HPV vaccine

Claim George Hook spoke about HPV vaccine in 'ill-informed and irresponsible' manner rejected

The BAI said that Hook’s approach to discussing the vaccine had satisfied its Code of Fairness, but “only in a barely minimal fashion”.

28/5/2015. Late Late Show Dance Offs Competitions George Hook Sam Boal Sam Boal

THE BROADCASTING AUTHORITY of Ireland has rejected a complaint against broadcaster George Hook concerning his treatment of a radio segment dealing with the HPV vaccine.

A listener had claimed that Hook had dealt with the subject in an “ill-informed and irresponsible” manner while discussing it with a consultant pediatrician on his show High Noon on Newstalk Radio on 4 October 2016.

The complainant claimed that the presenter, in setting out what the listener deemed to be his ‘plainly wrong views’, caused ‘undue anxiety’ among the listening public.

The complaint was considered by the BAI in its latest list of published decisions.

Newstalk had stated in response to the complaint that the discussion in question was “in the context of a wider exploration of the concerns expressed to the presenter by parents and grandparents of teenage girls over a number of weeks on the programme”.

Hook had, according to the station, in the weeks prior to broadcast “spoken with the grandmother of a teenage girl who suffered from side-effects which she said were related to the HPV vaccine”. Newstalk argued it had been “careful to ensure the public interest was served” by “also hearing from a number of contributors who are strongly supportive of the vaccine”.

It further claimed that Hook “had a right to raise this issue on the programme as a public health issue”.

The BAI’s compliance committee decided to reject the complaint by majority vote.

The committee noted in its decision “the important role of the presenter in ensuring that audiences have access toa awide variety of views” on a subject.

It said that the issue of reported side effects regarding the HPV vaccine is a “legitimate topic to be examined by news and current affairs programmes”.

It said that in its opinion the programme had satisfied its own Code of Fairness, Objectivity and Impartiality, but “only in a barely minimal fashion”. It added that the presenter “did not appear to be very familiar with the details of the issue that the programme sought to examine”.

However, the style of Hook himself had to be taken into account, it said:

The presenter style in this instance is often robust in approach and tone and is characterised strongly by an approach to presentation that emphasises the role of the presenter as ‘devil’s advocate’.

The Committee found that “the interviews, as well as critical texts, provided the suitable counter-balance to those of the presenter”.

It concluded that the programme did not infringe the Broadcasting Act 2009 or its own code of fairness, and rejected the complaint.

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