BAI: Today FM panelist’s transphobia accusation against Rowling “unfair”

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) has upheld a complaint made against a Today FM panelist who accused JK Rowling of transphobia.

The listener’s complaint stated that the allegation of transphobia was “serious”, lacking in “balance, impartiality or objectivity”, had been levelled “without supporting evidence”, and was not challenged by the presenter.

The listener claimed for these reasons that the particular “Last Word with Matt Cooper” broadcast did not meet the standards set out in the Broadcasting Act 2009.

In response, Today FM said their panelist had only claimed JK Rowling displayed some signs of transphobia, as defined by UNESCO.

The UN agency claims transphobia is “the irrational aversion, anxiety, discomfort or hatred of people because they are or are perceived to be transgender”.

The BAI report said that because the show was a current affairs programme, the channel’s claim that balance was not required did not stand up to scrutiny.

Rowling had been the subject of discussion during the broadcast after a tweet from Jedward criticising the Harry Potter author was read out.

The decision noted that the presenter had not challenged the panelist’s allegation or explored other points of view.

“…(G)iven the seriousness of the statements made by the panel member, and the lack of challenge by the presenter, the broadcast was not fair,” the BAI report concluded.

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