Stations in breach over swearing in songs

Two community stations, Beyond Radio and First FM, have been found in breach for airing songs containing swearing.

Ofcom received a complaint about Lancaster and Morecombe’s Beyond Radio playing I Can’t Quit by The Vaccines, which included offensive language, at around 3.10 in the afternoon.

The station said the track was labelled as a “radio edit” by its music supplier and this mistakenly led them to believe that the track “was radio safe”. They added that following this incident further training and guidance had been given to the whole station team.

Ofcom decided that the song was broadcast during half-term at a time when children were likely to be listening and that the majority of listeners would be unlikely to expect programmes to contain the most offensive language at this time. Their decision was a breach of Rules 1.14 and 2.3.

Meanwhile, First FM which serves the Oxford area played SexyBack by Justin Timberlake, containing offensive language, at 7.52 in the evening which prompted a complaint to Ofcom.

The station responded that First FM “has a very strict ‘no profanity at any time’ policy”. They explained that although this programme had been produced by Flash FM, an online radio station also based in Oxford, the presenters “had received training and were operating under the terms” of their policy.

There had been a technical issue which caused the presenters having to use a Flash FM production system for music as a work around. This computer contained music that had not been vetted for broadcast.

First FM said they had suspended all ‘Flash FM’ programming indefinitely and understood that the programme presenters had now left the station. They also said that they’d put in place additional processes and policies, including additional checks to vet the music.

Ofcom’s decision was that the broadcast of this language was not justified by the context and was therefore a breach of rule 2.3 of the code.

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Posted on Monday, June 4th, 2018 at 3:31 pm by UK - Steve Collins

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6 Comments
  1. Radio Geordie says

    I’m not in the radio business but even I know that “Radio Edit” means a shortened version of the track. It has nothing to do with editing out offensive language.
    Surely the licence holder would’ve known that?

    1. Jeff C says

      Agreed. ‘Radio Edit’ is a shortened version of a track. They should label their tracks as ‘Censored’ or ‘Clean’ The excuses as to why this keeps happening is either down to inexperience or someone else is to blame.

  2. D says

    If someone had shut Mary Whitehouse up before she started on here high horse perhaps we would have a better world.

    Everyone (adult and kids alike) use words that cause a reaction, remove the reaction and those words hold no meaning. It’s the fact everyone complains about words because they have been taught that they are bad without question that every generation has forgotten why they were deemed bad in the first place.

    I’d change the law to make people appreciate swear words, and to ensure their use is not punished, to ultimately water those words down and remove their current meanings.

  3. Stephen Hall says

    Am I alone in thinking much ado about nothing?
    I don’t think any licenced broadcaster sets out to play profane music but, in a part of the industry where things are outsourced and there aren’t armies of producers to triple-check everything, it will happen occasionally. Utterly different from a hired presenter having a rant about a minority group etc. where clearly there has been either a failure of training or a misjudgement in hiring them in the first place.

  4. neal says

    Yet again as with another item here today regarding KLFM OFCOM as usual worried about a crack in a window while the whole roof has blown away. Becoming clear now as to why the big guns keep getting away with blue murder-obviously the whole OFCOM staff spend their time monitoring the small fry while certain big boys continue to run riot! Wonder if we will ever go back to the days in this world where it does not always come down to “money talks” above integrity and doing the right thing?! Doubt it!

    1. Peter Griffin says

      Very true indeed

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