car radioThe latest move in Britain’s clampdown on the sexualization of children is a warning to broadcasters to keep offensive lyrics off the radio waves at times when children are likely to be listening.

The times highlighted by Ofcom, the media regulator, are during the morning and afternoon school runs, when mum or dad may allow the radio on in the car.

(Much better, surely, to keep the noise box off and take the chance to talk to your kids, given that parents — especially in Britain — lament that they do not have enough time to spend with their children. But I digress.)

As someone who is only exposed to commercial radio accidentally from time to time, and even then cannot understand a word of what passes for “lyrics”, my information on what they contain is all second-hand. From all accounts it can be fairly filthy.

Current rules enshrined in the Ofcom broadcasting code prohibit the broadcast of inappropriate or offensive material when children may be listening. But Ofcom says the rules are flouted too often, particularly in the playing of rap music, and that it has run out of patience.

The government agency says it “takes its role in protecting children from offensive language on the radio very seriously.” It has met with the radio industry and intends to publish guidance by the end of the year to clarify the rules.

Last month Ofcom issued stricter guidelines to TV broadcasters on airing sexually explicit material before 9pm, and rules about the siting of billboards. Scepticism about the efficacy of these moves abounds, but at least they are in the right direction.

Carolyn Moynihan

Carolyn Moynihan is the former deputy editor of MercatorNet