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Watchdog criticises 4FM and Harvey

Classic hits station 4FM and presenter David Harvey have been rapped by the broadcasting watchdog for not challenging racist remarks from callers.

The host's afternoon phone show was criticised for allowing comments like blacks are "very lazy", "they have a certain DNA related to their work ethic" a nd Filipinos in Ireland are "scammers".

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) said Harvey allowed callers to go largely unchallenged.

The watchdog found that "listeners would have reasonably assumed that racist and prejudicial remarks of some callers to the programme were reasonable and acceptable positions to hold in contemporary Irish society".

The BAI accepted that Harvey and a number of callers challenged the racist remarks but criticised the station for not going far enough to react to racism.

"They were not considered sufficient in number to counter-balance the comments considered by the committee to be both racist and prejudicial, particularly in circumstances where problematic remarks went largely unchallenged," the report found.

The BAI said presenters have an onus to avoid the airing of harmful or unduly offensive comments and that Harvey portrayed racist and discriminatory facts as being "one side of the argument".

4FM broadcast the BAI's decision on Wednesday on The David Harvey Show.

Sharon Murphy had complained about the station and the host's programme on behalf of the Galway One World Centre.

Harvey defended his show to the BAI and said it is absurd to say 4FM is driven by organised racism and gives a disproportionate amount of time to people with strong anti-traveller or anti-African views.

The BAI reported that Harvey said any suggestion that speech-led programming at the station is engaged in a conspiracy to promote racism is far-fetched.

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