BAI Comment in Respect of Issues Raised by Una Mullally

Further to an opinion editorial by Una Mullally, published in today’s Irish Times (8.12.14), the BAI has said:

The BAI has, at no time in its engagements with broadcasters, issued any direction requiring that broadcasters must automatically “balance” a discussion with an opposing view.  Neither has the BAI, at any stage, made a “ruling on marriage equality”.

News and current affairs content on Irish broadcast media is required to comply with the Broadcasting Act 2009 and with the BAl’s Code of Fairness, Objectivity and Impartiality in News and Current Affairs.  In setting out its guidance on the principle of fairness, the BAI has indicated to broadcasters that it will be necessary for them to consider the range of ways in which fairness is achieved, including through the selection of contributors, the time allocated to a news and current affairs issue, the scope of the debate, the structure of the programme or the role of the presenter.

Furthermore, the approach to covering issues, including those of public controversy or current public debate, should be guided by ensuring equitable, proportionate coverage.  While there may be some instances where balance may be required, an automatic requirement for balance is considered unnecessary and inappropriate by the BAI.  Indeed the BAI has consistently expressed the view that the application of such an artificial balance can, in and of itself, amount to a lack of fairness in certain circumstances.

Against this backdrop, it would be a matter of grave concern to the BAI if “national radio stations” or any other broadcasters, incorrectly used the outcomes of recent complaint decisions as a basis for their editorial decision-making.

For further information about the Code of Fairness and related Guidance Notes, please click here.


Media Queries to:

Catherine Heaney/Tony Heffernan

DHR Communications

01 4200580/ 087 2309835/ 087 2399508