Complaints upheld against station playing Melting Pot by Blue Mink

Ofcom has found Black Diamond FM in breach of its community radio licence after two complaints were received about the station playing Melting Pot by Blue Mink.

The song aired in a programme presented by Geoff Ruderham just days after Ofcom published a decision about Gold removing the song from its playlist following a complaint.

No introduction to the track was broadcast, or any other content discussing it to justify its context.

Black Diamond FM said it was familiar with Ofcom’s recent Decision concerning the broadcast of the track, and removed it from its music library on 3 September 2019.

It appeared that the track had been played on Black Diamond FM one day before the Licensee took this action.

The Licensee said that after receiving notification of the complaint to Ofcom, it conducted an internal investigation into the track’s broadcast on 2 September 2019. It said that the presenter “had been aware of Ofcom’s Decision” and had decided to play the track on his programme “without any attempt at giving appropriate context to the track”.

It gave Ofcom details of steps it said it had taken steps to address this, stressed that it takes adherence to the Code very seriously and said it planned to carry out refresher training in the Code with all presenters.

In making a decision about the complaints, Ofcom considered the demographic of the station’s audience as set out in its Licence, which makes clear that it has a particular focus on youth and disadvantaged communities.

The regulator considered that young people would be unlikely to have an existing knowledge of Melting Pot and the contextual background of the track’s release and would therefore be an audience more likely to require contextual justification to mitigate the potential for offence – for example, some on-air explanation of the song’s purpose at the time of its release, or a warning about the language it included.

Ofcom’s offensive language research, which was conducted with people of all age groups, shows that the use of derogatory language to describe ethnic groups carries a widespread potential for offence. Therefore, in Ofcom’s view, the likely audience expectations did not mitigate the potential for offence in this case.

Ofcom said: “We were concerned that no attempt had been made to provide sufficient context when the track was played on Black Diamond FM on 2 September 2019. We expect broadcasters to take Ofcom’s published Decisions into account when complying their content.

“We took into account the steps that the Licensee took following notification of the complaint from Ofcom. We acknowledged that it said it had removed the track from its playlist and it planned to conduct refresher training with its staff on compliance with the Code.

“However, for the reasons given above, our Decision is that the potentially offensive language in this broadcast was not justified by the context, in breach of Rule 2.3.”

Ofcom added that it is important to make clear that no individual songs are banned from broadcast on radio under the Code. Potentially offensive language or content can be broadcast, provided there is sufficient context in the way it is presented to the audience, as required under Rule 2.3.

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39 Comments
  1. Adrian says

    I’m sorry but I just wish Ofcom was as worried about keeping local content as getting wound-up about something like this-the song was about peace and harmony for goodness sake.I reckon I could find much worse songs played today that nobody bats an eyelid about.

    1. Lee says

      Here here Adrian

      1. Morr Al says

        Political correct gone bonkers, that song was all about peace and friendship to ALL mankind, regardless of the colour of his skin.

    2. sj says

      They’re not worried about local content because listeners aren’t either. It’s a business model that no longer works. It’s a shame but the world’s moved on. It’s not 1975 anymore… Speaking of which, some words that used to be acceptable, are now deemed to be racist and I’m sure many listeners wouldn’t want their kids to hear them either, despite the song’s good intentions. Ofcom is always such an easy target on here but I don’t envy their job. They’re trying to navigate a changing world.

      1. Katherine Wheeler says

        “It’s not 1975 anymore”. Was it 1975 that cliche, flippancy and derision for anything YOU don’t care about took over? Local radio was perfectly healthy in the late 90s until Mr Barnard and Mr Orchard et al decimated any number of stations you care to mention. Of course they weren’t without problems, chiefly in the usual areas of mixed ability of presenters and leadership that could be great, but equally could be self serving and directionless. Like it is in 2019, but it’s more slickly covered over by flashy corporate packaging that rarely equates to anything of any real substance. The audience could have been sustained and even grown, in spite of the internet and supposedly diminishing attention spans, but the natural leaders died off either literally or metaphorically. But hey, don’t let the facts get in the way of your glib and trashy assessment that clearly belongs in 1975.

        1. sj says

          Radio will die if we can’t wrestle young people away from their many distractions. And, for all my criticism of Global in the past, they’ve managed to do that with Capital. Everything is about marketing and brands these days because we’ve never had so many entertainment options. We could argue all day about whether locally focused content with “more substance” would be performing better but we’ll never know. However, when 88% of the population is listening to the radio every week (a fact, not my opinion), despite the internet, Spotify and thousands of TV options, I can’t help but think UK radio has adapted well and is doing something right.

        2. mb23 says

          Local advertising revenues on radio have fallen by 20% on last year. They are suffering from the same decline as local newspapers.

    3. ciaran flavin says

      could not agree more

    4. Paul says

      Wasn’t this song a wish to get the whole world together

  2. Alan Hall says

    What about hospital radio stations that play this song, will it be up to the station if they tell their presenters not to play this 60’s track. And what about online only radio stations who play the track too.

    1. Nikki says

      Fortunately online stations do not have Ofcom rules to follow… however at our station we do follow most of them and at the moment this song is still on our playlist….

  3. Bob Huckin says

    The world has gone completely mad.

  4. Joe Smith says

    Ofcom have now proved beyond doubt that they are utterly worthless.

    1. Alan Blair says

      Well said.

  5. Ian Scott says

    Blue Mink, Melting Pot, and Ofcom complaint.

    Commercial station Gold (as in national Global service) complaint was ‘resolved’, no breach.

    Community station Diamond (as in very small local station), ‘breech’

    For the EXACT same track . . .

    1. Lee says

      Here here Ian. OFCOM have totally lost the plot.

      1. sheila j says

        Pick on the small guys.

  6. Graham Denison says

    OFCOM, you’ve lost me, it’s about racial integration, it’s a good song.

    1. Bradley Gotting says

      People need listen to the words of the song and realise it’s not a racist song at all…😥😥

      1. Radio Geordie says

        Really?
        I thought the lyrics included the phrase about a “Yellow Chinkie Man” (in reference to a person from China)?
        That was what the original complaint was about.

        It does though beg the question about how Ofcom comes to its decisions.

      2. Des Collier says

        Got it in one,bloody ridiculous decision!!

  7. Pat says

    It seems to me that if I write to Ofcom about some songs that I find distasteful (for instance drugs or underage sex references) I may well have a good chance of getting them banned as it doesn’t take many complaints to goad them into action.No matter that a song is being played probably hundreds of times a week around the world or that the BBC has been playing it since release (Not that I would do this as i appreciate people have different tastes and I wouldn’t want to deprive them of any music they love unless the language really is unacceptable) YET if I write to them about the changes allowed to my local station and lack of choice their decision has left in my area they will do absolutely nothing.These people complaining about songs from the 60’s and recently even the 40’s really can’t have anything better to do.It’s the same on some tv channels now-before an old programme you are warned about possible offensive material because it was ‘acceptable at the time’,I really do think that we are going far too over the top in this country about such things.

  8. Neil Gates says

    As the owner of a all music station I find the OFCOM decision regarding this song rather worrying. Where will OFCOM’s censorship end? Thankfully my station is not bound by OFCOM or any other “regulators” censorship.

    1. Gareth Hart says

      You’ll likely get hit by censorship by private companies instead. All it will take is for a single individual who takes offence at a song you play on your station to contact the platform you stream on, any payment processors you use, your web registrar and web host and publicise what you played and how it is problematic on social media for companies to deplatform you in a more swift fashion than Ofcom could do.

  9. Alan Hall says

    To me it would be going too far if songs such as Black & White by Greyhound and black girl by The Four Pennies were to be played, would listeners complain to Ofcom about these 60 songs being played.I ahve played these songs on hospital radio.

  10. Alan Blair says

    Pathetic ,it’s a good song .

  11. Eric Smith says

    For goodness sake! Number 3 in the charts in 1970 and clearly about multi-racial integration. Careful kids, don’t go out if it is raining, you might get wet…..

  12. Stuart C says

    Probable the word Chinkees. Ofcom pandering to two snowflakes again. Gold TV cut out a part of Dad’s Army because pike did a Chinkee impression yet ther BBC still show it. Thank god for internet radio. I can’t listen to UK radio anymore. What about “Youg Gifted and Black” is that racist against the white man. But then we know some in Ofcom are on the left.

    1. Denise Southworth says

      Young Gifted and Black was written in the 1960s as a Civil Rights anthem. At a time when black people were seen as being second class and not worthy of praise it was meant to uplift and install pride in the black race by telling them they were as good as anyone . No need to write a song called Young gifted and white .That assumption was bestowed on white people by virtue of their skin colour

  13. Craig Strong says

    This really is madness of the highest order!
    Ask Madelaine Bell, Blue Mink’s original lead singer what the song is about!
    As for any snowflake actually taking the time and effort to make a complaint to Ofcom about it beggars belief.
    As was said earlier, it’s a pity Ofcom don’t put as much effort into keeping radio local!

    1. sj says

      The song had good intentions but, come on, surely you understand that some of the words are considered racist in 2019? Language and attitudes evolve. It’s not about being a “snowflake,” it’s about having respect for people. It’s a difficult balancing act for a regulator. As for local radio, those days are over, not because of Ofcom but because of listening habits. Small, local stations struggle to break-even. It’s a shame that Woolworths went bust – but not enough people were using it!

      1. Joe Smith says

        You must spend your entire life being offended.

  14. Len Groat says

    How PATHETIC that Ofcom have the time and resources to POLICE stations to this uktea PC level but ignore the fact they have allowed commercial radio to turn into a media ONLY serving under 35s.

    DISGUSTED!!

    1. sj says

      Oh, Len. There’s Smooth, Gold, BBC local radio, Greatest Hits Radio and internet stations. Some of them even have jingles! Ok, they’re not PAMS but they’re still sung jingles like the good old days.

  15. neal says

    Last one to leave turn out the lights. The PC/Compliance brigade have totally taken over. I do love SJ’s continuous comments on these pages about how listeners don’t care about local radio in this country and that is why Global Bauer and the rest have taken over. They have taken over as they are completely driven by profit. They don’t care about music or the listener. The radio equivalent of elevator music. Safe boring and bland. Yes they understand how to put money in their own and their shareholders back pockets but have no idea about how to make exciting innovative radio. That is now down to the internet stations. Laurel Canyon Radio, 92.5 The River from Boston. Paradise Radio, Radio Caroline, United DJs, Any of these and plenty of others show how it should and can be be done. I truly can’t listen to FM commercial radio in this country anymore and as a direct result of their lowest common denominator attitude the BBC feel they can now follow their lead by killing off virtually all their speciality music shows and presenters. Please SJ stop telling us it is the fault of the listeners like me not fighting for these massacred local stations-we never had a chance. These untouchable Gods and the money they make on other people’s misery of being thrown to the wolves rule. The people on the street are just cattle fodder to these companies.

    1. sj says

      Driven by profit? Quidem was losing £100k per year so they rebranded to Capital. I suppose you’d have carried on running it locally in the hope that someday the audience would return? It’s easy to judge when it’s not your money. If there was demand for localness then everyone would be doing it. There isn’t.

      1. Neal says

        Sorry SJ. I appreciate where we are now and nothing can survive unless it belongs to one of the big boys but there were days when local radio did and could survive. Take a listen to Roger Scott’s radio radio documentary-available on a web site his son Jamie has built. He so clearly in 90 minutes explains why we are now where we are. He saw this rot back in 1988 which is why he left Capital. The market researches, the big boys wanting to play it all bland and safe making it all about the money and forcing brilliant broadcasters like Roger to quit. You are right about how it is today but saying none of it is down to the likes of Global et all and that local radio just shot itself in the head is just not true.

  16. Alan Hall says

    The guys that do the live Radio Caroline North weekends live from the Ross Revenge will have to take note so they don’t get into trouble with Ofcom.
    That means stations which play black & white by Greyhound and black girl by The Four Pennies could find temselves in trouble with Ofcom.

    1. Radio Geordie says

      What about Brown Girl in the Ring?

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