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Global Radio’s Gold reprimanded over racist lyrics

By | Published on Thursday 29 August 2019


Global Radio’s station Gold has been reprimanded by UK media regulator Ofcom after broadcasting a song filled with racist terms on a show back in May.

The song in question, ‘Melting Pot’ by Blue Mink, was a number three hit in the UK in 1970, and ultimately promotes a message of racial harmony. However, it does so while referring to “yellow Chinkies”, “red Indians” and “curly Latin kinkies”. See, things were just a little bit different back then.

Ofcom received a complaint about the song after it was played without introduction or any contextualising by a presenter. The regulator agreed that several of the terms used in the song were now generally understood to be pejorative and therefore likely to offend.

Responding, Global acknowledged that the language used in the song would not be acceptable on many radio stations today. However, it said that Gold’s position as a “station well known and loved for its playlist of hits from the 60s and 70s” meant that the track was unlikely to cause offence to its audience.

That does make it sound a bit like it’s saying that the station’s audience is old and racist so will therefore be fine with old racial slurs. Though I think it means that they’d recognise that what language is and is not deemed acceptable has changed over time. But also that they wouldn’t mind hearing said unacceptable language now, so maybe ‘old and racist’ stands.

Whether or not the average Gold listener likes hearing racist lyrics on the radio as they go about their day or not, those listeners are going to have to search a bit harder to find them in the future, because Global has banned ‘Melting Pot’ from its Gold playlist.

Another of Ofcom’s concerns was that, although the song had been a hit, it wasn’t well known enough now for people to understand the context in which it was written. Although people may have come across it in other forms since.

Steve Coogan sang it in an episode of ‘I’m Alan Partridge’ in 1997. Various other acts have covered it too, including Culture Club and Boyzone, the latter of whom included it on their 1996 album ‘A Different Beat’. Recognising the potential for offence with some of the lyrics, Ronan Keating and co changed ‘yellow Chinkies’ to ‘Oriental sexy’. Oh well.

It’s not the first time in recent years that the song has caused controversy when played on the radio. In 2015, Iain Lee apologised to listeners after playing it on his BBC Three Counties radio programme – it having been previously mentioned in a discussion on the show about immigration and the NHS. On that occasion, he stopped the track about 30 seconds in, saying: “At least we know you cannot play that song anymore. It’s a different world”.