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News and Current affairs are NOT biased.

It would appear that the highest levels of broadcasting integrity cannot be gender-biased.
At least, that’s my conclusion after some research which was sparked by a heated debate over a bottle of scotch (and no, I was not alone, at least not in the physical sense and there was plenty left in the bottle when the talking stopped).
There was a very general perception that bias was evident in the media. It’s fairly self-evident that media coverage has a great influence on public opinion, and so laws and independent authorities are in place to curtail and oversee possible distortion. Regarding bias, almost immediately, examples began being thrown about like confetti.
This, of course, gets us nowhere. Besides, it was too broad, and we only had one bottle of scotch.
So, in order to have a meaningful discussion, it was limited to the national broadcaster. This was because the national broadcaster (comprising of RTE1, RTE2, TnG, Radio1, Radio2, Lyric, RnG) is expected to have a higher broadcasting standard than others. Keep in mind, though, that all broadcast programming is governed by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) and all advertisement broadcasting is governed by the Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland (ASAI).
However, in addition to adherence to broadcasting standards, there are additional burdens on RTE because of its public service duties (Part 7, Cr.1,Broadcasting Act 2009) and it’s under closer scrutiny anyway, being publicly funded.
So, to find the place where there is the LEAST likelihood of bias, it was reasonable to look at the national broadcaster.
The BAI has several sets of rules which relate to different types of broadcast.
BAI Code of Programming Standards , which includes section 3.4.2. Programme material shall not support or condone discrimination against any person or section of the community, in particular on the basis of age, gender, marital status, membership of the Traveller community, family status, sexual orientation, disability, race or religion.
And the ASAI has an advertising code which covers advertising.
Naturally, a whole bunch of observations were raised about general programming (from game shows to soap operas), but again, we needed to look for best practice, where bias was least likely. So, discussion was further limited to news and current affairs, where impartiality and fairness is paramount. It’s reasonable to say that all other broadcasting would be, at best, less than this ideal.
I found it very hard to understand how it could be possible for RTE news and current affairs to have any bias, considering all of its duties to the public interest.
Yet, a number perceptions were identified (*description is at the end, paraphrased because I’m not a recording device, so these are just summaries):
1.      Why are females over-represented in business, technology and expertise?
2.      Why is reporting on the junior/leaving cert results so female orientated?
3.    Why is male suffering muted, while female suffering amplified and news stories which concern females given airtime, while similar stories concerning males do not?
4.      Why is use of language and tone so condescending to male issues?
5.      Why are certain groups allowed to distort information and have it disseminated without the usual background check or challenge, if it is harmful to males.
Well, without having the resources to analyse all broadcasts, let's just assume that there is something to this, but does it demonstrate bias?
The general Code of Programming standards has reference to News and Current affairs in section 3.5.3 Factual programming shall only emphasise age, colour, gender, national or ethnic origin, disability, race, religion or sexual orientation when such references are justified in the context of the programme or in the public interest. (This rule requires broadcasters to avoid the inclusion in factual programming of references to age, colour, gender, national or ethnic origin, disability, race, religion or sexual orientation where such references are inappropriate and/or serve no editorial purpose.)
In the understanding of the legislation, “editorial purpose” allows a very broad interpretation. So, although unspecified, one could start to build an argument to show that gender reference had no purpose or was inappropriate but only with reference to public interest, which would also have to be shown. Even with that, it concerns itself with a specific item only and may not have broader application.
There must be something more definitive…..
Specific to News and Current Affairs and in recognition of its unique status, the BAI Code of Fairness, Objectivity & Impartiality in News and Current Affairs  (April 2013) sets out rules specific to this type of broadcast. The BAI has also produced GuidanceNotes (July 2013), to assist.
These are drawn from the Broadcasting act 2009, and compliance with the code provides evidence of compliance with the legislation. The code is there to set out what is expected of broadcasters, guide them in decision making, promote impartial journalism and inform citizens of the standards they should expect from broadcasters.
The code has four core principles, namely “Fairness”, “Objectivity & Impartiality”, “Accuracy & Responsiveness”, and “Transparency & Accountability”.  In general, the overriding concern is for issues of “public controversy”, “public debate” and “public interest”, which are referred to throughout.
So what does the legislation and Code have to say with regard to content?
It’s spelled out very clearly that:
Each broadcaster has the editorial freedom to make choices in relation to what issues to cover in a news and current affairs context. The BAI cannot nor should it make decisions or have a role in requiring broadcasters to cover a news and current affairs issue. The Code is not intended to govern perceptions of ‘bias’ on the basis of topics and/or subject areas that a broadcaster has chosen not to cover.”
And with regards to complaint, that:
“the BAI will consider the news and/or current affairs content contained in the broadcast that is the subject of the complaint”
In other words, a case-by-case basis only and excluding further inference.
No matter how many cases or complaints are presented, it will never constitute “Bias” on the part of the broadcaster, but more accurately, an incidence of bias and that is quite different.
Now, keep in mind that there are two parts to an incidence of bias – it must be demonstrable and it must originate with the broadcaster (that’s why it’s often heard that “the opinions expressed are not necessarily the opinions of the broadcaster” or something similar). So, it’s no easy task to validate a complaint. Perhaps that’s part of the reason why they are so rare, apart from the genuine integrity of the national broadcaster, which i do not question.
Interestingly, there is specific reference to “tone” and “language”. Rule 19 says:
Views and facts shall not be misrepresented or presented in such a way as to render them misleading. Presenters should be sensitive to the impact of their language and tone in reporting news and current affairs so as to avoid misunderstanding of the matters covered.
Aha!
But wait; there is elaboration in the guidelines (the small print). “In respect of tone, while there is a clear acknowledgement that the presentation of news and current affairs can often involve robust and heated exchanges, nevertheless the requirements in respect of tone relate to the respect and dignity of an individual, which should be afforded to them regardless of their viewpoint or public standing.”
So, although the codes are not hard and fast (the spirit is just as important as the wording) this clearly refers to dealings with an individual, not a group.
Having reviewed the News and Current Affairs code and the guidelines – there is nothing which refers to gender. 
Nothing. Not a dickie-bird. Nada… you get the picture.
It’s simply not there, so all the points which were raised, no-matter how well researched or argued or reasoned, are just not relevant.
I’m starting to recognise a pattern. It is not possible to say that RTE news and current affairs is gender-biased. Not that is definitively is not (considering natural human frailty) but that it’s not possible to phrase it that way.
Male issues are not of “public controversy”, “public debate” or “public interest”. Until they are, news and current affairs will continue to disregard them.
So, if that’s where things stand at the very highest level, one can only wonder how the rest would fare. Well, as for that, “you know it when you see it” is the best advice I can give.
So, what’s the solution?
Complain, Complain and Complain again, until it is an issue of “Public interest”.
While Complaining,
Talk, Talk and Talk again to everyone who will listen, until it is an issue of “Public Debate”.
While Complaining and Talking,
Challenge, Challenge and Challenge again any public figure who dismisses or denigrates male issues until it is an issue of “Public Controversy“.
Here is the place to complain about advertising.
Here is how to complain about programming (you must complain to the broadcaster first, to allow them to respond).
Here is where you will find your local TDs contact details.

*Perceptions pointed out in discussion:
1.“Why is it that, whenever there is a trade show, or business development/entrepreneur/technology symposium or conference, female participants are given disproportionate or exclusive coverage in the report, even if the event has an overwhelmingly male attendance? Surely, this doesn’t accurately reflect reality (or, the “facts”). In addition, there is a tone which uses phrases like “male dominated”, “old boys club”, “lack of diversity” to imply that men, by simply being involved, were somehow obstructing the advancement of more deserving others (the “others”, obviously, being women). This has the effect of a shaming tactic, which humiliates young males even before they enter the workforce.
2.“We are told that the vast majority of experts in  most fields is male, one would expect that only a very small number of females would be invited to current affairs (because there are relatively so few female experts). But, this isn’t the case, there is substantial female representation – not half by any means, but a good number – and sometimes inappropriately. There seems to be some sort of desperation to have a female voice, irrespective of the cost in expertise or availability of other candidates. How can this be representative or fair to potential male experts, or even provide us with the best opinion/comment?
3. “If we are to accept what we are told, that the vast majority of businesses are run and/or owned by males, business news would predominantly involve males, and business news involving females would form a tiny fraction of the news items. But, this isn’t the case, a significant number of business news items involve females, which is a disproportionate representation. Also, predominantly male-staffed businesses are chastised (or at least, the fact is mentioned, which has the same effect, even if it’s irrelevant to the item), regardless of success. How is this compatible with impartiality? It contributes to a perception that men should be ashamed of success
4. “When the junior or leaving cert results come out, it seems to be females who are representative of educational successes.  If results show that males predominantly occupy the top positions, then females are given the spotlight to encourage others/demonstrate disadvantage and, alternatively, if results show that females occupy the top positions, then the females are given the spotlight to herald the success. Surely, both approaches are not reconcilable. Removing the social reward of applause from young people is surely not good and a discouragement to academic success.
5. “Whenever a disaster, or some tragedy which befalls males, they are generally referred to in gender-neutral terms (such as “mine-workers”, “crew”, “soldiers”, or “people”), but this is not the case when the incident has female victims (where specific terms are used, such as “women”, “girls”, “female-workers”). This is also the case with disaster response; “rescue-workers” if male, and “women” if female. Think of the Turkish mining disaster, for example. Why is that? It contributes to a view that males are less valuable, and less deserving of gratitude.”
6. “Sometimes, not often, but sometimes there are news items which seem so trivial as to hardly be newsworthy, but they are reported on nonetheless, simply because they have female content, such as the first woman to do whatever, or some business opening somewhere with an all-female staff. I can understand that there are slow news days, but if the gender was reversed, it wouldn’t be there. On the other hand, the same selection occurs when the item is newsworthy – for example the killing of boys (hundreds, savagely, mercilessly) in Nigeria was not reported, but the kidnapping of girls was. The killing of boys started long before the kidnappings and was known to news outlets before the kidnappings started. It’s almost as if the Boko Haram group realised that the western media didn’t care about the boys and so changed tactic, to great effect.  This not only contributes to a perception, but actually states that males are of no worth
7. “If even a small number of women stage a protest, the grievance is the news, not the manner of protest. On the other hand, if males are involved in protest, even in significant numbers, it is either ignored, or the story is presented as something else(not the grievance); that they caused an obstruction, broke some by-law, caused offence or something, and that is the story. The reason why they are there is an afterthought and, if mentioned, delivered in a manner which presents it as trivial. In an open society, why is this discussion deliberately excluded? The attitude has no effect on the individuals involved, because they continue with their efforts. So, we have to assume that it is intended as a signal to other males: “if you have a problem and complain, then you will still have your problem and then some, along with a side helping of name-calling and tut-tut.””
 8. “For the longest time, now, suicide is still presented as a people problem, even though the majority are male. Child abuse and domestic violence has been presented by advocacy groups as a male-on-female/child problem when data shows that it is gender-symmetric, at least. Even when this is alluded to, the data is cherry picked to reinforce harm perpetrated by males. Why do journalists never check any f this?  I know that people are busy, and generally accept the executive, pre-chewed summary, but if the gender is reversed, its always questioned, and even if verified, considered to be unhelpful, therefore damaging to females (generally) and so are very cautious about reporting. There seems to be no such precaution when reporting on something which is male-gander-specific. Isn’t that some sort of hate crime or something, encouraging the general populace to be suspicious/hateful of males?”


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