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    Monday, 18 June 2007

    Shipwrecked escapes racism censure

    MediaGuardian is reporting Ofcom's announcement in the latest issue of its Broadcast Bulletin that Channel 4 did not breach the Broadcasting Code when airing episodes of Shipwrecked earlier this year (see here). The issue arose after one contestant offered an enlightened proclamation in her introductory interview: “I don’t really like fat people, I don’t really like really ugly people. I don’t like it when foreigners come into our country and they don’t take on the British culture and the British values. I’m quite for the British Empire and things. I’m for slavery but that’s never going to come back”.

    With echoes of the recent 'ginger-ist' debate on, Ofcom considered that while the 'fatist' and 'uglyist' comments may have been considered rude by many viewers, it was the remainder of the comments that were potentially offensive under the Code. On these points, Ofcom concluded that the context of the broadcast - the laudable responses of other contestants to her views, the broadcaster's reference to them as 'extreme', and viewer expectations of unscripted reality shows - justified the finding that rule 2 (on harm and offence) had not been breached. The contestant's behaviour and views were not encouraged or condoned by the broadcaster but were instead robustly challenged.

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