Thursday, December 29, 2016

Broadcasting watchdog BAI issues warning to RTÉ over ‘abortion bias’

Image result for Ray D’Arcy radio showRTÉ 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.

Sanction

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.”

Decision

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.

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