BAI upholds complaint against Dublin radio station

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) has upheld a complaint against a Dublin radio station that allowed a caller to continuously make “extremely offensive” comments on air about children with special needs.

The comments were made on the FM104 Phoneshow on July 13 during a discussion on the exclusion of children with special needs from summer camps.

The complainant said that she was “appalled and disgusted” at the “vile abuse” aired by one caller, who used several derogatory comments to describe people with special needs and their mental capacity, remarks she described as “ignorant, rude, abusive, and hateful.

While FM104 defended its handling of the broadcast and said that the caller in question was challenged by the presenter and callers, the BAI’s Compliance Committee upheld the complaint against the station.

“While the comments of this caller were challenged throughout the programme, it was the view of the committee that the caller’s views were extremely offensive,” the BAI ruled.

The authority also ruled that “the caller was then given repeated opportunities to air these views, views which the committee believe should not have been broadcast in such an extensive manner, given their offensive nature”.

The programme is to be issued with a compliance notice and will be monitored in future by the BAI.

Meanwhile, the BAI rejected a complaint against The Neil Prendeville Show on Cork’s Red FM.

The complaint referred to an interview with Dr Robert O’Connor of the Irish Cancer Society about the Gardasil vaccine for girls, during which Mr Prendeville read a number of emails in which parents claimed the vaccine was responsible for adverse side effects in their children.

He further said that these claims went “unchallenged as established facts while Dr O’Connor was critically challenged and disbelieved,” and that Mr Prendeville was “unhelpful, combative, and argumentative” and “publicly expressed disbelief, incredulity or derision at some of Dr O’Connor’s answers.”

The BAI rejected the complaint, and said that the interview “robustly examined the view that the vaccine was safe”.

“The committee was of the opinion that this approach was appropriate in a context where listeners held the position that the vaccine had had considerable negative effects on the lives of their children,” it said.

The BAI also rejected a complaint against 4FM over comments by broadcaster Niall Boylan on the difference of opinion among those within medicine on Fibromyalgia.

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