BAI upholds complaint against Liveline

Wednesday 24 July 2013 23.41
The complainant said Joe Duffy 'badgered' Brian McKevitt
The complainant said Joe Duffy 'badgered' Brian McKevitt

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland has upheld a further complaint made against an episode of RTÉ's Liveline programme.

The complaint related to an episode broadcast on 5 March this year.

Two other complaints against the show were upheld last month.

The complainant in the most recent ruling said the show did not demonstrate fairness, objectivity or impartiality towards its main guest that day, Father Brian McKevitt, the managing editor of monthly Catholic magazine Alive.

The programme featured a discussion about an article that had been published in Alive the previous month.

The complainant, Paul Casey, said the presenter of Liveline had suggested incorrectly that an article in the magazine had described the Taoiseach as King Herod a biblical murderer of his family and children.

Mr Casey also said the presenter had badgered Fr McKevitt on the programme but gave uninterrupted airtime to another caller, Joan, who had taken issue with the article and Fr McKevitt.

He also stated that the presenter had changed the topic when it suited him and threw 'dirt' by raising the issue of clerical child sex abuse.

RTÉ said that contributions to the show had been balanced, with four callers in support of Fr McKevitt and four who disagreed with him.

It said Joe Duffy had put challenging questions to Fr McKevitt and gave him every opportunity to rebut.

The BAI's compliance committee found that the presenter interrupted the contribution from Fr McKevitt on a regular basis.

It also said: "The callers made strong, and in some instances, lengthy uninterrupted comments in respect of the perceived intentions and motives of Fr McKevitt and the Alive publication".

The committee said that listeners would have benefitted had such contributions been examined and challenged by the presenter.

The committee also found that there was a difference in treatment of contributors who supported the views of Fr McKevitt.

It found that these contributors were "interrupted and challenged by the presenter in a manner that other callers were not".

It also found that in some instances, the issues highlighted in the programme were raised by the presenter alone, rather than by contributors to the programme.

Also, that a number of issues discussed by the presenter and contributors were not related to the Alive article under discussion.

The committee found that while the topic merited a serious and robust discussion and Fr McKevitt was a very able contributor, the manner in which it was handled was not in the interest of listeners and lacked fairness, objectivity and impartiality.

Other complaints rejected

The BAI considered five other complaints.

Four were rejected while a fifth was resolved through its executive complaints forum.

It rejected a complaint that a blasphemous reference was made during a satirical review by comedian Oliver Callan on RTÉ's New Year's Eve Countdown Concert.

The complainant had objected to a reference to the Blood of Jesus being found in boxer Katie Taylor's urine.

The BAI's compliance committee found that while some listeners may have found the item offensive and a greater sensitivity to the source of offence would have been desirable, it would not cause undue offence as it was done in a humorous and playful manner.

It found it was directed at Ms Taylor rather than the religious symbols of Christianity.

The BAI rejected a complaint against RTÉ's The Frontline programme.

A complainant claimed that RTÉ had acted unfairly to panellists, its audience and viewers by facilitating "three consequential falsehoods" on a programme broadcast on 17 January.

The complainant said that whereas one panellist used the term "incompetents" to describe a political party in an early part of the programme, a second panellist incorrectly quoted this remark later in the programme and used the term "gangsters" instead.

While noting that the first panellist denied that this was the phrase that he had used earlier in the programme, the complainant stated that the presenter then imposed, by way of compromise, a third term - "chancers" - and that in doing this the presenter had imposed an incorrect solution, in the name of "consensus".

The BAI rejected the complaint saying that it had no impact on the fairness of the discussion, there was a consensus by the panellists concerned and the audience viewing would have been in a position to reach its own conclusion.

A complaint against TV3's Tonight with Vincent Browne was rejected.

The complainant stated that a programme broadcast on 30 January, 2013 did not seek to represent the views of former or current sex workers fairly.

The complainant said it was highly unfair that TV3 had only given a voice to a woman called "Mary" who had worked in the sex industry.

Mary described being regularly raped and beaten and said she believed that pimps probably murder some foreign women.

The complainant said it was a "harmful myth" that a woman who reported such things to gardaí would be arrested as a prostitute and that it would put off women from reporting crimes against them.

She also said it was dangerous to send out the message that sex workers are unable to report abuse, as abusive viewers may be encouraged to commit crime against sex workers.

The BAI's compliance committee found that the views of Mary were counterbalanced by the other panel members during the course of the programme and that the range of views resulted in a programme that was in line with requirements on fairness, impartiality and objectivity.

A complaint against a programme on the Irish language by RTÉ's Primetime was rejected.

Broadcast on 12 March, the programme was alleged to have disparaged the language unfairly and was negatively "front-loaded".

The BAI found that the programme met its requirements on fairness, impartiality and objectivity and varying viewpoints were expressed.

A further complaint was resolved at the BAI's executive complaints forum.

It related to an RTÉ Drivetime programme broadcast on 15 February 2013.

The complainant objected to a "rant of hate" directed against the pope by radio columnist Paddy Duffy.

The BAI Forum noted that the item was an opinion piece and did not reflect the views of RTÉ.

It found that the format would be considered "slightly sarcastic" and "humorous" by some listeners.

It noted that a related broadcast on 1 March provided an alternative viewpoint on the papacy of Pope Benedict.

The forum said the complaint did not raise issues that required further consideration.

Keywords: liveline
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