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Monday, 24 July, 2000, 15:49 GMT 16:49 UK
Radio report slams swearing
microphones
The Listening 2000 survey questioned 2000 people
Battles for breakfast-time radio listeners are leading to increasingly unacceptable on-air content, including swear words and sexual comments, according to research out today.

As the radio industry gets more competitive, risqué content is causing increasing concern with 56% of parents questioned worried that children will be exposed to offensive material.

The majority of those surveyed believe more should be done to stop adult subjects being covered at times when children are likely to be listening and 85% say daytime swearing should be banned.

Regulatory bodies
Radio Authority: Licenses and regulates independent radio
Broadcasting Standards Commission: Monitors standards and fairness in all UK TV and radio
The research, published in a joint report by the Radio Authority and the Broadcasting Standards Commission, found the main causes of offence to be racism, bad language and harsh treatment of phone-in callers.

Embarrassment

Nearly 15% of respondents said they disliked rudeness towards phone-in callers while 14% cited bad language as a cause for concern, 7% disapproved of sexual innuendo and 7% criticised "explicit or controversial" song lyrics.

Among those whose views are quoted in the report, entitled Listening 2000, is one London mother who talked of the embarrassment of having to explain sexual terms to children.

"They know when something's not right so they will ask me. I have questions about all sorts of things - 'what's a prostitute, what's a madam?' etc - because they have heard it on the radio," she said.

The new report comes in the wake of a string of recent controversies surrounding high profile radio DJs such as Chris Evans and Zoe Ball.

Chris Evans
Chris Evans has been fined five times since taking control of Virgin Radio
Evans's Virgin Radio was fined a record £75,000 by the Radio Authority for broadcasting his support for Ken Livingstone in the run-up to the London mayoral elections.

Disciplined

In November 1998, former Radio One DJ Zoe Ball was disciplined after using the"f-word" as she praised a concert by Fatboy Slim, now her husband.

London rock station Xfm was fined £50,000 in December 1999 for broadcasting material including bestiality and offensive language on two breakfast shows.

Pointing out that there are now nearly 300 commercial stations in the UK, Radio Authority director of programming and advertising Martin Campbell said: "the choice of stations is fully appreciated, and people are far happier to surf the tuner to seek out quality".

"Some of the interesting findings were the reasons given by the respondents who took offence", he said.

"Almost half the number of people we spoke to felt offended at certain things they heard recently. Of those, a third switched off and a third switched over."

See also:

16 May 00 | Entertainment
Virgin fined for Livingstone support
14 Dec 99 | Entertainment
Record fines for radio stations
06 Sep 99 | Entertainment
Watchdog raps radio station
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