The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

15 May 2008

Second UK Presenter In Hot Water Over Boris Johnson Remarks


First Whale, Now Lamb Facing Britain's Radio Censors

In another blow for freedom of speech in the United Kingdom, BBC 6Music presenter George Lamb (shown below) is in hot water after suggesting on- air he would support Boris Johnson for mayor of London.

After the recent sacking of popular talkSPORT host James Whale, also for backing the subsequently victorious Conservative candidate, a disturbing pattern of media censorship is beginning to emerge in Britain.

For Americans, it's an important reminder of what life could be like if the FCC's former Fairness Doctrine is reimposed after November's elections. This is Hush Rush, English- style.

According to the Guardian, Lamb's offense was merely to indicate which candidate had his vote. During the show, Johnson was identified only by his hair color:

BBC 6Music has issued a warning to daytime presenter George Lamb, after he appeared to pledge his support on air for Boris Johnson in the London mayoral race.

Lamb, who last night won the inaugural "rising star" prize at the 2008 Sony Radio Academy awards, has been warned by management for breaching impartiality guidelines, a spokeswoman for the digital station said.

On his mid-morning show on May 1 - the day of the local elections - Lamb told listeners: "I know who I'm going to vote for, who has blond hair." (Johnson shown right)

"The problem is it breached BBC editorial guidelines on impartiality," the 6Music spokeswoman said.

Now there's a bit of British humor that translates perfectly across the Atlantic! Since when does the BBC even try to be impartial?

Meanwhile, since we last reported on Whale's disturbing sacking, the station's former program director has blasted talkSPORT, accusing current management of being "sly and devious" in the way it handled the incident.

Kelvin MacKenzie also points to ideological hypocrisy, since notorious former MP George Galloway, an extremist who has cavorted with Saddam Hussein, Fidel Castro and other global tyrants, continues to host a program there.

Also from the Guardian:

"There are strict rules on neutrality even though in an online world you must wonder whether there is any point to them," he added.

"But the regulator Ofcom had not even decided the outcome of the complaints before the brave Mr Dee picked up the phone and fired Whale without compensation. I am told by insiders at Ofcom that they were quite shocked by this precipitant action.

"This guy had done 13 years on the late-night slot, had good numbers and had been the company's broadcaster of the year last year."

MacKenzie called on TalkSport to sack another of its presenters, the Respect MP George Galloway.

Whale (shown above) had been with TalkSport since it launched as Talk Radio in 1995, and presented the 10pm to 1am slot from Sunday to Thursday.

Interestingly, Whale has found a new home, this time with an online station where he can express his views free of interference from Labour Party- appointed bureaucrats and shady managers.

Think Whale's firing was really about "impartiality", rather than rooting for the wrong team? Here's the Daily Mail to set you straight:

Speaking to the Guardian, ex-Radio Authority and Ofcom regulator Tony Stoller justifies the sacking of presenter James Whale from talkSPORT for telling listeners to vote for Boris Johnson.

He then cites the "tawdry Evening Standard campaign against Ken Livingstone" as an example of what the media can get up to when not regulated by people like him.

For the record, the Standard's reporting of Livingstone's record as mayor was scrupulously accurate.

Stoller is typical of the types who get appointed to "independent" regulatory bodies.

They think telling the truth about Left-wing wrong-doing is a smear campaign and advising anyone to vote for a Tory is a hanging offence.

That's their idea of "balance".

All of this has the British media debating whether these oppressive restrictions on freedom of speech have any place in a modern democratic society. And some in the news business are wondering if OFCOM's current broadcast regulations are even being violated at all, or whether the rules are being misinterpreted. Since Whale was sacked before the agency had completed its investigation, we'll never know.

One thing is clear, however: Boris Johnson's upset victory in London has the political establishment angry and looking for scapegoats. And defenseless radio presenters appear to fit the bill perfectly.

Think it can't happen in America? Guess again.

FOR New England regional talk radio updates, see our other site. New: Boston Herald's Spygate apology provokes intense anger by Patriots fans.

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  • What else would you expect from a government controlled entity like the old "beeb?" With them it's support Labour or maybe even Brit political rogue and commie icon George Galloway...OR ELSE!

    By Blogger The Real Bob Anthony, at 15 May, 2008 07:09  

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