Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

BAI upholds complaint about Vincent Browne's 'cancer in foreign affairs' show

A complaint about an Ireland AM segment on abortion was also upheld.

COMPLAINTS MADE ABOUT TV3′s Tonight with Vincent Browne current affairs programme and its morning show Ireland AM have been upheld by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.

The complaint about Vincent Browne’s 23 October 2012 broadcast which included mentions of the continuing conflict in the Middle East was upheld on the grounds that it failed to be fair, objective and impartial.

However, the BAI dismissed the claim that the presenter made anti-Semitic remarks during the show.

The watchdog found that an editorial statement by the presenter was not balanced by other contributions throughout the programme. It also said the comments were made without “apparent context or relevance” as the main focus of the programme was the imminent US Presidential election, and not the State of Israel.

The complainant, a Mr Paul Rossiter, noted in his submission that Browne had called Israel “the cancer in foreign affairs”, and added that the State polarised the Islamic community against the rest of the world.

Rossiter believed the comments to be “deeply offensive”, regarding them as “anti-Semitic and indefensible coming from a journalist who is supposed to show objectivity”.

TV3 said it had brought the complaint to the attention of Browne, who clarified his remarks at the start of his programme on 25 October. The station also said it “regrets” any offence caused.

Ireland AM and abortion

A complaint about an Ireland AM segment on abortion broadcast in August last year was upheld by the BAI as it failed to achieve the fair, objective and impartial treatment of a current affairs topic.

The 22 August programme featured a woman talking about her personal experiences of abortion but the Complaints Committee found the large majority of the interview dealt with issues pertaining to the political, legal and social aspects of the abortion question.

It was therefore treated as an item of current affairs by the committee and thus needed to fulfil the fair, objective and impartial requirement.

The complainant, a Mr Paul Bourke, said the segment offended him as he felt the “pro-life view was being maligned with the taint of nastiness and uncivilised behaviour”.

The presenters had, he claimed, mused as to whether Irish society was “ready” to allow for legal abortions. He told the BAI that the programme was lacking in “fairness, objectivity and impartiality” as there was nobody present to give the opposing side of the debate.

There were also an inference made by presenters that any future debate on abortion would be marred by nastiness and images of aborted foetuses.

TV3 responded to the complainant by noting that the segment focussed on one woman’s experience and personal feelings on the issue of abortion but this was rejected by the committee.

The Ireland AM team also mentioned at the end of the piece that it intended to have a fuller discussion with representatives from both sides in the near future.

The station told the BAI that the guest and presenter made it clear they were not promoting either side of the issue.

It was not intended to be a general discussion on abortion…The issue was addressed again in a segment on Ireland AM on Wednesday, 24 October where the previous interview was raised with a member of pro-life group, The Life Institute.

However, the programme was unable to secure an interview until this date and the BAI ruled that too much time had elapsed between the broadcasts to consider them related.

“It is the view of the Committee that the programme presenters did not adequately challenge or investigate the views of the interviewee and as a result the discussion was not fair to the interest of viewers.”

The Committee also noted that the questions posed by the presenters were phrased in a manner that a viewer would reasonably understand to denote sympathy to the interviewee.

The BAI dismissed the complainant’s comment that the opposing viewpoint is that held by the “majority of the population” as it was not considered relevant.

Psychic Readings Live

A third complaint about a TV3 broadcast was upheld by the BAI in relation to the controversial Psychic Readings Live, which air late at night.

The complaint was made about a 29 October segment which saw the host Theo talk about a medical issue, which is not allowed under the watchdog’s codes.

Section 8.10.4 of the Code prohibits the inclusion in commercial communications for psychic services any references to health matters.

Theo had given specific information about a caller’s friend who was suffering from cancer.

The Complaints Committee has upheld a number of complaints about TV3′s psychics shows in recent months. Two other complaints were partially upheld during this round of decisions.

Download the BAI’s decision document>

BAI upholds another three complaints against TV3 ‘psychics’ show

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