Glastonbury’s on site radio station found to have breached Ofcom rules

The crowd for Jack White's secret Glastonbury 2022 set.. Credit: Eva Pental for NME

Glastonbury Festival‘s on-site radio station breached Ofcom rules for playing the unedited version of a song containing “offensive language”, the broadcasting regulator has ruled.

Worthy 87.7 FM played the Little Simz track ‘Miss Understood’ on June 23 at 18:41 BST, which contained two words that were considered to be offensive, one of which was deemed to be “racially offensive” [via BBC News].

The station apologised for the error but not immediately after the song was played as the presenters didn’t notice it. The lack of immediate on-air apology was deemed a “heightened” factor in Ofcom’s ruling that the words would cause offence.

It criticised the station for playing the song at a time when children were particularly likely to be listening and when listeners of all ages would not expect to hear it” and also ruled that the use of “racially offensive language was not justified by the context”.

The station only plays music from the artists who are appearing or have appeared at the Somerset festival. Presenters had searched the radio’s computer, not realising it searched all tracks – not just safe-for-radio ones. The song wasn’t in the playout library and was in a “non-compliant electronic folder of tracks containing bad language”. However, the presenters didn’t realise they were searching the whole computer and consequently assumed the track was OK to play.

Little Simz
Little Simz performing in Milan. Credit: Milan Sergione

Worthy FM’s licensee, Joanne Schofield, apologised during the investigation and told Ofcom changes would be made, including strengthening of compliance controls in light of the incident. In addition, in future years, the computer will only contain safe songs and the studio will be treated as a closed set to minimise presenter distraction.

They added the broadcast desk will not have access to the internet to ensure only broadcasting content is played, and only authorised people can add content to the computer with daily reminders of controls given to crews.

So far, only one act for next year’s edition of Glastonbury has been announced. Elton John will be closing the festival on the Pyramid Stage on Sunday, June 25, in what is set to be the final UK show of his last ever tour.


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