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Bantry Bay seaweed firm made claims of ‘sabotage threats' after RTÉ programme

February 23rd, 2018 11:55 AM

By Southern Star Team

Bio Atlantis boss John T O'Sullivan.jpg

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A COMPLAINT by the firm planning to mechanically harvest seaweed in Bantry Bay, against RTÉ’s Eco Eye programme, has been upheld in part. 

BioAtlantis, whose plans have prompted major local opposition, complained to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) after the programme on seaweed harvesting on February 7th 2017. The firm claimed it got threats of sabotage to its activities after the programme was broadcast.  

The BAI agreed that the show’s handling of the impact of mechanical seaweed harvesting did not include a sufficient range of perspectives on the topic to meet the requirements of fairness, objectivity and impartiality.

Despite not being named in the 25-minute programme, the complainant said that since the programme was aired, threats were made online to interfere with and sabotage BioAtlantis’ activities. 

The complainant also said the programme caused ‘considerable reputational damage’ to the company, with significant repercussions due to the unbalanced report and incorrect statements concerning the business and operations. 

The BAI report said: ‘The complainant also states that the sustainability of mechanical harvesting of kelp in Ireland was not mentioned in the programme, despite the publication of two independent reports on the topic. The complainant states that the programme was a very biased programme, which made a range of false statements, sensationalist claims.’

In a detailed response, among other things, the broadcaster said that at no point did the programme make the suggestion that mechanical harvesting should be banned.

Making its decision, the BAI was of the opinion that the programme did not include a range of perspective on the topic sufficient to meet the requirements of fairness, objectivity and impartiality, in a context where it was evident that there were other views, including the views of the complainant. In the view of the committee, these programme elements, put together, communicated a clear subtext that mechanical seaweed harvesting is bad and contributions from harvesters were necessary to provide a counterpoint to this view. 

On this basis, it upheld the complaint relating to the BAI code of fairness, objectivity and impartiality in news and current affairs. 

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