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Wednesday, 13 December, 2000, 17:44 GMT
Is bad language unacceptable on TV?
The use of racially abusive language on television and radio is an area of increasing concern among viewers and listeners, a new study has revealed.
The report also suggests most adults with children want their homes to be expletive free.
Stephen Whittle, Director of the Broadcasting Standards Commission, says 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.
But he says people "would prefer their homes to remain an expletive deleted zone for children."
Is swearing still a matter of major concern to you? Or have swear words and offensive language become an accepted part of TV output? Is your home an "expletive deleted zone"?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
There is no justification to the use of bad language on TV. It is unacceptable. How can a parent positively correct a child who uses bad language if all they hear on TV is filthy language every minute?
Not only is swearing wrong and extremely offensive, even worse than that is the constant blasphemy on T.V. This is especially hurtful to a Christian like myself when it is done to make people laugh. We should not be blaspheming or condoning this when we laugh or otherwise accept it passively or actively. It is too easy to say, " ...use the off switch... ", this is not the answer. Does any parent want to encourage their child to swear and adopt negativity ? Rather it would be more constructive to teach them the values of right and wrong.
To sum up, all who own a television licence are entitled to be informed and entertained by its purchase and that means all.
I couldn't disagree with Nikolai Kulow more. Protecting children is a big chunk of what responsible parenting is about, and protecting their minds and emotions is just as important as physical protection, if not more so.
Of course they'll be come across it elsewhere, but it's clear that the extent will be increased or decreased by the levels of exposure of their peers.
As a parent I find the so-called watershed is no guarantee at all that my kids won't hear swearing on the television.
Please can we have a consistently-regulated watershed?
J. Herbert, Liverpool, UK
It really is stupid to campaign for protecting young
people against swearing on TV. By the time you reach
12 years old you've heard every word under the sun a
million times in the playground. Anyone who fails to
realise this is just completely ignorant
Why do people get so uptight about bad language being used on TV? Like it or not it's a part of our
culture and you have to learn to live with it. If it causes people that much distress then maybe they
should not leave their house just in case they get offended by something someone in the bus queue
Arthur Wyatt, England
Bad language is nothing compared to all the violence shows on so many series. I prefer to hear someone pronounce a four-letter word than to see them beaten to death or killed in a TV series. Bad language is part of the everyday life of most people. Violence is not.
The use of bad language in TV or cinema is not a reflection of society, but rather an excuse by writers and actors to hide the fact that they can no longer produce real drama or real emotion. The use of swearing to emphasise a point is only there to mask the lack of understanding and talent. Media twenty years ago didn't need to use bad language - the skill in presenting drama and emotion was there anyway.
Sorry, no swearing on TV or cinema at all for me.
In writing drama one of the first rules is to make your characters believable. Censorship of bad language could lead to some of the most unbelievable characters ever portrayed on television. People swear. For instance, a prison drama in which no one ever swore would be ridiculous as any prison office would tell you. What sort of programmes you allow your children to watch is up to you. But they will hear swearing in the real world - you can't censor that.
If it's in the dictionary, what's the problem? I for one couldn't give a F**K.
K. Jackson, USA/ ex UK
With respect to what Ali G supposedly said, this is SLANG not a racist term. This is political correctness gone mad and the ITC should get a grip.
I agree that kids should not be exposed to bad language on TV, but isn't that why we have a 9pm watershed? I believe that anything shown after that time should be uncensored as this is adult viewing time. As for Ali G's "racist/ slang" comments, if he'd aimed his remarks against white people, I'd bet my life savings that there wouldn't be all this fuss. It was a joke, and all the people I know who are from ethnic minorities found it just as funny as I did.
Why is it necessary? Surely we can use descriptive adjectives without resorting to bad language. It is not enough to say it is a part of life. We have the power to adopt better social attitudes; instead many people seem content with debasing everything.
I disagree with Robert Kidd, I think that swearing is incredibly effective in stressing a point.
People swear. TV is about people. End of story, as far as I'm concerned. And what are your young children doing up after 9pm, anyway? Is your on/off button broken?
Keith Legg, UK
All drama revolves around conflict and jeopardy so bad language in itself is not wrong, it all depends on the context it is used in. Imagine if Shakespeare or Chaucer had been prevented from writing and performing their work without the "bawdy" language, the swearing of their day. As long as it doesn't become meaninglessly used and the watershed is observed to my eyes at least, it is acceptable.
Please keep it off our screens. You only have to listen to children going to school to see how commonplace it has become.
Mark M. Newdick, USA/UK
Bad parents passing the buck again. For most programmes aimed at adults, swearing is realistic. After all, we'd all mock if TV shows had criminals going around saying "Oi! Bad Breath. Give me all your money" or "Oh sugar! It's the police!" But it should be up to the parents to make sure their kids don't watch TV late at night.
Robert Kidd, Australia
If I sent you an email with lots of swearwords in it, would you publish it? Probably not. So why does the BBC frequently broadcast their so-called quality programmes complete with numerous expletives. I don't want it, and especially not after paying for a tv licence.
Perhaps some form of programme labelling is required. We've all seen the little graphics at the corner of a screen indicating which channel we're on so what about replacing those with a RED circle for adult ,YELLOW for Parental Guidance and GREEN for all ages. It would be easy to see at a glance who this programme is suitable for and would not catch you unawares if you turned over half way through. The parents can then decide what the children watch.
Andrew Smith, GB
Television today is littered with foul and abusive language of every kind. Even when it is bleeped out it is obvious what has been said, with this being the case on the majority of trashy American talk shows, often viewed in the afternoon. These programmes ought to be banned in the daytime and moved to after 9pm, and general swearing on television discouraged by the major networks.
My personal experience of working in an environment where swearing was the norm was to swear more. When I changed jobs where swearing was banned I stopped. The best thing to do is to avoid swearing in the main but keep a little to be realistic, and hence cut down on the excessive use of profanities in society.
Any public place in any British city will include its fair share of bad language.
Adult programmes sound false and sterile without it. Keep it away from the kids, but let the grown ups decide for themselves.
Andrew Reid, UK
As adults, we can accept bad language on TV programmes, as long as it relates to the programme in question (i.e. drama series or films). However, children should not have to hear that sort of language. I'm not a prude by any means, but I find it really depressing when I hear children from toddler age and up using foul language. Of course, they may learn this from their parents and other family members, but let's minimise their exposure by keeping it out of children's programmes.
Richard Tyacke, England
It is much easier to learn bad language than to unlearn it. By definition, an expletive is an unnecessary word, so why include them? Interestingly most swear words are either blasphemy or about sex, debasing what ought to be treated with dignity and respect. 'As a man thinks, so is he'.
Mark B, UK
The best of British TV has always been more daring than its American counterpart. I've always enjoyed its more casual attitude toward language. But I have to agree; there should be something's I wouldn't let my kids say or watch at home. I also know for a fact they'll learn to swear well enough from their schoolmates anyway.
Whats wrong with swearing? I think TV should show everything. Protecting children is keeping them ignorant - they will be exposed to it anyway - at school and elsewhere.
11 Dec 00 | Entertainment
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12 Dec 00 | UK
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