BBC told to ban bad language before 10

The BBC is considering banning swearing before 10pm on its flagship channel, after viewers complained they were fed up with bad language.

The BBC Trust has proposed a new plan that would mean offensive words would be cut out or bleeped out of programmes for another hour after the 9pm watershed.

The suggestion comes after a BBC report was commissioned following the Jonathan Ross-Russell Brand controversy.

Over 18,000 complaints were made after the pair broadcast obscene messages they had left on actor Andrew Sachs’ answer phone.

Mr Ross was told to cut down on crude comments before returning to his show after a twelve week ban resulting from the Sachs scandal.

The findings from the new BBC report revealed that a third of viewers had raised “unprompted” concerns about bad language.

The BBC Trust has now recommended that the most offensive swear words should only be broadcast in “exceptional circumstances” on BBC1 between 9pm and 10pm.

Don Foster, the Liberal Democrat culture spokesman, welcomed the change, saying: “Three cheers! At long last they have listened to what the vast majority of the public want.

“Most people don’t want the large amount of swearing that is bedevilling society.”

Journalist and Anglican minister George Pitcher wrote in The Daily Telegraph that the “most telling comment to emerge” from the viewer survey “came from a young man in his twenties.

“‘I swear when I’m in the pub with my mates,’ he said. ‘But I’d never swear in front of my mum. I’d hate it if the BBC just gave up on the idea that you don’t swear in certain situations.'”

Mr Pitcher added: “The findings and their consequences are a bitter blow to the self-satisfied habitués of the BBC.

“These are media managers who were formed in the liberal heyday of the Seventies, when, frankly, we were all busy undermining the fuddy-duddy mores of Lord Reith’s generation – liberal central-casting had given us John Cleese in a bowler hat, to laugh and point at those stuffy standards.

“Dangerously, they grew up to believe that the cultural experiments of their youth had established a social continuum of vulgarity.

“Bluntly, BBC execs became as embarrassing as all middle-aged men and women who think they are still down with the kids.”

Mr Pitcher concluded that “the truth is that the public is now holding what it pays for to moral account. And the BBC is found wanting.”

The BBC research also showed that 46 per cent of viewers thought TV standards had fallen in recent years in the areas of morality, values and behaviour.

Earlier this week the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) announced changes to its guidelines.

Under revised plans discriminatory language or “potentially offensive content, relating to such matters as race, gender, religion, disability or sexuality” could now lead to a higher age rating than before.

The new guidelines have been described by the BBFC as a “tweak”, and Peter Johnson, the BBFC’s head of policy, said that while discriminatory language had always been taken into account when making rating decisions, it would now be seen as a priority matter.

“What the research told us was that for the public this is now as important as drugs or horror or sex”, he said.

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