Belfast Telegraph

Complaints upheld over BBC DJ at centre of public breastfeeding row

Ofcom has upheld 45 complaints against a BBC radio DJ who said on air that breastfeeding in public was "unnatural".

The broadcasting watchdog found that Alex Dyke's comments on his BBC Radio Solent show on August 12 were in breach of rule 2.3 of its regulations which says potentially offensive material must be justified by context.

An Ofcom spokesman said: "We found this radio discussion broke our rules regarding offensive content. The presenter's statements were highly offensive, stereotyped women who breastfed and were likely to be perceived as misogynistic.

"The BBC took various steps after the broadcast, including the presenter broadcasting an apology, further compliance training for the presenter, and tightening its compliance processes.

"However the presenter had been permitted to broadcast highly offensive comments, with minimal editorial oversight."

Mr Dyke was suspended after his comments sparked an online petition which topped 6,000 signatures, although he was later reinstated.

During his show, Mr Dyke said that "librarian-type, moustached" women should not breastfeed in public and he also said: "It is 2015. Ladies, mums, we don't like breastfeeding in public, honestly we don't.

"I experienced this yesterday. I was on a bus and there was a lady on this bus. She was quite a big girl and she had a toddler with her. She starts to breastfeed her baby on the bus. I didn't know where to look. She's putting me in an embarrassing situation.

"I didn't really realise what was going on. I just thought she was cuddling a baby and then I looked over and I realised. I wanted to look away but the bus was packed. Breastfeeding is unnatural. I know its natural but it's kind of unnatural."

When Mr Dyke was reinstated, a BBC spokeswoman said: "Alex has been told in no uncertain terms that his comments were unacceptable, and he has apologised for any offence caused on and off air."

Mr Dyke also hit the headlines last month when he invited 95-year-old Bill Palmer on to his show after the pensioner had phoned in saying how lonely he was because his wife was in a nursing home.

The BBC Trust's editorial standards committee also found Mr Dyke was in serious breach of the corporation's rules on harm and offence and on fairness, contributors and consent.

Its report said Mr Dyke went beyond any "leeway to provoke opinion" through "humour, exaggeration or by playing devil's advocate".

The report concludes: "They (the trustees) considered the comments stepped significantly beyond what would have been deemed acceptable by listeners.

"They noted in particular repeated derogatory stereotypical comments about the appearance of the kind of women who might breastfeed.

"Trustees also considered the treatment of one caller in particular was derogatory. The committee considered this was a serious breach of the editorial guidelines for harm and offence and for fairness, contributors and consent."

A BBC spokeswoman said: "We take the Ofcom and BBC Trust findings very seriously indeed. Alex was told at the time in no uncertain terms that his comments were unacceptable, and he apologised for any offence caused on and off air."


From Belfast Telegraph