TV show featuring suicide ‘totally inappropriate’ for daytime viewing

AN EPISODE of The Bill shown on RTÉ last December which featured a man committing suicide has been deemed “totally inappropriate” for a daytime schedule by the Broadcasting Complaints Commission.

The BCC has upheld a complaint against RTÉ for showing an episode of the police drama series at 5.30pm on December 4 last because of the explicit and adult nature of the content of the programme. It ruled that RTÉ had failed to exercise due care or have due regard for the protection of children when scheduling the episode of The Bill.

The BCC also judged RTÉ’s classification of the programme as PS (parental supervision) without any other warning of the content was insufficient.

However, it stressed any such warnings would still not have brought the suicide storyline within acceptable standards given the time of broadcast.

The complainant, Peter Cassidy, had expressed concern that the material relating to suicide was totally unsuitable for young impressionable children who could have been watching the programme.

In response, RTÉ claimed viewers of The Bill were predominantly adult, despite it being shown before the 9pm watershed. The station pointed out that 88% of the audience for the episode of The Bill were adults.

RTÉ said the episode was looked at carefully because of its content and a decision was taken that, on balance, the visual images and details of the suicide were sufficiently general to avoid influencing anyone with suicidal tendencies.

However, the BCC ruled that the programme had breached its Code of Programme standards on three separate counts — taste and indecency, due care and protection for children.

Meanwhile, the BCC rejected a total of seven complaints against TV and radio advertisements promoting a helpline number for Women’s Aid, an organisation providing services to women who have suffered domestic violence.

The complainants, which included the Unmarried & Separated Fathers of Ireland group, and several individuals, claimed the TV and radio ads had breached the BCC code on gender discrimination and stereotyping by appearing to suggest that domestic violence is perpetrated by men.

They also criticised as inappropriate the use of children to act out an incident of domestic violence for the Women’s Aid ad.

The Unmarried & Separated Fathers of Ireland group argued that the stereotyping of “daddy” beating “mammy” was unacceptable, given that research had shown women were equally violent in domestic situations.

However, the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, which provided funding for the ad campaign, replied it contained no assumption that domestic violence was solely caused by males. It also pointed out research by the National Crime Council showed women are more than twice as likely to be victims of the crime than men.

Elsewhere, the BCC dismissed complaints against the conduct of comedians Tommy Tiernan, Ardal O’Hanlon and Dave McSavage for using coarse and offensive language during their appearances on RTÉ chat shows.

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