A community radio member has put a station in breach of the broadcasting code for calling a listener a “poof”.
Ofcom has found BRFM 95.6, a community radio station on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent, guilty of possibly offending listeners during its drivetime show.
A complainant alerted the regulator to a remark made by the presenter which they considered derogatory towards homosexual people. After playing a song requested by a listener named Jason, the presenter said: “Take That and Garden. Message for Jason: [name of member of station staff] just called you a poof”.
Ofcom considered the material raised issues warranting investigation under Rule 2.3 of the Code.
The Licensee stressed that the comment was not intended as an insult. It explained that the presenter was joking to a friend of the station about the song being played for him and the comment was about the choice of song rather than the sexual orientation of any individual. The Licensee added that the presenter was not a regular presenter at the station. It said that, although she knew not to swear, she believed the word she had used was a term of endearment and would not be regarded as offensive.
However, the Licensee acknowledged that the use of this word could have been offensive to listeners and said that it has since updated its internal compliance documents given to presenters. In addition, it said that every presenter has been asked to exercise caution over their language on air to avoid offending listeners.
Ofcom noted that the Licensee said that the presenter intended her comment to be perceived as a light-hearted joke between friends. It said “In our view, this would not have been clear to listeners, who would therefore have been likely to assume that it was used in a derogatory context.
“Given the likely expectations of the audience for a programming of this nature on a community radio station, Ofcom did not consider this pejorative use of the word “poof” was justified by the context”.