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Tuesday 20 November 2018

BCI fails to see funny side with warning over radio ads

Niamh Doohan

THE Broadcasting Commission of Ireland has issued a warning about two radio advertisements for a children's charity, which it claims were offensive to homosexuals and promoted binge drinking.

The adverts, created by RTE's Nob Nation mimic Oliver Callan, were to be broadcast on several stations across the country this weekend for the Jack and Jill Foundation, which supports the families of sick children in Ireland.

Yesterday a spokesperson for the charity branded the ruling "absurd" and "unreasonable", saying the adverts were intended as parodies.

Broadcaster Eamon Dunphy and Senator David Norris had given permission to the charity to have their voices mimicked by Callan for the adverts. However, the BCI failed to see the funny side, and wrote to a number of radio stations warning them that the ads breached stringent radio advertising codes.

The charity encourages people to send them their used or broken mobile phones, which are recycled and then sold to raise money to provide home care for ill children.

In the first ad, the "Dunphy" character warns that "sometimes on a night out, your mobile can get more smashed than you do", and goes on to say that because broken phones can help a children's charity "it's finally OK to get smashed".

In its letters to the broadcasters last week, a BCI compliance officer warned that the ad could "encourage behaviour prejudicial to health".

The second ad features a character based on Mr Norris, declaring that "bent phones are beautiful" -- a comment the BCI said breached the "offence, harm and dignity" category of its advertising code and may be deemed homophobic. A number of local and national radio stations were forced to pull the plug on the adverts to avoid BCI sanction.

"We are gobsmacked by the decision," said a Jack and Jill insider.

The commission denied it had banned the ads outright, but said it had offered "guidance" and warned radio stations of the consequences of a public complaint.

The third advert in the current Jack and Jill series, a parody of finance guru Eddie Hobbs, survived censure and is being broadcast.

The BCI can impose heavy fines on broadcasters deemed to have breached its advertising codes. Last night, Mr Norris said he was disappointed to hear the ad had been banned.

"It wasn't me, it was my nob (nation) that did it," the senator joked. "Some people might be sensitive to the issue, but it is a caricature and there is no harm in it.''

"On the whole, the advert is very funny, and should have gone out, but I can understand if the BCI is a little sensitive towards it," he said.

The script for the senator's ad read: "Hello, Senator David Norris here. Aren't mobile phones marvellous? There are posh phones, flip phones, straight phones, even bent and broken phones. Some would say these bent and broken phones have no place in society. Nonsense!

"You can send old or broken mobiles to the Jack and Jill Foundation freepost Dublin 11 to raise vital funds for desperately sick children and their families."

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