BBC presenter quits in protest after N-word allegedly used in attack repeated on air | Media

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theguardian

A BBC radio presenter has quit his job after the corporation defended its decision to broadcast the N-word in a television news broadcast.

Radio 1Xtra presenter Sideman said he no longer felt comfortable working for the national broadcaster after it stuck by the decision to broadcast the language in a report on a racially motivated hit-and-run attack.

The presenter, who had a weekly show on BBC 1Xtra, said he could not work with the BBC allowing “the N-word being said on national television by a white person”.

He said in a post on Instagram that the BBC’s subsequent defence of the broadcast “feels like a slap in the face of our community”.

“On this occasion I just don’t think I can look the other way. We live in a world that needs to change, systems that need to change, organisations that need to change.”

More than 18,000 people have already complained to the BBC about the decision to broadcast the word last month in a report that originally aired on the regional service Points West before being repeated on the main BBC News channel.

The report, by the BBC social affairs correspondent Fiona Lamdin, repeated the language allegedly shouted during the attack on a young black man in Bristol. The BBC has defended its decision, saying the inclusion of the racial slur was made with the approval of the victim and his family, who wanted to show the severity of the attack. They said the decision to broadcast the word followed discussions involving “senior editorial figures” and was preceded by a warning to viewers.

Sideman, the professional name of the comedian and presenter David Whitely, said he did not feel able to keep working with the BBC, and suggested that the response showed deeper problems at the broadcaster. “As a person who believes that change can happen and wanting change to happen, I understand transition. I understand it’s not something that’s going to happen overnight. There will need to be a lot of learning and unlearning and tearing down of certain building blocks of society that took a long time to build up. I’m OK with process, I’m OK with waiting within reason for certain things to change.

“This is an error in judgment where I can’t just smile with you through the process and act like everything is OK. I’m happy working with organisations until we all get it right. But this feels like more than getting it wrong.

“That’s why effective immediately I’m leaving my job as a radio broadcaster for BBC 1Xtra. With no apology, I just don’t feel comfortable being aligned with the organisation.

“Money and opportunity doesn’t outweigh the dissatisfaction that I feel with this situation. This is wild to me, especially in the current social climate, and I can’t make any sense of it no matter how much I think about it. So I think that’s it’s time that I left.”

The BBC has been contacted for comment.



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