Steve Allen in breach for blind people comments

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Steve Allen has been found in breach of the Ofcom broadcasting code for remarks he made on LBC about blind people.

A listener complained that Steve made discriminatory comments during this programme on October 1st 2018.

Steve commented on an article in The Times newspaper which reported on a blind man who is scared of dogs and intends to use a guide horse rather than a guide dog.

Steve’s comments included: “Well if he’s blind, tell him it’s a rabbit or something. I’ve never heard of anything so stupid.” and “Not every blind person gets a dog. To give him a horse is quite ludicrous. He’s afraid of dogs. Why? Why’s he afraid of dogs? Well don’t give him – don’t give him anything at all then.”

He also compared it to the BBC hiring a blind cameraman. He said: “I remember once the BBC took on a blind cameraman. Well I was sort of thinking to myself how does that work out? He’s a blind – somebody’s going to have to say to him ‘little bit to the right, little bit to the left, little bit, oh, up, oh no missed it completely’. It just doesn’t work. I can understand people going ‘oh I want to be treated the same’, but I mean, you know, a joke’s a joke I think”.

In response, LBC Radio said that Steve Allen was “expressing genuine surprise at the story [in the Times], and rhetorically questioned the practicality of using a guide horse for assistance within an office space or on public transport”.

LBC added that Steve Allen “…is aware that his comments may have had the capacity to offend”. However, it added that “his intention was not to treat the blind community with insensitivity… It is worth noting that Steve has a long history of working with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and has agreed to treat such discussions with more consideration moving forward.”

Ofcom ruled in favour of the complainant, saying Mr Allen seemed to be implying that people who are blind cannot differentiate between a
rabbit and a dog, and that this remark could have been interpreted as belittling blind people and offering a highly pejorative view of them.

The regulator also said the potential offence was exacerbated by Steve Allen mocking the idea that the BBC had employed a blind cameraman. We considered that this was likely to have been interpreted by listeners as a further example of the presenter using a pejorative and discriminatory attitude to blind people.

As a result of the complaint, LBC confirms Steve Allen and station producers have received “specialised compliance training, with an emphasis on sensitivity around material relating to minority communities protected under the Equality Act”;

An additional producer is to be assigned to the show “with specific responsibility for compliance and control of the ‘dump button’”, and the Licensee’s compliance team is carrying out additional sampling and monitoring of the programme and regularly review the results with the presenter and producers.

Ofcom decided that Steve Allen is in breach of Rule 2.3 – which requires broadcasters to ensure that the broadcast of potentially offensive material is justified by the context.



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33 Comments
  1. neal says

    Not condoning the comments made by Mr Allen but for God’s sake if you don’t know his style of broadcasting by now you never will. Like it or not he has his unique opinion on life and the universe. If you are likely to be easily offended I would suggest Steve is not the person for you on the radio!

  2. Joe Smith says

    Allen is breach of the broadcasting code for masquerading as a broadcaster.

    1. Davidb201 says

      Well said Joe – the ignorance and lack of talent of this man is staggering. The ‘programme’ is a stream of nonsense, repetition and misinformation – and who on earth wants to hear the details of his repugnant lifestyle? A small but telling example of his ineptitude was his mispronunciation of ‘riesling’ last week – this by someone who apparently lived in Austria at one time.

      1. Mr Boltar says

        Speak for yourself. He’s a breath of fresh air on the otherwise utterly tedious Brexit FM that LBC has become these days.

        And since you think he’s so talentless point us in the direction of your podcast where you’ve done 3 hours with just you and a mic.

  3. Les Jones says

    The comments were funny and not ment to offend, it’s high time that regulators stop wasting time pandering to such snowflakes.

  4. Jackie Graves says

    I agree. Steve Allen mocks everybody and everything. That’s his programme. His style is gossipy and is not meant to be taken seriously. Can people not laugh at themselves anymore? Why do people complain about anything! I L enjoy his style. It is so good to ‘escape’ from the daily news of death and Brexit. . Oh and I’m not dismissing those issues lightly. I am not likely to buy garlic because I don’t like it. So I wouldn’t buy it and then complain to the shop for letting me buy it .Therefore,if you don’t like Steve Allen’s shows…..don’t listen!

    1. Diana says

      Thank God for a presenter who does not take phone ins, and who has kept me amused and alive since I found him by default a few years ago. Should he sadly die before me, and luckily he is ten years younger than me, I will not listen to LBC ever again.

  5. Miss Tia Ferrigno says

    If anyone takes his comment seriously, they need to get a life. I am an avid listener and, yes, there are occasions when I inwardly cringe at his words. BUT he is always on the button and I firmly believe he never sets out to intentionally offend. He says it how it is. Now I have to go as there’s a 15 hand horse in front of me at the checkout so I’m going to transfer my shopping to another cashier.

  6. Pat says

    He is at least interesting and able to make you chuckle at such an unearthy hour which is more than can be said about most people on the radio these days at any time.As to specialist compliance training isn’t sorry if I caused offence enough?.He takes the p*** out of everyone but I’m sure this fuss is a bit over the top.

  7. Richard E says

    Steve’s style is unique, no one probably on Planet Earth has a show like his! I find it bizarre that the dump button is usually for callers that swear or make libelous accusations against someone etc! First time I have heard that they will employ an extra producer to check that the presenters comments are possibly not for broadcast, then dump their own broadcaster’s play out!

  8. Lorraine Bull says

    Steve is one of the best broadcasters on LBC and helps get me through the night, wish he was on longer. He has a style of his own that no other broadcaster has.

  9. Lorraine says

    Steve is one of the best broadcasters on LBC and helps get me through the night. Just wish he was on longer. He has a style of his own and is always making outrageous comments. If you don’t like it there is an off switch on the radio.

  10. Brad says

    Nanny state. I’m blind plus suffer from mental health and tbh I ‘kin laughed when hearing it through my screen reader. People are so sensitive nowadays over the stupidist of things. He’s better off in the 4am to 7am slot where the wider listening public can’t find a reason for him to be sacked.

  11. Steve says

    Give the guy a break Steve’s an honest, transparent, upstanding gentleman sure he’s got a query take on life. But isn’t that what we call entertainment. Steve is also a Insuline dependant, diabetic and knows only too well the risks of losing his own eyesight…

  12. Jane says

    Some people need to get a life and stop complaining
    Steve is the best there is on radio
    Just love his style

  13. Joolz says

    Get a life, Steve has a unique style very funny, very entertaining, never miss his show he’s cheered me up when I couldn’t sleep. The man should be on prescription, instead of antidepressants.

  14. Margaret says

    Though a bit insensitive but Steve Allen is a unique broadcaster, my favourite on the radio. Merry Xmas everyone!

  15. David S says

    Ofcom are part of the removal of the freedom of speach . What happened to the right to be offended . Steve takes a pot shot at lots of people , that’s the fun part of the show

  16. Gary Coats says

    I would just like to reiterate what many people have already pointed out. Steve Allen is a unique broadcaster. You have to accept his style of ‘say it as you see it’ . Personally, I love his style. I work nightshifts , and he’s great company for me during my shift.

  17. Bill Jones says

    A storm in a teacup smells of jobsworth here. Compliance training seems a job for the boys.

  18. Rita & Rob Liverpool says

    Steve Allen is more sensitive & cries over sentimental stories & anything in the news that is sad ,he will comment on them…Leave him alone!dont listen if offended by the least comment .
    He does a superb job keeping public happy & not feel alone.

  19. Rita & Rob says

    Steve Allen is more sensitive & cries over sentimental stories & anything in the news that is sad ,he will comment on them…Leave him alone!dont listen if offended by the least comment .
    He does a superb job keeping public happy & not feel alone.

  20. Cassie says

    Steve Allen is the best, having just returned home from hospital,I had my radio tuned in but no Steve!!!, What a long night. The people complaining need to lighten up, don’t listen if it offends, he’ll still have top ratings.

  21. CHRISTINE BUCHWEITZ says

    Pathetic!!! He is known for his very funny unconventional remarks. Love his show, great start to the day

  22. Radio Fader says

    Outdated discrimination.

    Well done to the attention seeking Vallen!

  23. Simon says

    Keep up your excellent work Mr Allen,
    I listen to your show every morning when I leave for work .I work alone and find a lot of comfort from the show and thank you

  24. James C says

    I agree, we seem to have lost the ability to laugh at ourselves. No malice was intended by Steve who jokes about all sorts of topics. Steve will just have to steer clear of the protected groups moving forward and will hopefully continue with almost identical content while being careful to avoid certain groups or topics.

  25. Michael Josiah says

    I suppose he should have known better but he merely voiced his opinion. When the story broke several years ago, about the MPs fiddling their expenses he didn’t lambast them enough in my opinion, which he ought to have done; instead he vilified those who overclaimed on benefits. However, leave him alone I say. He’ll be celebrating 40 years at LBC next year and has kept me entertained over the years – who remembers ‘ The Night is Young ‘ – excellent programme back in the day. I think he joined as a young reporter along with that other stalwart Clive Bull back in the glory days of LBC when the station had a nice ‘ cosy ‘ relaxed feel to it. Unlike the right wing bitterness espoused by most of their presenters, today. Happy 40th when it arrives Steve, you have served your listeners proud over the years!

  26. Naomi says

    I agree with many of the others that have commented. Steve is unique in his style. If you don’t like it don’t listen! We most definitely have lost the ability to laugh at ourselves & people are too easily offended these days.
    Have to say I’m so disappointed that he’s not been on air the last couple of days….love starting my day with a giggle!!

  27. Dee says

    So glad your back Steve, the night is long without you! You got me through a bad time in my life, and I am so grateful for that, thank you so for being there, you’ll never know how appreciated you are! Thank you Steve !!

  28. Mike says

    Looks like he was suspended the last couple of days too – and don’t expect any apology because “we never admit to being wrong”… *snigger*

  29. James C says

    Steve was back today and slightly toned down and more careful with words. It is a shame he has to be more reserved and that the universal right of freedom of speech and expression has to be held back because of 1 single complaint… just 1. I think Ofcom regulation needs an overhaul and we need to be less fearful of that single complainant. Whoever it was is probably delighted with themselves.

  30. Ken says

    Steve is just brilliant. I love his take on the world and the stories he tells of his life. We live in a media driven world where its so quick and easy to like, dislike, troll or otherwise. We have now become too frighten or not sure where we stand in almost everything we say or do in fear of ‘up setting or offend’ I live with someone who has a disabillity, I use humour to ease the daily routine, but I still care and love that person.

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