Thursday 19 April 2018

BAI rejects complaint against Ray D'Arcy show concerning same sex marriage referendum

Ray D'Arcy
Ray D'Arcy

Jane O'Flaherty

THE broadcasting watchdog has rejected three complaints made against The Ray D’Arcy Show on RTÉ Radio 1,which had alleged the presenter breached fairness and impartiality standards.

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland's Complaints Committee unanimously ruled out one of the complaints, which related to two episodes in May 2015, and dealt with the Marriage Equality referendum.

Complainant Brendan O’Regan referred to a show on May 7, which featured an interview with the family used on a ‘No’ campaign poster while they were actually in favour of a Yes vote. Mr O’Regan said the show was a “lopsided, unbalanced and partial” discussion about the poster, and focused on the views of the Yes campaign.

RTÉ defended the show by saying the story had been widely reported in the media that day, adding that a response from campaigners Mothers and Fathers Matter was also read out on the programme.

Mr O’Regan also highlighted another show on May 25, where presenter Ray D’Arcy called the victory of the Yes campaign “truly historic” in his introduction. The complaint also states Mr D’Arcy said he cried “tears of pride” on hearing the result, adding that the presenter had excluded approximately 40pc of the electorate.

But RTÉ argued that listeners had been advised that the show would be a “celebration” of the result, giving the audience an opportunity to stop listening if they wanted to.

RTÉ also noted that impartiality guidelines issued for dealing with the referendum no longer applied after polling stations closed two days before the broadcast.

Meanwhile, June Twomey lodged a complaint about The Ray D’Arcy Show, claiming that an interview with Fine Gael Councillor Kate O’Connell in August did not meet fairness and impartiality standards.

On the show, Ms O’Connell had said she would have no problem supporting the repeal of the 8th Amendment and having a referendum on the issue. The complainant alleged that no differing opinion was offered, and that the presenter endorsed the view of his interviewee.

However, RTÉ stated that the Ray D’Arcy show generally did not host debates, and that the interview focused on Ms O’Connell’s personal experience of learning her unborn child had a 10pc chance of survival.

The BAI agreed with RTÉ in this instance, adding the interview was carried out in the “exploratory, conversational style which is known and expected by the show’s audience”.

In December, the BAI partially upheld a complaint about an interview between Ray D’Arcy and Amnesty Ireland chief Colm O’Gorman in relation to Ireland’s abortion legislation.

It found listeners would have assumed that Ray D'Arcy "endorsed" the views of Colm O'Gorman, and had been articulating a "partisan position."

The BAI published seven decisions on complaints made about RTÉ 1 Television, RTÉ Radio 1, Cork Community Radio and iRadio. All seven complaints were rejected.

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