What are some examples of highly offensive words that must be censored from radio? For British state broadcaster BBC, they are not all of the four-letter variety.
The BBC appears to find not just the phrase “Free Palestine” but even the geographical entity of the Gaza Strip itself unutterable on a cultural show.
A controversy has broken out over the BBC's anti-Palestinian bias after its digital radio channel BBC 1xtra, which largely plays hip hop, grime and other “urban music” genres, censored on air references to Palestine.
First, it censored rapper Mic Righteous's on air free styling on 1xtra when he uttered the phrase “Free Palestine” ― drowning out the two unspeakable words.
On May 25, the BBC released a statement trying to justify the censorship after a flood of complaints. It's one sentence response said it had “a responsibility to be impartial when dealing with controversial subjects and an edit was made to the artist's freestyle to ensure that impartiality was maintained”.
In an May 26 Independent.co.uk blog post, Jody McIntyre said that just after releasing its statement, the BBC was caught in another example of anti-Palestinian censorship on 1Xtra in which the words “Gaza Strip” were blanked out in a rapper's freestyle.
McIntyre said: “On the very same radio segment, ‘Fire in the Booth’ with DJ Charlie Sloth, just a couple of months after the Mic Righteous freestyle, rapper Bigz made a guest appearance.
“Over a commercial hip-hop beat, he rhymes: 'Come on Joe, who you know as hard as this? Bringing more fire than the ―'
“And then silence. The term he used at the end of the line, ‘Gaza Strip’, has been censored out.
“Not a political statement, not a humanitarian statement, but the name of a geographical piece of land. A simple description of a place that does exist.”
McIntyre said: “The BBC seem intent on completely eradicating any recognition of Palestine’s right to exist from their radio broadcasts, but their actions have had the opposite effect.
“In a strong show of solidarity with the Palestinian cause, the BBC 1Xtra Facebook and Twitter have been flooded with page upon page of comments protesting against the blatant censorship. Every single time the radio station make any ‘status update’ online now, even if it’s content is completely unrelated, the floodgates are opened. ‘Free Palestine!’ ‘Don’t Censor Palestine!’
“Many are demanding to hear [British hip hop artist] Lowkey’s popular single ‘Long Live Palestine’ on radio; despite once reaching number one in the iTunes hip-hop chart, the song was consistently ignored by BBC radio.”
McIntyre pointed out the hyporcisy at work: “On the very same show, DJ Charlie Sloth played a Bigz track entitled ‘I Just Want The Paper’. In the song he raps: 'Chilling on a beach… Tel Aviv'
“Guess what, the words ‘Tel Aviv’ are not censored out.”