These reports are case summaries of complaints which appeared to raise issues of substance in relation to the interpretation of the ITC Programme Code. Summary statistics of non-substantive complaints can be found in the full reports which are obtainable from the ITC.
Showing Complaints & Interventions Report for TEACHERS
Channel: Channel 4
Date & time: Wednesday 15 October: 9.00pm
Complaint from: 3 viewers
This is a comedy drama focussing on the lives of a group of teachers at a comprehensive school. It is now in its third series and has previously been scheduled at 10pm. For the last three episodes of this series, it was moved to the 9pm slot.
Viewers were concerned at the amount of strong language used. Although scheduled at 9pm, they did not expect seriously offensive language, such as 'fuck', to be used as soon as the watershed started.
Channel 4 explained that this series would normally go out at 10pm and the rescheduling to 9pm had been carefully considered at the highest level. However, the licensee believed viewers accepted the liberal use of the strongest language in all types of programmes at 9pm, as long as it was editorially justified and clearly signposted. Regular viewers would be aware of the nature of this series and that the frequent use of expletives is used for comic effect. In each case, the episodes were preceded by a very clear warning stating that they contained "very strong language from the start".
The ITC acknowledged that there were instances of programmes starting at 9pm including strong language. However, each case was assessed on its merits, including such factors as audience expectations and proximity to the 9pm watershed, which asks programme-makers to allow a gradual transition towards more adult material. In this case, the ITC took into account that the series was established in a 10pm slot, where viewers are less concerned with the use of offensive language. Viewers, not familiar with the series, could understandably be surprised to hear bad language as soon as the 9pm watershed started, as it was contained in scenes before the title sequence. Warnings have a helpful role in enabling viewers to make informed choices, but this does not diminish the licensee's responsibility to schedule programmes appropriately.
The ITC concluded that these episodes were in breach of the ITC Programme Code.