Ofcom clears Minogue's 'X Factor' comment

Monday, November 23 2009, 12:56 GMT

By Andrew Laughlin,

Ofcom has cleared Channel TV over its compliance of an episode of The X Factor in which Dannii Minogue made comments about a contestant's sexuality.

During the show broadcast on October 10, Danyl Johnson performed a version of the song 'And I'm telling you I'm not going', which was originally composed for a female vocal in the musical film Dreamgirls.

In the version chosen by judge Simon Cowell, Johnson switched the line, "You're the best man I've ever known" to "You're the best girl I've ever known".

In her feedback following the performance, Minogue said that he may not have needed to change the gender in the song "if we're to believe everything we read in the papers".

Ofcom subsequently received 3,964 complaints about the comment, the majority of which said that Minogue's remarks were "malicious and homophobic and based on newspaper reports about Danyl's sexuality".

Other complaints expressed concern about Johnson's public embarrassment and that a contestant's sexuality was being discussed in a pre-watershed family show.

Ofcom immediately wrote to Channel TV, which handled compliance for the programme on behalf of the ITV Network, asking for an explanation about how the comments were allowed to be broadcast.

Channel TV said that a meeting was held immediately after the live broadcast and the decision made to extend a full apology during the results programme on October 11.

On the show, Cowell said: "I've got to say about Dannii - she's the last person in the world who would ever do anything offensive. I spoke to Danyl after and he took it in the spirit, no offence intended, back to the show - it's over now."

Minogue also extended a full apology on her own personal website and Channel TV sent an apology message to everyone who complained to them directly.

It was also noted by Ofcom that Johnson had previously been open about discussing his sexuality, including interviews given to the Sunday Mirror and News Of The World covering the subject.

Johnson said in a statement: "I was not at all offended by Dannii's comment. We're completely cool about it and chatted after the show. I wasn't upset, it’s just so overwhelming being up there on the stage and having Simon be so positive."

Considering all the evidence, Ofcom decided that Minogue's comments were not outside her role as an judge on the show and that she discussed information firmly in the public domain.

The watchdog also ruled that Minogue's "indirect" comments about Johnson's sexuality were unlikely to cause offence to young children. It further dismissed any notion of public embarrassment caused to Johnson as he did not raise any objection or appear uncomfortable with the situation.

However, Ofcom warned broadcasters to be very wary of "outing" participants on television programmes, which will never be legitimate or permissible.