An edition of RTE’s Derek Mooney show breached the broadcasting regulations by airing an item in January of this year that favoured same-sex marriage, the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) has found.
The complaint was brought by Donal O’Sullivan-Latchford on behalf of the Family and Media Association.
The item, broadcast on January 20, discussed the anniversary of the first Civil Partnerships for same-sex couples conducted in 2011.
However, in the course of that discussion Derek Mooney asked the panellists – RTE's Michael Murphy and Tiernan Brady of the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network - for their views on same-sex marriage and they were both in favour of it.
In its finding against RTE, the BAI said: “it was the view of the Committee [of the BAI] that the requirements in respect of fairness, objectivity and impartiality in news and current affairs had not been met. In this regard, the Committee noted that the presenter invited views from his guests on a referendum to introduce same-sex marriage.”
It continued: “It was evident from the broadcast that the programme guests favoured such a change on the grounds that it would, in their opinion, afford equal legal standing in Irish law for same-sex couples, and the presenter stated similar views. It was the view of the Committee that in the absence of alternative views on this topic, a matter of current public debate and controversy, the role of the presenter was to provide alternative perspectives to those of his guests and that this requirement was not met on this occasion.”
It concluded: “Taken together, it was the view of the Committee that this element of the programme discussion was not fair, objective or impartial and included the presenter making a statement in respect of changes in Irish law in respect of same-sex marriage that entailed the articulation of a partisan position on a matter of current affairs. Accordingly, the complaint has been upheld.”