Monday, March 31, 2008

Ofcom clears the Osbournes

Ofcom has weighed up the slew of complaints generated by the Brit Awards - and, in particular, the bit which consisted of Sharon Osbourne screeching obscenities at Vic Reeves - and decided that it's alright, really:

The Brits is an established pop music awards ceremony with a reputation for controversy.

Ofcom noted that, although this show is aimed at a mixed audience rather than children specifically, it was aired during half-term for many schools. However, over the years it has not attracted large numbers of the youngest viewers. As with previous years, this year’s coverage was also scheduled later in the evening, bridging the 21:00 watershed.

The incident between Sharon Osbourne and Vic Reeves, which many viewers highlighted, occurred around 21:35 . During the presentation of an award, which Vic Reeves was having some difficulty announcing, Sharon Osbourne turned to him and said: “Get on with it, you pisshead”, and shortly afterwards, “Shut up you’re pissed, piss off! Piss off you bastard. . . piss off”.

While we understand that this language may have been offensive to some viewers, it was broadcast after the watershed and in a programme with a particular reputation. We believe that regular viewers would have been aware of the likelihood of this kind of material. Further, Ofcom research indicates that the examples of language quoted are generally considered quite mild.

To which we can only say: piss off, surely?

Admittedly, the swearing did come after the 9.00 watershed, but (as far as we know) Ofcom has never formally rejected the ITC's 2002 advice that particular care should be taken with programmes which "appeal to children but start before the watershed" - which, with children's entertainers like Mika, and Sharon Osbourne off tea-time television on board, this would seem to fall into that category like a round peg into a well-lubricated round hole.

Not to mention that ITV had taken its strange step to censor the earlier outburst of bad language before nine o'clock; parents should take responsibility for their children's viewing but how are they supposed to know that ITV will send the bloke with the beeper home as soon as nine o'clock comes round?

We don't think this is a case where books should have been thrown at broadcasters, but we'd have thought that at least Ofcom could have managed a bit of a tut. Yes, the show has reputation for disarray - although not bad language - but simply because ITV tries to promote the show as a crazy, lawless place doesn't mean that it should be allowed to allow such sloppy and pointless coarseness without even the meekest protest from the regulator. That the unbridled swearing came from the host, rather than a guest, surely should make Ofcom a little uncomfortable? No?


Anonymous said...

I find it incredible that anyone can be up in arms about the use of the words 'piss' and 'bastard' at 9.35pm, whether children might be watching or not. OFCOM might be living in the shroud of Victorian morals but I'm surprised at the attitude of this post. On a scale of offensiveness, 'piss' and 'bastard' surely rank somewhere close to 'willy' and 'poo'. Hardly Kenneth Tynan is it?

simon h b said...

It's unnecessary swearing from a presenter who usually works on children's teatime TV in a programme that would have been enjoyed by children, which had earlier been masking - albeit badly - swearing. Like I say, I don't think this merited an Ofcom sanction, but I think it should have at least done more than gone 'oooh, those Brits...'

Christopher said...

"that would have been enjoyed by children"

I know our youth are dumbing down but REALLY?

Also, I don't necessarily disgaree with your point, but surely it's a tad disingenuous to try and present Sharon Osbourne as being known as a kids/teatime tv presenter? That's not even 1% of her reputation, and certainly nowhere near as much a public face as blarging out disgusting innuendo over teenage boys on X Factor, force-feeding her neighbours dog-shit whilst calling them all cunts or whatever it was she did on The Osbournes, and screeching sexist abuse at Dannii Minogue on chat shows is.

simon h b said...

It's not disingenuous - it might be tongue in cheek to describe the X Factor as a kid's show (that's Britain's Got Talent, obviously) - but effectively the Brits is a show aimed at children, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

Actually I think that no matter what Ofcom decision was the winners here are the bloody Brits. This seems to just be something to draw peoples attentions away from the fact that as presenters the Osbournes were an embarrassment an awards ceremony that doesn't really have much credibility in the first place. I guess a slap on the wrists would just have boosted their "oh look at us zany people" misplaced egos. Then again I suppose that family have been embarrassing the music industry for quite some time now.

Christopher said...

I think it's hard to tell with ITV what's aimed specifically at children and what's just childish. Personally I'd say in this case the fact that 90% of the marketing was basically "Sharon Osbourne might say a rudey" should have clued parents in as to what was going ahead. The censorship in the first half does muddy the waters slightly, but I don't really think people have much of a case here to be honest.

adhe donat said...

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