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Saturday 17 March 2018

Lenihan cancer coverage 'was in public's interest'

ine Kerr Political Correspondent

COMPLAINTS from irate viewers about a TV3 report on Finance Minister Brian Lenihan's illness were rejected by the broadcasting authority on the grounds that they were in the "public interest".

A total of 88 viewers complained to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) after the station announced on St Stephen's Day that Mr Lenihan had been diagnosed with cancer.

Irate viewers claimed the reports were "insensitive" and "intrusive".

Among the complainants were former Fianna Fail minister and senior counsel Michael O'Kennedy and chairman of the Youth Green Party Barra Rountree. The complaints were about the timing of the broadcasts -- coming soon after Mr Lenihan was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Many viewers took exception to the fact that TV3 had given the minister 48 hours to inform his family about his diagnosis, before breaking the story.

Mr Lenihan did not lodge an official complaint.

"The (BAI's) committee noted that the role of the Minister for Finance is a pivotal role in Irish Government and given the current economic crisis, the significance of the role is further heightened," the BAI said in its report yesterday.

"The programme-makers had substantiated that the diagnosis was cancer in this case, which is an illness that could have implications for an individual's capacity to function effectively at his/her role. In this context, the committee was of the opinion that the news of his health was in the public interest."

However, TV3 show 'the Apprentice', fronted by tycoon Bill Cullen, was rapped for plugging a well-known chocolate maker.

Six other separate complaints were upheld against the late night TV phone-in show Play TV, also broadcast on TV3.

Irish Independent

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