The BBC has received more than 18,000 complaints from the public after broadcasting a racial slurs, amid growing dissatisfaction from internal staff with the decision.
A TV report on a racist hit-and-run attack on an NHS employee in Bristol featured a BBC reporter repeating racist language allegedly shouting at the victim.
“Just to warn you that you are about to hear some very offensive language,” the reporter said, before citing the alleged assailant’s use of the N word as they fled the scene. The report first aired in the regional Points West newsletter, before being repeated on the national BBC News channel the next day.
The BBC defended its show, saying the decision to report the racist language allegedly used in the attack was taken following discussions with the victim and his family, who wanted viewers to appreciate the seriousness of the incident.
“Notwithstanding the family’s wishes, we independently considered whether the use of the word was justified by the drafting given the context,” he said. “The word is rarely used on air, and in this case, as in all cases, the decision to use it in its entirety was made by a team of people including a number of editorial managers.
The BBC said it did not make the decision to include the N word in its report lightly and was aware it would cause offense. However, he made progress because he felt the need to clarify the extreme nature of the words that were said to have been used in the attack, as well as images of the victim’s bloodied face.
“We believe we have adequately warned that upsetting imagery and language would be used and we will continue to continue this story.”
It did little to allay internal discontent within the BBC, with some staff drawing parallels between the handling of the response and last year’s incident involving BBC Breakfast presenter Naga Munchetty , which led to an internal uprising by staff, and bosses overturning their decision to censor her for violating impartiality guidelines with comments she made about Donald Trump.
The BBC also received 417 complaints about a separate use of the N word during a history show that aired over the weekend. Historian Lucy Worsley apologized on Twitter after her show, American History’s Biggest Fibs, which originally aired on BBC Four in 2019 before being repeated on BBC Two on Sunday night, quoted the word in a Civil War broadcast American.