Complaints about Irish coverage of Russia’s Ukraine war rejected by regulator

Broadcasting Authority of Ireland also dismisses complaint against Liveline from publisher of Public Sector Magazine

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) has rejected a trio of complaints about Irish broadcasters’ coverage of Russia’s war on Ukraine.

The regulator’s executive complaints forum dismissed complaints made against items about the conflict featured on RTÉ One’s Prime Time, RTÉ Radio 1′s The Brendan O’Connor Show and Newstalk’s The Pat Kenny Show.

The complainant about the Newstalk programme alleged the presenter referred with contempt to “the Russians”, “Russians” and “the Russian war” and that the broadcast was not impartial, in part because the broadcast did not feature the views or perspective of Russian people.

The BAI ruled that use of terms such as “the Russians” were normal collective terms in the context used: “There was no evidence of any contempt in the presenter’s voice and the broadcast content did not support the complainant’s view that the broadcast could be described as racist.”


The BAI also found no evidence that a segment on Prime Time had seen a presenter “nudge” a guest into implying Nato should become involved in the conflict, a complaint made by one individual who felt the broadcast “portrayed only one side of the story of the war in Ukraine”.

The complaint about The Brendan O’Connor Show concerned a number of unchallenged statements made by panellists about Russia and Ukraine, which the complainant said pointed to bias and misinformation in the broadcast. The BAI, however, found no breach of either the Broadcasting Act 2009 or its Code of Fairness, Objectivity and Impartiality in News and Current Affairs.

Complaints made by John Hogan, publisher of Public Sector Magazine, about coverage of the magazine’s business awards on four editions of RTÉ Radio 1′s Liveline in February, were rejected by the BAI’s compliance committee.

The magazine was in the news after it gave Eir an award for “excellence in customer services management”, prompting callers to Joe Duffy’s phone-in programme to question how it might have merited such an award. Mr Hogan made a complaint on multiple grounds, including that the broadcasts were not delivered in an objective and impartial manner and that the presenter expressed his personal views.

The committee acknowledged that the topic was presented in a “robust and challenging” manner, but it ruled that the broadcasts were in line with the usual style of Liveline and that the discussion had not infringed broadcasting legislation or its codes on either programme standards or fairness, objectivity and impartiality.

The BAI executive complaints forum also did not uphold complaints relating to radio items on the Official Languages Act, gun control in the United States and legal handgun ownership in Ireland, as well as one made about a RTÉ television news report on the UK government’s plan to offer an amnesty to those accused of unlawful killings during the Troubles.

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery is an Irish Times journalist writing about media, advertising and other business topics