BAI Highlights Referendum Coverage Requirements

In advance of the forthcoming referendum scheduled for Saturday 10th November 2012, the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (“BAI”) reminds broadcasters of the requirement, further to the BAI Broadcasting Code on Referenda and Election Coverage (“the Code”), to ensure that coverage of the referendum is fair, objective and impartial.

The Code requires coverage of the referendum to be undertaken without any expression of a broadcaster’s own views and also contains specific provisions that relate to party political broadcasts and the prohibition on political advertising.

Speaking about the publication of the Code, Michael O’Keeffe, Chief Executive of the BAI said: “During the course of the referendum campaign and right up to the closing of the polls on November 10th, broadcasters must ensure that coverage of the referendum is fair and equitable to all interests. They must also put in place transparent mechanisms for ensuring that coverage, in the run up to the referendum and on the day that citizens cast their vote, is fair, objective and impartial.”

In line with the Code, a broadcast moratorium will come into effect from 2pm on Friday 9th November and end when polling stations close on the following day, Saturday 10th November. During this period, broadcasters cannot air any content that relates directly to the referendum issues. This includes content pertaining to the merits or otherwise of the referendum issues and/or constitutional amendments proposed. Broadcasters will also be obliged to carry announcements made on behalf of the Referendum Commission.

The BAI has published explanatory guidance notes in order to assist broadcasters and the general public to understand and implement the Code.

A copy of the English language version of the Code and explanatory guidance notes can be viewed here.

A copy of the Code and explanatory note in Irish can be viewed here.

Media Queries to:

Tony Heffernan/ Catherine Heaney

DHR Communications

087 2399508 / 087 2309835