London community radio station Rinse FM has been found in breach of the Ofcom code for repeatedly broadcasting songs featuring the F-word.
The station – which targets 15 to 24 year olds with an interest in urban music – hadn’t apologised on air following a ten-minute period that included five uses of the expletive.
A listener, parent to a 12 year old boy, complained to Ofcom about the prevalence of offensive language in songs broadcast by the station, giving the afternoon of 30 March 2011 as an example when her son had been listening.
When approached by Ofcom, Rinse FM accepted that ‘some of the language used during the stated broadcast was inappropriate’ and unreservedly apologised for any offence it caused to listeners. The station only went on air in February and said its ‘compliance function was not fully operational at that time.’ The station added that they are currently running seminars for volunteers and presenters to explain the importance of complying with Ofcom rules and regulations, and had issued staff with copies of the Broadcast Code after being alerted to the problem.
Ofcom concluded that, given the time of day (2-5pm) and the target age range of the station, it was likely that ‘a significant number of children would have been listening’. It noted Rinse FM’s explanation and the remedial action it took to prevent further occurrences, but decided that the station was in breach of the Broadcast Code Rule 1.14.
Ofcom added: “Irrespective of the fact that at the time of the complaint the station was less than two months into its five-year licence, we were concerned that Rinse FM management had not detected these incidents before we brought them to their attention, nor briefed all of its presenters about fundamental Code issues such as the broadcast of the most offensive language before allowing them to go to air.”