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Gaunt and talkSPORT in breach

Following on from Jon Gaunt's high profile sacking from talkSPORT in November, Ofcom has released its findings on the matter.

Ofcom received 53 complaints about the interview which took place between talkSPORT presenter Jon Gaunt and a local councillor Michael Stark.

The complainants weren't happy with the way the interview was conducted, which ended with Jon calling the councillor a Nazi and an Ignorant Pig.

UTV Radio, owners of talkSPORT told Ofcom they acted as soon as the live interview had concluded, suspending Mr Gaunt the same day, saying it "totally accepts and regrets that the language used by Jon aunt was offensive and that the manner in which the interview was conducted was indefensible."

And whilst Ofcom was happy with the way the broadcaster dealt with the situation, the regulator upheld all 53 complaints.

"Rule 2.3 of the Broadcast Code states that offensive material: “may include…offensive language…humiliation, distress [and] violation of human dignity”.

Ofcom considered the language used by Jon Gaunt, and the manner in which he treated Michael Stark, had the potential to cause offence to many listeners by virtue of the language used and the manner in which Jon Gaunt treated his interviewee. In this case, the offensive language used to describe Mr Stark, and what would be considered to be a persistently bullying and hectoring approach taken by Jon Gaunt towards his guest, exceeded the expectations of the audience of this programme, despite listeners being accustomed to a robust level of debate from this particular presenter."

Even taking into account the context of this programme such as the nature of the service, the audience expectations and the editorial content, Ofcom did not consider that this was sufficient justification for the offensive material. The broadcaster therefore failed to comply with generally accepted standards in breach of Rules 2.1 and 2.3 of the Code.

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