Balance and public debate

Wed, Aug 20, 2014, 01:06

Sir, – Congratulations to Una Mullally for an informed (and balanced) piece on so-called media watchdogs (“Balance is the new blackout”, Opinion & Analysis, August 18th). I welcome her ironic suggestion of an Atheist Minute to follow the Angelus, and wonder what form it should take. Silence and an empty black screen symbolising the void? Or sights and sounds of nature, climate and the effect of gravity, all represented as clearly acting without divine purpose? And, in the interests of balance, surely both the Angelus and the Atheist Minute need to be followed by an Agnostic Pause. May I suggest that it feature people shrugging their shoulders and looking confused? – Yours, etc,

NIALL McARDLE,

Wellington Street,

Eganville,

Ontario, Canada.

Sir, – Peter Kenny (August 19th) refers to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland’s recent upholding of a complaint against Derek Mooney’s discussion on same-sex marriage on the basis that it was one-sided, by asking, “Regarding the requirement that broadcasters give equal access to the proponents of either side of an argument, I wonder whether it would be consistent with natural justice to apply this obligation to the Sunday sermon?” Why? A Sunday sermon is intended for the ears of those of a particular faith that make the effort to go and listen to that sermon, while public broadcasting is intended for the ears of many people who might happen to tune in, and depending on its audience listenership, its opinions can have an influencing factor. The Broadcasting Act of 2009 is quite clear on the responsibility of the broadcaster: “Every broadcaster shall ensure that . . . all news broadcast by the broadcaster is reported and presented in an objective and impartial manner and without any expression of the broadcaster’s own views”.

This basic principle takes on a greater significance when there is an upcoming referendum. – Yours, etc,

JOHN BELLEW,

Riverside House,

Dunleer, Co Louth.