Just one complaint was received by Ofcom after a football phone-in on BBC Radio Sheffield broadcast a caller who was clearly heard as describing the goalkeeper of the home side in a non-pleasant way by using the F and C words. The listener who complained said that the language used was offensive.
In response, the BBC said that it very much regretted the offence caused. The caller had spoken in reasonable terms when talking to the production team before being put on air. The caller had then exploited this opportunity by insulting the opposing team’s goalkeeper.
The presenter, with speed, firmness and clarity, closed down the call in a way that the broadcaster felt was exemplary. He made it clear that the language was unacceptable and offered an unreserved apology to the audience.
Callers using this type of language were rare as calls were always carefully vetted. At times when emotions ran high, the station had a practice of warning would-be callers against the use of strong language. As a result of the incident, programme teams were asked to take particular care at all times, but especially at contentious moments, before allowing away fans to give their views. During the rest of the season, fewer such contributions were used.
Ofcom resolved the matter by stating that the language used was unacceptable in this context but recognised that this call was unprovoked and would have been very difficult for the broadcaster to have anticipated. In view of the steps the broadcaster has taken to try to prevent anything similar happening in future, Ofcom considered the matter resolved.