Racism complaint against 4FM show upheld

David Harvey: Described the claims as absurd
David Harvey: Described the claims as absurd

Radio station 4FM’s The David Harvey Show has had a complaint against it upheld by the broadcasting auth-ority for not challenging racist remarks from callers.

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) was critical of the show for allowing “racist and prejudicial” comments from callers go “largely unchallenged” by presenter David Harvey.

These comments included statements that “blacks” were “very lazy” and have a “certain DNA related to their work ethic and practices”. Other comments included labelling Filipinos as “scammers” and that “blacks” “twist everything to suit themselves”.

“The committee noted that it is the role of the broadcaster, in this case 4FM, to ensure that programmes are moderated in line with the statutory obligations incumbent upon the broadcaster,” the BAI found.

“In this context, the committee noted that these remarks and others like them went largely unchallenged by the presenter and that the programme facilitated the airing of such remarks.”

The BAI accepted that presenter Mr Harvey and some callers challenged the racist remarks made by other contributors but said the station did not go far enough to counteract these statements.

The BAI report also noted that “callers to the programme of African ethnicity were treated differently to other callers” and cited a specific example relating to an immigrant from Nigeria who called the show.

Failure to challenge racist comments led the BAI to conclude 4FM failed to meet statutory requirements and that “listeners would have reasonably assumed that racist and prejudicial remarks of some callers to the programme were reasonable and acceptable positions to hold in contemporary Irish society”.

Responding to the complaint made by Sharon Murphy on behalf of the Galway One World Centre, Mr Harvey strongly rejected the allegations made against his show and said it was “absurd” to claim that 4FM was driven by organised racism, where a disproportionate amount of time was given to people with strong anti-Traveller or anti- African views.

He said that both his show and 4FM fully recognise its obligations as a broadcaster, particularly towards minorities and that any suggestion that speech led programming at the station is, in some way, engaged in a conspiracy to promote racism, is somewhat “far-fetched”.

4FM also said if the programme was not fair and balanced it would be inundated with complaints, which was not the case.

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