The BBC has received more than 18,600 complaints after it broadcast a news item containing a racial slur.
While reporting on a suspected racially-motivated attack in Bristol, social affairs correspondent Fiona Lamdin repeated the n-word to viewers.
Speaking to the camera, Lamdin said: “Just to warn you, you are about to hear highly offensive language. Because as the men ran away they hurled racial abuse, calling him a n*****.”
This was broadcast both by Points West and the BBC News Channel on Wednesday 29th July.
In its fortnightly bulletin, the broadcaster stated it had received 18,656 complaints about the incident. Since the BBC started its complaints system in 2017, only one other incident has received more grievances – Newsnight’s opening monologue regarding Dominic Cummings in May 2020, with 23,674.
The BBC has defended the report, saying the victim wanted the term to be used in the broadcast to demonstrate the seriousness of the alleged verbal attack.
The news item described an attack on a 21-year-old NHS worker and musician known as K or K-Dogg.
In a statement, the BBC said: “The victim’s family were anxious the incident should be seen and understood by the wider public.
“It’s for this reason they asked us specifically to show the photos of this man’s injuries and were also determined that we should report the racist language, in full, alleged to have been spoken.”
They added: “These are difficult judgements but the context is very important in this particular case. We believe we gave adequate warnings that upsetting images and language would be used and we will continue to pursue this story.
“The word is highly offensive and we completely accept and understand why people have been upset by its use. The decision to use the word was not taken lightly and without considerable detailed thought: we were aware that it would cause offence.”
The BBC has also received 417 complaints over the use of the same slur in history series American History’s Biggest Fibs, fronted by Lucy Worsley.
Responding to criticism on social media, Worsley apologised, saying “it wasn’t acceptable.”
You’re right, @therealpetraamp, it wasn’t acceptable and I apologise.
— Lucy Worsley (@Lucy_Worsley) August 2, 2020