The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland has partially upheld a complaint against Newstalk, related to a feature item on the eve of this year's Gay Pride event.
The head of Dublin Pride and a former member of the organisation BelongTo joined Chris and Ivan on Newstalk Breakfast in June. The feature looked at the history of gay rights and same-sex marriage.
Within the discussion one minute was relating to the same-sex marriage referendum, whereupon presenter Chris Donoghue stated his preference for voting.
The BAI received a complaint about the discussion, which argued the presenters "did not challenge [the panelists] on a single point" and that the guests were given "free rein" to talk about the importance of passing the referendum.
Newstalk acknowledged the presenter did state his voting preference during the segment, but argued there was no other expression of opinion.
Explaining their partial upholding of the complaint, the Broadcasting Authority said it "was the opinion of the Committee that the statement by one of the presenters that he would vote in favour of any forthcoming referendum on marriage equality and his stated impatience with not being able to vote immediately constitutes the statement of a partisan position by a news and current affairs presenter on a matter of current public debate."
In a statement, Chris Donoghue has said "this decision is daft and depressing in my opinion."
The presenter says "the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland has made a ruling against me because I had stated on Newstalk radio in June 2014 that I was pro same-sex marriage.
"This was not in a debate or a comment I made in a vacuum. This was a 20-minute discussion on the eve of Dublin Pride 2014 about a range of issues affecting gay people in Ireland. It is important to state that a date for a referendum on marriage equality was not called at the time, and still is not called at this time, so marriage equality was not the subject of current public debate in that context."
Chris also added that "I have heard a myriad of unchallenged comment on all of these issues with current affairs broadcasters giving opinions and asking questions about all of these potential referendums. Why is it that the BAI has now made negative rulings against both Newstalk and RTE on the issue of marriage equality and none on these other matters of public debate?"