Archive for the ‘Ofcom’ Category

March 2, 2010

OFCOM February Swear-Words Round-Up

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In Breach

Your Hits
VH1, 8 January 2010, 18:30

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Introduction

Your Hits is a music request show which airs on weekday afternoons on popular music channel VH1. It allows viewers to send “text” messages, which are then shown on screen during music videos. A viewer complained about one such message, broadcast on screen at around 18.30hrs, which read: “I carn’t believe your all such cunts!”. The viewer expressed concern over the level of grammar, especially given its pre-watershed time slot. They also asked to point out that the correct expression should have been: “I can’t believe you’re all cunts!”.

Response

VH1 defended the broadcast, arguing that the message still made sense overall, and that all messages are subject to a rigorous moderation process before being displayed on screen. Nevertheless, the station apologised in this instance and assured Ofcom that the necessary steps were in place to prevent this from happening again in future.

Decision

Ofcom acknowledges that the use of so-called “text” messaging can lead to instances of bad grammar from time to time. Ofcom also took into mitigation the station’s willingness to comply in future, although the broadcast was found to be in breach of Rule 15.8 (Inappropriate Grammar During Early Evening Broadcasts), incurring the maximum possible fine for such a breach of £30.

Breach of Rule 15.8

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In Breach

Look At Me, I’m Alex Zane
Xfm, 16 November 2009, 08:10

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Introduction

Xfm is a London-based franchise owned by GCap Media, on which public school-educated white men in their late 30s pretend to like guitar bands nobody has ever heard of, whilst playing records by Travis and U2. Several complaints were received after a caller to Alex Zane’s breakfast show was heard to say “Why do you play so much corporate shit? Was that a ‘corporate’ decision?.” He later became more confrontational with the host, saying: “You’re just some yes-sir-no-sir public school cocksucker, aren’t you? Fucking lanky-haired prick!”. The presenter quickly cut to a record by Nickleback before issuing an apology.

Response

GCap Media insisted that Xfm was “still hip” and that it focussed its output to the requirements of its target market – i.e. young, successful city types in their 20s and 30s. It did, however, admit that its playlist adjustments could occasionally lead to swearing from fans of the station’s old format. The media group insisted that the matter had been dealt with “in-house”, and that no further action was required.

Decision

Ofcom sympathises with the obvious difficulties facing the broadcaster as it strives to attract a more mainstream audience and generate greater revenue. The station was unfortunately found to have breached Rule 4.5 (Playlist-Amendment-Related Swearing) and was issued a fine of £150.

Breach of Rule 4.5

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In Breach

Another Shit Dancing Show
BBC1, 16 January 2010, 19:10

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Introduction

Another Shit Dancing Show is a popular early-evening family show on BBC1 in which couples dance before a panel of judges, who then award a score based on the attractiveness of each dancer. The public then vote on who they believe has the best personality and the scores are combined, resulting in the elimination of the couple who the production team likes the least. A viewer complained that the show’s title contained disturbing post-watershed language.

Response

When questioned on this, the BBC told the regulator that the show’s title was deliberately chosen to be provocative, as the broadcaster believed that the show’s target audience wouldn’t notice the title’s offensiveness amongst the loud music, incredible dresses and the camp hyperbole of the show’s hosts and judging panel.

Decision

Unfortunately for the broadcaster, one viewer drew attention to the titular offence after tuning into the programme by chance, having becoming fed up with ITV1 showing another repeat of You’ve Been Framed. The BBC was found in breach of Rule 13.5 (Ballroom Swearing) and as such Ofcom had no other choice than to impose the maximum possible fine of Bruce Forsyth in this instance.

Breach of Rule 13.5

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February 1, 2010

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