U.K. Media Watchdog to Probe Swearing During BBC Boat Race Coverage

ofcom - H 2012

Ofcom will investigate the repeated use of the word "f--" by a member of the Oxford rowing team in its annual race against Cambridge.

LONDON -- U.K. media watchdog Ofcom is launching an investigation into the live broadcast and coverage of the annual Boat Race between crews from Oxford and Cambridge after viewer complaints about the use of the word "f---."

During the race, broadcast live on the public broadcaster's flagship channel BBC One on Sunday afternoon, the Oxford cox (the non-rowing member who oversees the crew) in the boat used the expletive several times to "motivate the team."

A BBC Sport spokeswoman told The Guardian newspaper that most complaints about the race were likely related to the bad language.

An average of 6.6 million viewers tuned in to see the dark blue of Oxford win the 159th race between the two universities, more than 40 percent of all U.K. TV viewers in the 30 minutes the race itself was run from 4.30 p.m.

Ofcom said it has launched an investigation into the BBC's broadcast to see whether it was in breach of the broadcasting code relating to offensive language and generally accepted standards.

During the race, BBC commentators apologized for the cox's bad language but did not turn his on-boat microphone off or down. BBC Sport has used the microphones to listen to boat crews since 2006.

According to The Guardian, both coxes were given the usual warning to avoid foul language during the race. The f-word was removed from the broadcast before it was made available on the BBC's catch-up TV service the iPlayer.