Many of the promos in question were shown during back-to-back transmissions of Friends, when the audience would have comprised significant numbers of children and young viewers.
Communications regulator Ofcom received over 200 complaints about the on-air trailers, which were for a range of the popular channels shows, including Drunk History, Brickleberry, Russell Howard, Broad City and South Park.
Ofcom found numerous trailers contained adult themes unsuitable for a pre-watershed audience.
“Many in the audience – and especially parents – would not have expected trailers with this adult and sexual tone and humour to be shown around and in programmes broadcast pre-watershed – a period of time when there is always a likelihood that children, some unaccompanied, would be available to view,” the regulator said.
“In addition, we noted that in many instances these trailers were broadcast when children were returning from school, and during the weekend, Bank Holidays and school holidays.”
The regulator added that it is investigating several other Comedy Central trailers and will not decide upon what action to take until this process is complete. It added that it will meet with representatives of the channel.
These included a promo aired during the cartoon series Penguins of Madagascar on Christmas Eve (December 24) at 9:30am in which Russell Howard performed a stand-up routine that included him saying, “hmmm, you filthy bitch”.
Another, for Drunk History, the made-up word ‘bookkake’ was used, which is a play on words referencing an extreme sex act, and several others for adult animation Brickleberry featured cartoon animals being killed.
The channel told the regulator that it had not sought to push the boundaries with its edgy series of trailers, and that it had moved trailers to post-watershed and amended compliance and scheduling processes in the wake of the complaints and Ofcom investigation.
A spokesperson for Comedy Central UK said: “Comedy Central accepts Ofcom’s findings and would like to apologise for any offence caused; we always consider carefully what content we show but appreciate in these instances our judgement was wrong.
“We’ve reviewed our compliance procedures and the creative guidelines governing our on-air promos and have made changes to strengthen and simplify both.”