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Mary Byrne X-Factor voting complaint dropped by BAI

Complaints over the X-Factor’s controversial sing-off elimination are resolved by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland – but Hook, Tubridy and D’Arcy are all scolded.

Image: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

A PUBLIC COMPLAINT about the controversial sing-off elimination of Irish entrant Mary Byrne from the last series of The X Factor has been dropped by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI).

Viewers were outraged when the Dubliner was ejected from the show at the semi-final stage last year – when the show appeared to have initially promised that acts would be eliminated based on the volume of public votes, only to later introduce a sing-off round with judges having the final say on the ejection.

Some viewers believed the evident change of tack was a deliberate move by the show’s producers to ensure that Byrne was ejected in favour of Cher Lloyd – with Byrne herself insisting that head producer Simon Cowell did not want her to qualify.

Today the BAI revealed that it had received a viewer complaint about the voting mechanism – but said that its Executive Complaints Forum, on reviewing the footage of the semi-finals, found the format of the show to have been “within the rules of the competition” and therefore not misleading.

“The programme-makers regularly influence the direction of, and/or reaction to, the show, which is facilitated by the terms and conditions and regular audiences are familiar with such control,” the BAI found, therefore ruling the dispute ‘resolved’.

Upheld

Three complaints lodged between February and April were upheld, with broadcasters George Hook, Ryan Tubridy and Ray D’Arcy the three deemed to have been at fault.

A complaint against Newstalk’s The Right Hook was upheld when its host George Hook was found to have delivered a “very strong and lengthy” criticism of the Minister for Health, Mary Harney, over the nursing homecare scandal being covered.

Hook’s “editorial approach to the presentation of  the  subject matter in the opening segment was not sufficiently balanced by the subsequent content,” the BAI ruled.

Tubridy was criticised for a slot during his newspaper review on his 2fm show on November 24, when he voiced his disgust at what he believed to be a lenient sentence given to a person convicted of child sexual abuse.

Tubridy was found to have “a general statement which was not substantiated and further, not fair” when he remarked that:

…from what I gather these guys cannot be, quote unquote, ‘cured’ [...] only one way to deal with them, and that’s physiological [...] these guys should have bits taken off…

A complaint against The Ray D’Arcy Show on Today FM was upheld over the use of the phrase “pissed off” by D’Arcy in a show broadcast on January 26 – in the same slot during which co-presenter Will Hanafin also used “the ‘F word’” on two occasions.

Rejected

Four complaints were rejected outright, with complaints against an advert for National Radio Cabs, discussion of a particular Ryanair flight on RTÉ Radio 1′s Liveline, and another against The Ray D’Arcy Show over comments made in respect of the leaders’ debate ahead of the 2011 General Election.

A fourth complaint – made by a viewer who complained about a discussion on anal sex being aired on The Ray D’Arcy Show at 10:40am – was also rejected, with the BAI satisfied that D’Arcy had given ample warning about the topic so that parents would be able to have children shielded from it.

A clutch of other complaints were ‘resolved’ (or dropped) by the BAI upon examination, including:

  • A complaint by the Spiritualist Union of Ireland over a storyline in RTÉ’s Fair City in which a person connected to a medium charges €2,000 to arrange a reading
  • A reference by Baz Ashmawy, of the 2fm weekend breakfast show, to the ‘Peppa Pig’ cartoon as being like “crack for kids” due to its addictive properties
  • A complaint that Today FM’s Matt Cooper “harangued” David Quinn of the Iona Institute over his opinions on the Catholic Church
  • A complaint that Newstalk’s Breakfast show adopted a “totally biased” approach to the findings of its coverage of the Moriarty Report and its references to Denis O’Brien, who owns the station’s parent company
  • A joke broadcast on the breakfast show of local radio station WLR, in which references were made to the kidnap of Brian Lenihan, Brian Cowen and Mary Harney by a group of drivers; a Garda, when asked how much money each driver was getting, replied “About a gallon a car”
  • A question posed by RTÉ’s Pat Kenny on the day of the general election results, asking how then-Taoiseach Brian Cowen ‘could look at himself in the mirror’ in the context of Fianna Fáil’s poor showing
  • A series of separate complaints about RTÉ Two’s The Savage Eye satirical sketch show, separately complaining about its treatment of homosexuality, the Catholic Church, and two about an item in which stock footage of a Garda car was taken from an incident in which an officer was killed (RTÉ apologised and pledged not to allow similar errors in future)
  • A complaint that Ryan Tubridy pursued a “narrow agenda” in his treatment of Jim Corr during a piece on the Late Late Show.

A PDF complaining details of the complaints in full can be found at the BAI’s website.

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Gavan Reilly

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