A complaint by one listener to Scott Mill's Badly Bleeped TV feature on BBC Radio 1 has resulted in Ofcom finding the presenter in breach of a broadcasting code.
The feature, which bleeps a bunch none non-swear words to reveal a potentially offensive word either side of the bleep, is a favourite with listeners and fits in with the style of the show.
On this occasion, two of the clips included words that began with ‘f’ and these were edited in such a way that the listener believed that he had heard the word “fu*k”.
Ofcom wrote to the BBC for its comments under Rule 1.14 of the Code ( the most offensive language must not be broadcast before the watershed or when children are particularly likely to be listening).
The BBC responded that “Badly Bleeped TV” is one of the more popular items on Scott Mills and that it considered that the item is in line with the level of satire and humour that the programme’s audience would expect from the show. It acknowledged that the feature is somewhat “risqué”. However it maintained that the words omitted from the extracts are “entirely innocuous” in nature, with the humour of the item resting in the listeners recognising in their minds a similarity between the remaining parts of the ‘bleeped’ word and a potentially offensive word. It belongs to “the saucy seaside postcard tradition of comedy, than to anything more offensive”.
The BBC said that the words that were ‘bleeped’, as referred to by the complainant, were “fated to meet” and “fantastic”. The word “fuck” was therefore not used and the words that were ‘bleeped’ bore no resemblance to that word. It said the real missing words were revealed very quickly, leaving the listener in no doubt as to what was omitted.
Ofcom said it accepts that the feature itself was in keeping with the irreverent humour of the Scott Mills show and that its suggestive style was likely to have been in line with the expectations of regular listeners. A variety of ‘bleeped’ words were included which gave the first impression of being something offensive, but which it transpired were innocent. In these cases, no offence could be caused to the audience since the potentially offensive words were not audible.