Community radio station Phonic FM has been rapped by Ofcom after broadcasting a song containing a four-letter word.
The regulator found the Exeter-based station had breached its Broadcasting Code when it played “Road To Joy” by Bright Eyes in its programme “The Buzz”, at 11.55am on a Friday during the summer holidays.
The song contained the lyrics “Well I could have been a famous singer if I had someone else’s voice, but failure’s always sounded better, let’s f*ck it up boys, make some noise”. Phonic FM said that the presenter was not the regular host of the show, and usually presented in the evening, but was standing in at fairly short notice. It said that while presenters have specific instructions about the course of action to take in the event of a breach of station rules, on this occasion, coming to the end of the show in question, the presenter had no chance to redress the offence by offering an apology. Phonic FM added that most of its presenters have “no access to material with ‘radio edits’ and therefore have to produce their own edits for broadcasting”.
Ofcom found the station had breached two of its Broadcasting Code rules. Rule 1.14 states that the most offensive language must not be broadcast on radio when children are particularly likely to be listening. Ofcom says that as well as breakfast time and the school run, “based on analysis of audience listening data, and previous Ofcom decisions, radio broadcasters should have particular regard to broadcasting content… between 06:00 and 19:00 at weekends all year around, and in addition, during the same times from Monday to Fridays during school holidays.”
Rule 2.3 requires broadcasters to ensure that the broadcast of potentially offensive material must be justified by the context. Ofcom felt that “the majority of listeners to a community radio station playing a broad range of music and speech at this time of day do not expect programmes to contain the most offensive language. As a result the broadcast of this language was not justified by the context.”
Phonic FM told the regulator that its presenters would now receive additional training to make them more aware of the compliance framework regarding offensive lyrics and language.