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Ofcom warns against swearing in songs

Ofcom has received various complaints about numerous radio stations broadcasting songs containing swear words.

Total Star Wiltshire and community stations Brick FM and Bishop FM were all found in breach of licence, whilst complaints against BBC Radio 1, BBC Essex and Capital FM were resolved.

Brick FM, which broadcasts to Newton St Boswells and the surrounding area in the Scottish Borders played a song called More Punany by Dr Evil. When asked about the song, which contains the F-word twice and various sexual references, station bosses said they “did not hear the offending words when broadcast”.

Regarding the material itself, Brick FM said that a “punany” was a “sandwich sold locally and is made of Italian bread with cheese and tomato which is heated up” and therefore did not accept the song “More Punany” had sexual connotations. Brick FM also maintained that the F-Word is “a commonly used word in Scotland, as a description, when something goes wrong or if they get angry or upset” rather than a sexual act giving the phrases “f—cars or f—crazy” as examples. It argued that it had “the right to use the commonly spoken word which is not considered offensively locally” and claimed that Ofcom was “unfamiliar with our [its] local dialect”

Ofcom disagreed.

Total Star Wiltshire, during the “Howard Taylor at Breakfast” show, broadcast the full version of Outhere Brother’s single Boom Boom Boom, with many references to sexual activities. But even though it was at 9:45am, a time when Ofcom agreed many Children wouldn’t be listening, the regulator still found lyrics such as “Let me take you from behind” and “Put your ‟nani on my tongue, and your booty on my face” unacceptable.

At Bishop FM in County-Durham, Ofcom received a complaint from a listener who had been listening to a programme called School’s Out with their 11-year old daughter. The complainant objected to the station playing a song by Eminem containing several offensive words.

The station said: “We deeply regret this and offer our sincere apologies to the listener concerned”. Bishop FM said that during this edition of School‟s Out volunteers at the station “were working with the children in the studio to plan their next link and unfortunately the song played out for over a minute before they realised the nature of its content”.

A complaint was also made against Radio 1 for swear words going out during live music at the Big Weekend, and against BBC Introducing in Essex in which an unsigned band used the F-Word. Both cases were resolved.

Finally, a listener made a complaint against Capital Radio East Midlands for playing the non-radio version of Do it like a Dude by Jessie J during James Barr’s show. Global Radio put the event down to presenter error but said the song was cut after 30 seconds.

The regulator has said, in light of these incidents, it will be requesting that a number of radio broadcasters across the industry who transmit such programming attend a meeting at Ofcom to discuss the compliance of such material.

You can read about all these complaints are more in the latest Broadcast Bulletin.

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