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Tuesday 28 March 2017

RTE get 'three strikes' warning after D'Arcy abortion complaint

Ray D’Arcy’s radio show was criticised by the BAI Picture: Andres Poveda
Ray D’Arcy’s radio show was criticised by the BAI Picture: Andres Poveda

RTE management will meet with the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) next month to negotiate putting new structures in place to ensure that its guidelines are adhered to.

The planned meeting comes in the wake of a formal warning notice to RTE by the BAI over The Ray D'Arcy Show's coverage of abortion on RTE Radio 1.

The compliance committee of the BAI has upheld three complaints about a discussion on the show on the issue of terminations in the case of fatal foetal abnormalities.

This is the third occasion on which complaints have been upheld about coverage on D'Arcy's show around the issue of abortion and the committee said this was a "matter of concern".

Sanction

"If the matter is not remedied to the BAI's satisfaction, the matter may ultimately result in the compliance committee determining that an investigation is warranted and the potential application of formal sanction," said the BAI.

The main complaint arose after an interview on June 9, in which Irish couple Gaye and Gerry Edwards discussed travelling to England for an induced delivery, after their son was diagnosed with a fatal foetal abnormality.

However, it was not made clear during the interview that the couple were members of the Termination for Medical Reasons campaign group and were not just relaying a human interest story.

Two separate complaints also arose from an interview with Amnesty International Director Colm O'Gorman regarding the issue of abortion.

The BAI claimed that the broadcast did not comply with the fairness, objectivity and impartiality requirements of the Broadcasting Act 2009.

Significant

The Pro Life Campaign has claimed this to be a "significant" move in what it says is an ongoing campaign against media bias on the abortion issue.

"With each new instance of one-sided coverage, public trust in RTE is evaporating," it said.

In a statement, RTE said: "RTE notes and accepts the decision of the BAI.

"As required, RTE will provide the BAI with a plan to ensure there is no re-occurrence of the issues identified."

A station insider said that there will be a meeting with the BAI in "early January" in a bid to ensure the issue is properly addressed.

She also pointed out that D'Arcy did a balancing interview with a mother named Sinead McBreen on July 21 who, despite getting a diagnosis of fatal foetal abnormality, decided to carry on with the pregnancy and had a healthy baby girl.

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