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Morgan rebuked over F-word response

Published 15/06/2015

Piers Morgan laughed after his guest on the breakfast TV show swore for a second time
Piers Morgan laughed after his guest on the breakfast TV show swore for a second time

Piers Morgan has been rebuked by the broadcasting watchdog after he laughed during his stint presenting Good Morning Britain when a guest swore live on-air.

Co-host Susanna Reid apologised to viewers who tuned into the ITV show and heard French daredevil climber Alain Robert drop the F-word.

But Morgan had laughed before Reid stepped in to apologise when the climber, known as "the French Spiderman", swore for the second time .

Morgan went on to talk about the swearing, saying: "Did he just use the...? He did, yes," to which Reid replied: "Well, I think we'll gloss over it".

Watchdog Ofcom said: "ITV broadcast several apologies very soon after the two instances of offensive language...

"We did have concerns, however, that the effect of these apologies were lessened to a degree by the fact that Piers Morgan laughed after Alain Robert said 'f******' for the second time and then further reacted, as ITV said, 'more humorously'."

Robert, who climbs skyscrapers with his bare hands and without using a safety net, had left viewers stunned when, speaking via a video-link from Dubai, he said that he had a fear of falling but it was "just like a f****** warning."

He then said that his ascents make him feel "feel that I am f****** alive".

ITV said that there had been no apology after the first incident because presenters and producers were unsure about what had been said.

After the second incident, Morgan laughed, and Reid said: "Slightly more frank language at this time in the morning than we're normally used to on Good Morning Britain, so apologies for that."

Morgan was standing in for presenter Ben Shephard for the week in April.

He later told Robert: "You go and recover now from your latest climb and we are going to try to recover from your choice use of language, which is a little alarming for us at this time in the morning."

ITV said that Robert had not been warned before the interview about using offensive language because of technical issues in the live link to the studio in Dubai.

The pre-broadcast briefing "was not as extensive as would be usual", it said, because Robert is not a native English speaker.

The swearing was removed from the programme on ITV+1 and the ITV Player and the editor asked the production team to look into issues that could arise in future when interviewing guests in different time zones.

Ofcom considered the matter "resolved", saying that despite its concern about Morgan's response: "We took into account: the several apologies broadcast shortly after the incident, the fact that the licensee (ITV) removed the instances of offensive language from the versions of the programme broadcast on its ITV+1 broadcast service and made available in its on demand service, and the steps taken by the licensee to improve further compliance in this area."

Meanwhile, a Good Morning Britain interview featuring Nigel Farage was deemed not to be in breach.

During the six-minute interview, Ukip leader Farage was asked about his chances of winning the Thanet South constituency in the run-up to the election.

Farage appeared before he was defeated by the Conservative candidate Craig Mackinlay.

Ofcom looked at whether the programme had been impartial because it did not reflect the position of the other candidates.

But it said that the item did not engage constituency reporting rules because there was only a "brief reference to Mr Farage's constituency... in the context of his position as a national party leader".

Ofcom has now given guidance to ITV to take care when including candidates in election programmes.

A spokesperson said: "Ofcom investigated whether this programme was duly impartial and concluded that it did not break broadcasting rules.

"While the interview with Mr Farage touched on his prospects of winning the Thanet South parliamentary constituency, without reflecting the position of other candidates, we found it didn't engage the constituency reporting rules.

"This was because the brief reference to Mr Farage's constituency arose in the context of his position as a national party leader.

"Also, the interview as a whole focused on wider policy issues at national level, rather than those in this constituency."

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