Following ten days of public pressure Ofcom, the UK’s media watchdog, has said it will launch an investigation into sleazy dance routines on The X Factor.
The routines, by popstars Christina Aguilera and Rihanna, prompted anger and now almost 4,500 complaints have been received by the watchdog, and The X Factor’s broadcaster – ITV.
Last week Ofcom was criticised for its seeming inability to decide whether to investigate, despite the numerous complaints it had received at the time.
Now Ofcom is set to look into whether The X Factor broke a broadcasting regulation which protects children from unsuitable material.
Many critics, including equalities minister Lynne Featherstone and former Conservative MP Ann Widdecombe, have hit out at the routines.
Miss Featherstone said: “It was a bit much because so many young kids – seven and eight-year-olds – watch it.”
Miss Widdecombe commented: “It is before the watershed so parents are entitled to some consideration from the TV bosses.”
Mike Stock, one third of the well known 80s pop factory Stock, Aitken and Waterman, said that the show was “scraping the bottom of the barrel”.
And Dr Linda Papadopoulos, who wrote a Home Office report on the sexualisation of children, said: “Children are being bombarded with the message that being sexy and being sexual is the way to be appreciated or to be validated. This is a terrible message to be sending out.”
Vivienne Pattison, director of radio and television watchdog Mediawatch UK, said: “We have a broadcasting code that expects certain things to be post-watershed and I think that one crossed the line.”
A spokesman for the Mothers’ Union said: “Do you want a society where young people think their worth is defined by sex appeal – because this is what is being normalised.”
A spokeswoman for ITV has said it was “confident that the performances given by our guest artistes” were “appropriate for the show”.
The show was aired between 7 and 9pm on 11 December and was watched by millions, including up to an estimated four million children.
The regulator will assess whether the show broke section 1.3 of the broadcasting code, which states that “children must be protected by appropriate scheduling from material that is unsuitable for them”.
In the controversial dances Christina Aguilera appeared on stage in a tiny black dress accompanied by a number of female dancers wearing underwear as they danced suggestively.
Rihanna took to the stage in a full length gown which she removed before performing the remainder of her routine in her underwear.