Radio presenter under fire over ‘unfair and deceitful’ broadcast

A RADIO presenter who put a council official live on air without his knowledge has been reprimanded by the Broadcasting Commission for being deceitful.

Talk show host Neil Prendeville, presenter of the Opinion Line, a morning show on Cork radio station 96FM/103FM, was also criticised by Cork City Council for behaving in a totally unprofessional and unacceptable manner.

The commission claimed the decision by the station to put a worker at the city’s Paul Street car park unknowingly on air to answer questions about delays exiting the council-owned, multi-storey building infringed the person’s privacy under the Broadcasting Act 2001.

It criticised the decision of Mr Prendeville to pose as a member of the public who had got caught up in delays in getting out of the car park on July 1 last and to surreptitiously broadcast a response from the car park employee without his authorisation.

“The broadcaster had been instructed that they should contact City Hall for comment and not the car park staff,” said the BCC.

The commission ruled that Mr Prendeville had dealt with the matter “in an unfair and deceitful manner”.

Car park employee Richard McCarthy complained that 96FM had acted in an unethical and underhand manner after he had received “a phone call from a man who claimed he was a motorist who had been delayed for a long period of time when leaving the car park”. He only realised the call was being broadcast when he was informed by a colleague that he was live on-air.

The station told the BCC that researchers had been trying for three days to get an explanation from the council for the delays at the Paul Street car park after it had received complaints from members of the public. 96FM said Mr Prendeville had decided to contact the car park directly as he could not understand the ongoing difficulty in getting a response from the council. Meanwhile, 2FM was criticised by the BCC for running a “misleading” promotion this summer which promised contestants the chance of winning €1m.

The BCC upheld a complaint by a 2FM listener that the chance of winning such a prize was remote when the biggest single prize was just €10,000.

“The broadcast material gave the misleading impression that the prize of €1m could reasonably be expected to be won,” said the BCC. A total of €30,000 was actually paid out by the station, consisting of 20 daily prizes of €1,000 and a main prize of €10,000 for the overall winner.

The BCC ruled the promotion had breached the Broadcasting Act 2001 by presenting the winning of €1m as being a probable outcome.

It also upheld complaints against two Dublin stations - FM104 and Spin FM - that they had broadcast sexually explicit material in contravention of the Broadcasting Act.

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