But they're never going to give up attacking the BBC so they have dug up what journalists Chris Hastings and Steve Farrell call a 'decency row' involving a joke on a Radio 4 comedy show. The paper thinks this is such an important story, it's their front page lead:
The BBC was at the centre of a new decency row last night after ruling that the most offensive word in English is acceptable for broadcast.
The Corporation decided that the word – most abhorrent to women – has lost much of its 'shock value' and is tolerable for radio and television.
An executive who cleared it for daytime transmission on flagship Radio 4 even said it would 'delight' many of its audience, who would 'love it’.
Firstly, there was no decency row 'last night'. The twelfth paragraph of the article reveals that the joke in question was broadcast on an episode of The News Quiz in October last year. At the time, a retired newspaper executive complained to the BBC. After going through the complaints process, and various appeals, his complaint was rejected - and so he seems to have sent all the correspondence to the Mail on Sunday.
According to the article, the BBC has decided the c-word is 'tolerable for radio'. It was 'cleared for daytime transmission', the paper says.
They bolster their case with critical quotes from MP John Whittingdale:
'The vast majority of people still regard this an offensive term and it should not have been broadcast at this time.'
And, inevitably, from Mediawatch-UK:
'This is still an offensive term and is in fact one of the only truly offensive terms we have left. It should not have been broadcast at this time.'
All of which very strongly suggests the c-word was said on this show. Indeed, the paper explains:
The Mail on Sunday feels it is necessary to the reporting of the story to repeat the joke, and apologises in advance for any offence caused.
OK. Everyone sitting down, braced for the shock?
Miss [Sandi] Toksvig said: 'It's the Tories who have put the 'n' into cuts.'
So the word wasn't actually broadcast on The News Quiz, then? No.
But didn't the article say the the BBC had made a 'ruling [that] the word is acceptable for broadcast'?
It takes the Mail on Sunday eleven paragraphs to repeat the joke and up until that point it very clearly implies the c-word was actually uttered at 6.30pm. It wasn't.
So rude word not actually broadcast on radio. They decided to hold the front page for that.
Yet the final line of the article might just give away what the paper is up to:
Ofcom said its own research confirmed the word was still regarded as highly offensive, adding that it would investigate any complaint made to it.
So despite the Mail calling Ofcom 'toothless' and 'pathetic' on Saturday, the Mail on Sunday appears keen to get its readers to complain to the regulator - particularly because the BBC will be on the receiving end.
Elsewhere in the paper, Peter Hitchens also has his say about this (non) issue in his column. He writes:
Every few weeks a reader writes to me to tell me that the BBC has brushed aside a reasonable complaint. They send me the fat-bottomed, complacent responses, and they share with me their frustration that, in the end, the BBC is accountable to nobody.
He accuses the BBC of replying to complaints with:
smug, unhelpful responses
crass, unresponsive statements
Clearly, when it comes to dealing with complaints, the BBC needs to take lessons from the Mail, the Mail on Sunday, and their owners, Associated Newspapers.
For example, Michael Parkinson said:
'I believe that the persistent delaying tactics of the Daily Mail were both unattractive and unworthy of a national newspaper...it should not have taken nine months nor been so difficult for the editor to apologise promptly.'
Or how about the Mail's response when Richard Littlejohn claimed:
Most robberies in this country have been carried out by Eastern European gangs.
They didn't reply with crass or smug statements to a reader who complained - because for six weeks, they didn't reply at all. And when they did, they tried to every tactic they could think of to dilute the wording of the apology.
Then there was Richard Wilson's lengthy effort to get a clarification from the Mail over a column on asbestos. Wilson wrote:
After a delay of several weeks, the PCC forwarded me a dismissive response from the Daily Mail's executive managing editor, Robin Esser. While acknowledging some minor errors, Esser insisted that the disputed HSE study did indeed back up Booker's views on asbestos. The fact that the HSE had put out a statement explicitly rebutting this merely proved that "those responsible for HSE press releases are similarly unable to grasp the significance of findings published by their own statisticians". For good measure, Esser accused me (falsely, just in case you're wondering) of being "allied to a well-organised and well-funded commercial lobby", who "stand to benefit financially" from the "anti-asbestos campaign".
More time-consuming exchanges followed, with long gaps in between, while we awaited a response from the Daily Mail. In the end we won, sort of...But to get even this far has taken seven months, and a substantial time investment, while the Daily Mail seems to have been able to drag the process out with impunity.
What about the experience of Juliet Shaw:
they stood by their article and told me that they would not enter into any further correspondence with me and considered the matter closed.
And Cherie Blair:
Associated Newspapers failed to provide a full and unequivocal apology, or even to give a substantive response to her complaint
And Sophie Dahl:
she is seeking aggravated damages, in part, as the paper failed to apologise to her or respond to a letter of complaint.
Dismissive, unhelpful and accountable to nobody, indeed...