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Is balanced, robitic drivel really what we want from airwaves?

To make a good movie, documentary or radio show, one must have a point of view. A strong point of view.

If the movie or programme maker is honest and open about their agenda, it is much better for all who are listening or watching.

I was fascinated then to see the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland ruling which partially upheld a complaint against Chris Donoghue and Ivan Yates from Newstalk.

The pair held an interview with two panellists before gay pride events in Dublin last June. The subject was the history of gay rights and same sex marriage.

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The complainant said that the interviewee had "free rein" to talk about their side of the argument for passing the upcoming referendum and that Donoghue stated he would vote for same sex marriage.

Here's the thing. The chat was an interview discussing many aspects of gay life here.

My first reaction was: why can't these be discussed? Why can't the history of gay rights be the subject of a chat, rather than an interrogation?

Then I read the BAI's ruling - which was no less annoying. Turns out that a general chat on the above is fine, but as soon as the same sex marriage matter was mentioned the presenter had to be impartial.

Frankly I couldn't see where one began and the other ended. Yes, there is a referendum around the corner for marriage equality. But unless there is a political debate set up from the off, broadcasters should be able to give their opinion.

Think of all those incredibly boring current affairs shows that we have to sit through, desperately trying to learn something, after which we come away knowing less.

The ones that have 10 politicians lined up in a studio, and each are given exactly 13.469 minutes to put forward an argument.

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They have been tutored to within an inch of their life, they use pointless, ineffective language ("moving forward", "I take on board what you are saying" etc) and they all leave feeling as smug as they did when they arrived.

Sensible and well balanced debate is all well and good.

But if rulings like this continue we are in for an unending stream of 'he says-she says' broadcasting.

I am glad that Donoghue stated how he would vote. And if he had said that he would vote no, I would also have appreciated this.

Honest, interesting, engaging broadcasting is far more valuable than robotic, 'balanced' drivel - and the BAI's rules risk creating plenty of the latter.


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