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29/01/2001

BSC ANNOUNCE RESULTS OF STANDARDS SURVEY

AROUND half the people in a survey conducted by the Broadcasting Standards Commission (BSC) said that they were concerned about standards on television.
The findings emerged from the BSC’s latest monitoring report, Briefing Update No.7 Content and Analysis, of public opinion and content on issues of taste and decency in broadcasting.
Respondents’ concerns were mainly about the amount of violence, swearing and sexual activity depicted on television.
Relatively small numbers of programmes were considered by monitors to contain incidents ranked as ‘significant’. Only five per cent of programmes were felt to contain a significant amount of violence, four per cent were felt to contain notable levels of ‘strong’ language and 2.5 per cent were thought to contain scenes of explicit sex.
Looking at the proportion of terrestrial television programmes which contained violence, swearing, offensive language and sexual activity, the survey found that there had not been a significant increase in the number of scenes of violence noted, much of it coming from factual programming. There was also an increase, in 1999, of ‘realistic’ fictional violence.
There was a noticeable increase in the number of incidents of swearing and offensive language recorded in the terrestrial sample since 1993. In 1999, 43 per cent of terrestrial programmes sample contained 2,887 incidents, the highest number recorded since 1993.
The survey also found that there was an increase in the number of sexual scenes, including an increase in the proportion of scenes containing the sex act.
Similar trends were noted in the satellite television sample and while the proportion of programmes containing violence was markedly lower in 1999 in comparison with the previous years monitored, the actual number of incidents had increased.
The Watershed is known and used effectively by the majority of viewers to both terrestrial and satellite, and the study showed that it is being well-maintained. Programmes containing violence, swearing and acts of a sexual nature were more frequent during post-Watershed. However, there was an increase in the number of incidents of offensive material before the Watershed on satellite channels and this increase will be monitored.
Commenting on the report, Stephen Whittle, Director of BSC, said: “The Watershed remains key to audience expectations. The Commission will continue to work to ensure it remains an effective tool for parents.” (CD)
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