talkSPORT have admitted breaching Ofcom’s Broadcasting Code when presenter Andy Gray swore on-air, and failed to apologise as the incident went un-noticed.
It wasn’t picked up by talkSPORT’s presenters or producers at the time of the broadcast, however Ofcom subsequently received a complaint from a listener.
In a handover chat in August, Richard Keys asked Gray to choose the better partnership of football strikers.. talkSPORT’s breakfast presenter Alan Brazil and his Ipswich Town team-mate Paul Mariner, or Andy Gray and his Everton team-mate Graeme Sharp.
talkSPORT told the regulator: “Someone breathed loudly into the mic as Gray muttered under his breath ‘err…f**king hell…err’…and then answered the question.” The station said that the producer of the programme did not hear the phrase, and would have used its time delay to dump the language if it had been audible. Meanwhile Andy Gray thought he was not speaking directly into the microphone at the time, and the other presenters thought he said ‘flippin’ hell’.
The show’s producer only became aware of the language used after a colleague told him hours after the incident, and because of this, no apology was broadcast during the programme. The station also failed to spot two emails which complained about the language being used, and said that this was missed among the “hundreds of emails, texts and tweets” received during the show.
TalkSPORT also told Ofcom that “during a handover period there can be up to seven production staff from both programmes in a control room at one time discussing programme issues and this heightened activity could lead to such matters in a live programme not being picked up.”
Since the incident, talkSPORT’s Programme Director, Moz Dee, has asked “for everyone in the studio and control room to concentrate on listening to live output at all times, particularly during hectic peaks such as handovers”. Dee has also “made clear that production staff working on the next programme should not enter the control room and begin to take over until pre-recorded material is being played out”.
Ofcom said that it did not consider that listeners to talkSPORT would expect “the most offensive language” to be used during an exchange between experienced presenters in the morning. It also noted “that even after the offensive language had been brought to Talksport staff’s attention subsequently both by a colleague and two emails from listeners, no apology was broadcast… Ofcom considers that an error of this nature made by a presenter would require an apology at the earliest opportunity to mitigate any offence caused.”
Ofcom found talkSPORT in breach of its Rule 1.14, which states that the most offensive language must not be broadcast on radio when children are particularly likely to be listening; and Rule 2.3, that the potential offence was not justified by the context.