The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) was established on October 1st 2009 and replaces the old Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) and the Broadcasting Complaints Commission (BCC).
The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) is the body responsible for broadcasting in Ireland and regulates content across all broadcasting. The BAI regulates the independent commercial sector and the community sector. It also regulates public service broadcasting media, RTE and TG4 (the Irish language television broadcaster), in some respects, although both are established as corporations with their own Boards. In both cases, RTE and TG4, the Director-General (chief executive officer) reports directly to the Board, which is the governing body.
The BAI also provides license control for 14 televisions and 60 radio services. The Authority is funded by a tax on all broadcasters licensed in the State.
It can approve special projects to provide funding for specific types of programmes (such as programmes on Irish culture or programmes with specific social purposes).
The BAI also controls media ownership regulations, measuring the number or licences which any operator has control or interest in. The current threshold is fixed at 25% of the market share. It accepts complaints from citizens who didn’t receive answer to their first complaints (which must be addressed directly to the responsible broadcaster) .
BAI’s other tasks include sustaining independent and impartial journalism, protecting the interests of children and facilitating a broadcasting sector, which is responsive to audience needs and accessible to people with disabilities.
The Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) is responsible for the electronic communications sector and the postal sector. It was established in 2002 by the Communications Act and has the scope of regulating the infrastructures of communications, including broadcasting. Basically ComReg is responsible for promoting competition, protecting consumers and encouraging innovation.
The Press Council of Ireland was established on January 1st 2008. The Press Council and Press Ombudsman system handles complaints against the print media. It operates on the basis of a Code of Practice. It is independent of the Government and essentially self-regulatory, having initially been set up by the print media industry on an independent basis. The members of the Council are appointed through an independent public process and the members then appoint a Press Ombudsman (PO). However, the Press Council (and Ombudsman) is now recognized under the Defamation Act 2009, which contains provisions about its composition, duties and procedures, as well as the general scope and purpose of the Code. The Council can be disbanded but only by a resolution of the Oireachtas (Parliament) if it fails to comply with the provisions of the Act. The system, therefore, can best be described as co-regulatory.
The Ombudsman/Council system is tied into the courts system and mainstream defamation law in two other specified respects. The defence of qualified privilege in the Act (section 18) extends to determinations of the Press Ombudsman or Press Council and any statement published pursuant to, and in accordance with, a determination of either (Schedule1, Part 1). Furthermore, there is some possible benefit for member publications which have a good track record in adhering to the code of standards and abiding by the determinations of the Ombudsman and Council. If they are sued for defamation and plead the defence of fair and reasonable publication on a matter of public interest (section 26), their track record is a factor that “shall” be taken into account by the court if “relevant” in determining whether it was fair and reasonable to publish the statement that is the subject of the defamation action. For those who are not members of the Press Ombudsman/Council system adherence to equivalent standards will apply, although there is no indication as to what the source of those standards might be. Presumably, a poor track record would have to be taken into account also.
As set out in the Irish Defamation Act, the Press Council is funded by subscriptions paid by its members.
The principal objects of the Council are to ensure the defense of freedom of expression and of the press, protect the public interest by ensuring ethical, accurate and truthful reporting by the press, maintain certain minimum ethical and professional standards among the press including the protection of privacy and individual rights which are set out in the PCI’s code of practice (see Codes of Ethics). In this two-tiered system, complaints, based on the code of practice, are firstly made to the Press Ombudsman who will initially try to resolve the complaint through an informal conciliation process. If that is unsuccessful following all reasonable efforts (Schedule 2, section 9(1)(b)), the Press Ombudsman will adjudicate. The Press Ombudsman can refer “significant or complex” cases to the Press Council for decision. In certain circumstances the complainant can appeal the decision of the Press Ombudsman to the Press Council but there must be “reasonable cause”. The advantages of the system for the complainant are that it is free and the whole process can be concluded in a matter of weeks (more information on the Press Ombudsman website).
Complaints can be made by persons who have been personally affected by a publication. The Ombudsman and Council do not have the power to impose monetary sanctions. However the Act (Schedule 2, section 9) provides for remedial action in the form of publication of the decision of the Ombudsman in such form and manner as s/he directs, publication of correction of inaccurate facts in a manner that gives it due prominence and publication of a retraction, or such other action as the Ombudsman may, in the circumstances, deem appropriate.
The Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland is an independent self-regulatory body. It is financed by the advertising industry and its aim is to ensure that all commercial marketing communications are legal, decent, honest and truthful. The overall objective is to promote the highest standards of marketing communications in the interest of the public. To do so, members of the Authority accept its standards and commit to their respect.Back to top