It wasn’t racist or offensive for UK TV news host Jon Snow to comment that he had “never seen so many white people in one place” about a Brexit protest, the UK broadcast regulator OfCom ruled.
Snow, a host for Channel 4 news, made the comment in April in an “unscripted” moment, as iMediaEthics previously reported. Channel 4 apologized for his “spontaneous comment” and “any offence caused.” More than 2,500 people complained to OfCom over the remark.
Channel 4 declined to comment to iMediaEthics about the ruling.
The complaints argued, according to OfCom’s recent ruling, that the comment:
- ” implied that differing views on Brexit were based on race;
- “implied a potential link between Brexit supporters and white supremacists;
- “encouraged racial tensions; and
- “was biased, given that the racial background of participants in similar pro-Remain marches had not been referred to in the same way”
Despite its previous apology, Channel 4 argued to OfCom that the comments were “justified in the circumstances” and again, “a spontaneous, unscripted observation.” Channel 4 maintained that the comment was “factually accurate” and not “pejorative.”
OfCom found the comment was “ambiguous in its meaning and touched on a clearly sensitive issue,” and as such the comment had “potential to cause offence to viewers even if it was unintended.” However, OfCom ruled the comment wasn’t problematic because it was justified by the context of a live report and later apology.