Complaints over ‘idiots’ comment by broadcaster rejected

Broadcasting watchdog investigated after interview by RTÉ’s Bryan Dobson

Bryan Dobson referred to ’idiots’ behind interviewee during news broadcast. Photograph: David Sleator/The Irish Times

Bryan Dobson referred to ’idiots’ behind interviewee during news broadcast. Photograph: David Sleator/The Irish Times

Thu, Mar 27, 2014, 20:23

Seven complaints against RTE television’s Six One News have been rejected by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.

The complaints centred around anti-bailout protesters who disrupted a live outside broadcast interview with economist Ronan Lyons at Government Buildings on November 27th 2013.

The interview was conducted by Bryan Dobson, who cut it short after three anti-austerity protesters, one carrying a cut-out mask of Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s face, and another a placard saying ‘Burn the Bonds not the Billions’, walked into the background of the shot, coat-tailing the broadcast for their own puposes.

An apparently frustrated Dobson, cut the interview short, referring in the process to the protesters as “idiots”.

Seven people, some of whom had been involved in a protest staged by the Ballyhea Anti-austerity Group in support of a Bill being introduced in the Dáil by a member of the technical group, complained about the remark to the BAI.

They asserted variously that they found the remark lacked objectivity, was unfair, belittled them and their politics, and was offensive.

RTÉ responded by saying that the protest, which was not an organised protest, was hazardous to their interviewee, and that Dobson’s “idiots” comment was a reference to their behaviour and not their point of view.

The BAI agreed, finding the remark did not infringe broadcasting rules on fairness, objectivity and impartiality, or the BAI Code of Programme Standards inrespect of coarse and offensive language or protection of groups and individuals.

Consequently, the seven complaints were rejected.