Brit Consumers Slam Offensive Language in Ads

13 December 2000

Delete Expletives?, a survey of 1,033 British adults conducted by NOP on behalf of the Advertising Standards Authority, the Broadcasting Standards Authority, the Independent Television Commission and the BBC, reveals that a majority of Britons want offensive language banned from TV commercial and other ads, even those screened after the 9pm ‘watershed’.

The study probed the extent to which people will tolerate foul language in ads and TV programmes, finding a greater degree of tolerance when it appeared in paid-for media such as newspapers and magazines.

Topping the list of taboo expletives is “cunt”, followed closely by "motherfucker", "fuck" and "wanker". Racial abuse is also less acceptable than two years ago when similar research was undertaken. “Nigger" rose from 11th to fifth position among the words causing most offence while "Paki" jumped from 17th to tenth.

Swearing, it seems, is less acceptable in TV commercials than in programmes, with 80% of the sample insisting that ads should not include obscenities – even beyond the 9pm watershed. Yet stronger views were expressed on outdoor advertising, ninety-five per cent of respondents demanding stricter controls on on posters because of the visibility of offensive language to children.

The study clearly shows that strong language is still a matter of great concern to viewers, averred ITC chief executive Patricia Hodgson: "We expect broadcasters and TV advertisers to take careful note of these findings," she said.

ASA director general Christopher Graham noted: "This research will help advertisers to distinguish between what might be acceptable in targeted media, such as magazines, and what causes offence on posters in the high street.”

News Source: CampaignLive (UK)