The Director General of the BBC has promised that BBC Radio can adhere to new editorial guidelines which have been introduced in the wake of controversies which have included Chris Moyles’s alleged homophobia.
Mark Thompson was speaking to BBC Radio4’s Media Show following the publication of a BBC Trust report that stated “Of all the BBC’s services, Radio 1 has the most divided response in terms of morality, values and behaviour.”
Mr Thompson told the programme that there is a difference between “jokey banter” and offensive content.
“This is a world where you have to judge each programme on its merits and when programmes overstep the mark we have to make sure the programme makers understand that, and don’t do that in the future.”
In March, broadcasting regulator Ofcom found Radio1 DJ Chris Moyles in breach of the broadcasting code following a 20th January 2009 programme where the presenter mocked gay singer Will Young while singing alternative versions of his songs.
During the alternative version of ‘Leave Right Now’, Moyles sang: “Oooh Will Young here, mmmmh. I’m here, it’s Will’s birthday and as the years go by I get more very gay. When you saw me years ago you didn’t know, but now I’m the gayest fella you probably know. mmm I like to wear a silly hat, I get camper by the hour, oh would you look at the muck in here. I’m Will Young and I’m gay.”
When singing his alternative version of ‘Evergreen’, Chris Moyles broadcast the lyrics: “It’s my birthday, gonna wear my new dress tonight. And I smell nice. I’ve had a shower and I’ve shaved my legs. Going out later, might go to Nob-oooh for dinner.”
Mr Thompson said that the producers of Moyles’s show should take “especially when different generations of audience listen to the output.”
“We have to find some middle ground,” Mr Thompson said. But added there were “absolute boundaries” over issues including bullying, abusive behaviour and invasions of privacy.
The BBC Trust report recommended that: “editorial teams should be reminded that particular care needs to be taken at certain times of the day, such as school runs, when different generations may be listening together.” It also recommended that “there should be new guidance on malicious intrusion, intimidation and humiliation – to ensure that everyone involved in programme-making understands that such behaviours are unacceptable.
Last month, the BBC’s highest paid star, Jonathan Ross apologised after PinkNews readers complained that a joke about a Hannah Montana mp3 player was homophobic. He said: “If your son asks for a Hannah Montana MP3 player, you might want to already think about putting him down for adoption before he brings his… erm… partner home.”