On 1 July last legislation came into effect that bans broadcasters from expressing a personal opinion on matters that are either of public controversy or the subject of current public debate.
I have submitted my first complaint as a result of this draconian legislation.
As it is almost impossible to conduct a public discussion on matters that are of public controversy without expressing a personal opinion it is likely that there will be many, many more such complaints.
29 July 2013
To Whom It May Concern:
I wish to lodge a formal complaint against Liveline presenter Damien O’Reilly for a breach of sections 21 and 22 of the Code of Fairness, Objectivity and Impartiality in News and Current Affairs, which came into effect on 1 July 2013 under Section 42 of the Broadcasting Act 2009.
On 18 July last, while speaking with a caller on such matters as austerity, the IMF bailout and bankers, Mr. O’Reilly expressed a personal opinion contrary to sections 21 and 22 of the Code.
The relevant section of the discussion is as follows:
Caller: We’re in a bailout programme because we were conned by the banks, Allied Irish Bank, Anglo Irish Bank.
Mr. O’Reilly: We know that and hopefully there will be an inquiry.
Caller: Well there won’t be an inquiry because these people are sitting on their big fat pensions.
Mr. O’Reilly: Your anger is palpable and is reflected all over the country and understandable but you can’t turn back the clock, you can’t keep saying the banks, the banks, the banks, that’s done and dusted.
Caller: But it’s not done and dusted, that’s the problem, you people in RTE want to tell it’s done and dusted, it’s not done and dusted.
Mr. O’Reilly: Listen to me Sean, Sean listen to me. There will be court cases but we’re not going to get the money back ok so it doesn’t matter if we have court cases tomorrow.
Caller: We need some of these criminals prosecuted…
Mr. O’Reilly: Yes, well that is the main point and I’m glad you… What we need in this country is indeed some justice to make people feel better.
It might not butter the bread to feed the children for breakfast but at least, as you say, it might make people feel a little less angry.
Clearly Mr. O’Reilly is expressing a strong personal opinion on a matter that is publicly controversial and of current public debate and is therefore in breach of the code.
Sections 21 and 22 of the Code of Fairness, Objectivity and Impartiality in News and Current Affairs.
21. A news presenter and/or a reporter in a news programme may not express his or her own view on matters that are either of public controversy or the subject of current public debate.
22. It is an important part of the role of a presenter of a current affairs programme to ensure that the audience has access to a wide variety of views on the subject of the programme or item; to facilitate the expression of contributors‘ opinions – sometimes by forceful questioning; and to reflect the views of those who cannot, or choose not to, participate in content.
This being so, a presenter and/or a reporter on a current affairs programme shall not express his or her own views on matters that are either of public controversy or the subject of current public debate such that a partisan position is advocated.