Broadcasting watchdog needs to review how 'balance' rule affects coverage: NUJ

Broadcasting watchdog needs to review how 'balance' rule affects coverage: NUJ

There are calls for the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) to review how its rules around balance were implemented in the Marriage Referendum debate.

The head of the Irish National Union of Journalists said broadcasters sometimes had to let factual inaccuracies go in their efforts to ensure both sides got 50% of the air time.

Seamus Dooley said that restriction on journalists needed to be relaxed in order to encourage a broader discussion on the issues.

He said: "The BAI guidelines are very clear in that they do not expect a 50/50 balance and facts that are distorted can be checked by a moderator, but I think at times during the debate there was a restraint.

"In particular there are issues around the concept of the stopwatch and the implication that because there are two sides to an argument that even when one side says outrageous things there's not a right to correct that outrageous comment in case you upset the clock.

"I think all broadcasting organisations - some more than others - are going to have to look very seriously at the interpretation of the rules in relation to balance."

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