The broadcaster faced a wave of criticism after airing the word uncensored on Wednesday last week. The segment saw Fiona Lamdin reporting on two men who had driven a car into another man before running off and shouting racist abuse at him.
In the piece, which aired just after 10.30am, she said: “Just to warn you, you are about to hear highly offensive language. Because, as the men ran away, they hurled racial abuse, calling him a n*****.”
It has now been reported a total of 18,656 people complained to the BBC’s executive complaints unit (EBU) about the incident.
Earlier this week, the BBC responded to the controversy, but notably did not apologise for featuring the N-word in the broadcast.
This prompted further criticism of the broadcaster on social media, with many disappointed it had stood by the decision.
Omg i was just gonna mention. When i got the email this morning i was like?????? Not one single “sorry” https://t.co/HmLsukuutL— Laura (@lauzzaza) August 4, 2020
I'm fed up of all these white owned corporations trying to tell black people what they should find offensive. If black people say its offensive, then it's offensive, there's no argument. https://t.co/6WTuOQCyoS— theparttimers.co.uk (@Parttimerdan) August 4, 2020
This is basically an extended version of the “I have friends who let me use it” argument. Just because the victim’s family gave you permission doesn’t suddenly make it OK https://t.co/dHWe0O5qS0— ruva🌼 (@ruviexo) August 5, 2020
I was fuming when I got this email. They’re not apologetic at all https://t.co/kS1AytySCQ— Symone K (@Symone__K) August 4, 2020
Extremely disappointed with @BBCNews— AYO (@AY00LU) August 4, 2020
There are alternative ways to highlight what was said but they CHOSE to use offensive language with HISTORIC connotations.
I now question their values as they’ve decided to justify it rather than apologise. https://t.co/WOANcNfZL4
In a statement on their complaints website, the BBC said it “accepted that this has caused offence”, but claimed the use of the word was “editorially justified given the context”.
“The decision to use the word was not taken lightly and without considerable detailed thought: we were aware that it would cause offence,” it said.
“But, in this specific context we felt the need to explain, and report, not just the injuries but, given their alleged extreme nature, the words alleged to have been used - a position which, as we have said, was supported by the family and the victim.
“These are difficult judgements but the context is very important in this particular case. We believe we gave adequate warnings that upsetting images and language would be used and we will continue to pursue this story.”
BBC guidance states “the strongest language” must not be shown before the watershed at 9pm, but the N-word itself is generally deemed too offensive to be aired at any time.
An Ofcom report about public perceptions of such language in 2016 deemed it to be “highly unacceptable at all times”, but said that if it is to be used then “strong contextualisation [is] required”.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.