Tuesday 20 March 2018

BAI rejects 15 complaints against Newstalk, RTE and TodayFM

Pat Kenny. Photo: Jason Clarke
Pat Kenny. Photo: Jason Clarke
The BAI rejected a complaint made against Morning Ireland
Katie Hopkins. Photo Philip Toscano/PA Wire

Sasha Brady

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) has rejected seven complaints against Newstalk, seven complaints against RTE Radio 1 and one complaint against TodayFM.

Listeners made complaints to the broadcasting watchdog about a number of topics they deemed unsuitable for radio.

One of the complaints made against Newstalk, refers to an interview on Newstalk Lunchtime by Jonathan Healy with Deputy Michael Martin.

A segment of the interview concerned Mary Boyle, who went missing as a child in Donegal in 1977.

The complainant had met with Mr Martin weeks before the broadcast to discuss the case, alongside Mary's twin sister Anne. She said that comments made to Mr Martin during their meeting were discussed during the show and the complainant was unhappy with the way she was represented on air.

The BAI notes that the complainant was offered a right to reply but this was rejected. It also notes that the complainant's comments used on air did not contain a personal view.

Pat Kenny
Pat Kenny

The Pat Kenny Show also had a complaint against it for talking about chemsex and the problems it poses on gay men. The complainant felt the topic was unsuitable for an 11am broadcast, as children could be listening to the show.

Newstalk stated that The Pat Kenny Show regularly discusses topics of a diverse nature but the subject of chemsex was "well-handled with a mature approach and at no point did the discussion become gratuitous". It also noted that only 2.2 percent of its audience is under 18 and two extensive warnings about the subject matter were provided before the broadcast.

The TodayFM complaint relates to Katie Hopkins' appearance on The Last Word. The controversial columnist was joined by Irish Times journalist Huge Linehan to discuss a report by the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI).

The complainant states that, as a migrant in Ireland, she found the language used by Ms Hopkins during the interview to be "coarse and offensive". It was also suggested that her use of hate speech, broadcast at a time when people are doing the school run, was traumatising to anyone with a personal experience of asylum.

Katie Hopkins. Photo Philip Toscano/PA Wire
Katie Hopkins. Photo Philip Toscano/PA Wire

The BAI has said that Ms Hopkins’ views had not gone unchallenged. In one instance, Mr Linehan pointed out that when people like Ms Hopkins are allowed to express their anti-immigration views, then it is incumbent upon all of us to ‘call them out as fascist bigots.’’

One of the seven complaints against RTE Radio 1 refers to a segment during Morning Ireland, specifically an interview with Cora Sherlock, Deputy Chairperson of the Pro-Life campaign.

The complainant claims that during the interview on the subject of the Citizens' Assembly and the Eighth Amendment, a journalist claimed that the Constitution provided for equality between the mother and the foetus. The complainant argued that the use of the word 'foetus' was "inaccurate and propagandist journalism".

The BAI agreed with RTE's defence that the word 'foetus' had only been used in the introduction to the show and Ms Sherlock used the term 'unborn' throughout the interview. The BAI also noted that the word 'foetus' is a medical term and it did not consider its use to be misleading or incorrect.

The BAI published all decisions on complaints made about RTE Radio 1, Newstalk and TodayFM. Details can be viewed here.

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