Taste and decency next on broadcasting regulator’s plate
Code dealing with programme standards will be reviewed in the autumn
Broadcasting Authority of Ireland chairman Bob Collins: broadcasters attract complaints and that is a healthy sign
Fresh from its implementation of an updated fairness and objectivity code and its recommendations for public service broadcasting funding, next on the agenda of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland is a review of the regulator’s Code of Programme Standards.
The code deals with questions of “taste and decency of programme material” and contains principles for programme-makers as well as guidance for members of the public on the kind of standards they can expect.
Broadcasters currently work off a 10-page document that dates back to 2008. The introduction stresses that “the avoidance of offence and harm” is its key objective. It contains rules on practices such as watersheds and prior warnings for programme material that has the potential to offend.
The 2008 version of the code recommends that broadcasters exercise “particular care” when scheduling and broadcasting material related to sexual violence, self-harm and reconstructions of factual events, for example.
It also says broadcasters must have due regard to the appropriateness of “coarse and offensive language”, without specifying words or phrases that fall into this category.
Inevitably, broadcasters do attract complaints, and that is a healthy sign, according to Broadcasting Authority chairman Bob Collins.
“I always think there’s a slight problem if you throw a stone into a pool and nothing happens,” he says. “If there are no ripples, there is something wrong with the stone or there is something wrong with the pool.”