UK radio host claimed Asians caused rat infestations, offended listeners - iMediaEthics

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UK radio station TalkSport offended listeners with discriminatory comments about Asian residents in Glasgow, the UK broadcast regulator OfCom ruled.

The station’s Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast host Alan Brazil was talking with a Talk Radio host Mike Graham about food recycling as part of a teaser for Graham’s show. Graham complained that there were foxes in his neighborhood around a new food recycling can. To that, Brazil indicated Asians are causing rat infestations because “they don’t store [food] properly” and are “ignorant” when they move to the UK.

Brazil’s comment in full was:

“Talking about that, I don’t know if I should say this. I was talking to someone the other day and he came down from a part of Glasgow in fact where my school was. And, umm, things have changed. Parts of cities have changed. Because different people move in.

“And there’s a lot of people there let’s say from Asia – you know from that part of the world. But they don’t, with rice and stuff, they don’t, they don’t store it properly. And he was saying, he’s social housing this guy, and he said you can’t believe the rat infestation we’ve got there. What do you mean – how? And he was telling me people just a little bit ignorant when they come in, it’s a little bit damp and stuff like that, and where they store the food and stuff, he said its horrendous at the moment”.

Talk Sport admitted the comments were “ill-judged” and “unscripted.” Further, the station said that Brazil’s comment about “I don’t know if I should say this” was an internal “signal to his producer” that may have flagged the producer to prevent the comment from broadcast, but the producer in question wasn’t working that day.

Regardless, the comments broke guidelines and weren’t justified. “In our view, these comments attributed a public health problem (a “rat infestation”) to a minority ethnic group (“Asian” people), protected by the Equality Act 2010, and so promoted a negative stereotype of Asian people as being ignorant and unhygienic,” OfCom ruled. “We therefore considered that the comments clearly had the potential to cause offence.”

OfCom added that the offensiveness was made worse because Brazil “dismissively adopt[ed] generalised and unspecific labels, when making a significant accusation about the alleged actions of potentially large numbers of people, based solely on the fact that they are immigrants from a particular part of the world.”

iMediaEthics has written to TalkSport for its response to the ruling.

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UK radio host claimed Asians caused rat infestations, offended listeners

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