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Three complaints about RTÉ Prime Time's report on transgender issues rejected by BAI

One complainant argued the programme was “harmful to transgender people”.

Image: RollingNews.ie

THREE COMPLAINTS OVER an RTÉ One episode of Prime Time about transgender issues in Ireland have all been rejected by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). 

The three complaints were made by three different people. 

On 22 January, RTÉ One aired an episode of Prime Time which reported on transgender issues in Ireland. 

Prior to the airing of the programme, RTÉ defended its decision to feature Father Ted co-writer Graham Linehan, who frequently comments on transgender issues via social media. 

The decision to feature Linehan on the show led to the creation of a petition calling for the comedy writer to be removed from the debate. Several other people also contributed to the discussion on the issue.

One person who complained to the BAI said the programme was “not objective based on the mix of contributors and how the discussion was framed”. 

They maintained that the programme was “harmful to transgender people”. 

The complainant said the discussion should have had a greater focus on “human experiences”. 

They stated that “the mix of contributors was such that there was an overall lack of balance in the way the subject matter was presented”.

They also argued that some contributors did not have any relevant expertise or experience on the subject matter.

Responding to the complaint, RTÉ stated that the programme aimed to examine the implications of Ireland having passed the Gender Recognition Act 2015 and also the proposals to allow minors to change gender. 

“The subject of transgender people, particularly with regard to healthcare, rights, free speech and feminism, is currently being debating globally and the broadcaster considers that it would be remiss not to explore the topic fully,” RTÉ said. 

In response to the complainant’s concerns regarding the choice of contributors, RTÉ said it “emphasises the important role commentators play in public debate and considers it wrong to limit contributors to people with personal experience or expertise”.

RTÉ added that “contributors represented a range of views on the issues being examined in the programme”. 

“The broadcaster acknowledges that it is complex topic that affects some people personally, however, the broadcaster maintains that the programme was presented in a manner that was compliant with statutory requirements,” the BAI report said. 

In its ruling published today, the BAI said that its Compliance Committee decided to reject the complaint. 

The BAI said:

The committee found that audiences were given access to a wide range of viewpoints and considered that the subject matter was treated fairly and was presented in an objective manner.
The committee did not find that the programmed infringed the Codes and, as such, the complaint was rejected.

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