BBC apologises for use of N-word in report - 12 days after it aired

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Lord Hall

BBC Director General Tony Hall has apologised after the N-word was used in a TV news broadcast, following a mass of complaints from both inside and outside the Corporation, including at BBC North.

The report by BBC social affairs correspondent Fiona Lamdin repeated the language allegedly shouted during an attack on a young black man in Bristol. It aired on Wednesday 29 July on the regional service Points West before being repeated on the main BBC News channel.

The BBC initially 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.

It said the decision to broadcast the word followed discussions involving “senior editorial figures” and was preceded by a warning to viewers.

However, there were more than 18,000 complaints to the BBC and on Saturday the Radio 1Xtra presenter Sideman quit his job, saying he could not work with the BBC allowing “the N-word being said on national television by a white person”.

On Sunday, Hall emailed all BBC staff to say: “Every organisation should be able to acknowledge when it has made a mistake. We made one here.”

“It should be clear that the BBC’s intention was to highlight an alleged racist attack. This is important journalism which the BBC should be reporting on and we will continue to do so.

“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.

“Every organisation should be able to acknowledge when it has made a mistake. We made one here. It is important for us to listen – and also to learn. And that is what we will continue to do.”