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Capital Xtra Reloaded in breach of broadcasting rules on offensive language

By | Published on Tuesday 9 February 2021


UK media regulator Ofcom has found Global’s Capital Xtra Reloaded radio station in breach of its broadcasting code, after airing a track featuring racially offensive language on a Monday morning.

The offshoot of Capital’s Xtra station, which plays contemporary grime, hip hop and R&B, Capital Xtra Reloaded offers up hip hop, dance, garage, R&B and grime classics from the 1990s and 2000s. On 7 Sep last year, at around 10am, it was filling that remit by playing Luniz’s 1995 track ‘I Got Five On It’.

One listener complained, due to the line in the track, “Bomb will make a niggy go delirious, like Eddie Murphy” – the word ‘niggy’ generally being perceived as a derivation of the ‘n’ word.

Global responded by saying that the appearance of the word in question had been the result of human error. It said that the word was “not easily identifiable when listening to the song”, not least because it was “a derivation of the full ‘n’ word, not the word itself”.

It apologised for any offence caused, but also noted that the use of the word was not meant to be derogatory “as the songwriters and artists are predominantly African American”.

The media firm also said that it had now removed the song from its database and reminded staff of “the importance of mandatory language checks”. It added that it would check all the songs in the database to ensure that they adhere to “strict standards on language and decency”.

Ofcom noted that the word used in the Luniz track did not actually feature in its 2016 research on the phrases that people find most offensive. However, it is a derivative of a word that “is considered by audiences to be among the most unacceptable words”.

The regulator accepted that rules on broadcasting offensive content to children had not been breached, given that the track had been played in the middle of the morning during term time. However, it said that “regardless of intent”, no “contextual justification” was given for the broadcast of the word, and therefore there had been a breach of rules on minimising offence.