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A rerun of the Lisbon Referendum brings the interpretations of the Coughlan Judgement back into focus and will require broadcasters in Ireland to think carefully when it comes to covering the ensuing debate according to Willie O Reilly, Chairman of the Independent Broadcasters of Ireland.

“The Coughlan Judgement requires that ‘the scales should be held equally between those who support and those who oppose the amendment’. In the last referendum many broadcasters interpreted the Coughlan judgement as meaning that equal air time is given to both sides of the debate. Mr O Reilly pointed out that the guidelines of the Broadcasting Commission do not stipulate equal airtime, but do require ‘equal treatment’ and that both sides of the debate be represented in the same programme.

“Genuine balance and effective scrutiny is not ensured by simply giving equal air time. It is arguably a weakness of broadcasting in the last campaign that some claims were not challenged more”, he said.

“Radio and Television are two of the most powerful and trusted sections of the Irish media and as broadcasters we have a responsibility to delivering factual information rather than allowing our airwaves to be hijacked by interested and biased parties.

“It is in the public interest that Government, the Broadcasting Commission and broadcasters reflect on the effectiveness of the existing guidelines. Independent Broadcasters want to ensure that we deliver programmes that are both enquiring and fair.”

-Ends-

About the Independent Broadcasters of Ireland
The Independent Broadcasters of Ireland (IBI) is the representative body for Ireland’s independent commercial radio broadcasters. The mission of the IBI is to champion the agenda of independent broadcasters in Ireland and to be a distinct and coherent national voice in the ongoing campaign for competitive equality across the sector.

The independent voice of Ireland, over 63% of the population tune into independent radio on a daily basis. This translates into weekday figures of 2,296 million listeners. With more than 1500 people employed in the sector, independent broadcasters make a significant economic, social and cultural contribution to the Irish economy. The IBI represents 2 national radio stations, 4 regional radio stations and 27 local radio stations.
For more information please visit: www.ibireland.ie

Press Contact – Laurie Mannix, 01 703 8620 / Gerard Howlin, 01 703 8614, MKC Communications.