Complaint upheld against LBC host Steve Allen

LBC early morning presenter Steve Allen has been found in breach of the Ofcom broadcasting code for comments about the travelling community.

Ofcom investigated part of his show on 28th December 2017 in which Steve was making a comment about a news item about the traveller community.

Steve said the following: “‘Brawling travellers shut down a holiday village’. Why do we have to start being nice to travellers? Every time I read a story in the newspaper its either thieving, robbing or brawling. And this one was terrible, all the businesses had to close and everything else. We had them moving into a hospital car park a short while ago, it was all very odd. What is the matter with them? What is the matter with them?”

In response, LBC’s owner Global stated that Steve Allen’ programme is “personality-led” and his “daily rundown of the news at the top of the show followed his usual theme of acerbic commentary”. Global added that he was “typically even-handed in handing out criticism to those who featured”.

LBC said that Mr Allen had read the story in question which he had “believed at the time” to refer to individuals “from the travelling community”. As such, the Licensee stated that Steve Allen had “wanted to make a genuine observation on the number of negative stories newspapers feature on the travelling community, and convey his anger at the individuals involved in this particular story”.

The Licensee stated its belief that, in regards to offence, “listeners would have considered these comments in the context of Steve’s familiar style of fast-moving, continuous rhetoric that rarely dwells significantly on any subject”. It added that Mr Allen’s “criticism [is handed out to] many that feature” and as such “the audience would have an expectation of this approach and would have viewed the comments alongside the various critical statements made about other individuals”.

Global concluded by stating that it had “reviewed the clip with Steve as it appears that his comments could be construed as straying beyond criticism of the perpetrators of this particular criminal act”. It added that Steve Allen had agreed to “take much greater care in this area going forward”.

As a result, Mr Allen went on to ask rhetorically: “Why do we have to start being nice to travellers? Every time I read a story in the newspaper its either thieving, robbing or brawling…what is the matter with them? What is the matter with them?”

In upholding the complaint, Ofcom said the remarks could be interpreted as offering a highly pejorative and generalised view about members of the traveller community, a protected racial group under the Equality Act 2010, and as such had the potential to cause offence to listeners. “The likely level of offence in this case would have been increased by Mr Allen’s repeated and emphatic use of the rhetorical question “what is the matter with them?”. In our view, this would have served to reinforce Steve Allen’s attribution of a clearly negative stereotype of certain forms of anti-social and criminal behaviour (i.e. “thieving, robbing or brawling”) to all members of the travelling community, Ofcom said.”

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19 Comments
  1. Joe Smith says

    I thought the complaint might be for him impersonating a human being.

  2. Will says

    Soon we won’t be able to say abything about anyone! This judgement is symptomatic of the way society is afraid of offending certain groups. PC madness will ultimately result in the banning of funny, tongue in cheeck humour of people like Steve Allen, who is one of the funniest andwittiest broadcasters of our time. Long let Mr Allen grace our radio waves with his quick wit and humour.
    His show is the best antidote to Radio 4, which is dreary in the extreme.

  3. Laurie Mellor says

    Steve Allen dishes it out left, right and centre, often very near the knuckle.
    Sounds like your old granny sometimes.
    He needs to keep himself more in check and stick to his ‘safe’ topics: the Royals, Gemma Collins, food and drink, Peter Andre, Katie Price et al.
    His throwaway phrases such as “It was all very odd” and “What is the matter with them?” are apparently weighted in some quarters far more than the casual listener would suspect.
    Mr Allen says he never listens back to his shows. Perhaps he should start?
    The breath of fresh air in the early morning is starting to leave a bad stink.

  4. Len Groat says

    Ofcom need to worry about something other than very pertinent comments from a focused broadcaster, about what were called ‘gypsies’ before the UK media went mad with political correctness…..

  5. Mark Thorpe says

    I used to like Steve’s presenting style many years ago,but it’s just a trolley load of insults against certain individuals who annoy him because he considers them stupid or unable to do their job properly.The Show is just a bore to boost his ego.The Celebrity guest show also always comes back to him and how important he thinks he is.He was also bemoaning the fact George Michael didn’t give him an interview before he died.Maybe George saw through him?and what gives him that divine right anyway?Steve’s fans are very loyal to him and he has been around a long time,but just my opinion and the way I see it.

  6. Barry Robinson says

    He is right. Ask someone who lives near travellers and ask if they have a good story. I will give you a tip. Don’t hold your breath.

  7. Freda sutton says

    I think he is just brilliant. He says things that other people would like to say and what most people think. And not only that he is so funny.

  8. Tony says

    Keep doing what you do ..a breath of fresh air

  9. Graham Johnson says

    I have no problem with his statements its broadly true . The travelling community,gypsies, are a problem ! Too much pc around , pc is not in line with British thinking or values .

  10. Bernie Mc namee says

    I used to enjoy Steve but lately I find it repedittive on a daily basis
    Has he no life outside of lbc as he never takes a holiday or a day off unless for health reasons
    Not fond of his slagging of fellow presenters ie Matthew Staddlen

  11. Kenneth Hancock says

    Steve Allen.

    Is not intentionally bad , however he is a rideless horse, most of he’s presentation career is criticism of minorities which he believes listeners also criticise. On this occasion a Government Body as slapped him on the wrist. Hes not, a Nick Farrar calibre

  12. Tony says

    As a travler myself ther are far more thing out there that we find offencve in meddia I always lison to Steve alen every morning and dont think he has done anything wrong and will continu to lison to him

    This travler stands by Steve alen

  13. Allan Wallace says

    Steve Allen is a fabulous broadcaster. His style is unique and highly entertaining. Long may he continue to be king of the airwaves.

    1. Joe Smith says

      “continue”?

      Seriously?

  14. Simon Parton says

    Well said Steve! You have the guts to tell it as it is. Why should we have to bend over backwards for people who constantly flout the law?

  15. Peter Simon says

    OK Steve needs to watch what he says but yes the man is brilliant!
    Breath of fresh air in morning keeping us night truckers awake on the road.Lovely man

  16. Lesley says

    Steve Allen is the best broadcaster/presenter radio has ever seen in my opinion. I think the majority of the British listeners would agree with everything he says but are too frightened to say it themselves. Steve makes my day everyday with his hilarious banter and good humour. Keep it up Steve, we love you x

  17. Martin says

    I would say that very few people disagree with Steve’s comment.
    Besides Gypsies are not a race. It’s a way of life. A Race is European, African, Asian, etc. Gypsies are not a race and therefore should not be protected under the Equalities Act 2010.

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