Monday 18 December 2017

BAI rejects all complaints on ‘Saturday Night Show’ ‘Pantigate’ apology

Rory O'Neill aka Panti Bliss
Rory O'Neill aka Panti Bliss
Brian O'Reilly

Brian O'Reilly

THE BROADCASTING Authority of Ireland has rejected all complaints about the apology issued on the Saturday Night Show over comments made by drag artist Rory O’Neill.

Mr O’Neill made comments on the January 11th show which became the subject of legal complaints, prompting the broadcaster to issue an on-air apology two weeks later.

The BAI adjudicated four complaints in relation to the apology – all the complaints objected to the broadcaster’s decision to issue an apology.

In RTE’s response to the complaint, it said: “RTE asserts that the statement dealt fairly with all parties mentioned, articulating the point of view of those individuals unable to respond to the assertions made about them in the original interview.”

“RTE believes that the statement of 25th January was an equitable and proportionate clarification of the original broadcast and that there was no breach of statutory requirements in the broadcast of this statement.

“RTE asserts that the broadcaster’s editorial independence includes responsibility for the material it broadcasts and therefore the entitlement to appropriate remedial action on foot of complaints received.”

As part of its ruling, the BAI said:  “A broadcaster has editorial independence and has primary responsibility for its programming content.

“This independence is coupled with legal responsibilities arising from the requirements of the Broadcasting Act 2009, laws pertaining to defamation as well as other legislation.”

The BAI further stated that it believed it was not within its remit to interfere in the editorial independence of the broadcaster.

It also looked at whether the wording of the apology met with compliance of fairness and objectivity.

However it found “that it was both factual and editorial in nature and could not be considered to favour the position of any of the parties involved in the programme and subsequent issues arising.

“Instead, it was the Committee’s view that the apology dealt with the broadcaster’s views about the standards applying to the programme of the 11th in respect of a number of named individuals and an organisation.”

The BAI upheld two complaints.

The first was against RTE’s ‘The Business’ show broadcast in February.

In the programme designer Paul Costelloe said of Irish men in Britain: “these guys are doing great and damaging a lot of young English virgins”

The complainant stated that the presenter failed to challenge the remark and that it was “repugnant to women and dangerous.”

The BAI upheld the complaint.

It found that although the show was live, a system should have been put in place to manage risks, such as a broadcast delay.

It also said that the presenter did not display respect to the sensitivity of listeners who may have found the comment offensive.

Newstalk Breakfast also had a complaint upheld about the communication of details of a competition.  

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