LBC Radio (Leading Britain’s Conversation Radio) discriminated against blind people when host Steve Allen mocked a blind man who is afraid of dogs and uses a guide horse, UK broadcast regulator OfCom ruled.
In the Oct. 1 segment from LBC Radio, Allen said, “I’ve never heard of anything so stupid” and suggested the man be told he has a rabbit not a dog, or gets a stick. He also criticized the BBC for hiring a blind cameraman.
LBC Radio defended its segment as part of Allen’s “unique and acerbic” style, noted the comments lasted less than a minute, and said Allen has “a long history of working with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and has agreed to treat such discussions with more consideration moving forward.” iMediaEthics has written to LBC Radio.
Further, LBC Radio said it had Allen and producers take “specialised compliance training” and assigned another producer to the show because of the incident.
OfCom, however, found the comments were offensive. By suggesting a blind person be told a dog is a rabbit, Allen was “implying that people who are blind cannot differentiate between a rabbit and a dog.”
“In our view the potential offence was exacerbated by Steve Allen mocking the idea that the BBC had employed a blind cameraman. We considered that this was likely to have been interpreted by listeners as a further example of the presenter using a pejorative and discriminatory attitude to blind people,” OfCom ruled.
In addition to ruling against the program, OfCom put LBC Radio “on notice” that it may issue sanctions because there have been other problems with Allen’s program. “We are concerned that this case follows a number of previous breaches of Rule 2.3 in relation to the Steve Allen programme, in which the presenter referred to different communities in highly offensive terms,” Ofcom wrote. “We are therefore putting the Licensee on notice that, should further breaches of this type occur, we may consider further regulatory action including the imposition of a statutory