Complaints over TV3 shows upheld

The BAI found broadcaster Vincent Browne?s remarks were not anti-Semitic but the programme had not met fairness standards.

The BAI found broadcaster Vincent Browne?s remarks were not anti-Semitic but the programme had not met fairness standards.

Thu, Feb 28, 2013, 00:00

A complaint about broadcaster Vincent Browne referring to Israel as the “cancer in foreign affairs” on his late night TV3 show was upheld by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland’s complaints committee.

During the programme, Mr Browne said Israel “polarises the Islamic community of the world against the rest of the world" and also said that the creation of Israel “stole the land from the Arabs”.

The complainant found three remarks made by the broadcaster during Tonight with Vincent Browne on October 23rd “deeply offensive” and “anti-Semitic”.

In response to complaints, TV3 noted that Mr Browne clarified the remark on October 25th by saying he was not anti-Semitic and he was referring to Israel’s policy.

In decisions released today, the BAI found Mr Browne’s remarks were not anti-Semitic.

A discussion of Israel’s relationship with its neighbours and wider implications was a “legitimate subject” for discussion, it said. However, the committee found the Israel remarks were made without relevance to the upcoming US presidential election (the focus of the show) and were not balanced during the programme.

It found that the broadcast had not met standards of handling news and current affairs in a “fair, objective and impartial manner”.

It partially upheld two similar complaints relating to Mr Browne’s remarks on Israel but the committee did not agree with complainants that his remarks could have incited acts of terrorism against Israel.

The committee also upheld a complaint about a TV3 Ireland AM discussion on abortion which a viewer felt had “maligned” the pro-life side.

TV3 said the segment on its morning show on August 22nd focused on “one woman’s experience and her personal feelings on abortion” rather than being a general discussion. It said the presenter made it clear she was not promoting either side. The broadcaster also said the issue was addressed through a later interview with a pro-life group on October 24th.

The interviewee highlighted why she believed women travelled abroad for abortions in a manner “unchallenged” by presenters, the complainant said. The presenters mused as to whether Irish people were “civilised enough” to allow for abortion to be introduced, the complainant said. They also indicated that any future debate would be “nasty” and would involve “images of aborted foetuses”, he said.

The complainant felt the pro-life view was “being maligned with a taint of nastiness” and the programme lacked fairness.

The BAI committee found too much time had elapsed between the first broadcast in August and the broadcast two months later featuring a pro-life interviewee.

The committee found most of the segment did not deal with the interviewee’s personal opinion, but with “political legal and social aspects” of abortion. It found the presenters did not adequately challenge the interviewee’s views and questions asked in a way to “denote sympathy” for their view.

It found the content was current affairs and did not comply with treatment of fairness.

A complaint over health advice given about cancer results on TV3’s now defunct late night psychics live programme was also upheld by the BAI.

Psychic Readings Live was the subject of five complaints dealt with the BAI during its January meeting, according to decisions released today. One complaint was upheld while another two were upheld in part.

On October 29t,h a viewer called the premium psychic line to ask about a friend with cancer.  “I am not a doctor but I see no complications," host Theo told the caller. "It will be good for the next two months. I see victory in the future. There will be no tragedy here."

The BAI found that this segment broke the broadcasting code in relation to health matters. BAI previously upheld complaints about the psychic show for telling a woman she would have twins and telling another woman with breast cancer that her test result would be good.

Another health complaint upheld was due to a “psychic” giving slimming advice and telling caller and that he had lost weight “by cosmic ordering” and she should drink water and lemon.

A complaint, over a caller who mentioned their deceased mother and was advised to contact angels,  broke the code relating to claims over communications with the deceased, the BAI found.

TV3 said today that it was "reviewing the BAI’s decisions" with its "programming editorial team" and would "not make any further comment" until that was completed.

Under the Broadcasting Act, TV3 will have to broadcast the decision within 21 days “at a time and in a manner corresponding to that in which the broadcast to which the complaint relates took place”. The BAI’s compliance committee does not have any power to award costs or expenses to anyone as a result of complaints.

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