Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand could not pay a £150,000 fine imposed on the BBC for their behaviour without a change in the law, say Ofcom.

The media regulator said it did not have the power to fine individuals after government minister Hazel Blears said the pair should pay the fine themselves rather than the licence fee payers.

Ofcom imposed the fine for what it described as “gratuitously offensive, humiliating and demeaning behaviour” following the stunt on Russell Brand’s Radio 2 show last autumn in which he and Ross made lewd phone calls to the actor Andrew Sachs.

The resulting outcry saw Brand quitting the BBC and Ross being suspended from the corporation for 12 weeks.

Blears said earlier in the week, “I was quite surprised when I read about this, that Ofcom were fining the BBC. The BBC is funded by all of us as licence-payers, so actually, are we having to pay the fine?

“Then I thought maybe Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand should pay it… that might be quite a good idea.”

However an Ofcom spokesman explained why this would not be possible.

“Parliament decided for very serious breaches of our broadcasting rules the BBC would be subject to a maximum fine of £250,000,” the spokesman said.

“These powers only allow for fines to be levied against the BBC and not individuals, to do so would require a change in the law.”