BBC is backing down after thousands of complaints were made. The British Broadcasting Company apologized Sunday for the use of the n-word during a TV report on a hate crime.
“Every organisation should be able to acknowledge when it has made a mistake. We made one here,” BBC General Director Tony Hall said in a statement, according to BBC News.
The news report, which aired on July 29, detailed a car hitting a 21-year-old NHS worker when he was walking from the bus stop to his job at Southmead Hospital in Bristol, England. The incident, which left the victim with a broken leg, cheekbone and nose, is being investigated as a racially motivated attack because the occupants of the car allegedly used racist language.
“The victim’s family were anxious the incident should be seen and understood by the wider public,” BBC initially said in response to complaints. “It’s for this reason they asked us specifically to show the photos of this man’s injuries and were also determined that we should report the racist language, in full, alleged to have been spoken by the occupants of the car.”
However, the defense didn’t sit well with listeners or TV personalities. The BBC received over 18,600 complaints about the use of the n-word, which was said by presenter Fiona Lamdin, and it led to black broadcaster DJ Sideman (born David Whitely) quitting his job on BBC 1Xtra.
“So I’m OK with process. I’m OK with waiting, within reason, for certain things to change. But the BBC sanctioning the N-word being said on national television by a white person is something I can’t rock with,” the DJ said in a video on social media. “This is an error of judgment where I can’t just smile with you through the process and act like everything is OK.”
Hall’s apology acknowledged what he called “good intentions,” but accepted responsibility for the offense caused.
“This is important journalism which the BBC should be reporting on and we will continue to do so,” he said. “Yet despite these good intentions, I recognise that we have ended up creating distress amongst many people.
“The BBC now accepts that we should have taken a different approach at the time of broadcast and we are very sorry for that. We will now be strengthening our guidance on offensive language across our output.”
BBC was in hot water last week over the n-word on a history program as well, Yahoo reports. BBC history presenter Lucy Worsley quoted John Wilkes Booth as saying the profanity. The backlash led the “American History’s Biggest Fibs With Lucy Worsley” host to apologize on Twitter.
The BBC did not apologize for the scene, instead explaining, “This is a history programme about the American Civil War and features contributions from a number of African American scholars. Content information about the nature of the film was given before the programme started, and presenter Lucy Worsley gave a clear warning to the audience before quoting John Wilkes Booth as the term clearly has the potential to cause offence.”