Candy Bar Girls (Trailers)
Channel 5, 5*, 18 to 29 June 2011, various times before 21:00
34 complainants alerted Ofcom to potentially offensive content in trailers for the programme Candy Bar Girls which were broadcast at various times before the 21:00 watershed on Channel 5 and 5*. Some complainants also
considered the trailers were inappropriate for children when shown at this time.
Candy Bar Girls is a documentary series on Channel 5 that follows regular customers and staff from the Candy Bar, a well-known lesbian night club in London's West End.
In this trailer, music was played over various shots of the lips (including a close up of one woman pursing her lips suggestively), faces and upper bodies of two young women, who were sweating and appeared sexually aroused
or engaged in sexual activity. These shots were interspersed with three separate full-screen neon-like signs, which read consecutively:
Red Hot Lesbians .
The trailer ended by cutting to a wide shot of the two women exercising in a gym (one on a treadmill and one doing sit-ups). The voice over then said:
Well, what were you expecting? Real lesbians, real lives, no clichés, Candy Bar Girls coming soon to Channel Five .
The woman doing sit-ups then said: I really need a shower, and the other woman squirted her with a water bottle.
In this trailer music was played over a shot of a young woman who was sitting in a high-backed armchair facing away from camera so her face and body were largely hidden. A second young woman then walked in and knelt down in
front of the seated woman, gave her a suggestive look and then leant forward so that her face disappeared from view but appeared to go into the crotch of the seated woman, giving the impression that she was performing oral sex on her. These
images were interspersed with three separate full-screen neon-like signs, which said:
Pussy Loving Ladies .
Ofcom Broadcast Bulletin, Issue 189 12 September 2011 28 A voice over then said:
Well, what were you expecting? Candy Bar Girls coming soon to Channel 5 .
The kneeling woman then leant back and stated: Nice pussy . The seated woman replied: Thanks, I just got it stuffed. The seated woman then showed the other woman a stuffed toy on her lap in the shape of a cat.
Ofcom considered rules:
Rule 1.3: Children must ... be protected by appropriate scheduling from material that is unsuitable for them.
Rule 2.3: In applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context.
Channel 5 explained both trailers were initially scheduled for transmission at any time, with the restriction [emphasis in original] that when scheduled pre-watershed, they could not be scheduled in or around programming
aimed at children or programming which was anticipated to have an under 16 audience of more than 7% under 16s (i.e. they were rated EX KIDS ) .
According to Channel 5, the decision was made to schedule the two trailers with this restriction because:
although both trailers contain suggestions of sexual behaviour neither is explicit and the double entendre in both would be unlikely to be understood by children;
the double entendre is not revealed to viewers until the end of each trailer. This, Channel 5 said, is a common technique employed by advertisers and therefore one the audience would be familiar with; and
both trailers contain humorous references to common perceptions of lesbians and seek to inform viewers that Channel 5?s series, Candy Bar Girls, is a programme about lesbians but that it will not conform to the usual
stereotypes: it is about real-life lesbians and the day to day issues they face.
Ofcom Decision: Breach of rules 1.3 and 2.3
Ofcom noted that the first part of Trailer One consisted of various images of the faces, upper bodies and lips of two women who were engaged in some form of physical exertion and sweating. These shots were interspersed with
three separate neon-like graphics which read consecutively Red , Hot and Lesbians . The neon- like style of these graphics is commonly associated with the adult entertainment industry. This combination in Ofcom's view clearly
implied that the two women were sexually aroused or engaged in sexual activity. Ofcom noted that it was only at the end of the trailer that there was a wide shot of the two women working out separately in a gym. We noted the Licensee considered
children would not have understood the implication of the first part of the trailer that the women were sexually aroused, however, we considered many older children would probably have understood the sexual inference of the trailer.
With regards to Trailer Two, Ofcom considered that the images of the two women in the first part of the trailer combined with the neon-like graphics (consecutively Pussy , Loving , and Ladies ) clearly
implied that one woman was performing oral sex on the other. The exchange between the two women at the end of the trailer when the stuffed cat toy was revealed ( Nice pussy . Thanks, I just got it stuffed ) was based on viewers
understanding this sexual implication. As with Trailer One, we considered that older children would have understood this implied message of the trailer.
In Ofcom's view both trailers contained material whose sexual tone and implied sexual content made them potentially unsuitable for children. Ofcom is clear that the unsuitability of these trailers for children was not based
on their subject matter (a programme about a lesbian night club) but the manner in which that subject was treated.
We noted that the Licensee took measures to ensure the trailers were not scheduled in or around programming aimed at children or programming which was anticipated to have an audience of more than seven percent of viewers
under 16. However, we considered that both trailers were likely to exceed audience expectations when shown before the watershed on services like Channel 5 and 5*.
Ofcom concluded that these trailers contained material that was unsuitable for child viewers, and children were not protected from it by appropriate scheduling. Both trailers when shown pre-watershed were therefore in breach
of Rule 1.3.
Ofcom concluded that these two trailers – and in particular Trailer Two – would have exceeded the likely expectation of the audience watching these trailers when shown before the 21:00 watershed. The broadcaster therefore did
not apply generally accepted standards and breached Rule 2.3