BAI upholds complaint about George Hook’s on-air rape comments
The BAI stated that Newstalk “failed to take corrective action in a timely fashion”.
The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) has upheld a complaint about comments made by George Hook that led to his suspension from Newstalk last year.
Details of the complaint were published by the BAI on Tuesday, relating to comments made by Hook about the sexual assault of a woman in the UK and issues of responsibility on High Noon, a programme presented by Hook until his suspension last year.
While Hook described rape as “awful” during the course of the programme, he also raised questions about the personal responsibility of the woman involved in the case and, more generally, “the question of the personal responsibility that young girls are taking for their own safety".
Hook was subsequently suspended by Newstalk for his comments but has since returned to the station as part of its weekend schedule.
In the complaint detailed by the BAI on Tuesday, the complainant states that it was not appropriate for the presenter to blame an alleged victim of sexual assault for the fact that she was raped.
The complainant expressed the opinion that the presenter believes that the victim is responsible for the assault is offensive and harmful and that it is not appropriate for the presenter to blame women (and their parents) for rape rather than the rapist and their parents for how they raised them.
The complainant stated that she is personally disappointed and disgusted by the presenter's comments and the lack of response from Newstalk. The complainant states that it took until Saturday lunchtime before Newstalk issued an apology, but only after 24 hours of uproar.
Having considered the broadcast and the submissions from the complainant and having had regard to the Broadcasting Act 2009, Section 48(b)(offence and harm) and the BAI Code of Programme Standards (Principle 2 - Importance of Context), the BAI Members decided to uphold the complaint.
“In considering this complaint, the Committee acknowledged that the broadcaster subsequently undertook remedial action and has accepted the substance and validity of the complaint,” the BAI report stated.
“It also noted that the presenter explicitly stated that he does not condone rape. However, the broadcaster had a responsibility to take greater care to prevent the possibility of undue offence and harm, including taking timely corrective action where content is likely to have caused offence.
“The Committee was of the view that the broadcaster had failed to take corrective action in a timely fashion, action which may have ameliorated the undue offence caused. Given this and given the content of the programme, the Committee has decided to uphold the complaint.”
You can read the full details of the complaint in the Broadcasting Complaint Decisions February 2018 report here.