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Making a complaint about a TV or radio programme

Introduction

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) is an independent statutory body established under the Broadcasting Act 2009. It regulates both commercial and public service broadcasting.

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

If you have a complaint about material broadcast in Ireland you can contact the broadcaster. If you are not satisfied with the response from the broadcaster you can make a complaint to the BAI.

The broadcast material you can complain about includes radio and television programmes, and advertisements broadcast by all public, commercial and community radio and television broadcasters in the State.

For example, you can complain to the BAI about broadcast material where the broadcaster has not met the requirements to ensure:

  • Impartiality in news and fairness in current affairs
  • The material does not cause harm or offence
  • Law and order
  • Privacy of an individual
  • Codes of standards and practice in relation to advertising, teleshopping, sponsorship and commercial promotion,

You cannot complain to the BAI about broadcasts received in this State but licensed in another jurisdiction such as the United Kingdom.

Impartiality and fairness

Broadcasters must ensure that the news they broadcast is reported and presented in an objective and impartial manner - they must 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. There is a Code of Fairness, Objectivity and Impartiality in News and Current Affairs that outlines the principles and rules that broadcasters must follow.

Harm or offence

Every broadcaster must ensure that it does not broadcast anything that may reasonably be regarded as causing harm or undue offence. In this regard, there is a Code of Programme Standards that has principles and rules that broadcasters must follow. This Code details a range of factors that may be taken into account when determining whether undue offence or harm may be caused by programme material.

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 invaded in programmes broadcast by it and in the means employed to make such programmes.

Advertising, teleshopping, sponsorship and commercial promotion codes

Broadcasters must work within two established codes of standards and practice for commercial communications. These are the General Commercial Communications Code and the Children’s Commercial Communications Code.

Types of commercial communications include advertising, sponsorship, teleshopping and product placement but do not include public service announcements and charity appeals broadcast free of charge. A full definition of what constitutes a commercial communication is included in the General Commercial Communications Code.

Making a complaint

If you have a complaint about material broadcast in Ireland you must make your complaint to the broadcaster first. You should make your complaint in writing. How to make your complaint is outlined in the broadcaster’s Code of Practice for Complaints Handling. This can be found in the complaints section of a broadcasters’ website.

If you are not satisfied with the response from the broadcaster you can make a complaint to the BAI.

Making your complaint to the broadcaster

Your complaint must be in writing and 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.

Your complaint must also:

  • Include the date and time of the broadcast and the channel it was broadcast on
  • Come within the relevant broadcasting codes and/or legislation
  • Include a short detailed summary of what might have caused offence.

Making a complaint to BAI

If you have made a complaint to the broadcaster and you are not satisfied with their response you can escalate your complaint to the BAI.

Your complaint must relate to a broadcast by an Irish broadcasting service. You must make your complaint within 14 days of the broadcaster’s decision or the broadcasters timeframe to issue you with a response if they haven’t done so. The BAI has the discretion to accept complaints received later than 14 days.

If you have a complaint about material broadcast in Ireland you must make your complaint to the broadcaster first. However, you may make your complaint directly to BAI if the complaint deals with issues of privacy, anonymity or the complainant provides an acceptable reason why the complaint should not be referred to the relevant broadcaster first.

The BAI will consider the programme material complained of in whole and in context with reference to:

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

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. You can access decisions made by BAI.

Rates

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

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

Where to apply

If you have a complaint about material broadcast in Ireland you must make your complaint to the broadcaster first.

Complaints can also be referred 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 edited: 19 March 2015

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.