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The BBC Trust issued a report on complaints to the Trust. (Credit: BBC Trust, screenshot)

The BBC Trust issued a mixed ruling on complaints against a BBC Radio 2 program’s January coverage of the Costa Concordia, the cruise ship that “wrecked” near Italy, killing 32 on board.

A Jan. 22 program played “a 1970s disco song called ‘Rock the Boat'” and included jokes about the boat and sinking, according to the Trust’s report, which stated that complainants called the program “inappropriate and offensive.”

The BBC responded to the initial complaints by claiming “the presenter had never intended to cause offence and that his comments had been off-the-cuff and without malice,” but admitting that the music and comments were “totally inappropriate,” the Trust reported.

Per the BBC’s editorial complaints structure, detailed on its website here, people may complain on the BBC’s website.  If “dissatisfied with [the BBC’s] reply,” they can appeal to the Editorial Complaints Unit and later to the BBC Trust.

One complainant appealed to the Editorial Complaints Unit, which agreed the comments and song were “inappropriate” and possibly offensive, but that “the breach of the guidelines had not been so great as to warrant a public apology” according to the Trust.

The complainant further appealed that ruling, and called for “a broadcast apology…of genuine remorse…to those affected by the disaster.”

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The BBC Trust’s review of the incident found that “the presenter’s remarks were characteristically self-deprecating, joking about his own lack of bravery rather than the victims of the tragedy itself. In this context the Committee did not believe there had been any intention to cause offence.”

Further, the Trust added that “the Committee expressed surprise that the BBC did not apologise on-air on the day.”

Ultimately the Trust decided that ‘any further sanction, including an on-air apology, would be disproportionate,” because the BBC made “acknowledgement of the breach” of standards and apologized twice directly to the complainant.

See here the full BBC Trust report on the BBC Radio 2’s Costa Concordia program.

We wrote in January when Italian state TV Rai aired 2010 YouTube footage as if it were footage from the Costa Concordia.

Hat Tip: the Guardian

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BBC Trust ‘Surprised’ No Apology on Same Day as Inappropriate Costa Concordia Comments

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