ITV issued warning over Piers Morgan’s ‘offensive’ Good Morning Britain comments

Piers Morgan is well-known for his unique interviewing technique and clashes with Good Morning Britain guests. But, his co-host Susanna Reid is on hand to remind Piers when he needs to tone down some of his more controversial comments. GMB viewers often flock to social media to comment on the presenter’s latest remarks but ITV have now been officially warned by Ofcom.

ITV has been warned against relying on a “combative dynamic” between presenters such as Piers and Susanna because it risks breaching the broadcasting code. 

Piers and Susanna share a love-hate relationship on the show and often clash over their differing viewers on controversial topics. 

This warning was issued following a discussion which took place on January 21 and received more than 1,600 complaints from angry viewers, when Piers used a “racist trope” and mimicked the Chinese language.

At the time, Piers and Susanna were discussing Peter Phillips, the Queen’s grandson’s decision to star in a TV advert for Chinese state milk.

Piers mimicked the Chinese dialect and used the phrase “ching chang” while making fun of the Princess Royal’s son.

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He also referred to the product in question as “yeng yeng dong dong yong ming ming milk… milk”.

Susanna stepped in to try and make Piers see he was being potentially offensive and said: “Taking the mickey out of foreign languages is rather 1970.”

Piers replied: “I’m sorry you can take the mickey out of it. It is ching chang chong milk, right?”

But Susanna hit back: “You can’t,” and told her co-host he was being inappropriate.

Trying to justify himself, Piers insisted: “I can’t speak Chinese. I am trying to mimic the wording of that advertisement. Sorry, are people now going to be more annoyed at me trying to mimic the Chinese state milk ad than they are about a member of the royal family flogging Chinese state milk?”

ITV later apologised for the incident, saying in a statement: “GMB is known for its lively and robust discussion of the news agenda and recently covered Peter Phillips’ appearance in a Chinese milk advertisement.

“The discussion was focused on whether it was appropriate for members of the royal family to endorse products abroad in this manner, and was live and unscripted.

“Piers Morgan’s comments, and his mimicking of the Chinese language in the advertisement, was a spontaneous reaction to the advertisement.

“These comments were intended to mock a member of the royal family and were not intended to mock or denigrate Chinese people, their language or accent. ITV regrets any offence Piers’ comments may unintentionally have caused.”

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Ofcom confirmed they would not be pursuing a full investigation and stated: “It was legitimate for Piers Morgan to question Peter Phillips’ decision to appear in an advertisement for Chinese state milk and to use satire and ridicule in doing so.

“However, part of Piers Morgan’s mockery included three attempts to mimic the Chinese language, including using the phrase ‘ching chang’.

“As ITV has itself acknowledged, this phrase is recognised as a racist trope aimed specifically at people of Chinese heritage. Our recently published research indicates that audiences have a particular concern about content which is discriminatory.

“In our view, the use of the phrase and variations of it had the potential to be particularly offensive to viewers.”


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Ofcom did recognise Susanna’s attempts at making Piers aware his language could be offensive and said: “We accepted this was an attempt by Susanna Reid to point out that some viewers would find his imitation offensive.”

The regulator added: “Having carefully considered the context within which the comments were broadcast and the action taken by ITV, including discussing these complaints with Piers Morgan and making a public apology, Ofcom concluded overall that this programme did not warrant further investigation under rule 2.3 of the Code.

“We remind ITV that there are compliance risks in relying on a ‘combative dynamic’ between presenters as a way to provide challenge and context for the broadcast of content which may cause offence. This approach can provide significant context, as in this case.

“However, depending on the particular circumstances, this may not always provide sufficient context to comply with the code.”

Good Morning Britain airs weekdays on ITV at 6am.

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