The full statement:
The Communications Commission (the Commission) has published its decision on an alleged breach of the Broadcasting Programme Code (‘the Code’) during Manx Radio’s ‘The Late Show’ on June 3, 2020.
The Commission does not have any remit to investigate individuals but does have a responsibility to investigate alleged breaches of licence conditions by its licensees; in this instance the focus of the investigation is Manx Radio, no other party has been investigated by the Commission. The Commission has no role in disciplinary processes involving individuals.
The investigation centred on allegations that the station used racist terms and/or inappropriate language.
At the core of this investigation were two competing rights that are enshrined in the Code – the right for audiences to expect that licensed services will reflect their responsibility to preserve human dignity, as far as possible, and the right to freedom of expression. Neither right under the Code is an absolute right; an individual or individuals being offended or upset does not constitute an automatic breach of the Code, nor does the right to freedom of expression allow a person to say whatever they like.
Following the broadcast, the Commission received 13 complaints about comments made during the programme and received a further 27 comments from individuals who were supportive of the broadcast.
The Commission has conducted a thorough investigation of the broadcast, taking into account the format of ‘The Late Show’ and the nature of the presenter’s exchange with callers and listeners.
The Commission’s decision is that there was no breach of the Code and that there is sufficient evidence that Manx Radio did not intend the programme “to stir up racial hatred or, taking into account the circumstances, [was] likely to do so” as set out in the Code.
The Commission further notes that, bearing in mind that issues surrounding race can be an emotive matter, the debate in question was conducted in a fair and measured way and, for the most part, in a calm and open manner. While some comments expressed during the broadcast could conceivably fall within the realm of insensitive language, it is the Commission’s belief they should be viewed in context.
While the Commission cannot exert any managerial control over licensees, it suggests that broadcasters consider the inclusion of a short delay on live phone-in programmes, thereby affording greater ability for presenters to correct any insensitive language used and having the ability to prevent any inappropriate language from being aired should the matter escalate. Furthermore, staff involved in on-air broadcasts should be afforded clear guidance, ongoing support, and formal training in relation to identifying and dealing with sensitive issues.
Full details of the investigation and findings are available to view at www.iomcc.im
There will be no further comment made by the Commission.