FINE Gael is making an official complaint to the independent broadcasting watchdog against TV3 over the conduct of a referendum debate hosted by Vincent Browne.
Fine Gael claim the debate on 'Tonight with Vincent Browne' was not chaired in a manner that was fair, objective and impartial.
The move is viewed as a warning shot ahead of an appearance by Jobs Minister Richard Bruton on a Seanad referendum debate on the station tonight.
The complaint may be the first against a broadcaster under a new set of rules that stipulate current affairs must be presented "in an objective and impartial manner and without any expression of the broadcaster's own views".
Justice Minister Alan Shatter is understood to have been particularly angry about the debate last week on Court of Civil Appeal referendum.
Fine Gael has written to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI), claiming a breach of its Code of Fairness, Objectivity and Impartiality in News and Current Affairs, the Irish Independent has learned.
The party has gone to the BAI after a complaint to TV3 was rejected.
The party's complaint says the advocates for a Yes vote in the debate were continually interrupted, and faced more aggressive questions than the No campaigners.
Fine Gael claims the No campaigners were given more time to answer and the presenter clearly expressed views on the subject.
LABOUR ATTACKS SF OVER SEANAD VOTE
A LABOUR Party minister has attacked Sinn Fein for its arguments in the Seanad referendum, despite agreeing with their call for a Yes vote.
Junior enterprise minister Sean Sherlock objected to Sinn Fein calling the Seanad "elitist", when the party used the system to get its own senators elected.
Mr Sherlock said Sinn Fein was happy to strike a vote transfer pact with Labour to get Pearse Doherty elected to the Seanad in 2007.
"Is it not a bit rich to be calling it an elitist institution when they were the beneficiaries of the system?
"If they are putting forward an argument, the argument has to be made with honesty," he said.