Radio 1 rebuked over swearing

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Published: Monday 20th October 2014 by The News Editor

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Radio 1 has been rebuked by watchdog Ofcom for breaching the broadcasting code with swearing during its Big Weekend.

Listeners heard Lily Allen and Ed Sheeran swear during the live broadcast of the music event in Glasgow.

Sheezus singer Allen said f*** six times, between around 5.30pm and 6pm, while Sheeran used the word f****** just before 7pm.

On-air presenter Scott Mills had warned listeners that the singers’ sets could contain “strong language” during the broadcast in May.

The BBC said that it had undertaken a “comprehensive risk assessment” and that singers were told not to swear.

It said that on the “relatively rare” occasions that there was swearing, there was an immediate apology.

The BBC said that it had considered cutting away from Allen’s set twice during her performance, but a senior producer decided to continue because apologies had been given and it was believed that few children would be listening.

But it said that in retrospect, Radio 1 should have stopped broadcasting live during Allen’s set.

Ofcom said that the offensive language was broadcast at a time when children were likely to be listening.

It pointed to a previous incident, in 2011, from the same event, when offensive language was used by the Black Eyed Peas.

On that occasion, the issue was resolved but broadcasters were warned that they should take steps to avoid strong language during live performances.

Ofcom said that as “Radio 1 was both the event promoter and broadcaster” of Big Weekend, it had a lot of control over the scheduling of performances.

As Allen was known to use strong language “it was reasonably predictable that her set could contain the most offensive language”, it said.

“The BBC also had the option of cutting away from Lily Allen’s set after the first occasion when she used the most offensive language but failed to do so,” it added.

Finding the broadcast in breach, Ofcom concluded: “In light of Ofcom’s decision in 2011, we considered that the BBC should have been more aware of this risk when broadcasting the same event in 2014.

“We are concerned that it did not take more measures both before and during the broadcast to ensure compliance … taking into account that the event was to be broadcast at a time when children were particularly likely to be listening.”

Published: Monday 20th October 2014 by The News Editor

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