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Monday, 11 December, 2000, 14:21 GMT
Audiences shun racist language
Ali G
Ali G has come under fire for the use of racist slang
Concern over the use of racist language on TV and radio is growing among British adults, according to research.

The survey Delete Expletives?, published on Monday, suggests racist insults are causing almost as much offence as certain swearwords.

The study was carried out jointly by the BBC, the Broadcasting Standards Commission (BSC), the Independent Television Commission (ITC) and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

The research clearly shows that strong language is still a matter of great concern to viewers

Patricia Hodgson, ITC chief executive

The survey also found that swearing in general was frowned upon when children might be watching.

It also showed that the BBC was expected to carry the least swearwords of all broadcasters.

Patricia Hodgson, chief executive of the ITC, said: "The research clearly shows that strong language is still a matter of great concern to viewers, and we expect broadcasters and television advertisers to take careful note of these findings."

Respondents were asked to grade a list of expletives in order of severity for the research.

The results were then compared to a similar survey conducted in 1998.

In both, the swear words considered the most offensive remained at the top of the list.

However, a number of racist words, such as "nigger" and "Paki" had moved up the table, signalling people's growing concern over their use.

Four-letter words in general continue to cause the greatest concern among viewers and listeners.

The BBC is constantly making difficult judgments about the use of strong language in its output

Caroline Thompson, BBC's director of public policy

However, swearing is regarded as more acceptable in adult programming shown after the 2100 watershed - and on cable and satellite channels.

Stephen Whittle, director of the BSC, said the results of Delete Expletives? confirmed previous findings.

"Although there is an acceptance that swearing and offensive language is used in daily life and may be appropriate if a programme is aimed at adults, people would prefer their homes to remain an expletive deleted zone for children," he stated.

With regard to the findings concerning attitudes to the BBC, researchers concluded the audience felt the publicly-funded service had a duty to be more responsible.

The corporation's director of public policy, Caroline Thompson, said: "The BBC is constantly making difficult judgments about the use of strong language in its output.

"It will ensure that all its programme-makers are made aware of the report, particularly the finding that people are increasingly sensitive towards others."

The survey's results follow the ITC's latest bulletin criticising racist language by the cult comedy character Ali G in a music video.

The ITC upheld complaints that slang used in the video, featuring Madonna, was offensive to the African-Caribbean community.

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