Irvine Beat FM is a community radio station licensed to provide a service for people in the Fullarton, Harbourside, Redburn, Vineburgh, Springside and Castlepark areas of Irvine, Scotland.A listener complained to Ofcom that the word chinky was used by the presenter to describe a Chinese take-away meal during the Saturday morning programme and this was a racial slur .
Ofcom noted that the word was used as part of a discussion about how cultured listeners were. The presenter asked listeners a list of ten questions such as:
Do you read daily newspapers?,
Do you watch Question Time? and:
Do you host dinner parties or do you tell your pals to come round and bring a chinky?
well you’re not cultured if that’s the case.
Ofcom considered the use of the word chinky raised potential issues under Rule 2.3 of the Code which states:
In applying generally accepted standards broadcasters must ensure that material which may cause offence is justified by the context.
we took into account the Licensee’s comments in response to the Preliminary View, namely that: Ofcom’s 2010 research on offensive language did not specifically assess the word chinky as opposed to chink , and that the Scottish Executive report from 2005/6 did not consider possible regional variations in the acceptability of the use of the word chinky .
The 2010 research noted that where a word was considered to be discriminatory, but it had not received the same level of public disapproval as other racist words, some participants from across the UK considered it to be less offensive. For example, some participants felt that chink was less offensive than the words paki or nigger because it was not as well known to be socially unacceptable . However, other participants considered that, in principle, chink was as discriminatory as these words and should be treated in the same way even though it may not be as well known.
Ofcom considered it was likely that listeners throughout the UK would be of the view that the word chinky was a derogatory word and that the use of the word was therefore capable of causing offence and falling short of generally accepted standards, in particular to members of the Chinese community.
Ofcom concluded that the use of the word did not meet generally accepted standards, in breach of Rule 2.3 of the Code.