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Election guidelines keep broadcast moratorium
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30 Apr 2024 / regulation Print

Election guidelines keep broadcast moratorium

The media regulator has published guidelines for broadcasters on election coverage that include advice on how to achieve fairness, objectivity, and impartiality.

Coimisiún na Meán (CnaM) is publishing the guidelines ahead of the European and local elections and the election for a Mayor of Limerick on 7 June.

The guidelines come into effect from Tuesday 7 May 2024 and apply to coverage of the elections until the closing of polling stations on 7 June.

Airtime for parties

The watchdog says that the guidelines highlight different approaches that may be taken to the allocation of airtime for coverage of candidates and political parties, as well as the risks of ‘deepfakes’.

Existing provisions linked to the management of conflicts of interest, the prohibition on political advertising, and coverage of opinion polls are retained.

Other issues addressed include on-air contributions through social media and a prohibition on broadcasters and presenters encouraging listeners or viewers to vote in support of or against any particular outcome in the elections.

The guidelines also encourage broadcasters to include a range of voices and opinions in their coverage, including a mix of views representing social, gender, and cultural diversity.

Mixed views on moratorium

Rónán Ó Domhnaill (Media Development Commissioner, CnaM) said that the guidelines had retained a moratorium on election coverage.

This requires broadcasters to limit coverage of the elections from 2pm on the day prior to an election or referendum and remains in place until the closing of the polls on the day of the election or referendum (10pm).

Ó Domhnaill acknowledged that, in a review of the Code of Fairness, Objectivity and Impartiality in News and Current Affairs in 2022, the industry had called the removal of the moratorium, while there had been mixed views among the public and other stakeholders.

“Having regard to these findings, Coimisiún na Meán has committed to carrying out a review of the broadcast moratorium in the second half of this year – including the undertaking of a public consultation,” he stated.

“It is intended to complete this review and publish updated guidelines dealing with the moratorium in quarter four of 2024, if warranted by the review,’ he concluded.

Gazette Desk
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