IRTC rejects Dempsey claim on censorship


THE Independent Radio and Television Commission (IRTC) has rejected claims by Mr Noel Dempsey of Fianna Fail that its decision on Youth Defence anti abortion advertisements on local radio "smacks of censorship".

Mr Dempsey said yesterday that the "stated reason for censoring the advertisements - that they were in conflict with the guidelines issued by the IRTC which prevent advertisements of a political or religions nature - is not tenable".

While the Youth Defence message certainly expressed a moral belief shared by many people in this country, it could not be legitimately claimed that their advertisement was "religious", he said.

However, a statement from the IRTC last night said it had never declared that the decision to prohibit the advertisement was because it was in conflict with Commission guidelines.

The decision was taken on the basis of the 1988 Radio and Television Act which prohibited the broadcast of any advertisement which was directed towards a political or religious end.

A number of radio stations, approached by Youth Defence to broadcast an advertisement, had contacted the IRTC for guidance as to whether the contents were in line with the Act.

The Commission referred the contents of the advertisement to their legal advisers who took the view that it breached the law.

The IRTC then directed the independent radio stations not to broadcast the advertisement, the statement added.

According to Mr Dempsey, Youth Defence was an organisation whose tactics in the past "left a lot to be desired".

However, its current campaign was "a legitimate and orderly one" and they should be allowed, and indeed encouraged, to express their views "in a legitimate and non threatening way", he said.