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Complaint upheld for Heart Scotland incident

A technical problem, which caused a private conversation to be broadcast on Heart Scotland, has put the station in breach of the broadcasting code.

One person complained about the incident, which put presenters Robin and Adele on-air after their show had finished at 10am, as they were recording content for an upcoming programme. Their conversation was heard in the background during a news bulletin but was clearly audible afterwards.

Global says it did not intended to broadcast the offensive language but broadcast an apology over an hour later. Co-presenter Adele could be heard saying “… Oh it’s a shame that flat’s away. Sh*t. Motherf*cker”.

Ofcom said listeners to this breakfast show would not have expected to hear the most offensive language broadcast at this time of day.

At 11:15, a message was broadcasting saying: “Kelly Clarkson on Heart. Just want to apologise, due to some technical problems that left the studio live on air earlier, some listeners in the east of Scotland may have heard some content that shouldn’t have been broadcast and we sincerely apologise for any offence caused”.

It happened at approximately 10am on a Tuesday during school term time. Ofcom therefore considered that this was not a time when children would be particularly likely to be listening.

But, Rule 2.3 of the Broadcasting Code says “In applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context […]. Such material may include, but is not limited to, offensive language, […]. Appropriate information should also be broadcast where it would assist in avoiding or minimising offence.”

In response, owners Global explained that, due to a technical problem affecting one of its transmitters, at the end of the breakfast show “a post-show, private conversation between the two presenters was unintentionally broadcast” which “affected a relatively small number of listeners in the east of Scotland”.

The Licensee acknowledged that the conversation contained “inappropriate language that clearly was not suitable for broadcast in this context”.

Global Radio said that once it became aware of the problem “the programming team aimed to issue an apology” as soon as possible to mitigate any offence. However, as a result of another technical issue the apology was not broadcast at the first attempt, but was aired “shortly after”.

The Licensee stated that while it had not intended to broadcast the offensive language it was “taking the incident very seriously”. It had “reminded the presenters via formal letter of [its] station policy that all discussions in a studio should be suitable for broadcast”.

RadioToday reported on the incident at the time and you can read more about what happened here.

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