Matthew Wright investigated over disability slurs in TV poll
Friday, 11 May 2012
Matthew Wright's Channel 5 daytime show is being investigated by Ofcom over a survey that used the words 'mong', 'spaz' and 'retard'.
The Wright Stuff, which holds the dubious honour of airing the item which attracted the most complaints to Ofcom in 2011, is being investigated by the media regulator to see if the poll was a breach of broadcasting rules relating to harm and offence.
Matthew Wright's Channel 5 poll The 26 April edition of the show featured Wright discussing the comment made by Rupert Murdoch at the Leveson inquiry into press ethics and standards when he described prime minister David Cameron's deceased son as 'retarded'.
The show then cut to a poll where a female voiceover asked viewers: 'According to one survey, what's the most offensive term to describe someone with learning difficulties? a. Mong b. Retard C. Spaz.'
The answer, 'retard', was subsequently supplied following an ad break. In 2008, a poll by the BBC also concluded that 'retard' was the most offensive disability-related word.
Ofcom's investigation is the latest in a string of on-air gaffes that has landed Wright and his show in hot water with the media regulator.
In December he imitated a catchphrase from the TV detective series Taggart – 'There's been another murder' – to describe the death of teenager Liam Atchison in the Western Isles of Scotland.
The comment prompted more than 2,200 complaints to Ofcom and became the most complained-about TV item of 2011.
In October Wright was forced into making an on-air apology after asking viewers 'Amanda Knox: would ya?', as part of a wider debate about her successful appeal against her Italian conviction for the killing of Meredith Kercher.
Ofcom received more than a dozen complaints that the comments were sexist and objectified women.
A Channel 5 spokeswoman said: 'The words were referred to in the programme in the context of a serious and balanced discussion about Rupert Murdoch's use of the term 'retarded' to describe David Cameron's late disabled son.
'We believe that Mr Murdoch's overall comment was intended to be supportive of the Prime Minister and his family, and we were focusing on the issues around using modern and appropriate terms to use in relation to illnesses and disabilities.
'The programme's use of those words and reference to the BBC survey was justified in the context of a serious and balanced discussion and since broadcast we have received support from viewers and interest groups thanking us for raising this important issue.'