We received a reply from ABC's Complaints Review Executive to a review of our complaint about the use of Sir as a moniker for Bob Geldof. According to Wikipedia: "Bob Geldof was awarded an honorary knighthood (as Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire) from Queen Elizabeth II, in 1986.Geldof is entitled to use the post-nominal letters "KBE", but as he is not a citizen of a Commonwealth realm, he is precluded from using the title "Sir". Regardless, the nickname 'Sir Bob' has stuck, and media reports will frequently (but erroneously) refer to him as 'Sir Bob Geldof' as if that were his correct title."
Seems ABC is happy to promulgate factual errors! No surprise really. The reply from the Complaints Review Executive appears below in full. They appear to have entirely missed the point!
REVIEW OF COMPLAINT
Received 10 May 2010
A request for review was received on 21 April 2010 from a New South Wales listener dissatisfied with a response from ABC Audience and Consumer Affairs (A&CA). It was acknowledged on 22 April with advice that the
Complaints Review Executive would aim to complete the review by 19 May.
During a News bulletin on Radio National, broadcast on 8 March 2010 the complainant claimed Bob Geldof was referred to as ‘Sir’ Bob Geldof, in addition to other references cited.
The complainant wrote on 7 and 8 March that the ‘ABC continues to inappropriately title Bob Geldof’. He quoted an entry in the Public Report on Audience Comments and Complaints – October – December 2005 ‐
ABC Classic FM ‐ News
16 September 2005
A listener objected to the use of the honorary title “Sir” in relation to Bob Geldof in a news report. He pointed out that Mr Geldof has an honorary knighthood, which does not entitle him to the use of the title “Sir”.
The ABC acknowledged the error.
The complainant wrote that ‘Bob Geldof is entitled to use the post‐nominal letters KBE, but as he is not a citizen of a Commonwealth realm, he is precluded from using the title Sir’. In all he listed seven examples which referred to Bob Geldof as ‘Sir’ Bob Geldof and asked that the ‘ABC conduct a global search and replace of its archive to correct these numerous errors’.
A&CA responded on 21 April acknowledging ‘that Bob Geldof is not officially ‘Sir Bob’, however, the use of ‘Sir Bob’ has become common across the media..…’. News journalists have been reminded that ‘Sir’ Bob Geldof is not officially correct. A&CA wrote that they believed the overall accuracy of the stories was not comprised.
Basis of Assessment
Section 13.3.2 of the Editorial Policies notes that the ABC is not required to respond to complaints received more than six months after the broadcast to which they refer. Of the seven examples offered by the complainant three date from 2007 and three from 2009, all more than six months ago now. The link provided by the complainant from publicity for the Compass television program was received by A&CA within the required six months, but as it was not referred to in the response I am unable to review that particular example. That leaves the most recent news report on Radio National for consideration. This is categorised as News and Current Affairs content, and as such is required to meet standards in section 5 of ABC Editorial Policies.
Assessment I have examined the transcript of the item. While the complainant wrote ‘we are quite sure we heard use of the name ‘Sir’ Bob Geldof..’ the transcript does not support this contention. The introduction of the item referred to ‘Singer Bob Geldof..’ and the reporter referred to ‘campaigner Bob Geldof’, but there is no evidence in the material currently available that the word ‘Sir’ was used. I note the general reply to the complainant by A&CA which has acknowledged common usage of ‘Sir’, but which added that this is ‘not officially correct’ and that News staff had been advised. Accordingly I consider this issue, particularly bearing in mind the proportional weight of
the concern, has been finally and adequately canvassed and considered.
Having assessed the content, considered the complainant’s concerns and reviewed the ABC’s response, I consider that ABC editorial requirements were not breached. Therefore the complaint is not upheld.