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Capital breakfast show double swear broke rules, says Ofcom

By | Published on Tuesday 6 August 2019

Roman Kemp

Media regulator Ofcom has ruled that Capital FM’s breakfast show, presented by Roman Kemp, breached its rules on offensive language earlier this year. The station broadcast a listener saying “fucking” not once but twice in the same edition of its prime time programme.

The swearing happened in a feature called Don’t Hang Up, in which listeners can nominate friends and family members to receive a prank call. Kemp calls the prankee, speaking to them for several minutes, attempting to wind them up about something that is in no way funny to anyone except the person who nominated them. So, classic breakfast show radio.

There’s even a celebrity edition of the feature where Danny Dyer is called about a skip on his drive, which Kemp says is illegal. Dyer then says that he will contest the £5000 fine he is told he will have to pay. His wife, who nominated him to be pranked, laughed a lot. Imagine! A fine! Hahahahahahahahahahaha!

Anyway, there was one edition of this ‘comedy’ feature that was actually funny, because someone failed to edit the swearing out of it. And swearing is funny. Especially at 6.10am, when this particular swearing happened. “I’m not picking it up from fucking Leeds”, said the person on the other end of the line in the pre-recorded segment. What was this in reference to? It doesn’t matter, that was the only funny bit.

Of course, it’s not so funny if your job is to not broadcast swearing on the radio first thing in the morning. So Kemp quickly apologised to his listeners after the segment had aired with this heartfelt statement: “Just a quick note just to apologise on our behalf if you heard any bad language during Don’t Hang Up this morning. Just so that’s an apology on our behalf for any bad language you may have heard this morning”.

The feature was due to be broadcast a second time later in the same show. But by then, of course, the bad swearing would have been edited out. Having heard the ‘fucking’ on its first airing, there’s no way they would let that go out a second time without a quick edit or a bleep being inserted, would they? Yes, they fucking would. Sure, it was 8.15am second time round, but apparently that still counts as a time when swearing isn’t allowed.

In a slightly more flustered statement, Kemp apologised again, saying: “Well I just want to say just really quickly, I’m so sorry for any bad language that you heard inside that Don’t Hang Up. It does get quite intense in there sometimes, it really does. But yes, apologies on our behalf for that one”.

Despite the apologies, Ofcom got right on Capital’s back and demanded answers about what the hell happened. Especially second time round. The station blamed a technical error for the second broadcast, and said that it had now introduced a new system to ensure no swearing will ever again feature in the Don’t Hang Up calls once they make it to air.

That system? Two producers not involved in recording the call will now have to listen, with the Executive Producer and the Senior Executive Producer doing a final check before anything can be broadcast. The whole show now also broadcasts on a slight delay, rather than just when there is a live guest, allowing sneaky on-the-fly edits if necessary.

In its conclusion, Ofcom said that it was “concerned that this pre-recorded package was broadcast twice, despite the licensee clearly being aware that it included the most offensive language after its first broadcast”. It added that “it would be a further concern to Ofcom if any other breaches of this type occurred”.

So, there you go. Any other radio shows running prank call features, you have a great opportunity here to call Roman Kemp and tell him you’re from Ofcom and he’s breached the rules again. Tell him he’ll have to pay a fine. Imagine! A fine! Hahahahahahahahahahaha!