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Radio station put underage caller on air, then used her voice as part of promotion

Dublin station 98FM was found to be in breach of two sections of the BAI’s Code of Programme Standards in its edition of Dublin Talks broadcast on 1 April.

Image: Shutterstock/DmitriMaruta

THE BROADCASTING ASSOCIATION of Ireland has upheld two complaints made against Dublin radio station 98FM in the latest round of judgements by its compliance committee.

Both complaints relate to the Dublin Talks phone-in programme, both the programme itself on 1 April and a promo for same the following day.

For that programme a 13-year-old girl was placed on air for a discussion regarding young people sending inappropriate pictures of themselves via text message.

The girl’s mother only realised what was happening when she heard her daughter’s voice live on air.

The following day the station used a soundbite from the girl’s interview as part of a promo for the programme despite having been informed by the girl’s mother that she was underage.

Further, six days later 98FM called the girl again to ask her opinion on the fact that another girl who had been at the centre of the discussion on 1 April had taken her own life.

The girl declined to comment.

Tragic

The complainant, in this case the girl’s mother, alleged that 98FM were in breach of the BAI’s Code of Programme Standards on both the 1 and 2 April, specifically principle three (protection from harm) and principle seven (request for privacy).

98FM countered that Dublin Talks is a fast-paced show and they rely upon their caller’s honesty – in this case the girl had lied about her age and said that she was over-16.

Because the girl’s interview had been so illuminating and informative the station had used her soundbite as part of the following day’s promo.

The station acknowledged that calling the girl six day’s later following the other girl’s tragic passing had been an error in that her contact details should have been scrubbed from their systems once it became clear she was only 13-years-old.

In its judgement the BAI found that 98FM had breached both principles of the code, along with principle two (importance of context) and principle four (protection of children).

bai

It found that the programme in question was broadcast on a school holiday on a subject that was likely to be especially interesting for teens. From this point of view their duty of care regarding the girl’s age was not upheld.

The BAI deemed the infractions serious enough that they merited a warning notice, and that there were “significant problems with the production and conduct of this programme which raise broader issues about the programme that merit further consideration”.

These two complaints were the only ones which were upheld by the BAI’s compliance committee for this tranche.

Other complaints that were not upheld include a series of objections to an RTE Prime Time programme originally broadcast on 10 March this year, and complaints about two separate editions of George Hook’s Newstalk early evening programme The Right Hook, broadcast in February.

Firearms

In the case of Prime Time, various complainants suggested that, among other things, the music used for certain segments of a review of Irish firearms legislation was inappropriate, and that the same segment portrayed licensed firearm holders in this country as “potential rampage murderers”.

All complaints were dismissed by the BAI.

On The Right Hook on 19 February George Hook was accused by a complainant of expressing his own views without objectivity with regard to a water protest where one protester fell to the ground after being touched by a garda on the arm.

The BAI rejected the complaint on the basis that Hook’s primary focus was on issues relating to the rule of law.

Details of all today’s published judgements can be viewed here.

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