Page last updated at 11:56 GMT, Monday, 11 May 2009 12:56 UK

Ofcom upholds 'Nazi' complaints

Jon Gaunt
Gaunt is now presenting on an internet radio station for The Sun newspaper

Talksport has been found in breach of broadcasting rules over an incident last November which saw presenter Jon Gaunt call a local councillor a "Nazi".

Ofcom received 53 complaints over the interview with Redbridge councillor Michael Stark about foster care.

Gaunt apologised on-air following the exchange, but Talksport sacked the presenter after its own investigation.

The media regulator noted the apology, but upheld the complaint under the rules regarding offensive material.

Ofcom said it found the language used and overall conduct of the interview had the potential to cause offence to many listeners and that there was insufficient editorial justification for the offensive material.

The pair had been debating Redbridge Council's decision to ban smokers from fostering children when Gaunt called Mr Stark a "health Nazi" and an "ignorant pig".

'Swift action'

The radio station told Ofcom that it regretted what had happened, saying the interview "fell way below the acceptable broadcasting standards that Talksport expects".

It added it "totally accepts and regrets that the language was offensive and that the manner in which the interview was conducted was indefensible".

During the interview itself, Talksport said that Gaunt ignored constant instructions from the producer to calm down, let the guest answer the questions, and retract the use of the word "Nazi".

Talksport said that it had taken "swift and decisive action" to resolve the matter and following the presenter's dismissal, broadcast an on-air apology two weeks later.

Although Ofcom has not imposed a fine in this instance, it said it remained concerned about Talksport's ability to deal with problematic material being broadcast live and may use it as evidence if there is a further breach of rules.

The station was fined £20,000 in December for breaching impartiality rules after presenter James Whale urged listeners to vote for London mayoral candidate Boris Johnson.

Gaunt is a former BBC radio presenter, winning three Sony Radio Academy Awards in 2001 while at BBC Three Counties Radio.

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