Ofcom won’t intervene over BBC interview with gay execution supporter

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Broadcasting watchdog Ofcom will not intervene over complaints at a BBC News interview with an anti-gay extremist who has supported the execution of HIV-positive gay men.

Ofcom said today that its remit meant it was not able to assess the BBC’s decision to invite Stephen Green for an interview as broadcasters have editorial freedom.

The news broadcast concerned gay singer Elton John’s decision to have a baby boy by surrogate mother. Mr Green’s interview appeared to be heavily edited.

The watchdog may asses the content of programmes but said Mr Green’s segment did not contain “aggressive incitement or derogatory language” and was clearly marked as his own opinion.

Mr Green said: “This isn’t just a designer baby for Sir Elton John, this is a designer accessory… [cut] Now it seems like money can buy him anything, and so he has entered into this peculiar arrangement…[cut] The baby is a product of it. A baby needs a mother and it seems an act of pure selfishness to deprive a baby of a mother.”

Viewers have also complained directly to the BBC who has also rejected the complaints. But it is possible to complain directly to the BBC’s governing body, the BBC Trust. Unlike Ofcom, the BBC Trust has oversight of all editorial decisions made at the corporation and may assess not only what was broadcast, but why.

In 2009, the BBC Trust upheld complaints by PinkNews.co.uk readers over homophobia during a programme broadcast in December 2008, while Ofcom did not.

Almost 100 people complained to Ofcom about the BBC News interview with Mr Green last week.

Those who complained were told by the body today: “Ofcom has no creative input into programmes. Broadcasters have editorial freedom in deciding who to invite to participate in programmes including news items such as this. We are therefore unable to comment on the BBC’s decision to include the brief interview with Mr Green in this segment. We can therefore only assess the actual content of the item.

“We assessed the news report against Rule 2.3 of the Ofcom Broadcasting Code which requires broadcasters to ensure material that has the potential to offend to be justified in view of the context.”

Ofcom said that the news article had a ” celebratory tone which was briefly countered by Mr Green”.

It concluded: “Whilst we fully recognise that many consider Mr Green’s view to be naïve and archaic, we must acknowledge that he is entitled to hold it and these remarks (which were clearly signalled to reflect his own opinion and not the broadcaster) did not contain any aggressive incitement or derogatory language.

“Consequently, we will not be recording a breach of Rule 2.3 of the Code on this occasion.”

The BBC confirmed yesterday that viewers had made complaints directly to it, but has refused to release the number, citing “evidence of a lobby”.

PinkNews.co.uk is asking those who complained to the BBC over the broadcast to email [email protected] with ‘BBC’ in the subject line.

For details of how to complain to the BBC Trust, click here.

Last night, BBC Newsnight broadcast an interview in which a guest used the word ‘poofter’.

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