Ryan names board of new BAI


Former RTÉ director-general Bob Collins has been appointed chairman of the new Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI), which will regulate both commercial and public service broadcasting.

Mr Collins, who is currently chairman of Northern Ireland’s Equality Commission, was one of five people - three women and two men - who were appointed to the authority by Minister for Communications Eamon Ryan.

Mr Ryan today announced the establishment of the BAI, which will replace the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) and the Broadcasting Complaints Commission (BCC).

Irish Timescolumnist John Waters, who served on the board of the BCI, has also been appointed to the new authority.

The Minister's three other appointments are: Paula Downey, a partner with Downey Youell Associates; Michelle McShortall, lead designer at Intuition, an e-learning company in Dublin; and Dr Maria Moloney, a solicitor who was formerly Northern Ireland's representative on the UK's Independent Television Commission.

The remaining four board members of the new authority will be selected by the Joint Oireachtas committee for communications within the next three months, although Mr Ryan will have the final power of ratification.

"This new authority will take on a great task in the regulation of a creative industry. Broadcasting works best where standards apply,” Mr Ryan said. “The new authority will seek and uphold the highest standards, enhancing trust among viewers and listeners. The airwaves are a public good and as such must be overseen with the public interest firmly to the fore".

The Minister expressed his thanks to the outgoing members of the boards of both the BCI and BCC for their work in the development of the broadcasting sector in Ireland.

Separate contract awards and compliance committees of the BAI will be appointed shortly.

Fine Gael’s communications spokesman Simon Coveney asked was it appropriate for the former head of RTÉ to be appointed chairman of the BAI.

“I would question the appropriateness of appointing a former head of RTÉ to a new authority that is supposed to be entirely independent of the national broadcaster," he said. “I admire Bob Collins who is a good man who did a good job in RTÉ. This is nothing personal against him as any former head of RTÉ would seem a strange choice to head up the BAI.”