Monday 11 December 2017

Complaints of racism on radio show are upheld

David Harvey: presented the controversial programme
David Harvey: presented the controversial programme
Allison Bray

Allison Bray

A RADIO station has been ordered to acknowledge racist comments were made on a call-in show earlier this year.

Classic Hits 4FM was found to have breached broadcast standards by allowing racist and prejudicial comments by some callers to go unchallenged on 'The David Harvey Show' on January 16, 2013. The topic was on workplace discrimination against African immigrants.

Sharon Murphy of the Galway One World Centre claimed the live phone-in show was becoming a platform for people to articulate their "racist views towards African people and members of the Traveller Community under the pretence of refugee/asylum, welfare and unemployment issues".

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI), did not support her claim that the show is responsible for "facilitating and encouraging discrimination or hatred towards minority groups" – but the BAI did find that the presenter's failure to challenge some comments made by listeners contravened its broadcasting standards.

It found listeners would have reasonably assumed that racist remarks by some callers were "acceptable positions to hold in contemporary Irish society".

An acknowledgement of the findings were read during the show's broadcast on Wednesday night. The BAI cited various examples of racial comments that were allowed to be aired by callers, such as – "Blacks are very lazy", "Black Africans always 'get up on their high horse' if challenged", and "Blacks twist everything around to suit themselves".

The BAI found the remarks were largely unchallenged by the presenter and the number of callers challenging the racist remarks were outnumbered by those making such comments.

The committee also found African callers were treated differently to other callers and were grilled by either the presenter or a caller on their legal residency status here.

This included a Nigerian woman who was asked if she was an asylum seeker.

UNREASONABLE

Mr Harvey, in a submission to the BAI defending the broadcast, said the programme deals with "issues of the day". He said it "revolves around the opinions of listeners – sometimes strong, sometimes measured and occasionally unreasonable".

"Their (the station's) policy is to stimulate debate, elicit opinion and offer a platform," Mr Harvey said.

He dismissed as "absurd" the claim that the station is "driven by some sort of organised racism where there is a disproportionate amount of time given to people with strong anti-Traveller or anti-African views."

The case was one of 12 broadcasting complaint decisions published by the BAI yesterday and the only one upheld.

Irish Independent

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