Ofcom cracks its whip

The BBC today received a reprimand from Ofcom for showing the series Britain’s Streets of Vice too early in the day. MWW covered the Daily Mail/Mediawatch-UK outrage when it was in full flow, back in March.

Ofcom received 58 complaints, and judged that

Investigations such as the Britain’s Streets of Vice series are manifestly in the public interest. However, the freedom to explore some issues may be restricted because of scheduling considerations.

Any joy this decision might have given Massah John Beyer will be short lived, however, as in the same issue Ofcom refused to censure the BBC News 24 or Sky News for broadcasting Bob Geldof saying “fuck” twice in ten minutes during a speech about poverty in Africa.

Swearwords of this strength are almost always unacceptable pre-watershed. We appreciate that the words were, in the main, used to convey a great strength of feeling. News channels do have an overwhelmingly adult audience and it was clear that, on this occasion, the language had not been used to intentionally shock or sensationalise.

But don’t let it happen again:

we would not expect to see a repetition of this and certainly not for such language to become commonplace, despite the target audience of a channel for its pre-watershed programmes. In the future, we would expect pre-watershed news bulletins to include such language only when the language, itself, is the story, rather than being incidental to it.

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