Broadcaster Guidelines for Referendum coverage from BAI effective from March 25

He3

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Guidelines for Broadcasters on their referendum coverage were published by the BAI this morning. They take effect from today and continue until polling stations close on May 22.

BAI Issues Guidelines on Referenda Coverage « Broadcasting Authority of Ireland

Extract:

Achieving Fairness, Objectivity and Impartiality
Broadcasters play an important and valuable role in the manner in which
information about referenda is communicated to, and discussed by, the Irish
public. For this reason, broadcasters are encouraged to cover the referenda
campaigns as comprehensively as possible, taking into account the resources
available to them, their target audience and the type of programming that the
broadcaster provides to the audience. In their approach to coverage,
broadcasters are asked to have regard to the following:

• Fairness, objectivity and impartiality can be achieved by a variety of
means, for example, through the selection of contributors, the airtime
afforded, the scope of the debate, the structure of the programme, the
presenter’s handling of the topic, the make-up of audiences or through
other suitable means. Broadcasters should note that the referenda are
dynamic events and they should give active consideration to their
approach to coverage over the duration of a campaign and amend this
approach if they consider it necessary and appropriate;

• While it is important to ensure that coverage provides airtime to referenda
interests [2] to set out their views on proposed changes to the Irish
Constitution, broadcasters are encouraged to approach coverage with an
emphasis on the issues that the public must decide upon rather than
taking an approach limited, simply, to ensuring that referenda interests
receive equitable airtime.

[2. ‘Referenda Interests’ includes, but is not limited to, political parties, elected representatives, the
Government, organisations established specifically for the purpose of campaigning during the referenda,
individuals (including those holding or formerly holding a public office) campaigning for a particular
outcome to the referenda, as well as existing social and civil society groups engaging in a campaign in
respect of the referenda.]

This does not mean that interest groups should not be treated equitably in
terms of airtime and the requirement to treat their views in a fair, objective
and impartial manner remains an essential requirement. Rather, a focus
on the issues is valuable insofar as it may be of greater benefit to the
democratic choice to be made by individuals than an approach to
coverage that is simply adversarial in nature.

With this in mind, broadcasters are encouraged to seek out the widest
range of opinions on the issues raised by the proposed constitutional
amendment(s). This will include contributions from referenda interests
who are campaigning for the referenda to be passed or rejected and
whose contributions will potentially provide audiences with valuable
information and insights. It will also include those who may not be regular
contributors to the station but who may have important things to say in the
context of the referenda debates and who may or may not have a stated
opinion on how the public should vote. In the context of programmes
which have an element of audience participation, including contributions
by phone or text and live debates, broadcasters should also ensure that
an appropriate range of views are adequately represented in the
questions, comments and issues raised during such programmes;

• There is no obligation to automatically ‘balance’ each contribution on an
individual programme with an opposing view. Further, there is no
requirement to allocate an absolute equality of airtime to referenda
interests during coverage of the referenda. However, the approach taken
must be equitable to all interests and undertaken in a transparent manner.
This may require the inclusion of an opposing view and/or an equal
allocation of airtime. However, in each case, the decision rests with the
broadcaster having considered what is required in order to achieve
fairness, objectivity and impartiality.

While fairness, objectivity and impartiality can also be achieved during
programming by including referenda interests from both sides of the
debate, it may not always be necessary once the discussion of the issues
is fair, objective and impartial. For example, this can be achieved by the
input from the programme presenter playing the role of ‘devil’s advocate’
or from inputs from other contributors who may not be campaigning for a
particular outcome in the referenda but who may articulate the views of
one or other side of the campaign in the course of a programme
discussion or a debate;


The critical examination of the views of referenda interests campaigning
for a particular outcome in the referenda is not, in and of itself, evidence
of a lack of fairness, objectivity and impartiality since it is an appropriate
role for broadcasters to ensure that time is afforded to examine, challenge
(sometimes robustly, where required) the statements and positions of
such interests. However, this does not override the requirement to seek
the views of referenda interests, to include them in programming and/or to
reflect their perspective in a news or current affairs item, in circumstances
where it is necessary to achieve fairness, objectivity and impartiality;

• It is appropriate that decisions in respect of editorial coverage of the
referenda rest solely with broadcasters. In doing so, broadcasters must
develop mechanisms in respect to their approach to coverage that are
open, transparent and fair to all interested parties. These mechanisms
should be considered and developed at an early stage and information on
the approach being adopted should be available to all interested parties.
Broadcasters should be in a position to demonstrate how this was
achieved in the context of complaints received directly by the broadcaster
or by the BAI.
 
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He3

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Were they ineffective before now?
Good question. This is what the BAI says:

The Guidelines, published today, have immediate effect and include a number of requirements that broadcasters must comply with when covering the referenda.
 

He3

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Am I misreading the text or have they dropped the absurd 50-50 rule?
Looks like there ain't no such rule now anyways -

there is no requirement to allocate an absolute equality of airtime to referenda interests during coverage
 

macs magic

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There will be no balanced coverage. The quares want their way and the lefties in the media wont have it any other way.
 

The_SR

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Looks like there ain't no such rule now anyways -

there is no requirement to allocate an absolute equality of airtime to referenda interests during coverage
I read that to be more that not every bunch of wingnuts has to be afforded the same time and space as genuine lobby groups. They don't have to give Silvio the same time as Norris.
 

punchdrunk

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I suspect that this referendum will fall. The reaction of people in my area to Colm O' Gorman's appearance on The Moncrieff Show was not good. Most people felt that he was overbearing , arrogant, smug and contemptuous of other opinions. Definitely lost a lot of votes yesterday.
 

Toland

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I suspect that this referendum will fall. The reaction of people in my area to Colm O' Gorman's appearance on The Moncrieff Show was not good. Most people felt that he was overbearing , arrogant and smug . Definitely lost a lot of votes yesterday.
Doncha just love a bit of wishful thinking!
 

ShoutingIsLeadership

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I read that to be more that not every bunch of wingnuts has to be afforded the same time and space as genuine lobby groups. They don't have to give Silvio the same time as Norris.


Eh, they have been going to Keith-M. Silvio is a troll, Keith-M actually believes the stuff he comes out with!
 

He3

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