Stars should pay Ofcom fine, says minister

A government minister has suggested that Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand should pay a fine imposed upon the BBC by Ofcom for their Radio 2 prank.

The corporation has been fined £150,000 over the lewd phone calls the pair made to actor Andrew Sachs last year on Brand’s Radio 2 show. The resulting furore led to Brand quitting the show and Ross being suspended from the BBC for 12 weeks.

However Communities Secretary Hazel Blears said that Ross and Brand should pay the money rather than letting it come from licence fee payers.

“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,” she said.

The media regulator imposed the fine on Friday, saying it reflected “the extraordinary nature and seriousness of the BBC’s failures” and the “resulting breaches” of its code.

The corporation accepted Ofcom’s findings and said that the material “should never have been broadcast”.

It was fined £70,000 for breaching rules on standards and offensive material and a further £80,000 for breaking rules relating to privacy of members of the public.