Ofcom have today revealed in their bi-weekly Broadcast Bulletin that they have received complaints over Sebastian Vettel’s swearing at last year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix however, both BBC and Sky have been cleared by the regulator over the matter. At the time, the BBC said that they received 21 complaints.
The relevant transcript is as follows:
David Coulthard: “Well, your name is up there as a double world champion. Do you now feel that you’ve got your hand on one side of the cup for a third world title?”
Sebastian Vettel: “Um, I think there’s still two races to go so obviously we see how quickly things can change. Yesterday was a surprise for us. I think would we have start from third it would have been a different race but, yeah, it was obviously a chance to fuck it up and we didn’t do that.”
David Coulthard: “OK, well, Sebastian, thank you for those words, and we should just remind our audience that he is speaking in his second language. We apologise for the choice of words that you had.”
The language used therefore was a violation of Ofcom Rule 1.14 of the Broadcasting Code which says “The most offensive language must not be broadcast before the watershed (in the case of television)[.]” (confusingly, no mention is made of Kimi Raikkonen’s swearing – in the same sequence, Raikkonen uttered the word ‘shit’)
Both BBC and Sky explained to Ofcom that the footage where the swearing was present was part of Formula One Management’s (FOM) World Feed, whilst BBC noted that they have discussed the matter with FOM. On both channels, the presenter (Jake Humphrey and Simon Lazenby) apologised for Vettel’s swearing. Whilst the phrase uttered was a clear breach of the Broadcasting Code, Ofcom noted that the swift apology from both broadcasters’ led to them resolving the matter.
It is not the first time Formula 1 has come under the wrath of Ofcom, a similar occasion was in 2006 when ITV received complaints about content broadcast as part of the World Feed during the 2006 Bahrain Grand Prix.
I discussed the podium and press conference here following Vettel’s swearing, it will be interesting to see whether they change the procedure again for 2013, or whether they retain the format used in the latter half of 2012.