A complaint about broadcaster Vincent Browne referring to Israel as the “cancer of foreign affairs” on his late night TV3 show was upheld by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland’s complaints committee.
During the programme, Mr Browne said Israel “polarises the Islamic community of the world against the rest of the world” and also said that with the creation of Israel “stole the land from the Arabs”.
The complainant found “deeply offensive” and “anti-Semitic” three remarks made by the broadcaster during Tonight with Vincent Browne on October 23rd.
In response to complaints, TV3 noted that Mr Browne clarified the remark on October 25th by saying they were not anti-Semitic and he was referring to Israel’s policy.
In decisions released today the BAI found Mr Browne’s remarks were not anti-Semitic.
However it found that the broadcast had not met standards of handling news and current affairs in a “fair, objective and impartial manner”. A discussion of Israel’s relationship with its neighbours and wider implications was a “legitimate subject” for discussion, it said. However the Committee found the Israel remarks were made without relevance to the upcoming US presidential election (it was the focus of the show) and were not balanced during the programme.
The Committee also upheld a complaint about a TV3 Ireland AM discussion on abortion which a viewer felt “maligned” the pro-life side.
TV3 said the segment on its morning show on August 22nd focused on “one woman’s experience and her personal feelings on abortion” rather than being a general discussion. It said the presenter made it clear she was not promoting either side. The broadcaster also said the issue was addressed through a later interview with a pro-life group on October 24th.
The interviewee highlighted why she believed women travelled abroad for abortions in a manner “unchallenged” by presenters, the complainant said. The presenters mused as to whether Irish people were “civilised enough” to allow for abortion to be introduced, the complainant said. They also indicated that any future debate would be “nasty” and would involve “images of aborted foetuses”, he said.
The complainant felt the pro-life view was “being maligned with a taint of nastiness” and the programme lacked fairness.
The BAI committee found too much time had lapsed between the first broadcast in August and the broadcast two months later featuring a pro-life interviewee.
The Committee found most of the segment did not deal with the interviewee’s personal opinion, but with “political legal and social aspects” of abortion. It found the presenters did not adequately challenge the interviewee’s views and questions asked in a way to “denote sympathy” for their view.
It found the content was current affairs and did not comply with treatment of fairness.