Complaints at Dunphy candidate preference


MEDIA COVERAGE:THE BROADCASTING Authority of Ireland said yesterday it had received two complaints about Eamon Dunphy’s declaration for presidential candidate Martin McGuinness.

The complaints were forwarded to Newstalk radio station where Dunphy made his admission during a studio discussion on Sunday morning with Fine Gael candidate Gay Mitchell and Mr McGuinness.

Fine Gael confirmed it had not made a complaint arising out of the broadcast.

A spokesman said: “We are busy concentrating on our campaign to get Gay Mitchell elected. The issue is over and we will give it no further attention.”

The authority’s compliance committee considers allegations of bias only after complainants contact the TV or radio station involved to see if they can get a satisfactory answer.

If they do not get a satisfactory answer, the complaint is then considered by the authority, which regulates Irish broadcasting.

Dunphy has admitted that his declaration of support for Mr McGuinness may be in breach of the authority’s code in relation to elections.

The code states that a broadcast must be presented “without any expression of the broadcaster’s own views”.

UCD professor of politics David Farrell said the broadcasting code in relation to impartiality was designed at a time when there was only the State broadcaster RTÉ.

He said it was time to look at it again when so many broadcasters in the independent sector had high-profile columns in newspapers.

He also maintained that the principle of impartiality remained the cornerstone of European broadcasting, and that Ireland should not go down the partisan road of broadcasting which existed in the US, and in Italy which was an exception in Europe.

Mr Dunphy has said that the furore over his declaration has caused him to “reflect” on any possible future declarations in support of election candidates.