RTÉ has received a warning notice from the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) following a third complaint against the Ray D’Arcy radio show on the grounds of pro-abortion bias.
The warning came on foot of the June 9 edition of D’Arcy’s show in
which a couple were interviewed about their abortion experience in the
wake of a foetal abnormality diagnosis.
With the United Nations Human
Rights Committee (UNHRC) also releasing its criticisms of Ireland’s
abortion laws that same day, the couple was invited to comment on this
during the show.
Subsequent complaints to the BAI that the show had demonstrated a
clear bias towards the repeal of the constitutional protection for the
unborn were upheld.
The BAI found that The Ray D’Arcy Show had, for a third
time in just 12 months, drifted from its human interest remit and into
news and current affairs, bringing into play the BAI code on fairness,
objectivity and impartiality.
Responding to news of the sanction against RTÉ, independent Senator
Rónán Mullen called on RTÉ to offer a “serious” response to the repeated
breaches by The Ray D’Arcy Show on the issue of abortion.
“It is astounding that RTÉ management has let the situation come to this,” Senator Mullen said in a statement.
“They seem to have been utterly serene about one of their
broadcasters repeatedly abusing the privileged position of tax-funded
broadcasting and failing to treat the public with the decency and
respect it deserved.”
He added: “Regardless of people’s views on abortion, all must agree
that on vital and sensitive social issues, the public service
broadcaster must be scrupulously impartial.
“It must now give the serious response to this BAI decision that will reassure the public that it ‘gets’ it at last.”
Meanwhile, the Pro Life Campaign said the BAI decision was
“significant” and called on RTÉ to admit “there is a serious problem
regarding bias at the station”.
It has been reported that RTÉ representatives will meet with the BAI
in January to formulate a plan under which production teams will act
when non-current affairs programmes drift into topics of that nature.