Hum TV rapped by Ofcom for “racially offensive material”

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Hum TV has been rapped by Ofcom for “racially offensive material” during its morning show ‘Jago Pakistan Jago’, which aired on 15th March 2018.

Ofcom received three complaints from viewers about the show. Ofcom identified a section of the programme where make-up artists taking part in a competition were set the task of applying make-up to models live on the programme. The first part of the task required the contestants to make the models’ skin tone appear darker. They were shown doing this, then photographs of the models without make-up were shown by means of comparison as the mentors and presenter discussed the contestants’ work. Then, in the second part of the task, the contestants were instructed to apply bridal make-up over the darker base colour.

The broadcaster said that while this broadcast “touch[ed] on an issue which some may have found challenging”, it believed that when viewed in context it did not cause harm or offence. The Licensee said that the make-up artist competition took place over five episodes of Jago Pakistan Jago. The task in the episode broadcast on 15 March 2018 posed “the challenge to work on a darker skin tone” and this required the application first of the same base colour to all the models “to give all the contestants the same blank canvas, thus providing them a level playing field”.

HUMN UK Ltd said “the discussions during this episode highlighted the differences of skin tones. The inclusion of this specific challenge for the contestants led to discussions and informed the audience”. It said that “the majority of our audience understood the competition and the reason for ensuring all the contestants had the same base to work from in this episode” and “our audience is from the Pakistani community”.

HUMN UK Ltd said it had not received any direct complaints from viewers about this broadcast.

Ofcom considered that specific terms used to refer to the darker skin tone had the potential to offend. These included three uses of the word “negro”: “This stick is called Negro”; “make sure that you use the Negro skin tone”; and “it gave him a real Makrani [black] colour or Negro skin tone – whatever you call it”. Ofcom’s 2016 research3 on offensive language makes clear that the word “negro” is considered by audiences to be a derogatory term for black people and categorised as “strong language, generally unacceptable” and “problematic outside of a proper historical context”. We acknowledged that in the first two instances in this broadcast, the word was likely to be the manufacturer’s name for the particular shade of make-up being used. However, this was not obviously the case in the third instance.

In Ofcom’s view, the audience for ‘Jago Pakistan Jago’, a morning magazine lifestyle programme, was unlikely to have expected to encounter this type of potentially offensive material at this time of day in this programme. No attempt was made to avoid or mitigate the potential offence, even though the Licensee accepted that the programme “touch[ed] on an issue which some may have found challenging”.

The broadcaster was found in breach of Rule 2.3.

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