Ofcom to review Channel 4 'r-word' ruling
Friday 26 March 2010
More than 750 Mencap supporters force action from regulator
Communications regulator Ofcom is to review its decision not to uphold a complaint about Channel 4's broadcasting of the word "retard" on 'Celebrity Big Brother's Big Mouth'.
More than 750 Mencap supporters wrote to Ofcom's chief executive Ed Richards demanding action, after the regulator ruled that the channel should not have to publicly apologise over the January incident.
"We are delighted that Ofcom has granted a review of its decision," said Mark Goldring, Mencap's chief executive. "It must now step up to the plate and demand an on-air apology from Channel 4. Until Channel 4 expresses its regret at the offence it has caused, people will continue to think it is ok to use language that is insulting and degrading to disabled people."
The ‘r-word' incident hit the headlines in February when Nicky Clark, a mother of two disabled children, complained to Channel 4 about the broadcasting of the word.
Ofcom refused to uphold the complaint, stating that the use of the word was 'justified by the context.' However, a Mencap poll found that 61% of Channel 4 viewers considered the word 'retard' offensive.
Members of Wild Bunch – a club night run by people with a learning disability – visited Ofcom to deliver a letter of complaint and to protest outside its offices (pictured).
A global movement to end the use of the word is growing through the campaign 'Spread the Word to End the Word'. Supported by the Special Olympics and Best Buddies International, the campaign is asking people to pledge their support to eliminate the ‘r-word', with the goal of reaching 100,000 pledges.
Over 200 organisations are backing the initiative. "Most people don't think of this word as the language of hate, but that's exactly what it feels like to millions of people with intellectual disabilities, their families and friends," said 'Scrubs' actor John C McGinley, an ambassador for the campaign.
Photo: Inga Tillere
Take action – contact your local newspaper about the r-word
Channel 4 documentary
'Sticks and Stones', in which people with a learning disability speak about their experiences of hate crime, was shown on Friday 5 March.