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Dublin: 15 °C Saturday 15 August, 2020

BAI says it would be 'inappropriate' to intervene after Communicorp ban on new Irish media outlet

The Currency editor Ian Kehoe was due to appear on Today FM on Wednesday.

Ian Kehoe and Tom Lyons of The Currency
Ian Kehoe and Tom Lyons of The Currency

THE BROADCASTING AUTHORITY of Ireland has said it will not intervene after a major media group banned reporters from a new Irish website appearing on its radio stations. 

Management at the Denis O’Brien-owned Communicorp wrote to staff on Wednesday to ask them not to invite any journalists from news website The Currency onto any of the group’s stations.

The Currency was launched on Wednesday. The site’s editor Ian Kehoe had been due to appear on Today FM’s The Last Word programme to discuss an article he wrote about the finances of Sean Quinn and his family.

Kehoe told that the article was the result of six months of investigation but that he was subsequently informed that The Last Word segment would not be going ahead.  

In an email to Communicorp staff seen by, Today FM’s assistant programme director John Caddell described The Currency as “a competitor platform” and asked that contributors to it not be invited onto the station. understands that this applies to all Communicorp stations. 

As well as Today FM, Communicorp also owns stations such as Newstalk, Dublin’s 98FM and Spin 1038.

Earlier this year, Denis O’Brien lost a legal case he took against the Sunday Business Post over newspaper articles written by Lyons and published when Kehoe was editor. 

There is no indication that O’Brien had any involvement with the email sent from Communicorp management to staff yesterday. 

In a statement to, the BAI said, “it is a long-established principle that a decision about who should be invited or not invited to appear on Irish radio or television programmes is solely a matter for individual media providers.

“For this reason, it is not the practice of, nor would it be appropriate for the BAI to interfere with or direct the editorial decisions of broadcasters in respect of coverage of news and current affairs content, including decisions about the guests that broadcasters choose to include or not include in programme content.”

Almost two years ago, the CEO of Communicorp wrote to staff to inform them journalists from Irish Times journalists will not be appearing on any of the group’s stations.

At the time, the BAI called for resolution to that effective ban, which it is understood remains in place.  

Speaking to, Secretary of the Irish NUJ, Séamus Dooley said that the union “is very concerned at the existence of a blanket ban imposed by Communicorp on, apparently, the basis that these are journalists are working for a rival commercial organisation.

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“The real issue is that it is a decision not taken on editorial but on commercial grounds. That seems to me to be a conflict with the whole concept of editorial independence.”

Dooley added that the decision to prevent Kehoe from appearing on Today FM’s Last Word, which is presented by Matt Cooper, is “inconsistent” with the fact that Cooper also presents The Tonight Show on Virgin Media Television, a rival media organisation of Communicorp. 

Said Dooley: “I think most journalists would think twice about cooperating with a station which censors journalism in this way. It’s also unfair to individual producers and presenters … to be put in this position. 

“This has to be dealt with at the level of the BAI,” he said. 

The BAI said that while it “cannot consider complaints about who is included in a programme”, it can have regard to such decisions “where it is argued that they impact on the fairness, objectivity or impartiality of the content of a particular broadcast”.

“The BAI will consider each complaint on its own merits,” it added. 

With reporting from Rónán Duffy.

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