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BSA cautions broadcasters to avoid casual racism

December 2019

BSA cautions broadcasters to avoid casual racism in sports broadcasting


The Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA) has cautioned broadcasters to avoid language in sports broadcasting that amounts to casual racism.

The BSA considered a complaint about a sports programme in which a guest on the show described a sports player as a ‘Jew’. The complainant argued that the slur, which was aired on SKY Sports 1 programme Kick-off, breached the discrimination and denigration standard.

The BSA did not uphold the complaint on the grounds that the comment did not contain the level of nastiness or malice to find a breach of the standard.

In making its decision, however, the Authority expressed concern about the use of the word ‘Jew’ as a slur, whether conveyed in what is intended to be a ‘light-hearted’ manner or otherwise.

“It is an example of casual anti-Semitism and such comments can contribute to the normalisation of racism. … There is no room in New Zealand for casual racism and it is important that we all work hard to move away from this type of language” the Authority said.

In the segment complained about, the guest gave out a ‘red card’ in jest, to a well-known rugby player with a mullet, saying, ‘the real reason why he’s running a mullet at the moment is that he’s engaged …[he] doesn’t want to pay for his wedding, so he’s actually looking for Women’s Day or Women’s Weekly to try and get behind and pay for his wedding, so red card for being a Jew, Jack, so there you go mate.’

SKY Sport apologised for any distress caused and spoke to the speaker to prevent similar comments being made in the future

The Authority reminds broadcasters to be aware of the harm that the word may cause. ‘We understand that comments like this may be part of people’s ordinary vernacular which compounds the issue of casual racism. We agree with [the complainant] that rugby is for everyone and comments like this can suggest a lack of tolerance.’

ENDS

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