It isn’t exactly a return to the extraordinary repressiveness of the first 50 years but RTÉ are right to challenge a Broadcasting Complaints Commission ruling that the use of images of “rosary beads, a priest’s collar and a bible or breviary”, as a background to a factual report on the Ferns inquiry report, were “likely to cause offence contrary to taste and decency guidelines.” Apparently one viewer had complained about what he claimed was a ‘profane use of the sacramentals’. From the RTÉ report
Opening the case for RTÉ today, Paul O Higgins SC said it was an unusual case with a flavour of the 1950s. Mr O’Higgins said the BCC had adjudicated on a complaint made by one person out of possibly hundreds of thousands of viewers. He said the decision was taken on the basis that the images were inappropriate and therefore likely to cause offence contrary to taste and decency guidelines.
Mr O’Higgins stressed the guidelines applied to matters of violence and sexual content and that the BCC had no jurisdiction to rule on the use of imagery in this case. He said the BCC had not found that the images were tasteless or indecent but rather sought to exercise a refined editorial judgement which it was not entitled to do. He said to do so amounted to giving the BCC a form of censorship not previously known in the history of the state.
Adds As wild turkey suggested in the comments zone, the original BCC ruling can be found here – direct link to word document here. It’s not the first ruling by the BCC against RTÉ which has relied on the belief that “sacraments should be treated with respect.” Update RTÉ reports that the two sides have reached a “settlement” rather than go through with the High Court hearing. Which is rather unsatisfying I would have thought, since the original BCC ruling still stands.. even if RTÉ don’t have to tell anyone about it..