In a significant ruling for freedom of speech and balanced reporting on the prolife issue in Ireland, the Broadcasting Authority has found that a programme aired on the national broadcaster, RTE, breached the requirements of the Broadcasting Acts for fairness, objectivity and impartiality in news and current affairs.
The programme in question was an episode of “The Ray D’Arcy Show” which airs on RTE Radio. The edition in question involved an interview with Colm O’Gorman of Amnesty Ireland who was invited on to the programme in June 2015 in order to discuss the launch of Amnesty’s “She is not a criminal” campaign which is pushing for the further liberalization of Ireland’s abortion laws.
The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) is tasked with ensuring that broadcasters present a fair and balanced discussions of topical issues to the public. In their decision, they found that when he was interviewing Colm O’Gorman on various aspects of the Amnesty campaign, Ray D’Arcy “was articulating a partisan position”. They highlighted the fact that the subject of the interview was a “topic of public controversy and debate, in which the interviewee made consistent and strong criticisms of the approach of the Irish State to access to abortion”, and that “the presenter provided very little in terms of counterpoints to those of his interviewee”.
The decision has been roundly welcomed by pro-life supporters in Ireland, who have for some considerable time pointed out the extreme bias shown in the national media towards the pro-life position.
Responding to the BAI’s decision on The Ray D’Arcy Show, Sinead Slattery of the Pro Life Campaign said:
“It is no surprise that a number of people pursued official complaints against RTE in relation to this particular edition of the Ray D’Arcy Show. The public are entitled to hear both sides of the story on the abortion issue. It does a grave disservice to listeners when the state-funded broadcaster pushes one agenda. The Ray D’Arcy Show has continually failed to seek interviews with women who regret their abortions or women who gave birth to babies with life-limiting conditions despite a difficult pre-natal diagnosis. It’s not good enough”
The public deserve to hear both sides of the story when it comes to abortion. More and more, people all over Ireland are waking up to the fact that one side of the abortion debate is being entirely glossed over by sections of the media. It is to be hoped that this decision will set down a marker for the way in which the issue is dealt with by all sections of the Irish media. As a tax-funded entity, RTE must now take concrete steps to ensure that changes will be implemented to bring this blatant bias to an end.