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1 October 2014
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Guidance

Offensive Language

Definition of

It is not possible to compile a definitive list of offensive words. Language is fluid, with new word and phrases regularly entering the public vocabulary. Also, the power of established terms to offend may change over time. For example, racist abuse or pejorative terms relating to physical or mental illness and sexual orientation have become increasingly unacceptable to audiences.

The following examples indicate the differing offensiveness of language. It is by no means definitive. If in doubt consult a senior editorial figure within your department or Editorial Policy:

The most offensive language includes terms such as cunt, motherfucker and fuck (which are subject to mandatory referrals); others such as cocksucker and nigger are also extremely offensive to audiences.

Moderately offensive language includes terms such as wanker, pussy, bastard, etc. Care should be taken with using moderately offensive terms and they are almost certain to generate complaints if used in pre-watershed programmes.

Mildly offensive language includes crap, Jesus, Christ, knob etc. Terms such as bloody, God, prat, tart etc are all very mildly offensive terms - nonetheless they should not be used indiscriminately.

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