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BBC formally apologizes to RP

For ‘racist’ skit First Posted 10:26:00 10/24/2008

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MANILA, Philippines -- The British Broadcasting Co. (BBC) has formally apologized for a comedy skit that stirred outrage for portraying a Filipina domestic helper gyrating in front of her British employers, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Friday.

The apology is contained in a letter dated October 10, 2008 from BBC Director General Mark Thompson to Philippine Ambassador to the Court of St. James's Edgardo Espiritu.

The episode of the comedy Harry and Paul, initially shown on September 26 and replayed on BBC 2 on September 29 had members of the 200,000-strong Filipino community in the United Kingdom protesting the "insulting reference to Filipino women, typifying them in a dual role as domestic workers and sex toys of their British employers."

"Please accept my sincere apologies, on behalf of the BBC, for the offence that this program caused you," said the letter from Thompson, which the Philippine Embassy received only on October 20."

The BBC apology was written a week before Andrew Zane, chief executive of Harry and Paul producer Tiger Aspect Productions apologized to Filipino protesters who picketed the BBC office in White City, just outside central London, and Tiger Aspect in Soho in central London on October 17.

"We're sorry to anyone who was in any way offended by the program. This certainly was not our intention," Zane told the protesters.

Filipino community leaders also put up an online petition protesting the Harry and Paul episode that gathered more than 2,000 signatures in three days.

On October 3, Espiritu wrote BBC Trust chairman Sir Michael Lyons expressing his dismay over the Harry and Paul episode.

He also wrote a similar letter to the BBC Complaints Center, copy furnished Mark Pritchard, chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group-Philippines and the United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office; Sir Trevor Phillips, head of the UK Equality and Human Rights Commission; the Office of Communications (OFCOM|), the independent regulator of the UK communications industries; Sir Christopher Meyer, head of the UK Press Complaints Commission; London Mayor Boris Johnson; and the Harriet Harman, UK Secretary of State for Women and Equality.

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