The BBC was criticised yesterday by the media watchdog for scheduling documentaries on pornography, prostitution and drugs shortly after breakfast when young children may have been watching. Ofcom ruled that Britain's Streets of Vice, shown in a 9.15am slot earlier this year, was inappropriate daytime viewing and contravened its code.
The programmes included scenes of the preparation and injection of drugs and footage of a woman discussing her experiences as a dominatrix who made her living from online pornography.
Ofcom received 58 complaints from viewers some of whom said they were watching with young children and others who said their offspring were not at school because of extreme weather.
Of particular concern, said Ofcom, was some of the footage in the programme on drugs and the third and fourth programmes in the series which were "less serious in tone" and focused on brothels and pornography.
In the fourth programme, Ofcom drew attention to footage of sex aids and toys, magazine covers with explicit headlines and interviews with contributors including two women who regularly had sex with subscribers to their website and a 26-year-old man said to be one of Britain's top gay porn stars.
The BBC said the emphasis of its daytime service had been refocused in recent years to make "serious and informative" material available to adult viewers during the day and the four programmes in question were "intended as serious and informative documentaries".
It also said the series had been scheduled to run during the school term and had been carefully considered at a senior level prior to transmission. Other daytime talkshows often discussed adult themes, it said. But Ofcom said that the 45-minute programmes, while "manifestly in the public interest", and in no way glamorising or condoning the activities depicted, went beyond what viewers expected to see on BBC1 at that time of day.
The BBC said that as a result of reaction to the final programme it had decided not to air the series again during the day and promised that any future plans to cover sexual themes in the slot would "be scrutinised with particular care".