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New code 'won't muzzle media'

A NEW code of conduct for broadcasters was not designed to "muzzle" presenters, the head of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) has said.

Speaking at a seminar in Limerick yesterday, where it was revealed that advertising revenue in the independent radio sector fell 40pc, CEO of the BAI Michael O'Keefe admitted he expected the new guidelines to attract "robust debate".

The BAI's new guidelines on objectivity in news contains a controversial clause preventing broadcasters from voicing their opinions on certain items.

A number of well-known broadcasters have voiced their opposition to this rule, claiming it restricts free speech.

However, speaking after an address to journalism students at the University Limerick, Mr O'Keefe insisted these guidelines are not new but simply clarify existing requirements.

In his address he said the public wants what they hear on radio to be "fair and impartial" and that's why regulation is there.

The code comes into effect on July 1, next.

Also speaking at the event was John Purcell, chairman of the Independent Radio Broadcasters in Ireland, who revealed there was a 40pc drop in advertising revenue within the independent radio sector over a four-year period to 2011.

Irish Independent