THE BBC has defended itself after thousands of viewers complained about the use of a racist word on a local news programme.

The corporation has received more than 18,600 complaints about the use of the 'N' word in a Points West report about a racially-aggravated attack in Bristol.

The BBC has declined to apologise, although it accepts the word - which was preceded by a warning - caused offence.

Broadcast regulator Ofcom has received 384 complaints about the report on Wednesday, July 29.

Only Newsnight's opening monologue about Dominic Cummings in May received more complaints with 23,674 since the current system came in in 2017.

The item was about an attack on a 21-year-old NHS worker and musician K or K-Dogg, who was hit by a car a week earlier, when he sustained a broken leg, nose and cheekbone.

Police said the incident is being treated as racially-aggravated due to the racist language used by the occupants of the car.

Referring to the use of language in the report, a BBC spokesman said: "The victim's family were anxious the incident should be seen and understood by the wider public.

"It's for this reason they asked us specifically to show the photos of this man's injuries and were also determined that we should report the racist language, in full, alleged to have been spoken by the occupants of the car."

He added: "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.

"The word is highly offensive and we completely accept and understand why people have been upset by its use.

"The decision to use the word was not taken lightly and without considerable detailed thought. We were aware that it would cause offence."