Media complaints: the audience engages

From the ‘Love/Hate’ cat to a ‘Downton Abbey’ rape... and that was just Sunday night TV


“I always think there’s a slight problem if you throw a stone into a pool and nothing happens,” said Bob Collins, chairman of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland. “If there are no ripples, there is something wrong with the stone or there is something wrong with the pool.”

That was his way of saying that complaints are a sign of an engaged audience and an engaging media. “It shows that people care,” said former RTÉ Radio managing director Clare Duignan, speaking to Teleprinter as she announced her retirement. “If I’m not talking about you, that’s when you should start to worry.”

Complaints received by RTÉ following a scene at the start of the first episode of Love/Hate’s fourth series in which a cat was depicted being machine-gunned to death. “The impact blood splatter was created through CGI effects in post-production,” RTÉ valiantly defended itself.

Complaints received by the BBC in the weekend following Nelson Mandela’s death, as viewers accused it of neglecting coverage of local storms and objected to the fact that in order to cover the breaking news, BBC One had dared to interrupt a repeat of Mrs Brown’s Boys.

Number of callers who rang the Irish Sun to demand the return of bare breasts on Page Three in late July, after the Irish edition of the Murdoch tabloid parted ways with the UK edition and decided to adopt a more covered-up approach to the glamour shot.

Number of people who complained to UK regulator Ofcom about a storyline in period drama Downton Abbey in which lady’s maid Anna Bates (Joanne Froggatt) is raped. The episode had come with a pre-transmission warning and the rape itself was not shown.

At least this many complaints were made to the Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland after a billboard poster in a Munster-wide campaign for the Irish Examiner pondered “just how safe is Limerick?” and adorned an image of King John’s Castle with yellow crime scene tape.