R1 rapped again over bad language

Ofcom warns BBC radio station of possible sanction for further breaches

Broadcasting regulator Ofcom has found BBC Radio 1 in breach of its Broadcasting Code after a series of on-air incidents involving offensive language on the Chris Moyles breakfast show earlier this year.

Three separate incidents in January and February 2006 led to complaints from listeners. In one incident, Moyles had referred to women who urinated in the shower as “dirty whores”. In another, the self-styled “saviour of Radio 1” had used the word “fucking” whilst speaking to a listener on air. 

The BBC gave an assurance to Ofcom that new procedures had been introduced; including disciplinary measures for incidents of on-air swearing that could see financial penalties imposed on individual presenters or even suspension. Chris Moyles also gave an assurance that his use of language would be “more carefully managed”.

Separately, Radio 1 was also found in breach for a “wind-up” call made during the Scott Mills programme. A co-presenter had telephoned a woman at home and pretended to be from an after-school club that her son was due to attend. He outlined what he said were the “rules of the club” which included: “Rule 1: I don’t take any [bleep]” and “Rule 2: Shut the [bleep] up”. He and referred to the woman’s son as “a little [bleep]”. As the exchange continued, the co-presenter called the woman an idiot and she became increasingly angry and upset.

Ofcom said that the call had made for “uncomfortable listening” and criticised the broadcaster’s lack of adequate production procedures which had allowed transmission of a pre-recorded item which was “clearly unsuitable for broadcast” and a “serious error of judgment”.

“Although the swearing was bleeped, the frequency and severity of the language was clear. Furthermore, the tone of the call was aggressive and unpleasant,” the watchdog ruled.

In a warning to the BBC over any future breaches, Ofcom added:

“During the last year, we have published five findings concerning swearing and/or inappropriately scheduled content. Two cases were in breach of the relevant Code. A further three cases were resolved due to action taken by the broadcaster. We appreciate the wide choice of content that is broadcast by the station, but we have concerns about the number and, in some cases, the seriousness of compliance issues that have arisen…  Any future similarly serious compliance issues may result in the consideration of further regulatory action.”