Clampdown on offensive language on the radio

Media regulator Ofcom has moved to clampdown on offensive language on the radio amid concerns that children are being exposed to inappropriate material.

It says that broadcasting offensive language when children are likely to be listening has “frequently been the focus of complaints”.

In October the watchdog censured one radio station for playing a track which repeated one swear words 41 times at 7.30 in the morning.


Now Ofcom, which has a statutory duty to protect young people, has issued new guidance saying that listeners “do not expect to hear strong language during the day on radio” even if children are unlikely to be listening.

It has also warned broadcasters that children must be protected from songs with clear references to drugs and sex.

The guidance says that “broadcasters should avoid broadcasting lyrics that clearly focus on the taking of drugs, sexual acts or behaviour, or convey a clearly sexualised theme, when children are particularly likely to be listening.”


The guidance also urges broadcasters to take measures to prevent bad language being broadcast during live performances and programmes.

In October it emerged that Ofcom had clamped down on scantily clad singers and dancers appearing on TV before the 9pm watershed.

In guidance issued at the time Ofcom warned broadcasters that before 9pm it “would not expect to see singers and dancers wearing clothing that does not adequately cover their bodies (in particular their breasts, genital area and buttocks)”.


The watchdog also cautioned broadcasters to take “particular care” with “family shows” – programmes that attract a significant child audience despite not being made for children.

In relation to music videos broadcast before the watershed, Ofcom gave guidance on issues including sexual images, clothing and dancing.

It warned that while “music videos will rarely contain sexually explicit images”, the “cumulative effect of certain images or combination of images can result in material of a sexualised nature in music videos which is unsuitable for child viewers and could cause offence”.

Related Resources