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Channel 4 On The Back Foot Over Allegations

Channel 4 are on the back foot at the moment over the recent bullying and racism allegations, having been forced to revise their stance over the past few days as the issue has grown to unbelievable proportions

It all started on Monday (15/01/07), when a rumour swept around the net that Jack had referred to Shilpa as a p*ki. In fact, that was a false allegation, but it stirred-up massive interest in the issues raised and focussed attention on events in the House.

At the time, even though they were aware that the alleged 'Jack incident' had been reported on Indian websites, Channel 4 issued this slightly dismissive statement, and it has to be said that there wasn't exactly a great deal of urgency in releasing it:

"The social interactions and dynamics of the group are one of the key parts of the BB story, and viewers have a right to see these portrayed accurately. However, this is balanced with our duty not to broadcast material that may cause unjustifiable offence.

We take this matter very seriously and BB does not tolerate bullying or racist abuse in any form. Big Brother is closely monitoring all the housemates and will take appropriate measures to reprimand such behaviour where necessary.”

However, by the next day (16/01/07), it was front page news on at least one tabloid newspaper, so, realising that the issue was becoming a serious problem, Channel 4 revised their joint Endemol statement to:

"Matters of bullying or racial abuse in any form are taken extremely seriously by Channel 4 and Endemol. The nature of the show often includes incidents where conflicts arise and housemates are encouraged to resolve issues among themselves.

Housemates are closely monitored at all times to ensure they have the appropriate support inside the house which includes being able to talk in confidence to producers. Shilpa herself has not voiced any concerns of racial slurs or bullying against her.

Appropriate measures to reprimand individual behaviour would take place where necessary."

But by today, Wednesday the 17th of January, tens-of-thousands of people had complained to TV regulator Ofcom, small pockets of Indian protestors had been burning Endemol effigies, the Indian government had expressed concern, and our own Prime Minister issued a statement condemning racism.

So Channel 4, now in serious 'back-peddling' mode, trotted-out yet another statement, this time saying:

"To date there has been no overt racial abuse or racist behaviour directed against Shilpa Shetty within the Big Brother house. However there has undoubtedly been a cultural and class clash between her and three of the British females in the house.

Unambiguous racist behaviour and language is not tolerated under any circumstances in the Big Brother house. Housemates are constantly monitored and Channel 4 would intervene if a clear instance of this arose.

It is in the nature of Big Brother that conflicts arise and housemates are encouraged to resolve issues among themselves. Shilpa has not voiced any concerns of racial abuse to Big Brother. Housemates have access to support from Big Brother at all times.

The issue of whether there is racism in the CBB House has been discussed on Channel 4's companion programmes BBLB and BBBM and a range of views has been aired, including those of BB viewers."

Shilpa's agent Jaz Barton appeared on the main Channel 4 news to say she thought there had been 'borderline racism' in the House, and that Shilpa has probably put the conflict down to cultural differences. "Shilpa is confident and dignified in dealing with it the best way she can."

However, spokesperson for the National Assembly Against Racism Lee Jasper dubbed it 'overt racism', saying, "It's profoundly discriminatory: the comments that Shilpa's been subjected-to in relation to her cooking, the wilful mispronunciation of her name, the comments to her face and behind her back."

One thing's for sure, Celebrity Big Brother 5 has sparked mass debate over the issues of bullying and racism, and that can only be a good thing. It seems that the whole country, whether BB fans or not, is getting involved, and so hopefully Jade & Co's actions will not reflect on the British public in general.

Although it looks unlikely that anyone is going to be ejected from the House, the show's producers are set to have a serious chat with the contestants involved soon.

Check back soon for more Big Brother UK Latest News                          < back    top



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