Ofcom criticises Comedy Central show for expletive-laden subtitles

A comedy TV series had to be pulled from the air by Comedy Central after featuring expletives in its subtitles before the watershed during the school holidays.

An episode of Impractical Jokers, which was shown at 4pm on the pay TV channel on 6 August, bleeped out the offending words but used "f***ing" in the subtitles.

Impractical Jokers is a practical joke series following four comedians as they perform public pranks through hidden cameras.

Ofcom found that the programme breached Rule 1.3 of its Broadcasting Code, which states that children must be protected from unsuitable material by appropriate TV scheduling.

Although the offensive words were bleeped out during the show, subtitles made it quite clear what was being said, the regulator ruled.

Comedy Central, owned by Paramount UK, responded to the Ofcom ruling by withdrawing all 72 episodes of Impractical Jokers from the UK daytime schedules whilst they review their subtitling.

They are also intending to retrain staff to avoid this from happening again.

Ofcom said: "Although Impractical Jokers is aimed predominantly at an adult audience, we noted that, in this case, it was broadcast in the afternoon, and therefore well before the watershed, during school holidays, when there was a significant likelihood children would have been available to view.

"As a result, we did not consider that material in this case, featuring subtitles with only partially obscured examples of the most offensive language, had been appropriately scheduled. 

"We noted both that the licensee had apologised for the error and the steps it taken to ensure that it the issue was not repeated."