U.K. Regulator Chastizes Fox for Airing Edgy 'American Dad' Episode Too Early
LONDON -- An episode of Seth MacFarlane's American Dad featuring a stabbing and other acts of violence has landed pay TV channel FX in hot water with the U.K. media watchdog Ofcom.
The show follows the lives of ultraconservative, staunch GOP supporter and CIA agent Stan Smith (MacFarlane), wife Francine and his eccentric family.
The watchdog mounted an investigation following a complaint from a viewer after the episode aired at an inappropriate time when children could have been able to see it.
The episode in question featured parent character Francine being stabbed with a knife before knifing and killing her adversary in a flashback segment from her teenage years and a protracted assault on husband character Stan, who was recalling being bullied in his youth.
Ofcom noted that both "prolonged" segments of the cartoon violence aired before the U.K.'s so-called "watershed" time of 9 p.m., before which adult-themed material cannot air.
The U.K. regulator has a series of rules set up to protect children from unsuitable material on TV before 9 p.m.
The license to operate the FX channel in the U.K. is owned and run by Fox International Channels (UK).
Fox, responding to Ofcom's investigation into the timing of the episode's broadcast at 8:30 on a Saturday evening, said it was "human error" that led to it airing on the channel.
Ofcom also noted there were three occasions when Stan, adopting the persona of a teenage bully, taunted his son by making sexual boasts about his mother (Stan’s wife).
For example, on one occasion after Stan stole Steve’s bike, he said, “I’m gonna mount this and ride it hard. Like I did your mom last night.”
Ofcom rules require that children must be protected by appropriate scheduling for material deemed unsuitable for them.
The regulator has ruled that the violence and the sexual innuendo in the episode was unsuitable for children and that it had been inappropriately scheduled.
The watchdog has told Fox to review its scheduling procedures to ensure that the manual error that allowed this particular episode to air before 2100 will not happen again and "robust" arrangements are put in place to make sure.