It's a bumper Christmas special sized Ofcom complaints bulletin this month, kicking off with TalkSport's £20,000 fine for James Whale endorsing Boris Johnson for London mayor. It would have been more but Ofcom were worried that a larger fine might make it difficult for TalkSport to make the kind of programmes its known for - which, you might think, would be reason alone to fine at least into six figures.
Then, XFM gets rapped after its Scottish service broadcast a live Oasis gig at 8pm:
On reviewing a recording of the material provided by GCap Media Ltd. (“GCap”), which controls and provides compliance for the station, Ofcom noted that the programme contained the word “cunt”, as well as several instances of the word “fucking”.
XFM apologised and has bollocked the producer responsible, but did try a half-hearted defence:
GCap asked Ofcom to note, however, that listeners to Xfm Scotland expected edgier content and that very few children would be listening to the station at that time.
Why would someone seeking "edgy" content be listening to an Oasis gig?
More trouble for Global over at soon-to-be-sister station Heart, which got carried away promoting Mama Mia! The Musical at the same time as taking sponsorship money from the filmmakers:
Heart said that it is a music and entertainment station primarily targeted at women in their thirties and that it aims to provide them with interesting and relevant lifestyle features. The broadcaster believed that the launch of ‘Mamma Mia! The Movie’ was “a massive showbiz event which presented an outstanding opportunity to engage with the lives and lifestyles of [Heart’s] target audience.” It added that not only was it editorially justified for Heart to have provided extensive coverage of the event, but its audience would have expected it.
Good lord - if you were running a radio station during a commercial downturn, would you really want to portray your target market as a bunch of people whose week would be wrecked if they didn't keep getting reminded about Meryl Streep lipsynching to Super Trooper?
Ofcom asked them to tone it down in future:
In conclusion, Ofcom accepts that there was some editorial justification for references to ‘Mama Mia! The Movie’ in Heart’s programming during this period. However, in this case, the sheer volume, nature and tone of references resulted in the references appearing to be contrived and in some places, gratuitous. This resulted in the station giving undue prominence to the film and also promoting it as a product. Ofcom considered that the station output went beyond informing listeners about the recent release of a film that was likely to interest them. This resulted in breaches of the Code.
I'm not sure what the sanction will be - possibly every member of the audience has to be given a bottle of Lambrini or something.
6Music's Nemone came to grief during an interview with Doug Stanhope, who called two of Sarah Palin's children "retards":
Doug Stanhope: [Ms Palin] is a 44 year-old mother of five, two of which are retarded.
Nemone Metaxus: These are your, [laughs] obviously, your views…
Doug Stanhope: One’s got Down’s Syndrome and the other volunteered for Iraq . So that’s two retards out of five.... Oh nothing. They give me nothing, nothing but blank looks.
Nemone Metaxus: Doug this is your opinion, your opinion of what’s happening back home, so obviously, if something kicks off in America …
Doug Stanhope: For Pete’s sake, don’t stare at me like that. The woman has a baby with Down’s Syndrome; how can America get behind her when even God obviously hates her. [laughs]
Nemone Metaxus: I think we’ll leave that to you. That’s obviously what you think about I’m sure there are some….
Doug Stanhope: So that’s some of the stuff we’ve been dealing with.
The only way you could make this more unpleasant would be to suggest there was something 'edgy' about calling people with Down's "retards":
The broadcaster pointed out that BBC 6 Music is aimed at an adult audience and that Friday’s edition of Nemone in particular, regularly features guests with edgier, more adult orientated material.
What does that mean? It's okay to call people retards providing the audience is over 18? Surely the point is that this is offensive - in the thoughtless, cruel sense of the word - rather than a naughty swearword?
I think Ofcom might have issued its first ever sarcastic response in this case:
Ofcom acknowledges that BBC 6 Music attracts a predominantly adult audience and that regular listeners who are familiar with the irreverent style of its presenters and guests may not necessarily find the use of words such as “retard” offensive.
... "I mean" said Ofcom, "if people are tuning in for the George Lamb show it's not like they're going to be that sophisticated in their tastes, is it?"
Finally, perhaps in the interests of political balance, Guardian Media Group's 96.3 Rock Radio had its own jaw-dropping moment:
Donald Macleod, a Scottish music industry entrepreneur and newspaper columnist, presents a show on weekdays from 18:00 to 22:00 .
During the broadcast in question, the presenter said the following when introducing the song ‘Black Hole Sun’ by Soundgarden:
“Barack Obama’s favourite song. Your Mum’s got a big black hole, son” .
Don, in his offensive, insisted that he didn't mean this to sound racist and explained that he'd been "under some pressure within the studio". And he does seem pretty angry with himself that something so unpleasant slipped out.
Oddly, nobody seems concerned that it was also unpleasantly sexist, too. Perhaps that's something for another time.