I’ve written a history book. It’s called In the Name of Love, and it launches tomorrow evening. It’s an oral history about a social movement, the movement for marriage equality in Ireland. In this book are over 70 interviews – ministers, journalists, activists, academics – pieced together to document the legislative and social change that has occurred in Ireland in relation to rights for gay people.
I’ve spent two years working on it and I’m very proud of it. Now comes the time to talk about it. In light of these two BAI rulings, that’s the tricky bit. I have been told by national radio stations that in order to discuss this history book, there must be someone present who opposes rights for gay people. These are not editorial decisions. They are instructions from above. The utterly normal issue of civil marriage is being treated hysterically, and stations can’t risk getting another black mark from the BAI.
Via the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland:
The BAI has, at no time in its engagements with broadcasters, issued any direction requiring that broadcasters must automatically “balance” a discussion with an opposing view. Neither has the BAI, at any stage, made a “ruling on marriage equality”.
News and current affairs content on Irish broadcast media is required to comply with the Broadcasting Act 2009 and with the BAl’s Code of Fairness, Objectivity and Impartiality in News and Current Affairs. In setting out its guidance on the principle of fairness, the BAI has indicated to broadcasters that it will be necessary for them to consider the range of ways in which fairness is achieved, including through the selection of contributors, the time allocated to a news and current affairs issue, the scope of the debate, the structure of the programme or the role of the presenter.
Furthermore, the approach to covering issues, including those of public controversy or current public debate, should be guided by ensuring equitable, proportionate coverage. While there may be some instances where balance may be required, an automatic requirement for balance is considered unnecessary and inappropriate by the BAI. Indeed the BAI has consistently expressed the view that the application of such an artificial balance can, in and of itself, amount to a lack of fairness in certain circumstances.
Against this backdrop, it would be a matter of grave concern to the BAI if “national radio stations” or any other broadcasters, incorrectly used the outcomes of recent complaint decisions as a basis for their editorial decision-making.