BAI upholds complaint against RTÉ Radio 1

The BAI has upheld a complaint against a segment of RTÉ Radio 1’s ‘The Mooney Show’.

The programme aired on 20 January, and featured a discussion on the number of civil partnerships in Ireland. The complaint came from Donal O’Sullivan–Latchford of the Family and Media Association, who said that both guests and the presenter made statements supporting same-sex marriage.

RTÉ said the item was not a debate on the topic of same-sex marriage, but instead was a discussion of the experience of civil partnership, including a personal viewpoint from Michael Murphy, who was in the studio to tell his story as one of the first people in the country to “tie the knot”.

The broadcaster also said that “as with all personality-driven radio, some of the presenter’s opinions, views and tastes will be aired in the course of the programme. Derek Mooney regularly expresses his opinion that people should have the right to believe and to practice whatever they like as long as it does not hurt or interfere with other people’s rights.”

There are strict guidelines on impartiality and balance during the pending period prior to a referendum. RTÉ said the item was broadcast at least 12 months in advance of the referendum – the date of which is yet to be announced.

However, the BAI found that although the same-sex marriage referendum campaign was not under way, “the requirements in respect of fairness, objectivity and impartiality in news and current affairs had not been met”.

Meanwhile, eleven complaints were rejected by the BAI, including those against The Last Word on Today FM; Today with Sean O’Rourke on RTÉ Radio 1; and The Late Show with Niall Boylan on Classic Hits 4FM. Two further complaints against RTÉ Radio 1 were resolved by the authority’s Executive Complaints forum.

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