Complaints surge over swearing on TV and radio

Record numbers of people are complaining about the use of foul language on TV and radio programmes.

Ofcom, the communications regulator, received 500 complaints in the first three months of this year, and has been asked to rule on a further 1,159 complaints from 2009.

These figures represent a significant increase since 2006 when there were 841 complaints.


Critics have attacked the use of obscene language, and called on Ofcom to impose stricter guidelines.

Vivienne Pattison, director of Mediawatch-UK, said: “This kind of language is not tolerated in the office or in the playground, so why is it on television?

“Ofcom’s guidelines should also be tightened up so it is really clear what is acceptable and what is not. And when a company breaches the guidelines there should be real sanctions.”


However, a spokesman for Ofcom claimed that it had no evidence that the use of offensive language was increasing.

He added: “We think our sanctions are sufficiently strong and that the Broadcasting Code is sufficiently clear.”

Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay attracted a large number of complaints after he used one swear word 115 times during his Ramsay’s Great British Nightmare series last year.


And music channel MTV Live was recently reprimanded by Ofcom after the channel broadcast pop singer Lady Gaga using obscene language at 4pm.

Last September Channel 4 said that it was responding to a “shift in the public mood” by cutting down the amount of swearing in its programmes.

The channel’s Chief Executive, Andy Duncan, said programmes such as Jamie’s Ministry of Food and Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares USA had attracted criticism for their heavy use of expletives.


And in October the BBC revealed that it had plans to clamp down on swearing even after the 9pm watershed.

New BBC guidelines for regulating bad language on the corporation’s TV, radio and internet output were released to the public for their comments.