listener who phoned the show was heard boasting about how he had been “up to my nuts with a bird round the back of Lidls” in Southampton’s West Quay Shopping Centre the night before. The presenter then encouraged listeners to visit the shopping centre, agreeing that it “was indeed a great shagging spot”.

Response

Radio Solent acknowledged that the level of macho posturing in its flagship “zoo format” breakfast programme could often “get a bit out of hand” and ensured that it had taken steps to counter this by employing a female traffic reporter in order to redress the balance.

The broadcaster also ensured that Mr. Peter had been “severely reprimanded” over his remarks and that, as punishment, the presenter had been forced to play a pre-recorded “apology” live on air.

Decision

Although Ofcom welcomed the broadcaster’s actions, it upheld the complaint that the broadcast was in breach of Rule 10.2 (swearing in a breakfast show), levying the maximum allowable fine of £200.

Breach of Rule 10.2

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In Breach

The World’s Wildest Examples Of Police Officers Doing Their Jobs
ITV 3, 25 October 2009, 20:00

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Introduction

This episode of The World’s Wildest Examples Of Police Officers Doing Their Jobs featured the apprehension of a motorist by two uniformed officers, during which the words “fuck off” and “you cunt” were clearly audible. The suspect then noticed the crew filming from beside the police car and began to issue threats towards the camera, which included several inappropriate hand gestures. He then proceeded to use several post-watershed terms, such as “cocksucker”, “prick”, “asshole” (arsehole) and “motherfucker”.

Response

ITV said that it takes instances of pre-watershed swearing “extremely seriously” and that it had actively sought to serve punishment on the culprit, in this case the motorist Jim Treal, who had subsequently been imprisoned for aggravated burglary two years after the footage was filmed in 1995.

The station was adamant that it had dealt with the situation decisively and effectively, and that a message had been sent to Mr. Treal in California State Penitentiary over the inappropriateness of his outburst, especially given the time of its broadcast. Mr. Treal was said to be “deeply sorry” over any embarrassment and offence his actions may have caused.

Decision

Ofcom notes ITV’s acceptance that the material did not comply with the appropriate pre-watershed standards and the compliance measures it has taken in response to this. However, the broadcast of this material was in breach of Rule 2.14 (pre-watershed American swearing)

Breach of Rule 2.14

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Not In Breach

F***ball’s Swearing Bloopers
ITV4, 6 December 2009, 12:25

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Introduction

F***ball’s Swearing Bloopers is a series of lighthearted programmes focusing on real life footballing mishaps which often involves mild swearing. In this particular episode a crowd member at a local club match was heard to shout “Jacobs, you fucking waste of space…fuck’s sake!”. After being warned by a steward the man calmed down until midway through the second half of the match when he became aggrieved at the referee’s decision to award a free-kick to the opposing team. He was clearly heard shouting “This ref’s a fucking shithouse! Get him off the fucking pitch!”

One viewer complained that this broadcast, and in particular the language contained therein, were in direct contravention of Rule 1.14 of the Code (the most offensive language should not be broadcast before the watershed).

Response

ITV argued that the program title gave clear indication as to its content and that its timeslot reflected the needs of its core audience, many of whom would be preparing to go to football matches themselves.

Whilst acknowledging that such language was unacceptable at this time of day, the channel also argued that the remarks were valid in the context of the situations shown in the programme and that any men, women and children watching would have heard (and no doubt themselves used) similar remarks at football grounds throughout the country.

The station asked that the regulator (Ofcom) take into mitigation the fact that there was only one complaint received regarding the transmission of the programme.

Decision

Our research indicates that the word “fuck” and its derivatives are an example of the most offensive language, apart from when used in the context of football. Ofcom acknowledges that football can be a tense game and that the pressure can often tell on players and crowd members alike, resulting in the frequent use of words such as “fuck” and “shit” as justifiable expressions of frustration.

Rule 1.14 states that the most offensive language should not be broadcast before the watershed, however, in this instance, an exception was made due to the nature of the program and the sort of people who are likely to watch it.

Ofcom advised the channel in future to either include a warning of the programme’s contents or to make adequate sound adjustments to filter out any bad language.

Not In Breach

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4 Responses to “”

  1. dleighmiad Says:

    Fucking shit, this is hysterical! By the way, what’s considered “American swearing”?

  2. falsenews Says:

    I suppose it would be saying “asshole” as opposed to “arsehole” – or just cursing in an American accent….

  3. dleighmiad Says:

    Gotcha. I think Americans invented the word “motherfucker”. You’re welcome!

  4. falsenews Says:

    A beautiful fusion of two inappropriately mismatched words. My favourite piece of gratuitous swearing was the “beloved cunt” episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm.

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