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Making a complaint about a TV or radio programme

Information

Under the Broadcasting Act 2009 since 1 October 2009 the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) has replaced the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) and the Broadcasting Complaints Commission (BCC) and regulates both commercial and public service broadcasting. The BAI is an independent statutory body that evaluates and judges complaints from members of the public about material that is broadcast in Ireland. This material includes radio and television programmes and advertisements broadcast by all public, commercial and community radio and television broadcasters in the State.

The BAI judges broadcast material in relation to:

  • Impartiality in news and current affairs,
  • Taste and decency,
  • Law and order
  • Privacy of an individual,
  • Slander,
  • Codes of standards and practice to be complied with in relation to advertising, teleshopping, sponsorship and commercial promotion,
  • Published matter in relation to RTÉ and Ministerial prohibitions.

Members of the BAI are nominated by Government and hold office for a period of five years.

Impartiality

Broadcasters in Ireland must ensure that the news they broadcast is reported and presented in an objective and impartial manner, i.e., they present the news without expressing their own views. Two or more related broadcasts may be considered as a whole if they are transmitted within a reasonable period of time.

Taste and decency

Every broadcaster must ensure that it does not broadcast anything that may reasonably be regarded as offending good taste or decency, in particular in respect of:

  • The portrayal of violence and sexual conduct or
  • Being likely to promote or incite crime or as tending to undermine the authority of the State.

Law and order

Every broadcaster must ensure that it does not broadcast anything that can be reasonably be regarded as likely to promote or incite crime or as tending to undermine the authority of the State.

Privacy of an individual

It is the duty of the broadcaster to ensure that the privacy of an individual is not unreasonably encroached upon in programmes broadcast by it and in the means employed to make such programmes.

Slander

The BAI will consider complaints where it is alleged that statements made in a broadcast included inaccurate information or facts which had the effect of amounting to an attack on the dignity, reputation or honour of the person about whom the statements were made.

Advertising, teleshopping, sponsorship and commercial promotion codes

Every broadcaster must work within an established Code of Standards, Practice and Prohibition in Advertising, Sponsorship and other forms of Commercial Promotion in Broadcasting Services.

Published material

Members of the public can bring complaints if they feel that any specified matter relating to news or current affairs (including matters of public controversy or current public debate) that was published, distributed or sold by the RTE Authority included matter that might reasonably be regarded as likely to promote or incite crime or tend to undermine the authority of the State.

Ministerial prohibitions

Where the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources believes that the broadcasting of a particular matter or any matter of a particular class would be likely to promote or incite to crime or would tend to undermine the authority of the State, he or she may direct broadcasters to refrain from broadcasting the matter or any matter of the particular class/. Broadcasters must comply with this order.

Rules

Who can complain to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland?

Any viewer or listener can make a complaint to the BAI about a programme or advertisement broadcast on a broadcasting service that is licensed within the State.

Your complaint must be in writing, preferably on a Complaint Form, (see How to Apply below).

Your complaint must

  • Be made within 30 days of the broadcast. If your complaint relates to two or more unrelated broadcasts, it must be sent within 30 days of the date of the earlier or earliest broadcast. If your complaint relates to two or more related broadcasts, of which at least two are made on different dates, it must be sent within 30 days of the date of the later or latest of these broadcasts.
  • Include the date and time of the broadcast and the channel it was broadcast on
  • Relate to a broadcast by an Irish broadcasting service
  • Come within the relevant broadcasting codes and/or legislation
  • Include a short detailed summary of what might have caused offence.

All complaints considered by the BAI are made publicly available, including the name of the complainant. You can access decisions made by BAI here.

Which broadcasters are bound by the BAI's rulings?

All licensed Irish Independent and public radio and television broadcasters are bound by the BAI's rulings, whether they broadcast on a local, regional or national basis.

How your complaint is handled

If you have submitted the information required within the required time limit and the issue you have raised is within the ambit of the BAI, it will send your letter to the broadcaster in question for consideration. The broadcaster then can reply to the letter if it wishes. If the broadcaster does respond, the BAI will forward the response to you for consideration. If you are not happy with the broadcaster's response, you should then write to BAI. It will then request a tape of the broadcast from the broadcaster for consideration and decision.

If the broadcaster chooses not to respond to your letter, the BAI will request a tape of the broadcast for consideration and decision.

An employee of the broadcaster in question may request to comment on a complaint. If the BAI considers that the interest of the employee might be adversely affected by the complaint, then he or she will be given the opportunity to comment on the complaint.

The BAI will decide whether or not the broadcaster has respected the codes/legislation.

If the BAI agrees with the complaint it will be "upheld".

If the BAI disagrees with the complaint, it will be "rejected".

A summary of all the correspondence is drafted. The decision of the BAI, together with the reasons for the decision, is included with the summary.

A copy of the decision will be sent to you and the broadcaster before it is published. If the programme/advertisement is produced by a person other than the broadcaster, the Commission will also forward a copy of the decision to him or her.

All decisions of the BAI are made available to the public. Unless the BAI considers it inappropriate to do so, summaries of all complaints are distributed to the media and featured on its website. The name of the complainant is included in the published information.

The BAI can request a broadcaster to publish particulars of a decision on a complaint in a manner agreed between it and the broadcaster concerned.

Rates

There is no charge for making a complaint to the BAI.

The BAI does not have the power to award costs or expenses to any party.

How to apply

To make a complaint contact the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland. You can find information on how to complain on its website.

Where to apply

Complaints should be made to:

Broadcasting Authority of Ireland

2-5 Warrington Place
Dublin 2
Ireland

Tel:+353 1 644 1200
Fax:+353 1 644 1299
Homepage: http://www.bai.ie/
Email: info@bai.ie


Page updated: 24 February 2010

Language

Gaeilge

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Contact Us

If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.