The Ligali Organisation contacted the BBC following receipt of a community complaint about the offensive contents of the Danny Kelly Show broadcast by BBC West Midlands on 10 February 2012.
During a discussion about the usage of offensive labels like ‘negro’ to refer to African people, presenter Danny Kelly failed to challenge or make comment apologising for the offence caused by a caller named Jill’s denigratory usage of the [n word].
The caller was being deliberately provocative and whilst it may have been reasonable to expect her to use the label ‘negro’ in the context of the legitimate debate, her usage of the [n word] and Kelly’s tacit acceptance of its usage without comment was wholly inappropriate and gave effect of the BBC accepting its usage as a word suitable for family broadcast at a time when children were listening.
The caller continued to cause offence by laughing whilst making disrespectful reference to Chinese people as ‘yellow’ people before her call was eventually terminated.
BBC WM Danny Kelly and Mrs McGhie-Belgrave from the Shades of Black Community project
Freedom of speech carries responsibilities
Stephanie McGuckin writing on behalf of BBC Complaints responded to Ligali by stating;
“It’s in the nature live radio that callers can sometimes express strident and often offensive views, but we’re confident through the examples provided that Danny Kelly did vehemently challenge the caller’s views. Furthermore, the rest of the debate was dominated by people who are against the use of racist terms in any way, and again this was made clear.”
The BBC continue by cite Kelly’s description of the offensive caller as “incorrigible” as a means to infer that his acceptance of her attitude and subsequent broadcasting of her racist diatribe was unavoidable.
Toyin Agbetu from Ligali said; “Our problem is not with the fact that a bigot expressed racist views during a live broadcast, but that the BBC presenter did not suggest she refrain from using the term or indicate that he would terminate the call if she was not willing to communicate her point without causing offence.
It was clear from her tone and incessant laughter that the caller enjoyed using denigratory terms towards African people, at no point did the host, Danny Kelly ask her to stop.
Freedom of speech carries responsibilities, not just liberties. The BBC in its continuing failure to recognise this, is guilty of abandoning its duty of care to all its audiences, not just the ethnic majority”.
Kelly was suspended in 2010, whilst the BBC issued an apology after the presenter made a joke about the death of the British Queen during a “light-hearted piece about social media friends”.
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No N Word: Toyin Agbetu
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