BBC drama Casualty breaks broadcasting rules with ‘offensive’ swearing blunder

BBC drama Casualty has landed itself in trouble with Ofcom due to a broadcasting blunder, which occurred during a recent airing of an older episode.

Communications regulator Ofcom upheld a complaint against the broadcaster UKTV Media after it aired an offensive swear word in the show's subtitles before the watershed.

Viewers of the programme complained following the word "f***ing" appearing on screens on TV channel Drama at 10am on June 12.

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The episode in question, which was a repeat of a regular evening broadcast, didn't include any audio of the word, but it was still enough to prompt a number of viewers to take action.

Following an investigation, meanwhile, Ofcom ruled on Monday (September 11) that the long-running series had breached rules by permitting the "most offensive language on television before the watershed".

UKTV Media, which holds Casualty's broadcasting licence, has since apologised in response for the incident, admitting that the episode was "incorrectly subtitled".

It added that its subtitling procedure for the show had been outsourced to Red Bee Media, who had failed to abide by their contractual obligations.

A statement from UKTV read: "This subtitling error occurred due to human error, and we apologise for any offence caused.

"We have comprehensive guidance in place, which has been reshared with the subtitling team.

"We take our commitment to providing subtitling for our viewers extremely seriously.

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"We continue to exceed the required quota for subtitling and audio description on our channels."

Ofcom added that on reaching its decision it had taken into consideration that it was the first offence of its kind by UKTV, but has now ordered staff to undergo extra training along with Red Bee.

The regulator ruled, however, that with no mitigating factors, such as an on-air apology, the network breached rule 1.14 of the code – the prevention of offensive language before the 9pm watershed.

Those involved have been disciplined and withdrawn from subtitling duties until a thorough retraining process has concluded.

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