Undeleted Expletives Irk UK Broadcast Regulator

18 July 2007

LONDON: In a nation seemingly unfazed by terrorism, war, drug abuse and global warming, it is puzzling to read of the outrage caused by a handful of UK broadcasters who aired the time-honoured Anglo-Saxon expletive "f**k" and its derivatives.

British communications regulator Ofcom this week expressed its anger on behalf of an affronted nation, issuing a stern rebuke to the five transgressors - BBC Radio 2, Channel 5, digital channel Five Life, The Business Channel and ITV4.

Upholding complaints from members of the public, Ofcom cited a "weakness" in Radio 2's compliance procedures and warned the station it was "not the first occasion on which inappropriate language has been transmitted on Radio 2".

The BBC apologised "unreservedly", conceding that the language, aired in Saturday lunchtime sitcom Green Guide to Life, starring comedian Jack Dee, was "completely inappropriate". The programme had originally been scheduled for transmission at 10pm.

Channel Five committed a similar sin at 3.30pm while airing French-Canadian movie The Last Casino. Although the F-word itself was almost inaudible, the atrocity was compounded by its appearance in the film's subtitles.

Sibling channel Five Life was also slapped on the wrist for a factual programme, Build a New Life in the Country, the rural charm of which was enhanced by featuring the dread verb, plus its adjectival and past tense variants.

Next in line for a draconian 'tsssk' was Blood on the Carpet, aired on The Business Channel in which the word "hell" accompanied the F-epithet.

And to round things off, the final offender was a good old-fashioned copper, heard but not seen, in ITV4's Police Patrol Uncut.

Ofcom is clearly not in accord with 18th century English philosopher Mary Wollstonecraft's dictum: "Minute attention to propriety stops the growth of virtue."

Data sourced from MediaGuardian.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff