Wednesday 19 September 2018

BAI rejects seven complaints against Late Late Show after item in which guests suggested cyclists should be 'binned'

Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

The BAI has rejected seven complaints made against The Late Late Show following an item in which a guest suggested she would like to ‘bin cyclists’.

The ‘Bin It!’ segment aired on RTE’s flagship entertainment programme on January 12, 2018, and panelists were invited by host Ryan Tubridy to nominate things that annoy them and which they would like to see ‘binned’.

RTE presenter Maura Derrane said she was bothered by cyclists cycling ‘three or four abreast’ on country roads and said, “it’s almost to piss people off they do it” and she described them as “arrogant”.

Cyclists were also likened to farm animals by social media influencer James Kavanagh because they “don’t move”.

Ryan Tubridy asked the audience whether he should throw a helmet (to represent people cycling “two or three abreast”) in the bin and the audience applauded.

Seven formal complaints were made to the BAI about the segment and all were rejected by the Compliance Committee.

According to the BAI one complainant said that referring to “arrogant cyclists” could “encourage frustration and anger against vulnerable road users, which is dangerous and irresponsible”.

Another said “that people who cycle are already vulnerable to bad driving and even worse attitudes and believes this item encouraged the vilification of cyclists”.

A complaint made by Dublin Cycling Campaign listed five elements of the programme that they believed “could be seen as inciting prejudice or hatred toward people who cycle”.

They included: “ The suggestion that cyclists deliberately block people in vehicles behind them; The comparison of cyclists with farm animals; A story from one of the panellists inferring that people cycling without children are less deserving of space and respect; The presenter posing a question that implied cycling two abreast is not allowed or is illegal; and,  The symbolic act of throwing a cycling helmet into a rubbish bin.

Another complainant said the programme “promoted mistaken myths against cyclists and the programme presenter encouraged and magnified this “hate-speech”, aimed at dehumanising people who cycle.”

They added that cyclists were referred to as simply “blocking the roads”, as sheep, cows, farm animals and as arrogant and they believed that this segment of the programme was offensive to people who cycle and would promote violence and aggression against cyclists.

In response to the latter complaint RTE said that it was a comedic and light-hearted segment in which guests were asked to nominate their ‘pet hates’ and this editorial context was made clear to the audience.  

The goal, they said, was to amuse the audience, partly through comic exaggeration, and was not intended as a serious discussion on road use or traffic safety.

RTE did concede that Ryan Tubridy was mistaken in referring to cyclists who cycle two abreast and acknowledge that this practice is not illegal.

The BAI rejected the complaints on the basis that the Late Late Show is a light entertainment programme and that the comments were made as personal views by guests and the tone was “humorous and light-hearted”.

“The Members did not believe that the discussion could be reasonably considered as supporting discrimination or inciting hatred towards cyclists,” they added.

An eighth complaint made against RTE Radio 1's Liveline was also rejected.

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