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BAI upholds complaint against the ‘Power to Power Ourselves’ wind energy ad

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland has upheld a complaint about the “Power to Power Ourselves” wind energy ad from the Irish Wind Energy Association.

At their meetings held in May and June, the BAI compliance committee considered 10 complaints, upholding three and rejecting seven.

Upheld complaints

The complaints to the wind energy ad on TV3 and RTÉ both came from Francis Clauson.

He stated that the ad, which features a haunting voiceover speech by JFK on Ireland’s destiny, ran foul of a ban on political advertising.

Broadcasters’ response

In its response, TV3 said that:

Having carefully reviewed the complaint and considered the application of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland’s guidelines for commercial advertising, [we do] not accept that this is a political message or advertisement.The broadcaster states that the Irish Wind Energy Association (IWEA) is a limited liability company.

TV3 added that political advertising is merely restricted for “political parties, trade unions and charities”, and said it was not directed “towards a political end”, as outlawed by Section 41 (3) of the Broadcasting Act 2009.

RTÉ, meanwhile, apologised to Francis Clauson.

The broadcaster said:

RTÉ wishes to apologise to the complainant for the failure to reply to his initial complaint; this was simply – and very regrettably – due to misfiling of his email of 26 January.

RTE said the commercial promotes, generally, the contribution which
wind energy could make to Ireland’s energy requirement.

That potential is not a matter of political debate or controversy and nowhere in the complaint does the complainant substantiate his claim that wind energy is currently a matter of significant political dispute.

The BAI upheld the complaint, and cited the decision in the High Court case of Colgan v the IRTC, which gave a wide definition of the phrase “a political end”.

Apologised

The BAI added:

The committee noted that it included content intended to promote wind as a source of energy and as an avenue to energy independence. It also included an implicit criticism of current energy policy in Ireland.

The BAI said that the Broadcasting Act 2009 prohibits persons and organisations from using radio and television advertising to influence government policy, “even in the case of causes and issues which might be supported by some or indeed a large portion of the population”.

The committee upheld the complaint in both cases by a majority decision, suggesting not everyone on the BAI committee agreed that the ad should be banned.

The BAI also rejected several other complaints: