Church anger at Ofcom decision.
Reacting to a decision published today by Communications Regulator Ofcom not to uphold a complaint made against the BBC by the Catholic Media Office, Media Office Director, Peter Kearney said;
"On 12 January 2005, I complained to Ofcom about the 6.11.04 edition of BBC Radio Scotland's " Off The Ball" programme, which I considered offensive. In the course of this irreverent football phone-in programme, one of the presenters read out an offensive message sent in by a listener. The presenters had asked listeners to send in suggestions on what would be suitable items with which to "pelt" unsuccessful football managers."
"It was shocking to hear that the comment from one listener, that Tommy Burns, former Celtic Manager & Asst. Scotland Manager (who is a Catholic) should be pelted with "Communion Wafers". This is a profane and disrespectful reference to the Eucharist a sacrament at the heart of Catholic religious belief. The offence caused was compounded by the fact that the comment was not in the form of a live phone in remark but instead was 'filtered' and chosen from a variety of responses. I believed BBC Scotland breached their own Producer's Guidelines on 'Religious Sensibilities' and caused serious offence."
Mr Kearney added
"I am deeply concerned that Ofcom has not upheld this complaint despite the
fact that the BBC have admitted that the e-mail "should not have been
selected for broadcast" and that "editorial supervision had not been as
stringent as usual". The BBC acknowledge in their own producers guidelines, section 6 "Taste and Decency", paragraph 9, "religious sensibilities";
"deep offence will also be caused by profane reference or disrespect,
whether verbal or visual, directed at deities, scriptures, holy days and
"This broadcast has without question breached these guidelines yet Ofcom
consider an admission of error on the part of the BBC resolves the issue.
This judgement leaves the regulator open to accusations of timidity and
toothlessness, further they have stated that they "consider that the matter
is now resolved" a judgement they reach without any reference to the
complainant. This is simply ludicrous in no other complaints process could
a resolution be judged to have been reached without the agreement of the
complainant. This office will now contact Ofcom to obtain details of their
appeals process in the hope that this unsatisfactory judgement can be
The Ofcom judgement can be viewed at:
Catholic Media Office
5 St. Vincent Place
0141 221 1168