Thursday 5 December 2019

Newstalk's Chris O'Donoghue describes BAI ruling on same-sex marriage discussion 'daft and depressing'

Chris Donoghue, Newstalk presenter
Chris Donoghue, Newstalk presenter
Nessa Childers

Mark O'Regan

Newstalk Breakfast host Chris O'Donoghue has described as "daft and depressing" the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland's decision to partially uphold a complaint regarding his handling of a radio discussion about gay rights.

The segment took place on the station's 'Breakfast' show and involved a discussion on the same-sex marriage referendum scheduled for 2015.

The complaint referred to a programme broadcast in June, and related to interaction between two panellists and the programme presenters, Ivan Yates and Chris Donoghue.

The complainant argued that the panellists, who were the Director of Dublin Pride and a former member of the organisation BelongTo, were given "free rein" to express their views.

Mr Donoghue told the Irish Independent that the ruling was "daft and depressing."

In a statement, he said: "The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland has made a ruling against me because I stated I was pro same-sex marriage.

"This was not a debate or a comment I made in a vacuum.

"This was a 20 minute discussion on the eve of Dublin Pride 2014 about a range of issues affecting gay people.

"In June 2014 there was a lot of comment about the coalition Government falling because of tensions over the local elections.

"It was in that context that I asked my guests on radio if they feared the referendum would not happen and said I would vote for equality.

"It is important to state that a date for a referendum on marriage equality was not called at the time, and still is not called at this time.

"This decision is daft and depressing in my opinion," he said.

Chris presents the current affairs radio programme alongside Ivan Yates.

Last month, he was unveiled as UTV Ireland's new current affairs anchor, and will host their news programme there three times a week when they launch in January.

He will remain in his current role in Newstalk.

Meanwhile a complaint  by Independent MEP Nessa Childers that an RTE debate on the European elections was biased has been rejected by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.

The MEP for the Dublin constituency complained about a section of the 'Six One News' broadcast on May 21.

She argued that Eamon Ryan, the Green Party candidate in the constituency, featured prominently in the broadcast.

She also said that while most of the parties fighting the election got a mention, the same approach was not applied to individual candidates.

RTE argued the report was essentially about the constituency, rather than an analysis of the political parties involved.

It rejected the MEP's argument that the segment in question was "an uncontested interview" with Mr Ryan.

In its ruling, the BAI found in favour of RTE and concluded that the station did not infringe relevant guidelines.

Irish Independent

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