The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland has found that RTÉ broadcaster Ray D’Arcy did not breach its code of fairness, objectivity, and impartiality when he welcomed the passing of the marriage equality referendum on-air last summer.
The listener’s objection to Mr D’Arcy’s comments on RTÉ Radio 1 on May 25 was one of seven complaints received by the authority since May that have subsequently been rejected by the body. Three of the complaints arose from the Ray D’Arcy Show.
In its latest report the BAI said that the complainant stated that “ironically, by celebrating inclusion the presenter was excluding approximately 40% of the electorate” when Mr D’Arcy described the passing of the referendum as an historic occasion.
However, the BAI found the issue of marriage equality “was no longer deemed to be one of public controversy or debate at the time of the broadcast” as it had passed into the Constitution and therefore rejected the complaint.
The same complainant also submitted his objection to a segment on the same show prior to the referendum in which the stock photo models who appeared in a no campaign poster explained how they were in favour of marriage equality.
The complainant said that the interview was a “lopsided, unbalanced, and partial discussion about this poster which focused mainly on the views of those in favour of a yes vote”.
In rejecting the complaint, the BAI said “the item was almost exclusively concerned with setting out the facts of the story as they developed up to the day of the broadcast” and that the models’ complaint was “counter-pointed by the statements of Mothers and Fathers Matter, and the presenter and programme researcher did not comment on the merits of the views set out by either party involved.”
A third complaint arising from the Ray D’Arcy Show concerned a discussion on the issue of fatal foetal abnormalities and an article by Fine Gael Councillor Kate O’Connell.
The complainant said that there was no counterpoint offered to Ms O’Connell, who said that she had no problem permitting abortion in the case of fatal foetal abnormalities and other instances, that Mr D’Arcy supported her views, and the majority of listeners’ texts read out by the presenter were ‘pro-abortion’. The BAI said it regarded the piece as “predominantly a human interest item which explored the issue of abortion though the experiences of Cllr O’ Connell” and that overall “the approach to the interview by the presenter was fair, objective and impartial”.
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