In the United States, concerns about on-air profanity have been heighted following last month’s Supreme Court decision affirming the right of the Federal Communications Commission to fine stations for even fleeting explicative that make it to air. Makers of delay and dump systems are offering up new and improved solutions to help guard against legal entanglements, but the BBC is taking a lower-tech, albeit more drastic step to reign in BBC Radio 2 presenter Jonathan Ross.
After on-air comments branded homophobic for suggesting that parents consider putting a son up for adoption if they asked for a Hannah Montana-branded MP3 player drew complaints, The British public-service broadcaster announced that Ross’s show would hence forth be prerecorded and submitted to channel officials 24 hours ahead of airtime. BBC News quotes a spokeswoman as saying that prerecording the program “enables us to ensure the programme is watertight” and in line with U.K. broadcast standards rules.
A report in The Independent says that Ross has expressed “mortification” that his comments were considered anti-gay.
In October 2008, Ross was suspended for 12 weeks without pay after he and co-presenter Russell Brand made obscene phone calls on air to actor Andrew Sachs’s voicemail account. The prank was criticized by Prime Minister Gordon Brown and lead to the resignations of Brand and a pair of BBC officials who had been in a position to approve the broadcast. British regulator Ofcom received some 38,000 complains about the incident and, after an investigation, fined the BBC £150,000.