Tuesday 16 July 2019

BAI upholds in part complaint against show for 'kick in the testicles' question

(Stock photo)
(Stock photo)

Aoife Kelly and Ian Begley

A complaint about a lewd comment on the 'Eoghan McDermott Show' on 2FM has been upheld in part by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI).

A listener complained about a segment featured on McDermott's afternoon show on March 8 in which the presenter asked the director general of RTÉ, 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".

RTÉ 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.

RTÉ argued it is intended to entertain. However, the broadcaster acknowledged that the phraseology used did not meet the complainant's standards. It 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 RTÉ 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, i.e. the reference to kicking a man in the testicles, was not justified" so they upheld this element of the complaint.

A second complaint, against RTÉ 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.

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

A total of four complaints were made against RTÉ's 'Claire Byrne Live' earlier this year, but the BAI's compliance committee rejected each one.

Two complainants raised grievances to the show's referendum special on May 14. They accused the programme of lacking impartiality, a claim that the broadcaster denied.

However, the BAI found no evidence to suggest that RTÉ showed an intentional bias towards a particular side during the debate.

Irish Independent

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