Friday 14 December 2018

BAI upholds in part complaint against 2FM Eoghan McDermott Show for asking Dee Forbes who she would like to kick in testicles

A second complaint against RTE One's Six One News was also upheld in part

Radio presenter Eoghan McDermott. Photo: Mark Stedman
Radio presenter Eoghan McDermott. Photo: Mark Stedman
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

A complaint against the Eoghan McDermott Show on 2FM has been upheld in part by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.

A listener complained about a segment featured on McDermott’s afternoon entertainment show on March 8, 2018 in which the presenter asked the Director General of RTE, Dee Forbes, who she would like to kick in the testicles.

According to the BAI, the listener found the comment “offensive and discriminatory towards men and was of the view that it promoted violence against men” and he felt that it was “insensitive and unjustified”.

RTE stated that the question was posed during a regular feature on the show in which high profile guests are asked to respond to a range of questions and that specific question had been posed to both male and female guests in the past.

RTE argued that it is intended to entertain.  However, the broadcaster acknowledged that the phraseology used did not meet the complainant’s standards but said it “never intended to cause offence but  acknowledged that offence has been caused in this instance”.

The BAI Compliance Committee upheld the complaint in part, noting that RTE did not comply with one element of Principle 5 of the Code of Programme Standards.

While the Committee did not agree that the comment could be deemed unduly offensive or that is was discriminatory towards men, it did find that “the question and the specific wording used ie the reference to kicking a man in the testicles, was not justified” so they upheld this element of the complaint.

A second complaint, against RTE One’s Six One News, was also upheld in part.  It referred to the programme broadcast on January 23.

The complaint referred to a report of court proceedings at Ennis District Court in which the complainant appeared as the defendant.

The complainant felt that it “presented information about the court proceedings, including details of the arrest and subsequent charges, but failed to mention details from the defence case or the fact that the defendant was acquitted of some charges”.

They also stated that some of the testimony by a Garda who deployed pepper spray after the defendant allegedly attempted to escape custody was uncorroborated and they felt the manner in which the case was reported was not presented with “due accuracy”.

The court proceedings had concluded prior to the broadcast, but the complainant argued that it did not include all available facts. The exclusion of the acquittal, they said, “rendered the report misleading and unfair” and they felt the report was “not accurate, objective or impartial”.

RTE responded to the complaint by stating that the report was based on court copy supplied by a freelance journalist which had been received by RTE at 1.51pm and which detailed the morning’s court proceedings. 

The Six-One News was based on this copy. RTE said they received further copy at 6.23pm, too late for the report to be updated before being aired.  However, they said full details were made available on the RTÉ website.

RTE argued that that the report was accurate and fair having regard to the circumstances and facts known at the time of preparing and broadcasting the content.

The BAI Compliance Committee upheld the complaint in part.

They noted that the report was prepared several hours before the broadcast and did not feel that sufficient steps were taken by the broadcaster to ensure that the accuracy of the report was adequate and appropriate with regard to the circumstances at the time of the broadcast.

The Committee noted that the update on the story was not received by the broadcaster until six minutes prior to broadcast, however, they said that the Code states that “accuracy is a fundamental principle associated with the broadcast of news and current affairs content and should always take priority over the speed with which content can be delivered”.

The Committee noted that the broadcaster did not include the updated information, nor did the report include reference to the fact that the trial was ongoing at the time of preparation.

It was the view of the Committee that the broadcaster did not take sufficient steps to ensure that it complied with the principle of accuracy which underpins the Code.

However, regarding the complainant’s belief that the omission of aspects of the defence case led to an unfair and misleading broadcast, the Committee noted that there is “no requirement for fairness in news”.

They also noted that there is no requirement for the broadcaster to cover every aspect of a story, so they did not agree that the report was misleading.

Thirteen other complaints were rejected by the Compliance Committee, including four separate complaints from the same viewer about McDonalds' sponsorship of The Big Big Movie - The Santa Clause, The Santa Clause 2 and The Santa Clause 3, as well as Cinderella, broadcast on RTE in December last year.

The Executive Complaints Forum of the BAI considered and rejected a further five complaints.

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