London Mayor Ken Livingstone has welcomed the decision of the Carphone Warehouse to suspend their sponsorship of Big Brother in the wake of the growing furore surrounding the treatment of Shilpa Shetty in the Big Brother house.
Earlier today Carphone Warehouse founder Charles Dunstone said some of the behaviour on the show was “entirely at odds” with the its values leading to the decision to pull their sponsorship of the show. The Mayor said the decision by Carphone Warehouse was “welcome” and “should stand until the present situation on the show is ended. ”
Responding to the growing criticisms Channel 4 chief executive Andy Duncan denied there had been an unacceptable level of racism saying “what constitutes racism is a complex question.”
Mr Duncan said producers “have been monitoring extremely carefully events in the house and have reached the view that we cannot with certainty say that the comments directed at Shilpa have been racially motivated or whether they stem from broader cultural and social differences.”
Mr Livingstone disputed this claim saying ‘In order to defend their right to broadcast the treatment of Shilpa Shetty Channel Four has sought to deny that there is racism. This claim is irresponsible, self-serving and patently untrue. Ms Shetty has been subjected to sustained racism.”
The Mayor listed a number of comments made by contestants which he considered racist including: “You need elocution lessons. You need a day in the slums”; “she wants to be white”; “Do you live in a house or a shack?”; “is it India where they eat with their hands? Or is that China”. The Mayor pointed out that “Shilpa Shetty herself complained on the programme that the behaviour is racist.”
It’s understood that complaints to media regulator Ofcom have now reached 30,000.
Mr Livingstone said Channel Four and Big Brother producer Endemol “by their behaviour are also damaging Britain abroad and in India in particular” and called on Ofcom to “intervene to put an end to the broadcasting as entertainment the racist bullying and harassment on this programme.”
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