Ireland: NUJ backs radio presenter rebuked for supporting same-sex marriage
The National Union of Journalists has condemned the Irish broadcast regulator, for ruling that a radio host was “unbalanced” in his support for same-sex marriage.
The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland’s Complaints Committee this week upheld a complaint against Derek Mooney, after he told guests on his RTE radio show: “I hope you do get gay marriage… I hope it does come in.”
Donal O’Latchford-Sullivan of the Family and Media Association had alleged that the segment breached regulations because it did not feature any voices opposed to same-sex marriage.
The NUJ’s Irish Secretary, Séamus Dooley, said in a statement: “The requirement of fairness, objectivity and balance has now been interpreted to mean that broadcasters are required to seek out alternative views in a range of programme settings.
“The BAI would appear to be singling out discussion on so called same-sex marriage, imposing restrictive conditions even before the government has provided wording on a possible referendum on civil marriage equality, never mind setting the date.
“Every interviewee likely to expression an opinion in favour of civil marriage equality must automatically be confronted with the alternative viewpoint. Likewise a guest likely to oppose civil marriage equality cannot be interviewed without an advocate of civil marriage equality.
“Given that the proposed referendum springs from the recommendations of the Constitutional Convention there is a compelling logic that the same rule should apply to any subject discussion by the convention which may in the future be the subject of a referendum or even further debate.
“This would include any discussion touching or likely to touch on
(i) reducing the Presidential term of office to five years and aligning it with the local and European elections;
(ii) reducing the voting age to 17;
(iii) the Dáil electoral system;
(iv) giving citizens resident outside the State the right to vote in Presidential elections at Irish embassies, or otherwise;
(v) the role of women in the home and encouraging greater participation of women in public life;
(vii) increasing the participation of women in politics;
(viii) removal of the offence of blasphemy from the Constitution
and any debate on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, as well as abortion and the establishment of a unified patent court.
“In the circumstances I have asked the BAI to clarify if other topics likely to be the subject of a referendum are covered by the circular and we await the response will trepidation.”
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