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Ofcom slaps MTV with £255k fine

Pre-watershed cussing costs network dear

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To conclude the litany of profanity, Ofcom cites a couple of MTV Hits no-nos: "Mr Know It All is a text messaging service broadcast on screen by this music video channel. One viewer complained to Ofcom that the programme featured offensive texts transmitted on 22 January 2007 at around 19:30 such as: Q: 'What is a spunkbelly?' A: 'A "spunkbelly" is a collection of semen which has been consumed which collects in the stomach giving the appearance of a beerbelly. Very nice.'”

And finally, Ofcom concludes: "Totally Scott-Lee, transmitted on 15 August 2007 at 10:30, was a factual entertainment programme about a pop singer, Lisa Scott-Lee. Two viewers complained to Ofcom that the words 'fuck', 'fucked' and 'fucking' were repeatedly used in the programme and that this was inappropriate for transmission before the watershed."

Ofcom notes that MTV had "since September 2007 taken a number of steps to strengthen and improve its compliance systems and procedures appreciably", "admitted and apologised for all the breaches" and "cooperated fully with Ofcom’s investigations".

However, in deciding to impose a "substantial financial penalty", Ofcom considered principally the "serious, persistent and repeated nature of the breaches", noting that they "occurred following earlier, repeated and specific warnings to MTV Networks from Ofcom" and that "the contraventions of the Code had the potential to cause considerable harm and offence to viewers in general and to children in particular".

Ofcom adds: "Pop video and entertainment channels like those controlled by MTV Networks attract large numbers of viewers under fifteen, and so have a responsibility to these children and their parents to ensure their compliance arrangements are robust and effective. MTV Networks failed in its responsibility."

The total fine of £255,000 breaks down as follows: £80,000 on TMF; £35,000 on MTV France; £80,000 on MTV UK; and £60,000 on MTV Hits.

Ofcom's full adjudication can be found here (pdf). ®

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