Watchdog Group Asks BBC Not to Broadcast 'Offensive' Springer Opera

Classic Arts News   Watchdog Group Asks BBC Not to Broadcast 'Offensive' Springer Opera
The British group Mediawatch-UK has asked the BBC to reconsider broadcasting Jerry Springer‹The Opera because of its "continuous stream" of obscenities.

Springer, which ran at the Battersea Arts Centre and the Edinburgh Festival before moving to the West End, combines elements of traditional opera, rock opera, and musical comedy in depicting the trailer-trash dramas of the American TV talk show. The broadcast of the production, scheduled for January 8 on BBC 2 television, will set a new record for swearing on television, according to media reports.

In a letter to BBC chairman Michael Grade, Mediawatch's John Beyer said that the broadcast would violate the Communications Act of 2003, which requires that television programs remain within "generally accepted standards."

"Press and other reports of this stage production state that it includes a highly offensive and continuous stream of obscene language, profanity and blasphemy as well as some exhibitions of debauched behaviour first shown in his television programmes," Beyer wrote. According to Beyer, Mediawatch has received many complaints from viewers about the forthcoming broadcast.

In his letter, Beyer urges the BBC to cancel the broadcast, and suggests that other West End productions, such as "a seasonal pantomime, with well-known and liked television and radio personalities," would be more appropriate for national broadcast.

According to the BBC News web site, the broadcaster has issued a statement declaring that its mission is "to broadcast a range of programmes that will appeal to all audiences‹with very differing tastes and interests‹present in the UK today." The BBC also pointed out that Jerry Springer will be broadcast at 10 p.m. and will be preceded by warnings about its content.

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