Sky Arts rapped for documentary swearing

Monday, April 12 2010, 12:32 BST

By Andrew Laughlin,

Ofcom has rapped Sky Arts after a strong swearword featured on a documentary about the impact of technological advances on copyright legislation.

The programme, titled Good Copy, Bad Copy, showed an extract from a letter on a computer screen, which included the line, "...go f**k yourself". The line was also read out by a computerised voice.

A viewer subsequently complained to Ofcom that the language was inappropriate considering the programme's morning scheduling.

In response, Sky said that the documentary was reviewed prior to transmission by its compliance teams, with various instances of offensive language being "bleeped out".

However, the sequence in question went undetected due to "human error", and so was left unedited in the programme's final broadcast version.

The satellite broadcaster apologised for the situation and told its compliance teams to be more vigilant in future. Any additional transmissions of the programme will now have the offending phrase masked out.

Ofcom acknowledged Sky's efforts to address the situation, but decided that the programme was in breach of broadcasting code rule 1.14 pertaining to the most offensive language being aired before the watershed.

"Ofcom noted Sky's apology and the reminders issued to its compliance staff," said the watchdog in its ruling.

"In this case, however, Ofcom was concerned that Sky's compliance procedures did not pick up the obvious use of the word "f**k" (broadcast in sound and appearing on screen for approximately three seconds) in this pre-recorded programme. Ofcom has therefore found the broadcast in breach of Rule 1.14."