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'Exaggerated and inaccurate': RTÉ denies bias in election coverage as complaint is rejected

Nessa Childers wasn’t happy with a feature on the Six One News.

THE BROADCASTING AUTHORITY of Ireland (BAI) has rejected a complaint by Independent MEP Nessa Childers that a European election debate held on RTÉ was biased.

Childers lodged a complaint against a segment on the Six One News on Wednesday 21 May last. She claimed that the Green party’s candidate in the Dublin constituency, Eamon Ryan, was featured prominently in the item.

The MEP took issue with the fact that while most of the parties contesting the election were mentioned, their individual candidates in Dublin were not.

She made her complaint under Section 48 of the Broadcasting Act 2009, which deals with fairness, objectivity and impartiality in current affairs programming.

Nessa Childers Resigns from Labour Party Nessa Childers Source: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

RTÉ defended the report, saying it was not about the constituency itself, rather how political parties were holding media events ahead of the election two days later.

The broadcaster stated that Childers’ description of the clip as “an uncontested interview” with Ryan “seems both exaggerated and fundamentally inaccurate” as spokespeople from Fine Gael, Labour, Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin were also interviewed.

The BAI agreed that RTÉ did not infringe its rules, noting that Ryan “did not discuss his own candidacy for a seat in the European Elections”, and so rejected the complaint.

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During the election campaign, Childers criticised RTE’s “continued policy of refusing independents access to political broadcast time, despite the State broadcaster allowing individual candidates from political parties their own promotional slots”.

In a closely fought election, Childers, Sinn Féin’s Lynn Boylan and Fine Gael’s Brian Hayes won the three seats in the Dublin constituency.

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Órla Ryan

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