Sunday, July 12, 2009

Ofcom ruling

Last week Ofcom published its ruling after it received complaints about a Radio 2 comment by Jonathan Ross. In May 2009 Jonathan had suggested parents with a gay son ought to perhaps get their son adopted. Mr Ross and the BBC have yet to apologise for the remark.

According to Ofcom's decision the 61 people who believed Jonathan's comment to be offensive and derogatory were mistaken. Ofcom concluded that the material was justified by the context, and met generally accepted standards.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission, however, says it works across the industry to ensure that broadcasters are mindful of the privileged position they hold and the importance of using the platform they have in a considerate way that takes account of the diversity of their audiences. In an emailed letter to me dated 2nd June 2009, written on behalf of Trevor Phillips, the Commission felt that the BBC should recognise the hurt that the kind of statement made by Mr Ross could cause to gay and lesbian people.

The EHRC statement about the "privileged position" of broadcasters was similar in sentiment to the words spoken by Jonathan Ross himself, on his return from a three month suspension (23rd Jan 2009)

.. being on the BBC and being allowed this level of freedom to communicate openly with people - it's a great privilege, and it's something I've always enjoyed and I value enormously. And in future I do intend to be more aware of the responsibility which comes with such a gift.

Out of interest I emailed Ed Richards of Ofcom last Monday, to ask if he had any comment to make about the contradictory positions of Ofcom and the EHRC in respect of Jonathan's Radio 2 remark.

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