TV3 is blaming human error for a slip in broadcasting standards that saw the popular Outrageous Fortune air a scene laced with profanity - including the "c" word.

On Tuesday night at 8.42, viewers of the hit television series witnessed the show's main character, Cheryl West, played by Robyn Malcolm, vehemently address another female character as "that c***".

The scene took place in a prison setting where Cheryl was reunited with an old enemy, Draska Doslic, played by Aidee Walker.

Roger Beaumont, director of marketing and communications for TV3's owner, MediaWorks, said the broadcaster had received a small number of complaints about the scene and disciplinary action had been taken against the person who failed to screen the offending word.

"The complaints will be upheld by the standards committee. There has been a subsequent apology from the individual concerned," he said.

The formal process for those wanting to make an official complaint is to write to TV3, which is obliged to reply to the complainant.

If the complainant remains unsatisfied with the response, he or she is entitled to take the matter further with the Broadcasting Standards Authority.

A spokeswoman for the BSA said it had not yet received any complaints over the Outrageous Fortune incident.

Restrictions on language and content are loosened each night at 8.30 when the adults-only slot takes over from prime-time viewing.

Although Outrageous Fortune comes with an adults-only rating, Mr Beaumont said he could see how people might have been distressed by the use of "c" and said: "We apologise to any viewers who were offended by the use of the word."