Channel 4's Chief Exec Speaks
We've had various statements from Channel 4 over the past
few days, but now the absolute top nobs (well, he's singular,
but we can't say top nob!) of Channel 4 has spoken out.
At a press conference today at the Oxford Media Convention
2007, Channel 4's Chief Executive Andy Duncan made the following
"In the seven years that it has been on air, Big Brother
has seldom been far from the headlines. The reason it commands
so much attention, intentionally or unintentionally, is that
it goes to the heart of who we are as individuals and as a
The latest series of Celebrity Big Brother has strayed into
particularly controversial territory: the issue of racism,
and whether or not it remains ingrained in British attitudes
despite all the progress we have apparently made towards becoming
a truly multi-cultural society.
The level of complaint and comment shows that the programme
has touched a real nerve.
The debate has been heated, the viewing has at times been
uncomfortable, but, in my view, it is unquestionably a good
thing that the programme has raised these issues and provoked
such a debate. These attitudes, however distasteful, do persist
– we need to confront that truth.
What constitutes racism is a complex question. We have been
monitoring extremely carefully events in the house and have
reached the view that we cannot, with certainty, say that
the comments directed at Shilpa have been racially motivated,
or whether they stem from broader cultural and social differences.
We have already intervened with Danielle and, as viewers
will see on Thursday night's highlights show, again with Jade,
where we felt their comments might be construed to have racist
overtones. Producers also spoke to Shilpa today (Thursday,
18/01/07), who said that she did not feel the behaviour towards
her was racist.
We will not hesitate to intervene again if apparently racist
Big Brother's unique strength is that it's ultimately the
public who will decide whether or not the behaviour of
certain contestants has been unacceptable.
On Friday night, Jade and Shilpa will face the public vote.
The British public has the opportunity to cut through the
claim and counter-claim and pass its judgement on the events
of the past week.
In the last 25 years Channel 4 has undoubtedly played a major
role as a broadcaster to inform and educate viewers about
issues of race. This is a role that I intend Channel 4 to
So, they are clearly taking things seriously and Channel
4 are, in a way, pleased that the issues of bullying and racism
have been raised.
They are probably not quite so pleased that main BB sponsor
Carphone Warehouse has threatened to pull out, losing the
broadcaster £££millions in revenue.
The furore will inevitably die down and the controversy will
doubtless blow over, but whether the sponsorship issue gets
resolved by the time Big Brother 8 starts is anyone's guess.
In the meantime, heads will surely roll as the show's producers
should have taken action sooner, and perhaps even limited
Jade's stay in the House right from the start?
Check back soon for more Big
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