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Five separate complaints from same listener about profanity on Irish radio among issues rejected by BAI


Jennifer Zamparelli  Photo: Gerry Mooney

Jennifer Zamparelli Photo: Gerry Mooney

Jennifer Zamparelli Photo: Gerry Mooney

Ireland's broadcasting watchdog has rejected five separate complaints made by the same listener over the use of profanity on some of the nation's most popular radio shows.

The male complainant took issue with broadcasters and/or contributors turning the air blue on popular shows on Newstalk, Today FM and RTE Radio One and 2FM.

In his first complaint, the listener said he was offended by the word 'sh**ty' being used by host Sean Moncrieff on his afternoon radio show on Newstalk in which he said: "I love the way I'm allowed to say 'sh**ty' but Ryan Reynolds isn't" during a discussion on December 13, 2019 about the actor's latest film release in a segment called 'Movies and Booze."

The complainant found "the use of the word offensive and objectionable, especially given the time of day when children might reasonably be expected to be listening. The complainant is of the view that the word had no relevance to the segment and that it was gratuitous."

However, the BAI ruled that because the programme is aimed at an adult audience "who are likely to be familiar with the tone and content of this regular segment" it didn't consider "it would have caused undue offence to the general audience."

The listener also complained about the word 's**t' as well as 'God' and 'Jesus Christ' being uttered by callers to the Jennifer Zamperelli show on her 2FM entertainment programme on November 13, 2019 during a discussion with herself and a reporter about the American reality show family The Kardashians.

However the BAI noted that the presenter asked two phone-in callers not to curse on air and that because the show is aimed at an adult audience "the manner in which the language was used was conversational and not gratuitous. In addition, available research indicates that the words (God and Jesus Christ) are not generally seen as causing widespread offence."

The complainant also found a segment on RTE Radio One's 'Liveline' programme the same day offensive in which the word 's**t' was used during a discussion on the phone-in show about social media bullying by children and teenagers.

He took offence to the word 'b***h' and 'f**k' being uncensored when an audio clip that aired the previous day on the show was replayed.

However the BAI ruled that the programme moderator had warned before the clip aired that it contained course language.

"Further, the broadcaster provided strong editorial justification for the inclusion of the clip. The Forum noted that the discussion was emotive and, in this context, the use of bad language by some callers could not be deemed to cause undue offence."

The listener complained again about the 'Arena' show on RTE Radio One on January 21 in which the word 'f**k' was used uncensored during a discussion on the career of political satirist Armando Iannucci that featured in a clip called 'The Thick of It'.

However the watchdog ruled that because the arts and culture programme is aimed at an adult audience in the evenings, listeners would not only be familiar with its style and content they were also "given ample warning of bad language being contained in the clip prior to it being played."

"The Forum considered the type of programme, the time of broadcast and the inclusion of prior warnings and did not find the content to be unduly offensive."

The listener also complained about language used during a discussion on Today FM's 'The Last Word' on January 20, 2020 about songs being used by political parties during the election campaign.

He took issue with a clip from a campaign video by a former TD who is now an MEP in which the then-candidate used the word 'f**k' several times in political songs.

However, the BAI also rejected this complaint on the basis that "a warning had been issued prior to the clip which contained bad language. The Forum determined that the clip was appropriate given the context of the topic being discussed."

The complaints were among 14 received by the broadcasting watchdog that were not upheld for alleged breaches of its code of practice in its complaints decisions released today.

Online Editors