The nutters of Mediawatch-UK have urged the BBC to introduced a TV style watershed for radio.
This was in response to Radio 4′s Today programme repeatedly used the words bullshit and bastards during a recorded item. The words were spoken to illustrate a report about the abuse aimed at academics researching chronic fatigue syndrome or ME.
The item, introduced with no warning by regular presenter Sarah Montague, said researchers who suggested ME might be a mental illness had been subjected to a hate campaign. Actors used to read the e-mails from sufferers quoted: Those of you responsible for preventing us sick ME sufferers getting the help we need, wasting £5million on flawed bullshit, you will all pay. Another said: How are you evil bastards going to explain away another piece of evidence? Sister station Five Live aired the same report but warned listeners beforehand.
As the BBC launched an investigation following complaints, Radio 4 insisted the words were essential and Today listeners could cope without a warning. The written version on BBC online did not mention the swearwords and neither did TV bulletins later in the day.
Mediawatch-UK said that was because television is banned from using swearwords before 9pm, while radio is freer to broadcast abuse at any time. Director Vivienne Pattison said that made no sense and the loophole should be closed. She said she frequently had to leap across the room to switch off her radio to prevent her children hearing words of adult content aired during the day.
Pattison said: The BBC is somewhat of a repeat offender on this issue. There isn’t a watershed on radio and it’s time we had one. Ofcom’s research finds too much swearing is being broadcast. People don’t like it.
Two Tory MPs on the Culture, Media and Sport select committee have backed the call for a radio watershed Therese Coffey was not even aware there was no watershed. She said: It strikes me as being inconsistent. There’s no expectation of hearing that kind of language at that time and I’m sure people would have been shocked. Her colleague Philip Davies added: The lack of a watershed is an anomaly that needs to be addressed.
A spokesman for the Today programme said: E-mails including abusive language were included in the report to demonstrate the level of intimidation involved in the campaign. We felt this was editorially justified.