Ofcom states Stoke Mandeville Hospital Radio host used discriminatory language on air

Independent investigation finds use of the language was not justified
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An independent investigation carried out by Ofcom has found that a hospital radio presenter in Aylesbury used potentially discriminatory language.

A Stoke Mandeville Hospital Radio host fell foul of the independent body’s guidelines on acceptable language.

One listener complained to the watchdog about a joke made on the Tuesday Night Request Show on 18 April.

Stoke Mandeville HospitalStoke Mandeville Hospital
Stoke Mandeville Hospital

The presenter was not named in Ofcom’s conclusions.

After quizzing listeners on who wrote the song Dynamite by Mud, the presenter made a joke that was deemed to be racially discriminatory.

One presenter made a pun using the surname of Nicky Chinn, which broke Rule 2.3 of the Broadcasting Code.

In this instance Ofcom felt that the broadcaster did not provide any context or justification for using language which could offend.

In the report, which can be accessed online, Ofcom acknowledges that one of the two presenters working on the show did offer an apology for the joke.

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One of the presenters said: “I hope I haven’t offended anybody”, but this did not justify the use of the language in Ofcom’s eyes.

The watchdog said: “This did not amount to an apology and was unlikely to have lessened the potential offence to listeners, given the same presenter immediately commented:

“Hope I have” thereby, in our view, undermining the potential mitigatory effect of his initial statement.”

Since the report was published the Buckinghamshire NHS Trust has said: “As a Trust we do not tolerate discriminatory language of any kind and we were pleased that Stoke Mandeville Hospital Radio took prompt action in response to this incident.”

This references actions taken by the hospital radio station in light of receiving the complaints.

The offending presenter sent a letter to Ofcom as an apology, and he was also suspended from appearing on air. Stoke Mandeville Hospital is now providing additional training to the presenter to ensure future shows meet the required guidelines.

This training will also be mandatory for other presenters appearing on the broadcast service.

In the letter the presenter said he “deeply regret[s] the language [he] used on the programme”. Adding that it was “a moment of lapse in judgement” and that he would “never intend to cause upset or use the wrong type of language on air”.

He said to Ofcom that he “will ensure that this does not happen again”.

Stoke Mandeville Hospital said that it “regret[ted] any upset caused to our listeners” and described this incident as a “mistake.

Ofcom said it assessed the language against research into offensive language on television and radio conducted in 2021. Using this methodology a term used on the Aylesbury broadcast was classified as highly offensive to audiences and requiring clear and strong contextual justification.

Another word used in the same sentence was found to be moderately offensive and in need of greater context.

Ofcom also bases its conclusions on Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights which covers a broadcasters right to freedom of expression.

However this did not overrule concerns about how the language could offend listeners.

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