Joe Duffy

Broadcasting Authority dismisses magazine owner's complaints against Liveline

The owner of The Public Sector Magazine complained about claims made by callers on the popular show.

FOUR COMPLAINTS TO the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) relating to four episodes of RTÉ’s Liveline which discussed the business practices of a magazine have been dismissed by the authority’s compliance board.

John Hogan, the owner of The Public Sector Magazine, complained about coverage on the radio show on 3, 4, 7 and 8 February after a discussion began about the way in which the magazine gives awards to companies.

Hogan’s complaints claimed that Liveline’s Joe Duffy wrongfully conveyed that the magazine was engaged in defrauding charities, and that callers had claimed that the magazine only gave awards to companies that bought advertising space with it.

He alleged that the presenter made comments implying the magazine’s premises was operated illegitimately and that the programme unreasonably and unfairly, sought confidential and commercially sensitive information of the business.

Two of Hogan’s other most significant complaints were dismissed by the RTÉ in their response to the complaint: that the magazine was not given a chance to respond to claims made by Liveline callers, and that positive opinions about the magazine were not included.

RTÉ responded that the magazine gave limited responses to what members of the Liveline team had asked them and statement from the magazine was read out on air.

“Programme makers made repeated efforts by phone and email to have the complainant and/or a representative of the magazine on the programme to discuss the issues that had arisen or to issue a detailed statement in response to specific questions,” the broadcaster told the BAI.

“The broadcaster is satisfied that every reasonable effort was made to give the complainant the opportunity over several days to address the issues raised in the broadcasts by statement or by interview.

“This included contacting the spouse of the Editor of the magazine when no response was received from the Editor. The broadcaster believes the contacts made were in the public interest.”

Also disputed was the compliant by Hogan that one of his magazine’s clients had sought to speak to Liveline about their positive experiences with The Public Sector Magazine but were ignored for not suiting” the programme’s agenda”.

The RTÉ’s response stated:

“The broadcaster disputes the complainant’s contention that one of the magazine’s clients was willing to speak on the programme to say that he had not paid for an award; the broadcaster states that it was notified by the complainant in writing that this person did not want to be contacted by the programme makers.”

Concluding its decision to reject Hogan’s complaints, the BAI noted that because Liveline is a caller driven show that aims to express public opinion “meeting the obligations of fairness does not necessarily mean that all viewpoints on an issue must be broadcast.”

The role of the presenter can be to discuss issues with callers and to reflect the views of any absent parties, but criticism of such award schemes are typical and cannot be deemed unfair.

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