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Capital London F-word complaint resolved

Ofcom has investigated a complaint about the broadcast of a short excerpt of a song on London’s 95.8 Capital FM which included the f-word.

After talking to station owners Global Radio, the regulator decided not to uphold the complaint as the music was aired as part of a technical problem when the computer playout system crashed.

It happened during Roberto’s mid-morning show on 4 October at around 11am. Following a period of silence, around 13 seconds of the track ‘Loca People’ by Sak Noel aired, which included the words “all day, all night, what the fuck”. The music then stopped, there was another period of silence and then normal scheduling resumed.

Around 15 minutes later the presenter apologised to listeners, saying “I owe you an apology, really sorry if any offence was caused when the wrong version of Sak Noel, Loca People went out, it’s a technical problem…”

In its decision to consider the matter resolved, Ofcom noted that 11am on a Tuesday during school term time was a time when children weren’t particularly likely to have been listening.

Global said that the playout system had crashed, with the presenter pressing play on a back-up CD kept in the studio. “Unfortunately on this occasion, the back-up CD had been replaced with a CD containing an explicit
version of the track ‘Loca People’ by Sak Noel,” said Global Radio in their response to Ofcom. “The explicit version of this track is only being broadcast overnight, and it had been provided to the relevant presenter on
a CD, rather than scheduled through our playout system, to eradicate any risk of human error in scheduling the explicit track instead of the radio edit.”

Roberto stopped the track after hearing the expletive and switched control to another studio while the playout computer was rebooted. Once the main studio was back on air, he made an apology for any offence caused by the error.

Capital told Ofcom that they ‘accepted entirely that the track was inappropriate and stated that it had been caused by a simple technical issue.’ The station added that it has underlined to staff the importance of its
emergency procedure and made it clear that in the event of an emergency, staff ‘must check what‟s in the CD deck before playing it’.

Ofcom decided that, while the broadcast of the F-word had the potential to offend and ‘went beyond the expectations of the audience for a DJ-led midweek, mid-morning programme of this type aimed at a wide audience, on a hits-based music station’, the track was broadcast a result of human error and a full apology made on air as soon as possible.

A spokesman for the regulator said: “Given the measures taken by the Licensee to prevent further offensive language being broadcast during the live programming, and the steps taken by Global to reduce the risk of a similar mistake occurring again and deal with this matter directly with the complainant concerned, Ofcom considers the matter resolved.”

Earlier this year, Ofcom warned stations about the broadcast of swear words in songs following a number of complaints relating to stations across community, commercial and BBC radio.

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