Sir: Rhys Williams says, "The 9pm watershed is well understood" ("Too much sex on TV, viewers say", 7 January). I recently complained to the BBC about the episode of Birds of a Feather broadcast at 8.30pm on 23 November last year on precisely those grounds. Mr Fraser Steel of the BBC told me that "Although 9pm is the pivotal point in the evening's television, the earlier a programme is placed the more suitable it is likely to be for children to watch on their own". This is the first indication that I've ever had that the 9pm watershed is flexible.
The BBC wants to portray the changing composition and varied family values which make up Britain in 1999. However, when it comes to complaints they have a quaint 1950s view of family life. Mr Steel went on to tell me that "the BBC expect parents to share responsibility at all times of the day for assessing whether or not programmes should be seen by younger viewers".
Mr Steel and his colleagues in the BBC complaints department apparently live in a Reithian world where mothers don't have to work, fathers are always home in time for tea and all under 16-year-olds are safely tucked up in bed at half past eight.
DAVID HALLAM MEP
(Herefordshire and Shropshire, Lab)