Thursday 27 November 2014

BAI upholds Newstalk complaint comparing Enda Kenny to Communist leader

Niall O’Connor, Political Correspondent

Published 17/01/2014 | 15:53

Enda Kenny: reshuffle plans
Taoiseach Enda Kenny

The Broadcasting Watchdog has partially upheld a complaint against ‘Newstalk’ after Enda Kenny was likened to a Chinese Communist leader during a radio item last September.

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) found that the ‘Newstalk’ breakfast programme failed in its obligation to provide “alternative perspectives” during a discussion on the Seanad referendum campaign.

The programme’s presenters, Chris Donoghue and Ivan Yates, discussed the decision by the Taoiseach not to participate in a debate on the issue of Seanad abolition.

During the programme, one of the presenters likened Mr Kenny to Mao Zedong – the former chairman of China’s Communist party.

The BAI ruled that the discussion should have been balanced by “alternative perspectives” on the issue and have informed Newstalk that it will be expected to broadcasting details of the ruling.

“The presenters made a number of comments that should have rightly been balanced by other perspectives. These included comments on the decision of An Taoiseach not to participate in a television debate, as well as the broader media communications decisions of An Taoiseach, as being akin to those of Mao Zedong.”

A spokesman for Newstalk said that it cannot appeal the ruling as no mechanism exists in relation to complaints made to the BAI.

The complainant in question, Brendan Cafferty, claimed that Mr Kenny was subject to an “attack” for his decision “not to participate in a public debate on the referendum proposal to abolish Seanad Éireann”.

However in response to the complaint, Newstalk defended the remarks made on the programme.

“They (the presenters) merely, in political discourse, highlighted the control of media in relation to An Taoiseach, not in relation to how people should vote. The Chinese regime is known for the control of its message to the media. The presenters were merely highlighting the similarity of one controlling decision in Ireland to actions that frequently occur in China.”

A spokesperson for the Taoiseach said no comment would be made as the complaint did not come from government circles.

 

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