The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland has partially upheld a complaint against Newstalk in relation to a broadcast about Dublin’s Gay Pride parade which referenced same-sex marriage.
The complaint claimed that two panellists on the station’s June 27 Breakfast Show were given “free rein” to talk about the importance of passing the same-sex marriage referendum.
It also said that the presenters were “completely sympathetic” to the arguments of the panellists, allowing their views to go unchallenged.
During the segment, one of the presenters, Chris Donoghue, said he would vote in favour of same-sex marriage in any upcoming referendum.
The complainant stated that Newstalk’s role was not to “act as a cheerleader” for one side or the other in a matter of current public debate and believed that this kind of conduct, if continued, threatened to make next year’s referendum a “farce of epic proportions”.
In response to the complaint, Newstalk said the broadcast was a feature on the Gay Pride Parade in Dublin and was not a debate on the issue of same-sex marriage.
Newstalk stated that the 10-minute segment was a human interest piece which happened to touch on other issues, which briefly included same-sex marriage and the proposed referendum for approximately one minute of the piece.
The Compliance Committee considered the presenter’s statement that he would vote in favour of marriage equality as the statement of a partisan position by a news and current affairs presenter on a matter of current public debate.
The BAI upheld the part of the complaint pertaining to the presenter.
Responding to the ruling, Mr Donoghue said it was not a remark he “made in a vacuum”.
“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, so marriage equality was not the subject of current public debate in that context,” he said.
The BAI’s Compliance Committee rejected a further 10 complaints and resolved five. Four of these were made against various episodes of RTÉ comedy The Savage Eye.
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