Channel 4 rebuked for Madonna speech

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The Independent Online

Madonna's use of an expletive on live television earned a rebuke for Channel 4 today.

The singer used the word "motherfucker" as she announced the winner of the Turner prize art award at the Tate Britain gallery in London two months ago.

The broadcaster was found to be in breach of the Independent Television Commission's programme code, despite the efforts Channel 4 had made to try to bleep out what she said.

Strong expletives are generally not permitted before the 9pm watershed and Madonna was speaking shortly before that cut-off point.

Producers had put special precautions in place because of the reputation the singer and actress has acquired for shocking behaviour. She had been cautioned as to how she should behave. Channel 4 said Madonna had appeared to be taking the event very seriously, but despite several requests would not allow the station to see her speech.

Efforts to mask her use of the expletive – which was intended as praise for the artists' efforts and the prize – kicked in too late, but two apologies were broadcast in case she had caused offence to anyone. Five viewers complained.

The commission ruled: "The channel was clearly sufficiently concerned to have put a mechanism in place, in case a problem arose, but the failure properly to cover up Madonna's outburst represented a breach of the programme code."

Channel 4 said in a statement accepting the adjudication that its "trust in Madonna had been abused".