Friday, 5 April 2013
RTE and its lapdog, the BAI
Decisions of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland were published recently, most of them against RTE concerning its biased and imbalanced reporting on abortion.
As is hardly surprising, in all cases the BAI failed to uphold any of the complaints.
The margin of editorial appreciation granted to RTE is quite extraordinary. They are allowed to determine the "news value" of basic information.
A classic example was today's coverage of the the Irish Medical Organisation Annual General Meeting which rejected three motions to support abortion. Any reasonable person would think that in the context of the massive coverage of the Savita Halappanavar death, the Government's plans to introduce abortion legislation, the recent Oireachtas hearings - that RTE would regard a decision by the medical profession to reject three proposals to support abortion - along X case lines, for rape and incest, and for foetal deformity - as massively newsworthy. You would have expected it to be the lead story. Instead of which it was, what, the 4th or 5th story. And not even a stand alone story, but buried in another IMO story about the allowance paid the president of the IMO. The little bit of coverage they gave focused on the disagreement in the IMO, not on the vote. Their main coverage was off the pro-abortion doctor who moved the motions which were rejected. And then they threw in a pro-life doctor talking about the Nazis!
And if you complain to the BAI - well RTE will say they covered the story perfectly adequately and the BAI will agree.
Bob Collins, former director general of RTÉ, is the chairman of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI).