The LBC phone-in programme presented by Nick Ferrari has been censured by the Broadcasting Standards Commission for encouraging racist remarks about asylum seekers.
The watchdog upheld a listener’s complaint about the programme broadcast on 10 March, saying that Ferrari encouraged racist remarks from the audience in a discussion about asylum seekers when he asked callers to phone in with stories about the treatment of asylum seekers in comparison with UK citizens.
The BSC ruled that the programme reinforced prejudiced views about asylum seekers and “exceeded acceptable boundaries for transmission”.
In its defence, LBC said Ferrari’s “rumbustious, opinionated style” was well known and enjoyed by listeners.
“Callers generally know what to expect, and are quite willing to take part in often highly heated arguments on a wide variety of subjects.”
It said that despite the fact that the programme aroused strong opinions, only one complaint was received. LBC accepted the ruling and said it would take the BSC ?ndings on board.
But the programme has also angered London Mayor Ken Livingstone, who has accused LBC of “actively reinforcing prejudice”.
Livingstone has written to LBC managing director Mark Flanagan asking what measures the station has put in place to prevent a recurrence.
“Nick Ferrari has built a reputation on controversy and argument, but LBC must also have regard for the interests of our city and the rights of the people who live here. It is not acceptable to me as mayor, and I suspect most Londoners, to have a London radio station actively reinforcing prejudice.”
Flanagan replied to Livingstone, saying he was “unclear as to the Mayor’s remit on issues of broadcasting standards”.
He continued: “I am, however, aware of your long-held and strongly felt antipathy towards this particular presenter. We would be happy for you to appear on the programme to discuss community relations in the capital.”
By Wale Azeez