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In response to the publication of the BAI Broadcasting Code on Election Coverage (the Election Code), Scott Williams, Chairman of the Independent Broadcasters of Ireland said:

“The decision to change the moratorium to 2.00pm on the day before the election is a half baked decision which does not redress the imbalance which exists between broadcasters and the print media. Why should broadcasters be constrained from carrying election coverage when newspapers can report campaign stories on the day of the election?  There is no logic in this decision.  Why 2.00pm?  It is an unusual time to have selected particularly when so many current affairs programmes broadcast in the late afternoon and early evening. This is totally arbitrary and without logic.  12 midnight would have been a more logical time for the moratorium and would have gone some way to putting broadcasters and print media on a more level playing field”.

Mr Williams also called for a change in legislation to allow political advertising on Ireland’s airwaves.

“Section 41(3) of the Broadcasting Act 2009 prohibits political advertising on broadcast media.  As we head towards a general election it would be timely for all political parties to reflect on the fact that 85% of Irish adults listen to radio on a daily basis.   The current ban is quite absurd as it is clearly not principles based. There is no similar ban on print or internet advertising yet no political party or candidate is allowed to advertise on the airwaves. Indeed, it is arguable that the ban is responsible for the growth of the political spin machines which are primarily geared towards getting their party’s and candidates’ views carried on radio and TV by means other than advertising.

“It is clearly untenable that what is acceptable in newspapers and what is available online should be allowed to air on radio and on television in a free and functioning democracy. Paid political advertising on air is a reality in many countries in Europe and throughout the world.  It is time for Ireland to end its ban on this aspect of democratic activity and we ask that the new Government would deal with this anomaly in the legislation as a matter of urgency”, he said.

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About 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, 67.1% of the population tune into independent radio on a daily basis. This translates into weekday figures of 2,442 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, 1 multicity radio station, 4 regional radio stations and 27 local radio stations. For more information please visit:  www.ibireland.ie.