Regulate to achieve a responsible and accountable broadcasting sector;
the BAI will give effect to the principles set out in its Compliance and Enforcement policy through measures that are fair and proportionate, that reflect audience needs and are adequate for the purposes of statutory reporting and holding broadcasters to account.
Any viewer or listener who is not satisfied with broadcasting content, be it programming, advertising or sponsorship content, can make a complaint. The BAI makes codes and rules for the different types of content to inform broadcasters, viewers and listeners of the standards expected in broadcasting content. The BAI also publishes guidance notes on the codes and rules setting out how such codes and rules apply in a broadcasting context.
The BAI publishes its decisions on complaints in the publications section.
Monitoring Compliance with Codes & Rules
The BAI regulates all content broadcast on all Irish licensed broadcasters, both programming and commercial content. In addition to processing broadcasting complaints, the BAI monitors broadcast content for compliance with broadcasting codes and rules.
The BAI is also responsible for reporting to the Minister of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources on the level of Irish produced programming on Irish licensed commercial television services and the extent to which opt-out advertising on services licensed outside the State complies with the BAI’s advertising codes and in particular, content likely to be of direct or indirect interest to children.
When the Authority awards a licence for a television or radio service, the successful party must enter into, and sign, a broadcasting contract with the BAI. The terms and conditions attaching to a broadcast contract will be determined by the type of licence applied for, and awarded. The types of contracts include commercial, community / community of interest and content provision for radio and television. The broadcasting contracts are publicly available on request from the BAI’s offices.
The BAI monitors a contractor’s compliance with the terms of its contract through a number of activities including performance reviews and listening and/or watching broadcast content. The reports generated by these activities are considered by the Compliance Committee.
A contractor must seek prior approval of the Authority for any changes to the terms of contract and key contractual areas include the ownership and control and programming commitments schedules.
Public Service Broadcasters
In addition to regulating the content on the public service broadcasters, RTÉ and TG4, through monitoring compliance with codes and rules and the complaints process, the BAI also has three significant areas of regulatory responsibility for such broadcasters:
- Annual Statement of Performance Commitments
- Annual Review of Public Funding
- Five Year Review of Public Broadcasters
- Sectoral Impact Assessments
There is a range of other activities relating to PSBs on request from the Minister of the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.
The BAI is responsible for the development of the broadcasting sector and one of its activities in this area is the awarding of funding for training and development activities. The BAI is also responsible for the disbursement of significant funds under the Broadcasting Funding Scheme (1. Sound & Vision III and 2. Archiving Scheme).
On the award of funding, the grantee must sign a grant agreement with the BAI and subsequently, to receive the funding awarded, must demonstrate compliance with the grant agreement prior to the drawdown of any further funds.
The 2009 Act assigns investigative powers to the BAI and in particular, the BAI can initiate an investigation for non-compliance with the terms of a broadcasting contract under section 50 and for a breach of the broadcasters duties as prescribed under the 2009 Act, or a breach of the broadcasting codes and rules, under section 53. The BAI has agreed procedures for the investigative process.
Compliance & Enforcement
The compliance activities of the BAI are one of the core elements of its work. They have been developed over many years, principally with the aim of monitoring, encouraging and promoting a culture of compliance within the broadcasting sector in Ireland and providing safeguards for audiences. Compliance also informs key areas of work such as the awarding of licences, the development of codes and rules and provides useful information on overall industry trends.
A Compliance and Enforcement Policy has been developed by the BAI to provide a framework for all broadcaster and compliance activities. The Policy sets out the BAI’s general approach to dealing with compliance by, and enforcement against, all broadcasters and contractors licensed in the State. It is a general guide to how the BAI currently operates and is not intended to be exhaustive, but informative.
Media Plurality is reflected in a key objective of the BAI’s mission, as set out in the BAI Strategy Statement 2017 – 2019, which is “to promote a plurality of voices, viewpoints, outlets and sources in Irish media”. The BAI has developed a Media Plurality Policy and the primary purpose of the policy is to articulate how the BAI understands media plurality and details the ways in which the BAI will foster and support a healthy degree of media plurality in Ireland through our regulatory activities.
Media pluralism is an important contributing factor to a well-functioning society. It embraces editorial independence, the free flow of ideas, and public access to a wide range of information sources and views. The BAI Media Plurality Policy delivers context for our role in respect of media plurality; provides a definition for media plurality; outlines why media plurality is important; details policy objectives; and outlines the measures the BAI takes – and will continue to take – to promote and support media plurality in Ireland. Key activities undertaken by the BAI that are intended to foster and support media plurality are in the areas of Licensing; Ownership & Control Policy; providing advice on Media Mergers; and Research on media plurality.
European Audiovisual Regulatory Bodies
The BAI is a member of two major European audiovisual regulatory bodies – EPRA, the European Platform of Regulatory Authorities; and ERGA, the European Regulators Group for Audiovisual Media Services.
EPRA is a voluntary, independent network of audiovisual regulators which facilitates the exchange of information, cases and best practices between broadcasting regulators in Europe. It was established in 1995 with just 10 regulatory bodies. Since then, membership of the platform has grown to 53 regulatory authorities from 47 countries.
Formal meetings of EPRA take place twice yearly with significant engagement between members on an ongoing basis. Matters for discussion in recent years has included the future of public service and public interest content in the digital age, political communication and the challenges of social media.
The BAI is an active member of EPRA with BAI Deputy Chief Executive, Celene Craig, taking the role as EPRA Chairperson from 2015-2019.
ERGA comprises representatives from national audio-visual regulatory bodies of the 28 EU member states and was established by the European Commission in 2014. The role of the group is to advise the Commission on matters related to the implementation of the revised Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD). It also acts a Forum for co-operation between the regulatory bodies and the exchange of experiences and good practice.
As part of ERGA’s current work programme, the BAI chairs a Working Group on Media Plurality. It also participates in working groups on the Future of ERGA, the implementation of the revised AVMSD and Gender Diversity.