LBC 97.3FM, 28 December 2017, 04:00
Steve Allen presents the early weekday morning breakfast show between 04:00 and 07:00 on the speech based radio station LBC 97.3FM. The format of the programme is based on the presenter expressing his views on a range of topical issues and
encouraging listeners to interact and express their opinions via text message and online.
A listener complained that presenter Steve Allen made discriminatory comments about the traveller community during this programme.
We noted that during the programme, the presenter, Mr Allen, made reference to a news story in which businesses in the village of Parkend, Gloucestershire, were instructed by police to close following violent disturbances from a group of visitors
to a holiday village. Mr Allen said the following:
“’Brawling travellers shut down a holiday village’. Why do we have to start being nice to travellers? Every time I read a story in the newspaper its either thieving, robbing or brawling. And this one was terrible, all the businesses had to close
and everything else. We had them moving in to a hospital car park a short while ago, it was all very odd. What is the matter with them? What is the matter with them?”
We considered Rule 2.3:
“In applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context…”.
Ofcom decision: Breach of rule 2.3
Mr Allen was responding to a news story about violent disorder in a Gloucestershire town which, according to the Licensee, Mr Allen had believed at the time referred to members from the travelling community.As a result, Mr Allen went on to ask
Why do we have to start being nice to travellers? Every time I read a story in the newspaper its either thieving, robbing or brawling206what is the matter with them? What is the matter with them?
In Ofcom's view, these remarks could be interpreted as offering a highly pejorative and generalised view about members of the traveller community, a protected racial group under the Equality Act 2010, and as such had the potential to cause offence
to listeners. The likely level of offence in this case would have been increased by Mr Allen's repeated and emphatic use of the rhetorical question what is the matter with them?. In our view, this would have served to reinforce Steve Allen's
attribution of a clearly negative stereotype of certain forms of anti-social and criminal behaviour (i.e. thieving, robbing or brawling) to all members of the travelling community.
Breach of Rule 2.3