Third warning for ‘Ray D’Arcy Show’ over abortion coverage

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland has served RTÉ with a warning notice after upholding a third complaint about The Ray D’Arcy Show’s coverage of abortion.

The BAI said the notice was issued because it was the third time it had upheld complaints about the programme’s coverage of abortion.

RTÉ issued a statement noting and accepting the BAI’s decision. “As required, RTÉ will provide the BAI with a plan to ensure there is no re-occurrence (sic) of the issues identified,” read the statement.

The Pro Life Campaign described the BAI’s decision as “significant” and called on RTÉ to admit there was a serious problem regarding bias at the station.

It is understood that RTÉ management will meet with the BAI early next month to discuss the decision and put together a plan to address the matters raised.

On June 9 The Ray D’Arcy Show broadcast an interview with Gaye and Gerry Edwards about their experience of the termination of a pregnancy where a fatal foetal abnormality was present.

The interview was broadcast on the same day the UN Human Rights Committee criticised Irish abortion law. The couple were asked for their view on the UNHRC’s findings.

The person who complained to the BAI said it was “obvious” they were campaigning to repeal the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution. If it had just been a personal story, there would have been no issue.

RTÉ said the interview was a piece reacting to a story of the day, which was the UNHRC’s ruling on fatal foetal abnormalities.

The BAI said the programme segment was predominantly a news and current affairs item rather than a human interest story and that listeners should have been made aware that the couple were members of an organisation seeking to change Irish law.

During the interview, Mr Edwards made a passing reference to an organisation, Terminations for Medical Reasons.

RTÉ accepted it would have been preferable to have mentioned that the couple were members of the group.

The BAI also upheld a complaint about a prank telephone call by comedian Ross Browne, which aired on Cork’s 96FM on July 6.

The BAI said broadcasters must respect an individual’s right to privacy.

Mr Browne telephoned a member of the State Examinations Commission who ended the call before he could reveal his identity.

The broadcaster apologised for any embarrassment caused.

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