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“A Victory for Common Sense” – IBI Chairman

Willie O’Reilly, chairman of the Independent Broadcasters of Ireland welcomed the new Lisbon Treaty Referendum Guidelines published by the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) saying it was “a victory for common sense”.

Mr O Reilly had repeatedly expressed the concern of independent broadcasters on the Coughlan Judgement which was interpreted as requiring 50:50 air time to be given to both sides in a referendum and had asked the BCI to clarify the matter for broadcasters.

Commenting he said; “Previous referenda debates have seen minority viewpoints and groups with no public mandate being given airtime which was disproportionate and biased because the Coughlan judgement required that ‘the scales should be held equally between those who support and those who oppose the amendment’.

“The new guidelines issued by the BCI put power back into the hands of the broadcasters in deciding what is fair and equal. It allows for equality of coverage to be considered over the duration of a referendum campaign rather than in individual programmes or debates. In particular we welcome the guidance on conducting single interviews, which means there is no need to have both sides represented when the issue is being discussed during a particular broadcast”.

Mr. O Reilly said that “with power comes responsibility and the onus is now on broadcasters to put in place a transparent policy which ensures airtime is allocated in a manner which is fair and equitable. While it may result in an additional workload for broadcasters it will mean that we have greater autonomy to deliver programmes that are both enquiring and fair during the referendum campaign”.

Mr O Reilly added “The Independent Broadcasters of Ireland has been calling on the BCI to clarify how broadcasters needed to allocate airtime in a referendum campaign and I thank the BCI for issuing new guidelines for the forthcoming Lisbon Treaty Referendum”.

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Further information:
Lisa Ni Choisdealbha, Independent Broadcasters of Ireland: 087-2038956
Laurie Mannix MKC Communications: (01) 7038600

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, 63.3% of the population tune into independent radio on a daily basis. This translates into weekday figures of 2.393 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.