Cork City Community Radio has had a complaint part upheld after one listener said parts of the Rebel Radio programme was partial in tone and content.
The show included an interview with a representative from the organisation Irish4Israel, to which the complainants had two issues.
Firstly, the complainants state that the programme provided no inputs that counterbalanced what is described as the pro-Israeli views, either via the inclusion of alternative voices or via the presenter.
Secondly, the complainants state that the presenter’s own contributions, when coupled with his failure to challenge the contributions of his interviewee, would have reasonably left listeners with the impression that the presenter endorsed the perspectives of the representative of Irish4Israel.
The complainants cite the single presentation of an opposing view (reading out an account of an attack on Gaza) and notes that this was followed by a strident response from the Irish4Israel representative, which the complainants’ state was ended with a succession of affirmative noises from the presenter.
For these reasons, the complainants believe that the broadcaster has not acted to protect the interests of citizens in their right to access fair, objective and impartial current affairs content.
In response Cork City Community Radio said the BAI’s Code of Fairness, Objectivity and Impartiality in News and Current Affairs and notes that the principle of fairness, as contained in this Code, does not necessarily require that all possible opinions on a subject are addressed or that they should receive equal air-time.
In its response to the second element of the complaint, the broadcaster also cites the BAI’s Code of Fairness, Objectivity and Impartiality in News and Current Affairs, in particular the requirement that news and current affairs content be presented in an objective and impartial manner (in the case of news content) and in a fair, objective and impartial manner (in the case of current affairs content).
The broadcaster states that, in view of the above, the programme met the requirements of the BAI and the Broadcasting Act.
A third element of the complaint concerned the inclusion of a discussion of the other side of the debate in a future programme. This element of the complaint was resolved between the broadcaster and the complainants.
Cork City Community Radio states that they felt that the programme in question, while only having a representative of a pro-Israel organisation, never set out to create a programme on Israel versus Palestine. They state that the premise of this is similar to having an individual on from the anti-smoking organisations, Ash, talking about the effects of smoking without having someone on from the pro-smoking lobby or having a Cork City Councillor on talking about Rates without having someone else on from the many anti-Rates groups.
The broadcaster states that the presenter at no time endorsed the pro-Israel group or acted in any way that may be considered to be one-sided or pro-Israel. The presenter asked the questions and attempted to extract as much information as possible from the programme guest. The broadcaster states that the presenter did not contradict the guest and acted in a neutral way throughout.
The BAI says upon review of the broadcast, it was the Committee’s view that the requirement for fairness, objectivity and impartiality in news and current affairs had not been met. For example, the Committee noted that the guest gave his honest opinion that, for the most part, the failure to progress peace accords between Israel and Palestine was the consequence of the actions of Hamas and the PLO towards Israel. However, other views on this aspect of the dispute exist but were not reflected in the programme.
The Committee also noted that the guest made a number of strong criticisms of named organisations that either provide aid to the people of Palestine or which advocate for the people of Palestine and where, in the absence of any representative from the organisations, these criticisms should have been tested and examined by the programme presenter but which were not.
Upon a review of the programme, the Committee found that the programme had not met the requirements of the Broadcasting Act 2009 that news and current affairs be fair, objective and impartial. Regarding compliance with the Code of Fairness, Objectivity and Impartiality in News and Current Affairs, the Committee found that the programme did not infringe Rules 19, 21 or 22 of that Code nor would it have reasonably left listeners with the impression that the presenter endorsed the perspectives of the representative of Irish4Israel.