Jonathan Ross cleared over ‘homophobic’ comment

Author: Press Association

The comments, made on his Radio 2 show, provoked 61 complaints from listeners
who said Ross was being homophobic.

During the broadcast, on 9 May, he discussed prizes in a competition themed
around the fictional teenage pop star.

He said: “If your son asks for a Hannah Montana MP3 player, you might
want to already think about putting him down for adoption before he brings
his… erm… partner home.”

But Ofcom found that the comment was “clearly presented as a joke”
and part of Ross’s “irreverent, challenging and at times risque humour”.

The presenter found himself in hot water last year after he and fellow DJ
Russell Brand left obscene messages on actor Andrew Sachs’s answerphone,
which were also broadcast on Radio 2.

Ross was suspended for 12 weeks by BBC bosses, but walked straight back into
controversy on his radio show by joking about having sex with an elderly
woman.

His radio show, which has been on air since 1999, features light-hearted
exchanges between Ross and the programme’s producer Andy Davies.

Ofcom said: “The comment was clearly presented as a joke intended to make
light of the reactions that some parents may have if their child chooses a
toy that is very widely recognised to be designed and marketed for the
opposite sex.

“The humour was therefore based on the absurdity of the scenario and was
not intended to cause offence.

“The fact that this comment was intended to be a joke was illustrated
further by the reaction from Andy Davies, who was heard laughing.

“Ofcom therefore considered that the nature of the joke and the tone and
manner in which it was presented made clear that it was not intended to be
hostile or pejorative towards the gay community in general.”

The watchdog found that any children listening would have been unlikely to
understand the implication being made.

It said: “Ofcom took into account that Jonathan Ross is a well known
personality, who has an irreverent, challenging and at times risque humour
that is familiar to audiences. Ofcom also recognised that the comment was
clearly aimed at an adult audience. Importantly, if children did hear this
comment it was unlikely that they would have understood it or its
implications.

“In light of this, Ofcom considered that there was little potential for
the comment to be imitated by children, for example in the playground.”

Ross did not break broadcast rules which say material that causes offence must
be justified by the context.

His comments provoked anger from a number of listeners.

After the broadcast, Karen Mills told Pink News: “How can these people
earn such huge sums of public money to come out with this discriminatory
rubbish?

“What would be the message to a young gay man listening to this? Worse
still, how might such comments reinforce and support homophobic bullying in
the playground?”

Known for his irreverent humour and flamboyant fashion sense, Ross also
presents a chat show, Friday Night with Jonathan Ross on BBC1, featuring
musical group 4 Poofs and a Piano.

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