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Jessica Duchen
Thursday 19th November 2009
"Comply With Compliance"

It was when I first heard the term "comply with compliance" that I started getting worried. Because I laughed, but the person I was speaking to did not.

A lot of schoolkids could tell us that the expression is technically meaningless, yet it has come to suggest a chain of invisible command that one fondly imagines might have to vet every sentence that passes through its portals. I suspect it sounds a lot more "Stalinist" than it really is simply because the wording suggests that everyone is chasing their own tails. Still, this piece is well worth a read: Mark Lawson in today's Grauniad asks whether censorshop is taking over the BBC... I especially love the half-paragraph about Radio 3. I'll never forget the time the music magazine office I was working in nearly went up in smoke because we heard that a well-known lady presenter on our favourite station had inadvertently let slip the word "F***".

But I don't think censorship at the Beeb is anything new - see previous comments re Glock et al. What was new was the idiotic pandering to 'comedians' who were paid silly money from our licence fees and didn't have to produce, to earn it, anything that was genuinely funny. There's got to be a happy medium between that sort of nonsense and its 'comply with compliance' opposite...somewhere......

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David Nice
November 19th, 2009
3:11 PM
I remember CD Review not allowing me to illustrate the bit of the ENO Lulu recording on Chandos which has the Athlete (Robert Poulton) singin 'bugger, bugger, bugger it' (Richard Stokes's translation for 'Himmel, Tod und Wolkenbruch'). We had to come in a bit later, which destroyed the line of the example I wanted (Lulu's return).

November 19th, 2009
9:11 AM
I like this quote from Mark's article: "the word "penis" was removed from a Radio 3 programme broadcast late at night, although it might be thought that its very small..." (Compliance note: this quote has been edited and taken out of context)

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About Jessica Duchen

Jessica Duchen is a music journalist and the author of four novels, two biographies and several stage works. She writes regularly for The Independent and BBC Music Magazine. Her latest novel, Songs of Triumphant Love, is published by Hodder.

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