Body publishes guidelines for broadcasters reporting on upcoming referendums

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland has published updated guidelines for reporting on upcoming referendums, including the abortion referendum.

These include ways in which fairness, objectivity and impartiality can be achieved and it notes that this is broader than a consideration of airtime.

On-air contributions via social media and a ban on presenters encouraging the audience to vote for one side or the other are also addressed.

The BAI says it is also keen to emphasise that fairness does not include a requirement for artificial balance.

Broadcasters are also encouraged to include a range of voices and opinions in their coverage, including a mix of views representing gender and cultural diversity.

A moratorium on coverage will come into effect from 2pm on the day before voting and will end following the closure of polling stations on the day of the ballot.

Chief Executive of the BAI, Michael O'Keeffe said: "The guidelines published today include a strong emphasis on how fairness, objectivity and impartiality can be achieved, and how this is broader than a consideration of airtime for campaign groups. The BAI is keen to emphasise that this does not include a requirement for artificial balance.

"The guidelines also emphasise that audiences may be better served by an approach to coverage that is not purely adversarial and which places an emphasis on the issues of a referendum. The approach set out in the guidelines enhances that taken in respect of the coverage of the Marriage Equality Referendum in 2015."

More information is available on the BAI website.

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