Frankie Boyle's Katie Price jokes censured
- 4 April 2011
- From the section Entertainment & Arts
Media regulator Ofcom has censured comedian Frankie Boyle and Channel 4 for broadcasting "offensive" jokes about Katie Price and her son Harvey.
Ofcom upheld 500 complaints about Boyle's routine, broadcast in December.
It appeared to "target and mock the mental and physical disabilities" of the eight year-old, Ofcom said.
Channel 4 said it was "wholly justified in the context". Price said it was "a further insult" that Ofcom had not forced the station to apologise.
The model was among those who complained about the comments in Boyle's comedy series Tramadol Nights, saying they were "discriminatory, offensive, demeaning and humiliating".
In response Channel 4 said Boyle's comedy was not "intended as a slur on any particular community", but that "everyone is fair game in Frankie's eyes".
One of the jokes that attracted complaints was not about Harvey's disability or about rape or incest, it said, but was "simply absurdist satire".
The broadcaster also said Boyle's remarks were meant to make fun of Price's alleged "exploitation of her children for publicity purposes... her behaviour as a mother and her cavalier attitude towards relationships".
Channel 4 chief executive David Abraham personally sanctioned the jokes before they were broadcast.
But the regulator ruled that allowing the jokes to be screened was "an erroneous decision on a matter of editorial judgement on the broadcaster's part".
Ofcom accepted that Price and ex-husbands Alex Reid and Peter Andre had "consciously exposed their and their children's lives to the media" and must expect to be the targets of humour and criticism.
But it continued: "The fact that a public figure chooses to expose some aspects of his or her child's life in the media does not provide broadcasters with unlimited licence to broadcast comedy that targets humour at such a child's expense."
The ruling also said: "Ofcom was of the view that the material in question appeared to directly target and mock the mental and physical disabilities of a known eight year-old child who had not himself chosen to be in the public eye.
"As such, Ofcom found that the comments had considerable potential to be highly offensive to the audience."
Ofcom said the second episode of Boyle's comedy series, aired on 7 December, broke two rules in its broadcasting code.
A Channel 4 statement said it "acknowledges" Ofcom's findings. A spokesperson pointed out Ofcom did not fine the channel or force it to issue an on-air apology.
Price responded by saying that she was pleased that Ofcom had ruled against Channel 4 but was "amazed" the regulator did not require an apology to be broadcast.
"This strikes me as a further insult to my wonderful son and another in a series of failures in this sordid affair," she said.
Channel 4's role as the official broadcaster for the 2012 Paralympics should now be questioned, she added.
"Would they have taken this route if Harvey was the child of a well-known politician?" she continued.
"It is clear that people at the highest levels in Channel 4 made a major misjudgement and that they are not capable of seeing how wrong their behaviour was."
Ofcom cleared a further episode of Frankie Boyle's Tramadol Nights, in which he made a joke about people with mental health problems.
Meanwhile, Ofcom also cleared BBC Two's Top Gear after the hosts made fun of Mexican people for being "lazy".
The regulator said viewers would have been familiar with the show's "mocking, playground-style humour".
"To restrict humour only to material which does not cause offence would be an unnecessary restriction of freedom of expression," it added.