Complaints about armed reporter and swear song upheld by BCC

COMPLAINTS against Newstalk for sending a reporter to a psychiatric day hospital with knives in her bag and against Today FM for broadcasting a pop song called F**k You, have been upheld by the Broadcasting Complaints Commission (BCC).

The complaint against Newstalk’s Lunchtime with Eamon Keane, claimed that a report which involved the entry of a Newstalk reporter, Samantha Barry, into an acute day centre at St Anne’s Psychiatric Hospital carrying knives in her bag was “unfair, lacked balance and misrepresented the function of a psychiatric day hospital”.

Prof David Meagher, who made the complaint on behalf of the hospital, claimed the report did not take into account that a community day hospital is a different institution to a high-security unit.

The complainant also said the report failed to point out that the use of metal detectors and the routine searching of individuals entering the reception area is not consistent with best practice and is inappropriate for a community day hospital.

In its response, Newstalk said the report was of an undercover nature and was in the public interest as two consultants had been attacked at the centre in January with one receiving more than 23 stab wounds.

The station also submitted that the HSE has banned any staff speaking to Newstalk due to an editorial dispute. Despite this, the station claimed it had done its utmost to convey the HSE viewpoint through a press release it had obtained.

Newstalk claimed it was merely “investigating the possibility that there was nothing to stop a similar attack again”.

The broadcaster also claimed it had received correspondence from the Irish Psychiatric Nurses Association thanking the station for highlighting such poor safety precautions.

In its ruling, the BCC acknowledged the subject matter was of public interest and that Newstalk had offered the HSE the opportunity to participate in the programme.

However, the commission decided that, given the well-known facts of the national approach to security in Irish hospitals and the well-known ethos of day care centres, the manner in which the report was conducted and discussed was unfair to St Anne’s Hospital.

A second complaint upheld by the BCC was in relation to the broadcasting of a Lily Allen pop song called F***k You, during The Ray Foley Show on Today FM.

The complainant said the song was broadcast about 1.40pm and the ‘F’ word was repeated at numerous intervals. The complainant found the song offensive and inappropriate for broadcast.

Today FM said a warning had been issued that some listeners might find the song offensive prior to it being played.

The BCC upheld the complaint stating the proximity of the warning to the song was insufficient and the programme was broadcast on August 21, during the school holiday period.

Rejected complaints

Some of the complaints rejected by the Broadcasting Complaints Commission (BCC):

* Elizabeth Cooney claimed that the following joke made by comedian Jimmy Carr, pictured below, on The Graham Norton Show was racist: “An Irishman went into a library and said: ‘May I have some fish and chips please?’ The librarian said: ‘Ssh… ssh… this is a library.’ So the Irishman said [in a whisper]: ‘Can I have some fish and chips please’.“

The BCC rejected the complaint and said when heard in context, the joke could not be considered to support or condone discrimination.

* John Wynne complained that a reference made to a donkey urinating and a woman sweeping away the urine, on RTÉ Radio 1 show Risin’ Time: The Living Word was in bad taste.

The BCC rejected the complaint, stating that the reference was in relation to a childhood memory of poet Oliver Marshall about the milkman arriving on a donkey. It could in no way be deemed offensive or indecent.

* Elia Cassandro complained that at 9.15pm on August 7, his five-year-old son accidentally changed channel and put on RTÉ Two show Gavin and Stacey. The show portrayed a sex scene that “left nothing to the imagination”.

The BCC rejected the complaint and said that the particular scene in question was shown well after the watershed. The commission noted that the shots of the sex scene were fleeting and non-explicit with both characters clothed.

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