Published On: Wed, May 20th, 2015

Four in 10 think there’s too much swearing on TV

  • Two-thirds of over-65s claim bad language has gone too far on television
  • Women more worried than men about amount of explicit material shown 
  • More than four in 10 believe there is too much violence on small screen
  • Research carried out by watchdog Ofcom following number of complaints

There is too much swearing on TV say four in ten viewers, while a third believe that explicit sex should be banned from screens.

Research carried out by broadcasting watchdog Ofcom after a raft of complaints found that older viewers are most concerned about bad language and sex scenes.

Earlier this year the BBC was forced to defend its coverage of the Baftas after host Stephen Fry used the F-word to introduce ‘Tom f***ing Cruise’.

Shortly afterwards, ITV was flooded with complaints over an expletive-laden Brit Awards performance by the American rapper Kanye West.

Ofcom’s report – entitled UK Audience Attitudes To The Broadcast Media – suggests that millions of viewers are concerned about the content that is allowed to air.

Two-thirds of over-65s claim bad language has gone too far, compared to just a fifth of those under 25.

But Vivienne Patterson, director of campaign group Mediawatch, believes that younger people have simply become immune to foul language on TV from over-exposure.

‘You have to ask why that is. Is it because there has been so much swearing allowed on television for a number of years that it has been normalised?’ she said.

The survey also found that three in ten believe there is too much sex on television, and a third of viewers think that explicit sex should never be shown.

Older people are more worried about the racy content than younger viewers.

 Four in ten of those over 65 think too much explicit material is aired, while those under 25 are more likely to think there is an ‘acceptable amount’ or even ‘too little’ sex broadcast.

There was also a noticeable difference of opinion between the sexes, with women more worried than men about the amount of explicit material shown.

 Is it because there has been so much swearing allowed on television for a number of years that it has been normalised?
– Vivienne Patterson, director of Mediawatch

However, Miss Patterson warned that there is also an increasing amount of ‘subtle’ sexual content on television, and that the lines over what is ‘acceptable’ are becoming more and more blurred. ‘It depends on what you class as sex,’ she said.

‘Just a couple of weeks ago, Ofcom cleared Bondage For Beginners on This Morning, saying that children would be at school.’

The ITV show aired the feature at 11am inspired by the film Fifty Shades Of Grey, in which the presenters and guests discussed and tested sex toys.

However, violence on screen is an even bigger concern than sex, according to the watchdog’s research.

More than four in ten viewers think there is too much brutality shown, and a considerable number of those said that violent scenes in programmes could be actively harmful to viewers.

One in five British television viewers said something they had seen during the past year would be harmful to those watching, with half citing violent content.

A fifth of those who claimed they had seen ‘harmful’ content were concerned about bullying on screen, for example on talent and reality shows.

But very few viewers actually complained formally about the programmes that were aired.

Miss Patterson said: ‘People are feeling disenfranchised – there is a potential danger that the views of older viewers are side-lined.’