Compliance Committee

The Compliance Committee is responsible for the monitoring and enforcement of compliance, the investigation of complaints and a number of reporting functions. The Committee has eight members; four of whom are appointed by the Government on the nomination of the Minister, while the remaining four are appointed by the Authority, comprising of two members of the Authority and two members of the BAI Executive

The Compliance Committee may investigate and decide upon complaints relating to certain breaches of legislation, including non-compliance with the broadcasting rules or code. The Compliance Committee, refer the complaint in the first instance to the broadcaster, for consideration in accordance with its code of practice.

Where the Compliance Committee proposes to investigate the complaint, it will afford the broadcaster concerned seven days or such further period as it allows to comment on the complaint.

A broadcaster is to keep records of complaints for a period of at least two years. Records should be made available to the Compliance Committee, of the Authority. Records may be inspected by the Compliance Committee.

Where a complaint is made to the Compliance Committee and an employee of or person commissioned by the broadcaster requests the Compliance Committee to afford him an opportunity to comment on the complaint, it shall, having considered the reasons specified, afford that person the opportunity to comment if satisfied that, the interest of the person that they have a legitimate interest in the matter including in particular, possibility of obtaining further commissions or that it may affect their employment.

Where a Compliance Committee proposes to consider a complaint that the broadcaster failed to comply with broadcasting code, in certain respects, the advertiser is to be allowed to make comments on the relevant advertisement.

Decisions

Consideration by the Compliance Committee of a complaint  may be carried out in private. The Compliance Committee may hold an oral hearing where it considers appropriate.

After the complaint has been decided, the Compliance Committee is to send their decision in writing, including reasons to the complainant and the broadcaster concerned. They may publish particulars of their decision on a complaint in such manner as they consider suitable. They may require the publication to be made by the broadcaster concerned or shall include publication by the broadcaster concerned.

The broadcaster concerned shall unless the Compliance Committee considers it inappropriate for the broadcaster to do so, broadcast the Compliance Committee’s decision on every complaint considered which is determined in favour of the complainant, in whole or in part, within 21 days at a time in a manner corresponding to that in which the broadcast, the subject of the complaint took place. The Committee does not have the power to award costs if there are provisions regarding frivolous and vexatious complaints or complaints not made in bad faith.

Where the Compliance Committee finds a broadcaster has failed to comply with the decision, there are provisions for enforcement. Ultimately, an application may be made by the Authority to the High Court for an order to ensure compliance.

Right of Reply

A person whose honour or reputation has been impugned by an assertion of incorrect facts or information in a broadcast has a right of reply. The Authority is to prepare a scheme for the exercise of the right of reply. It shall set out procedures applicable. The right of reply is to be broadcast within a reasonable time subsequent to the request being made and at a time and in a manner appropriate to the broadcast to which the request refers.

The right of reply shall state to what extent information contained in the broadcast is incorrect or misleading and be limited to factual assertions necessary to rectify an incomplete or otherwise distorting assertion.

A person who wishes to exercise a right of reply under the scheme must make a request in writing addressed to the broadcaster containing sufficient particulars to enable the identification by the taking of reasonable steps of the part of the broadcasting which asserted incorrect facts, stating that a request is made under the section and specifying the form and manner of the right of reply requested.

The right of reply is to be made within 21 days unless otherwise agreed by the broadcaster and person making the request. The broadcaster must decide within 10 days whether to grant or refuse a request and give its notice in writing. Where notice of decision is not given within the relevant period, it is deemed refused.

A broadcaster shall give due and adequate consideration to the request provided it is made in good faith and is not frivolous or vexatious. No charge is made for the processing of a request for a right of reply.

In a defamation action, the granting of a right of reply does not constitute an admission of liability and is not relevant to the issue of liability. In a defamation action, the defendant may give evidence for mitigation of damage that he has granted or offered a right of reply, either before the bringing of the action or as soon as practicable thereafter, in circumstances where the action was commenced before there was an opportunity to grant or offer a right of reply.

A defendant who intends to give evidence above must give prior notice in writing of the intention to give such evidence. Evidence of the granting of the right of reply by a broadcaster is not admissible in civil proceedings as evidence of liability.

Refusal of Reply

Compliance Committee may upon application in writing, by a requester, endeavour within 21 day period to review a decision to refuse a right of reply. They may affirm the decision or annul the decision and require the broadcaster to broadcast the Compliance Committee’s decision including correction of inaccurate facts or information relating to the individual concerned within seven days.

An application is to be made to the Compliance Committee between 21 days after the decision to refuse. The Compliance Committee must give reasons in writing for their decision.

A request for a right of reply may be rejected where the Compliance Committee is of the opinion that:

  • it is frivolous, vexatious and not made in good faith,
  • manifestly unnecessary, given the minor significance of the error,
  • contains untrue information or assertions,
  • is a personal opinion,
  • involves a punishable act,
  • it is harmful or offensive,
  • would leave the broadcaster liable to civil liability or breach of a statutory obligation,
  • the person injured by the information has no legally justifiable actual interest in the publication of a right of reply,
  • the original broadcast contains statements from the person affected which are equivalent to a right of reply,
  • an equivalent editorial correction has been made and the person affected informed,
  • the rights of third parties would be violated,
  • it concerns party political broadcast.
  • the broadcast of a right of reply is not in the public interest or was not made on time.

 

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