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Ofcom criticises Radio 1 over sweary Lily Allen festival set

By | Published on Tuesday 21 October 2014

Lily Allen

Oh, for fuck’s sake. Lily ‘pimp and his crack whore’ Allen has really gone and done it this time, and got BBC Radio 1 into hot, hot, hot water with media regulator Ofcom, which has thrown the broadcasting book at the radio station after it aired a live teatime transmission from this year’s Big Weekend festival in Glasgow in which Allen, and to a lesser extent that Ed Sheeran, did a load of swears.

In fact, Lily said ‘fuck’ six times in the space of 45 minutes, or approx 0.13 fucks per minute. Which is 0.13 more fucks per minute than I have to give about Lily Allen at this point.

Despite having only received two complaints over the profanity-packed performance, both Ofcom, and also the BBC Trust’s editorial standards council, have found R1 to have acted in serious breach of media guidelines. Ofcom in particular has harked back to a similar case involving the Black Eyed Peas swearing at 2011’s Big Weekend, and on that basis argues that Team Radio 1 ought to have been “more aware of this risk”, and, as both promoters and broadcasters of the event, should have exercised better control over the scheduling of the line-up.

Radio 1 bosses have admitted that, in hindsight, it was a mistake to air Allen’s early evening set live, ie in the child-friendly dinnertime slot, a move that seemed especially naive, as the Ofcom report notes, given her ‘rep’ as an artist apt to swear in her lyrics.

And in spite of its having posted signs backstage telling artists not to swear at the festival, the Beeb has conceded that it should have cut away from the show early on once it became apparent that Lily was in a sweary mood, and edited the remainder of the set to listen back to at a later date. Apparently whilst that was in consideration at the time, a senior producer opted to carry on with the live-stream in light of an advance ‘strong language’ warning by Radio 1 DJ Scott Mills directly pre her set, who considerately advised the “easily offended” to “go to the website and check out some other performance”.

A spokesperson for the BBC has said: “We note the findings of Ofcom and the Trust; we have examined our procedures and tightened them accordingly”.